I hear this all the time, but what does it really mean? How do you actualize it? What does it look like in action? How does that change/inform your behavior? How is the world different when that is a lived experience? I think these are important questions to ask each other and ourselves.
In working to turn this ship around I keep searching for the core, the foundation, the leverage point that will generate the most impactful change. We speak about ‘going back to nature’ about reconnecting to nature. So is nature the foundation, the core? We know we are a part of nature, but that doesn’t sit so well with some of us. We came out of the jungle, we don’t want to go back. We live in cities – how can people in apartments connect to nature?
Janine Benyus’s words about how nature really works, keep coming back into my head: All actions create the conditions that support life. Is it life that is the core, the foundation? Respect and reverence for life, is that the magic ingredient? I do believe that that is the path to shift us from where we are to where we need to be. Respecting and revering life! What does that look like? Are the Jains the perfect example? They walk, devotedly sweeping before them so they don’t step on an insect. They believe that revering life is avoiding death. Is that true in nature? Nature seems to accept death, not avoid it. So what does revering life look like?
All life is conscious and even some things that don’t seem conscious – like stones – can be seen as conscious. Physics tells us that the connections protons and neutrons have for each other exists no matter the distance. They respond to each other instantaneously no matter how far away they are from each other. They exhibit oneness. Therefore anything that has a boundary that is maintained is conscious – choosing to stay connected instead of breaking apart into individual parts. Is consciousness the core, the foundation?
Again I’d say yes. Consciousness is expressed in life and expressed through nature. For me that is why nature is so significant in our search for oneness. Nature is the expression of what it means to be so connected that everything is interconnected – nothing can exist without the other. Life and consciousness really do include us. We know – personally, when we have honored our own life and our own consciousness or dishonored them. Thinking this way offers up a real-time, personal system of measurement. We know when we are in touch and respectful of life, because we feel that disrespect inside of ourselves.
Western civilization is not designed for this. Robin Wall Kimmerer, in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass makes what was to me a startling revelation. In her native Potawatomi language there is no gender. There are no words that signify woman or man. The distinction that is crucial to them is animate or inanimate. Think about that; everything that is animate uses the same pronouns as are used for people, for family. Everything that is animate is a ‘who’ only inanimate things are its. Even stones are ‘who.’ This is the shift we need to make. We need to know, deep in our bones, that we are all one, that we are all important and worthy of respect and, yes, reverence – even other humans.
In Kashmir Shavism everything is God. Think about that, everything is God. As a practice that means that nothing is pushed away and everything has it’s place. Finding the ‘fit’ of horrible disasters into your life is a healing experience. Like in childbirth resistance is pain, so in life resistance is what brings the trauma and anguish that so cripples us. Embracing Life does not mean condoning awful things, but it does mean respecting the situation and dancing with it until the ‘fit’ becomes known. Much like running a rapids it is working with the powerful energies of the water that is the thrill of the adventure. We are all ONE – all entitled to respect and appreciation, to be experienced with gratitude and yes, even reverence.
Kathryn Alexander, MA
Regenerative approaches require a deep integration with nature. Collaboration requires different structures and ways of working together. If we want different results we have to do things differently!