Isn’t the aim to get people to fall in love with all these creatures we share the planet with.
It has to be more than that unfortunately. I could fall in love with you, Laura, and still hate women. Do you see what I mean. So it’s not the specific, it’s not the particular. We have to fall in love with the abstract essence, the heart of it: nature itself, life itself.
That’s very difficult for people to do because it’s an abstraction. To fall in love with a particular is easy enough. To fall in love with a certain amount of the particularities is not enough. It’s not enough. You have to see the wholeness, the indivisible wholeness behind it. And to realise that that’s actually what’s functioning.
When I’m talking to you, what’s functioning? I couldn’t even begin to start describing it. Our love of nature is underpinning our knowing each other. The dramatic cerebral development of the neocortex is providing the means for us to talk to each other. The long slow drift towards vertebral verticality is behind this conversation. Cellular respiration is a necessary precondition for our existence. The love of oxygen for hydrogen, water, is functioning through me talking to you. The strong and weak nuclear force and gravity are supporting us.
Everything that’s involved in the evolution of life is expressing itself through this phrase. Totally. And that word, this gesture depends upon all of that. This is what people have to encounter deeply for there actually to be any possibility of environmental recovery. Otherwise it’s just a tax we’re having to pay.
Targets to be met..
Yes: “fuck it, I’ll take one less flight this year because otherwise my grandchildren…..” That’s not going to work. It has to come from the heart. There has to be a change of values enough to bring about a change of motive. You have to really, really not want all this destructive consumer accumulation. To not want that strongly enough means you have to want something else so badly that you can see the false shine on all that stuff very, very clearly. Clearly enough to let go of your self deceptions, to let go of reassuring yourself with your carbon offsets.
It’s not enough to want to save nature, to save the planet. It’s not enough because it needs to be saved from us. From human beings. From human consumption and accumulation. Saving the planet does not come from understanding the subtleties of interlocked ecosystems. It can not come from agreeing to reduce fossil fuel consumption. It will not come from targeting limits on global warming. It can only come from a total transformation of human behaviour, of human culture.
This transformation can not be imposed. We cannot intellectually proscribe how we all need to start behaving. Not least because we are collectively in so many different types of situation. Some of us would die fast if all environmentally damaging practices were abruptly terminated. Others would be fine.
No, we can not depend on top down, politically or socially imposed behavioural limitations. We may need to use them, to reconfigure our transportation, consumption and eating habits. Nevertheless it won’t be enough.
We need to start to feel that we are nature. We need to feel, not just know intellectually, that what we do to any part of nature we are doing to ourselves. We have to feel the destruction of the environment as a protracted form of suicide. And we have to want to live. To live as part of nature, as part of the wholeness.
You have to want intimacy with nature, with others, with the elements. If you don’t want those things badly enough then the gap that’s left by not having them will drive you into consumerism. All those gadgets are substitutes for nature as trees and dirt, snotty shitty animals and other people. You have to want to be intimate with all of that. Otherwise you’ll just try to drown your longing with gadgets and special experiences. Especially spiritual experiences. Most of which are no more meaningful than a walk along the riverside: probably less.
The heart of the problem is a very deep one. We are deeply out of touch, deeply alienated from our own nature. This alienation leaves us with a deep feeling of dissatisfaction: only temporarily relieved by our excitements, achievements and successes. The constant drive to relieve it is underlying our consumerism.
Consumerism is not only about things. It’s equally about experiences. Those people who think and say that there are so many things they want to do before they die are hard core consumerists even if they are not hoarding physical objects. Their consumerism is not just about the resources they have to consume to have that experience, to go on that journey, to explore that place. It is also about that deep, ongoing dissatisfaction.
This dissatisfaction arises from not having come to terms with our apparently binary nature. When we do come fully to terms with our apparently binary nature we find our nature is absolutely singular. Not only that but we discover that it provides with as many resources as does the natural world.
Unlike the resources of the natural world however, the resources of our nature are inexhaustible. We can not exhaust, nor even deplete them. They are not quantifiable.
