A RADICAL INTERVIEW extract two

People don’t trust nature. We don’t trust others. We don’t trust ourselves. This has to change if we are to meet this ecological catastrophe effectively. Even if that doesn’t mean preventing it. Even if that only means going down gracefully.

Trust in nature does not come from intellectual analysis. Nor does trust in others. It only comes from experience. By becoming intimate with your own presence you can arrive at both simultaneously. Trust in self and others and trust in the natural world.

That is really what we need. Trust and love go with each other. We can’t love nature if we don’t trust her. We can’t love ourselves if we don’t trust ourselves. That is what Radical Ecology is all about: generating that trust. Through experience. It does not have to be total, there just has to be an opening.

What do you mean by total trust?

I mean completely trusting life, in its wholeness, just as it is. This of course includes trusting Mother Nature and human nature. Not just as abstractions or collectives, but in all their individual particulars. I don’t mean that the trust has to be fully there but the openness to the possibility of trusting life has to be there because why would you want to be sensitive to something that you can’t trust?

Where most people are starting from is that you can’t trust life; you can’t trust nature and its dangers. For thousands of years civilisation can be seen as and is often called the conquest of nature. Within that there is fear of nature and within that there’s mistrust.

Of ourselves too – we fear our own moods so take drugs to change them

Yes. We fear ourselves because we don’t really know ourselves. We don’t know that there is an inexhaustible source of peace, delight and love inside each one of us.

People need to get to the point where they’re willing to become open to trusting life. That is two degrees away from actually trusting it. That is not such a big ask. It is very doable. In fact that is what Embodied Resilience Trainings are for.

The change we need has to come from very deep. It is not enough to change our beliefs and values, to put on an acceptable uniform, to pay carbon offsets. We need to change what we consciously want. Not what we want as an ideal or a dream or a hope. We need to change what we want to do and feel right now.

Only then will our behaviour change. I don’t see a political solution. Clean clothes on a dirty body just get dirty very fast. We need a deep change in the way people think. Not only concepts, but first, desires. We have to choose different things because we feel how much we want them, need them. How much we need to nestle in the roots of a tree, run our toes through sand and look each other in the eyes.

The environmental crisis is deeper than politics. It’s deeper than economics. We are not going to get an economic or political solution. The crisis is one of desire. We are wanting things that won’t and can’t satisfy us. So we keep banging our head against a brick wall: the brick wall of consumerism.

I don’t see a social solution. I see only an inner solution. People’s motives have to change. People have to want intimacy more than things. That’s it really. Intimacy with nature, with consciousness, with their body, and with each other. Not jut wanting that – we all want that – but realising that we want that. And that the other things we want are fine but they aren’t going to give us what those will give us – intimacy with body, mind, consciousness, others and nature. Intimacy with organic life, natural life is what’s needed.

I don’t mean to say the environmental, social, economic, political actions that people take shouldn’t be taken. I’m just saying that those are going to come to nothing if they don’t rest on something deeper. Our political actions must be based on loving and trusting life. Not on fear of destruction, or guilt about destroying.

Of course we need political and social changes. But they must rest on changes in the individual psyche. It’s not an either or. Life is recycling its units so very quickly. There has to be a deep change in human understanding. We need a change of consciousness. Something very deep has to happen.

Maybe something already is. I’m not suggesting that somebody has to come up with an idea. Maybe the idea is already expressing itself; we just haven’t quite recognised its fruition. People talk about critical mass and tipping points. Yes, sure we know these things happen. Yet of course you can’t tell that it’s tipping until it’s tipping. You can’t tell the waters about to boil – it’s just getting hotter. All of a sudden you know it’s boiling because it’s steam.

I’m not worried. The reason I’m not worried is that I love life more than I love Godfrey. I don’t really know who Godfrey is. He is a chameleon, a will o’ the wisp.

I think I know what life is. People always suffer. Suffering is the secret face of joy. I think to try to avoid human suffering is foolish. That’s never going to happen, that’s never going to come. People are making a lot of fuss, and I don’t mean to belittle the fuss, about economic and political exploitation. The 760 billion dollar bailout. Of course, I agree, it sounds ludicrous, nonsense. It’s just one more example of elitist exploitation.

Just show me a time when the few were not riding on the labour of the many. Just show me! I don’t see such a time. Except outside the history and thrust of so called civilisation. In the African savannah or the Amazon rainforest perhaps. But civilisation as we know it is based on surplus. Surplus means accumulation. Accumulation means concentration. Concentration means exploitation as long as society is based on mistrust and fear of nature.

As long as we fear for ourselves we lose touch with our compassion for others. This has always been the flavour of so called civilisation. We need to rise above that fear, that mistrust. It doesn’t take effort to do that. It takes intimacy. With our bodies, with each other, with nature. Most of all it needs intimacy with the indivisibility of wholeness. This is not so hard to come by. This is somatic spirituality, this is Radical Ecology. Only through intimacy can we come to the trust that we need to live in peace with each other and nature.

It’s interesting what you say about trusting yourself, trusting life, the wisdom because so few people really do…

Most people don’t even recognise that life has its own wisdom. Some people might give it intelligence but of a very basic kind. They don’t even recognise that their conceptual intelligence comes from life. It comes from the specialised differentiation of cellular intelligence, cellular sensitivity. The sophisticated circuitry of the cortex is just cells.

Not realising this is alienation. An alienation from nature that forces us to hope for something more, something other, something out there, something mystical, transcendent, metaphysical. It isn’t there. It just isn’t there. But still the hopeful keep tying themselves up in cords of hope, frustration and despair. But this alienation is easily remedied. We only have to become intimate with our bodies. As we do so we become intimate with our mind, and with consciousness. All along we are becoming intimate with nature. Within this intimacy a deep trust in and love for nature can not help but be born.