It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection. The power of God is with you at all times; through the activities of mind, senses, breathing, and emotions; and is constantly doing all the work using you as a mere instrument. – The Bhagavad Gita
Rediscovering our Oneness with nature
What is human nature? This question has energized philosophical discussions for centuries. The philosophizing often focuses centers around what it means to be human. To answer this question people have turned discuss genes, environment, “nature vs nurture”, social sciences, etc. Some say humans are basically good, others say humans are selfish. I will not get into religious interpretations of human nature, because those types of discussions tend to divide people with dogma – a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It is that “incontrovertibly true” part that bothers me. Incontrovertible – not able to be denied or disputed; true – in accordance with fact or reality. What if we simply add a hyphen between the words to form a compound noun? Human-Nature is used in the same sense as “Chinese-Americans”, (a person who is identified with their forebears and is designated by a hyphenated compound). What the world needs now is to re-forge humanity’s connection to nature.
Nearly two hundred years ago there was a philosophical movement in America called Transcendentalism. One of the central beliefs of transcendentalists was the inherent goodness of nature and humanity. The transcendentalist were influenced by religion and philosophy from India. When Henry David Thoreau went into the woods of Walden Pond he carried a translated copy of the Bhagavad Gita – the over two thousand year old ancient scripture which Mahatma Gandhi called his “spiritual dictionary.” One of the guiding principles of the Gita is the concept of Dharma and Karma. Very simply put, dharma comes from one’s lifelong duty and karma flows from one’s day to day actions. Transcendentalists saw in karma the opportunity of compensation for one’s efforts. Thou canst not gather what thou dost not sow; as thou dost plant the trees, so will it grow. – Emerson
The sincere efforts of individuals does matter to the survival of humanity. We must redefine ourselves as a compound noun Human-Nature. We are part of nature. We are from nature and nature is not just outside but inside the deepest recesses of our existence. Individualism is one of the pillars of transcendentalism along with intuition and the force of nature over the power of humanity. We face tremendous environmental issues now, not tomorrow, not a decade from now. NOW! To face the human-caused global problems, it is critical we get in touch with our natural selves. By connecting our daily lives to the natural world, we reacquaint ourselves with our deepest living roots. Shinto is the native Japanese religion dating from the early 8th century and incorporating the worship of ancestors and nature spirits and a belief in sacred power (kami) in both animate and inanimate things In Shinto beliefs, there is a concept called Musubi. Musubi means the power of creation, growth and development and includes the concept of a bond, a relationship between humans and the natural /spiritual world
Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes. – Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
All too often environmental issues are discussed in dire terms. It is true that we are in the midst of a great extinction of species, and climate change will roll onward for decades. There are young people alive right now who will live in the Twenty-Second Century ashy residue of our mistakes if we allow inaction to will out. There are so many enormous issues facing humanity. But we are not separated from nature; humankind’s artificial worlds are dependent upon the natural world. Perhaps something as simple as the hyphenated compound noun Human-Nature could get the karmic wheel spinning.
America’s election has begun. Millions have already voted. This election is the most consequential in my lifetime. The actions of one party has created a mountain of festering greed, the gravity of which threatens to crush the spirits of tens of millions. The outcome is uncertain because dark forces are aligning themselves with oppression and wicked transgressions against the soul of the country. If the People win the day and defeat tyranny, the future can change. Some of the positive energy of such a victory will be channeled towards the slowing and reversing the destruction of nature. The combined karma of the effective actions of millions will wash away the muddy tracks of vanquished beasts. And we will sow the seeds of Human-Nature together. I am certain we will witness the birth of a Neo-Transcendentalism in the 21st Century
We need a powerful new story that we are a part of nature and not separate from it. We need a story that properly situates humans in the world — neither above it by virtue of our superior intellect, nor dwarfed by the universe into cosmic insignificance. We are equal partners with all that exists, co-creators with trees and galaxies and the microorganisms in our own gut, in a materially and spiritually evolving universe. –Richard Schiffman