“We each have our own mixed bag of neurosis, insecurities, perceptions and qualities. Therefore, there is not one way that works completely for us all. Nobody can tell us what to accept; what opens up our world, and what to reject; what seems to keep us spinning in some kind of repetitive misery. This practice (meditation, mindfulness, awareness – whatever you want to call it) helps us know this basic energy very well, with tremendous warmth and honesty, and we begin to figure out for ourselves what is poison and what is medicine.” ~ Pema Chödrön
If, as Zeno wrote, “The goal of life is living in agreement with nature” then we, as a culture, are completely failing to reach that goal.
Our majority worldview is so focused upon the illusion of separation, and so at odds with nature and the natural order of things, that we’ve forgotten how everything is connected. Instead, we tend to rape and pillage the environment with unforgiving toxins, while manipulating and expropriating each other to no end.
This has left us reeling as a species. We’re in a collective state of existential crisis that has never been seen in the short history of humankind, because when nature is ignored and suppressed we experience a deprivation that is not only a deprivation of nature but a deprivation of the human soul.
The side-effects of which are detrimental on so many different levels – psychological, biological, ecological, and moral – that there’s no telling how much of an impact it will have, whether directly or indirectly, in the long run.
We’re at an existential crossroads. One path leads to a healthy way of living in accord with each other and with nature. The other path has us continuing our unsustainable annihilation of both nature and the human soul.
We must decide which path we’re going to take. And we must be able to convince other people which one of these paths is the healthier path, all without hurting each other; a truly daunting task. But no task is more important.
The problem is that we are so far removed from reality, so caught up in the hyper-reality of the daily grind, endlessly hounded by advertisements that have us chasing our own tail through the whirlwind that is the consumerist lifestyle obsession, that we cannot see the healthy and “right” way of doing things anymore. We’re lost – a myopic species that misplaced itself due to its own boo-hoo, woe-is-me, pathetically insecure instability.
All we really need to do is take a deep collective breath and get back to Mother Nature to rediscover the answers. Like Aldo Leopold wrote, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
But we are such a fearfully resentful, pitifully insecure, unable-to-admit-we-are-fallible, and prone-to-make-mistakes species, that we are, more often than not, held powerless to act in such a simple and courageous way.
The good news is that we don’t have to bear the terrible weight of knowing right from wrong, or healthy from unhealthy. Mother Nature reveals it to us everywhere we go. She is steadfast and resolute with her laws. All we have to do is “listen.”
It begins first with truly understanding, and coming to terms with, the absolute fact that all things are connected, that everything is a community, and that nothing is a commodity, in and of itself, until we convince ourselves that such is the case.
Like Aldo Leopold wrote: “The land is not a commodity that belongs to us; it’s a community to which we belong.” The key is to get our thinking in accord with reality, instead in discord with it, as it is now.
Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Let’s get our thinking to align with the healthy correlates of nature’s dictation of what it means to be a healthy species in balance with a healthy ecology. It really is that simple.
So what is poison? What is medicine? As it stands, we, the human race, are the poison. And nature is the medicine, but her pill is jagged and painful, with knowledge-is-pain, as opposed to ignorance-is-bliss, side-effects. It will be a tough pill to swallow, for sure. It will hurt like hell. But no pill is more important than this one.
If, as Voltaire wrote, “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease,” then we must, as species, amuse each other that the best medicine is to meditate and to reconnect with nature, so that nature can cure our current disease.
We must be able to balance our overly-practical perception of actual reality, and of hyper-reality, with intuition and a relearning of Derrick Jensen’s, “Language older than words.”
Like Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
We must not forget the gift. The gift is our ability to take the facts – whether they are facts from actual reality or pseudo-facts from hyper-reality – and bring them to light, to full disclosure under the dictatorial gaze of Mother Nature.
Like Louis Agassiz wrote, “Go to nature; take the facts into your own hands; look, and see for yourself.”
If we can do that, then we might just discover the difference between poison and medicine.