What are these resources?
They include courage, resilience, fortitude, generosity, compassion, wisdom, love. These resources are not only available to you, but to anyone and everyone around you too.
How can people access these resources?
The most simple, direct way is to become intimate with your own presence. For some people this is easier to begin in movement. For some people it is easier to begin in stillness. For others it is easier to begin within the mirror of others. In all cases it is a somatic experience, a somatic journey through your own presence into your own nature. Of course the remarkable cognitive intelligence of mind is involved. It is involved but it is not leading, not guiding. Rather it is simply recognising, and learning.
It is possible for almost everyone to access the singularity of their nature by way of their body. All that is needed is that you feel totally safe and can be guided deep into the presence of your body. As you relax deeply into the sensations being generated by your body you begin to be taken deeper than its anatomical and phsyiological expressions. You no longer notice ankles, pressure, nostrils, breathing.
As the sensations in your body dissolve into the deepening presence of softness spreading, softness opens. It loses its localisations and becomes nonlocal, expanding, becoming lighter, emptier. Boundaries melt, form dissolves. You very easily become enraptured in the peace of it. You very easily begin to vibrate with the presence of love.
This is not love for or of. It is the love that you most deeply, deliciously are. This is actually what you are feeling when you look openly and softly into the eyes of your beloved. It is not really your love for them, nor their for you, though it is flowing through those. It is the love that you are meeting itself in the love that they are. Love without a cause meeting love without an object.
This is very powerful.
If you go there enough everything begins to change. Especially if you do it with many people. Particularly people you don’t know. It becomes clear that you are not hallucinating, not projecting. That this love, this peace, this joy are real. Not only that they are real, but that they are what you most deeply are.
Beneath your memories and dreams, beneath your skills and knowledge, beneath your credentials and identity you are unconditional love, imperturbable peace, inexhaustible joy. This is your deeper nature, your spiritual nature. This is the source of all the resources you need to transform the quality of your life, to take care of others and honour nature with genuine respect.
The joy of this peaceful love that you are wants and needs to express itself. It expresses itself by giving. It has only one need. It is not like the needs of the body. The body’s needs are a demand. It needs to take, to get, continuously: oxygen, water, energy, minerals etc.
Your spiritual nature has only one need, and it is a need. It is a very powerful need. If it is blocked you will never be able to be happy. You will never feel satisfied. You will never be fulfilled. It is the need to give. It is not a need to give anything in particular. It is simply the need to give whatever is needed.
This need not only becomes a spontaneous and effortless generosity. A generosity towards all life, all beings, all people. It is also generates deep compassion, courage and clarity. When you are not pursuing your biological, psychological or social needs you can see more clearly. The doors of perception are cleansed by your passionate need to give. You see what is needed, you know what to do. You don’t have to think about it.
As i said earlier it is not enough to act from fear or obligation. We need to act from love, from generosity. And we can. All we need is to get in touch with our deeper nature. So we understand what we are. So that we know why there is a deep peace inside us. Why it is so easy to give time and attention to a stranger. Why violence is actually so disturbing.
As long as people believe that human nature is defined by our biology it is hard to be deeply optimistic. The old story, reinforced by Darwinists, Marxist, Freudians, that human beings are selfish, aggressive, greedy creatures by nature has to be challenged. It has to be totally discredited. This can not be done by abstract ideology. It can only be done experientially. That is not so hard to do.
So we’re back to where we were. We consume and accumulate because we are out of touch with nature. Not only with human nature, but also Mother Nature. We have to discover the deeper ‘spiritual’ truth about human nature, and we have to recover a genuine love of external nature.
To get to that love we have to first find to the connection. But to find the connection we cant’ go into the wilderness because the wilderness isn’t available to most of us. So we have to go into the body, because the body is nature. It’s our most intimate and precious resource – of nature. At the same time that then brings us to the heart of human nature. To our spirituality as an experiential discovery.
That’s somatic spirituality! We need to immerse ourselves in somatic practices that put us fully in touch with consciousness. This is not difficult.