Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mother (& Father) Nature

"My soul can find no staircase to heaven unless it be through earths loveliness" Michelangelo

Before there were any cultures, societies, or religions, before even languages or the first word spoken, there was the holy, sacred, and divine. This force lives in the stars, waters, sky, earth, trees, animals, and all creation. As nature is a creative force like the feminine, we consider nature a mother to all. Nature is also looms large and strong as in great trees and mountains, so can be considered masculine as well.

It starts as a gift, and we are wise to embrace that gift wholeheartedly. Nature is our own heart and saving grace, and we consider nature God's true cathedral, church, temple, and sanctuary in many ways. In nature we often feel our most joyful, peaceful, and at home. In this rushed, complicated, and stressful civilized world we now live we need that feeling on a regular basis.

The great naturalist John Muir said "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." Unfortunately he also said that those who need nature the most are the least likely to pursue it.

Many of us were fortunate enough to grow up in natural surroundings or have family and friends that took us out to nature's wilds for hiking, camping, and recreation, so learned a love for nature that is an important part of us. Yet these days many people have grown up isolated in cities far from anything natural. Also many people spend huge amounts of time gazing at television, computer, phone, or other screens rather than in true relationship and intimacy with nature or others.

A 2017 survey of 12,000 adults and children in the United States has shown that many people have lost a close connection with nature. The Nature of Americans National Report found that more than half of adults reported spending five hours or less in nature each week. Parents of children 8 to 12 years old said that their children spend three times as many hours with computers and televisions each week as they do playing outside.

"The findings from an unprecedented national study of Americans’ relationship to nature reveal an alarming disconnection, but also widespread opportunities for reconnecting. The results are prompting nature conservation, environmental education, and outdoor recreation leaders to rethink how they work to connect people with nature. The core premise of these recommendations is that connection to nature is not a dispensable amenity, but rather is essential to the health, economic prosperity, quality of life, and social well-being of all Americans,”

As we get older our love for nature and all things natural has only expanded, strengthened,  and matured. One can describe dysfunctional life as claustrophobic: trapped, lost, and alone, but in nature we feel free, connected, and at home. Life and nature are so incredibly abundant, tenacious, diverse, and amazing that the love, peace and beauty are a joy to behold.

Nature is a unifying force that naturally brings together what we so commonly see as separate aspects of ourselves and "others". There is an ancient Eastern saying that "to know the self is to forget the self". In a similar fashion we can break down the seemingly separate parts of nature so that through understanding their individual natures we can let that go and enjoy a unified vision.

First we start with the earth, moon, sun, and all the other "heavenly bodies". This is the basis of all creation, life, and humanity, so a good starting point. The sun and moon are certainly familiar to us but many, perhaps most of us feel a deep bond and love for our dear Mother Earth, for although we are ultimately made up of "star stuff", it was in the womb of the ocean life began and then emerged onto land to cover the planet in every possible way and place in great diversity, complexity, tenacity, and abundance.

Secondly, we consider vast variety of plant life in trees, grasses, ferns, flowering plants, and so on. Yes, these are our earliest ancestors, and a huge and significant branch on our family tree. Should we lose our amazing powers of reasoning, mobility, and awareness, it is said we return to this "vegetative state". Yet even plants do in fact possess great powers of discernment as evidenced in this post: Do Plants, Insects, Reptiles, and Fish Think?

Third are the early "lower" life forms such as reptiles, birds, fish, amphibians, and arthropods (insects/spiders/crustaceans). Although birds are warm blooded and can be quite intelligent the others are cold blooded. This may also be evidenced in their nature as they are often a lot more combative than cooperative and often don't care for their young. This is where humans come in as seen in the ancient brain the basil ganglia or brain stem, often called "the lizard brain" due to it's basic functioning.

The fourth level is that of a Higher Power (please see Higher Power Sanity File) imagined at our center, our source, and the gut level of intuition at the solar plexus. All of the power, presence, and wisdom of the universe finds a home here, and radiates out to life and creation (mentioned above), as well as to our human levels (illuminated below) of child, adult, and parent/leader. This is, of course, a pivotal aspect of all our "natures", from the cosmos, to preverbal life, to the great intelligence we enjoy.

The fifth level is a major step forward with appearance of mammals (and the mammalian brain). Now animals took a much greater interest and part in protecting, nurturing, and teaching offspring. Humans are a good example of this as we are held to the breast within gazing view of parents for months or years, then protected, guided, and cared for for many years further (if we are fortunate).

Perhaps it is no coincidence the breasts (mammary glands) are at the the level of the heart and lungs, as mammals are often the most loving of animals (from the heart), and through their years of caring and nurturing may inspire their children to take wings and soar. We say this because the word inspiration comes from "breathing in", and lungs are all about wind, so in a way are our wings.

This is also the beginnings of human nature with the child, and in adults as the inner child. This is perhaps the most loving, joyful, enthusiastic, authentic, and adventuresome part of us. Many of us had difficult childhoods, so our inner child has been locked away for years or decades. Consequently, it is also here where we have a great opportunity for healing. Unfortunately the child stages of development may be arrested in youth and hinder us through-out our lives unless, we find help and healing. For more on this please see the Inner Child and Twelve Step Sanity Files.

The sixth level of our nature is at the level of the reasoning, rational, and mature mind of the adult. This is also another level of brain as evidenced in the frontal cortex. Mature adults enjoy self confidence, autonomy, decisiveness, and are generally practical, purposeful, and experienced. (see Adult State Sanity File). This position seems like the best place to be but is woefully shortsighted without the joyful, creative, and authentic inner child, and the caring, nurturing influence of the inner parent/leader.                                    
The seventh level of human nature is that of parent, but also leaders such as teachers, bosses, managers, supervisors, and (wise) politicians. We also like to add less conventional, but no less important leaders such as warriors, super-hero's, and kings and queens.  Please see Inner Parent Sanity File, and there is also a File for the Inner Hero (Warrior/King/Queen)).

Our utmost nature is the True Self. This is our deepest and most important nature as it encompasses all of the universe, life forms, our Higher Power, and humanity. Growing up we yielded to family, cultural, and other influences that walled us off from these parts of ourselves and a false self arose to strive to maintain our private little worlds. The false self has often been running our lives for years or decades in a useless attempt to keep us safe and secure in our small and lonely self. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely said that " We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree, but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles, Meantime within man is the soul of the whole: the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is related; the eternal One." For more, please see the True Self Sanity File.

We offer a link to a very surprising post to help you feel the awe and wonder that is an intrinsic part of the natural world called Sacred Geometry  The post shows how not just naturalists, but scientists of all sorts are finding evidence of a great intelligence and wisdom through-out creation. The "finger prints of God" they have found are truly amazing and inspiring.

Unfortunately our dear Mother/Father Nature is being assailed on many fronts and faces a number of dire emergencies. As we are intimately connected with nature in a myriad of ways, this is a wake up call for humanity as well, hopefully before it is too late. For information on pollution, overpopulation, dwindling resources, and other pressing issues we need to address click here.

We hope you will be inspired to do what you can to help all life and nature thrive out of the deep sense of love and appreciation that we feel. We want to finish on a positive note with wise words of our favorite naturalist John Muir, a video series of Lee Stetson's inspiring portrayal of John Muir here, and images of Nature in all it's beautiful and majestic glory.

Here are links to some of the favorite places we enjoy in the Southern California:  A Day In Yosemite  June Lake  Palm Springs  Santa Barbara  San Diego   Monterey  Big Bear Lake  Sequoia Park  Mammoth Lakes

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