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Being One With Nature


flowperson
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While this article may be a bit offputting to our more conservative participants, I found it to be full of fascinating ideas and concepts.

 

And no, I wasn't on drugs when I first read it, and not now either, except for some vitamins, herbals, and blood pressure medications.

 

flow.... :)

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/07/internat...fman.html?8hpib

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OK, flow, I trusted you enough to give yet another organization my e-mail address, so I could read this article.

 

The main point I would make from this is that it is a false dichotomy to say part of the world is natural and part is artificial. Human beings are a product of nature, so people have thought for the last two centuries. So culture is a product of nature. So the ugliest building in your town is a part of nature. Culture evolves more quickly than genes do, so there is some difference. People do get some different feeling being in the woods. Is it the color green? Is it being around things not made by human hands? People do get a different feeling being on top of a mountain. Is it so much blue? Is it seeing so much territory at once? Is it the thin air?

 

Some people see such feelings as spiritual. They don't have to be. They could be purely biological. Neuroscientists haven't studied nostalgia to my knowledge, but in theory the continued neuroscience revolution of this century could show how this comes out of the brain with no need at all to invoke anything spiritual in the process.

 

What are people really talking about when they talk about being one with nature? I bet it's more than one thing. Nostalgia is one. Oh, wasn't it wonderful when we were living in mud and filth, at the mercy of all sorts of diseases. Then there is this false idea that what God made in nature is perfect while what we have made through civilization is not. The woods are not so perfect, either. They have stood for a longer time, but endurance isn't everything.

 

There are many ways to see our world as having lost its way. There are even more prescriptions about how to fix it. LSD was an interesting one, but is so much a dead end like most of them. It's natural how we learn by trial and error.

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The main point I would make from this is that it is a false dichotomy to say part of the world is natural and part is artificial. Human beings are a product of nature, so people have thought for the last two centuries. So culture is a product of nature. So the ugliest building in your town is a part of nature.

I did not give another organization my e-mail address to read this article, but what I can say is that I have made exactly this criticism so many times that I've lost count. So much really bad environmental theory is thoroughly based on this false dichotomy. And I find it somewhat ironic that the "humanity is alien to nature" claim underlies both conservative religion and deep ecology. Every species transforms its environment; it's just that humans have such powerful capabilities of conceptualization, that our transformations can be as massive, and potentially destructive, as they are. But the answer isn't to stop transforming the environment; it's to learn better how to work with the grain of nature, rather than against it.

 

Anyway, thanks David for this bit of clear-headedness. I have no idea whether my comments relate to the original article or not. :)

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Every species transforms its environment; it's just that humans have such powerful capabilities of conceptualization, that our transformations can be as massive, and potentially destructive, as they are.But the answer isn't to stop transforming the environment; it's to learn better how to work with the grain of nature, rather than against it.

 

Very good point!

 

I'd describe myself as 30% enviromentalist and 70% conservationist. With that in mind, I do wish humans would learn to see the "bigger picture" of what it means to live in a symbiotic relationship with the earth and with other species.

 

I'm not against transforming the enviroment if, in the big picture, it serves the greater good of all species, and not just humans.

 

For example, here where I live, there is a HUGE controversy over putting in a mass transit system that would span a large percentage of the north part of the state. To connect two cities (and an air force base) would require cutting through mountains and some wetland habitat. Species would be displaced. However, the greater good that would be accomplished by putting in a transporation system (that doesn't run on fossil fuels) would far outweigh the damage caused by cutting up the mountain and filling in some of the wetlands. At least, that is the opinion of some of those involved, which I happen to agree with.

 

In my own back yard, I'm more enviromentalist than conservationist. For example: we have a lot of spiders in our yard. Wolf spiders. Funnel web spiders. Jumping spiders. Yellow sac spiders. It's rather ridiculous how many we have. I can't even go out and sit on my lawn. :rolleyes: However, I REFUSE to use poison to kill the spiders for several reasons. 1) It's been shown that poisons have a tendency to kill friendly spiders (like jumping spiders) and not kill dangerous spiders (like Hobos). Jumping spiders kill Hobos. They are one of the few spiders that can do so. Putting down poison encourages the growth of Hobo spider populations. 2) We also have a lot of birds in the yard. Birds love spiders. If I poison the spiders, I poison the birds. 3) We also have lots of mosquitos ... Well, you get the picture.

 

So I think that enviromentalism and conservationism both have a place. It is true that everything on this planet is "part of nature." However, many don't see the impact their actions have on the bigger picture, which is where I get frustrated. I'm not just talking about those that are "enviromentally blind" either. I'm also talking about the rabid enviromentalists who don't see that humans, too, are a part of this planet. In fact, when humans remove themselves from the cycle of nature, it can actually cause harm.

 

Of course, I could just say that "all is Maya" and shuffle down the relative highway .... Nah!

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Of course, I could just say that "all is Maya" and shuffle down the relative highway ....

Or, Jesus is coming back soon, so who cares? Interesting how similar they end up being, eh?

 

Oh yeah. :( I know of JW's who were couseled for recycling. They were told that it gave the wrong impression: that they didn't have faith that God was going to return "real soon" and kill all the heathens and clean up the planet himself.

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I thought that this article was interesting in several ways, many of which you all have expertly touched upon. But still I was fascinated by this man's obsession to recapture that one moment that he emotionally recalled from his boyhood. This accidently led to his invention of one of the most powerful mind altering substances known.

 

Never having done the trip thing, even though I did live through the 60's as a married observer and young father, can understand the lure of mind altering drugs to people who have been damaged by life to try their use to perhaps "get back" to some past percieved perfectness. In this sense, I can understand his longing to be "one with nature" in emotion and remembrance as long as that longing is experienced as a "good" thing.

 

Oh, by the way, here's another interesting tidbit that may touch upon this discussion in interesting ways. And you all thought that "monkey see, monkey do" was just some old folk wisdom.

 

flow.... :)

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/10/science/...?pagewanted=all

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I think I focused on "one with nature" because that is the title of the discussion, but it occurs to me that someone else would talk about how they were "one with God" on LSD. I never took LSD. I saw too many effects of bad trips. I do remember some guys on LSD looking at flowers at a party, talking about how crystalline they had become. I've talked with others who saw the brightest colors they've ever seen on LSD, as if the world had become a cartoon. Then they can be a similar cognitive "brightness" to the perceptual one, where an idea is the greatest idea ever thought, just as a song or a color is the greatest representative of their class perceptually.

 

My focus was on the neuroscience of such things, but there is this connection to spirituality. God spoke to me out of some bright sunlight streaming into a room once, not the result of a pharmaceutical. Before I heard any words, the sunlight had already become God, brighter maybe, but maybe not perceptually changed at all. This wasn't so much perceptual as cognitive. The light just had become God to me, similar to how ideas came to the author of this article under the influence of LSD. He could make sense of his ideas by seeing them as getting back to nature, something people think of without LSD. I made sense of mine by connecting them to similar experiences others had had, like Paul's description of his. I also made sense of it because I had started praying again, because I needed some help. I had a context to put it in.

 

I don't share the same context that this author has about getting back to nature or talking to LSD. I talk to God. I talk to my fingers, but I don't talk to molecules. Is that about my idiosyncracies or is it about who God really? I don't think experiences like this are good at answering this. Our judgment about such things is not great at the time. It's where such a thing goes as time goes on that is more interesting to me now. There is still much uncertainty about what is God and what is an idol, but if there is any chance there is a God behind such things, that's who I'm going to trust to teach me the difference. I think that does work better than LSD, but there is something similar between the two, if I knew enough to detail that.

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