Humans have looked at nature for answers to problems since time immemorial. Our most important technologies are directly related to ways in which we have used nature as a model for our blueprints. Biomimicry is a powerful way to cultivate the wisdom inherent in nature’s design.
It sets a two-way mirror up against Mother Nature where we are more able to see ourselves and our interconnection with all things. Here are six ways we can use biomimicry to become more enlightened beings.
“There are essential and inessential insanities. The latter are solar in character, the former are linked to the moon. Inessential insanities are a brittle amalgamation of ambition, aggression, and pre-adolescent anxiety—garbage that should have been dumped long ago. Essential insanities are those impulses one instinctively senses are virtuous and correct, even though peers may regard them as coo-coo. Inessential insanities get one in trouble with oneself. Essential insanities get one in trouble with others. It’s always preferable to be in trouble with others. In fact, it may be essential. Poetry, the best of it, is lunar and is concerned with the essential insanities. Journalism is solar (there are numerous newspapers named The Sun, none called The Moon) and is devoted to the inessential.” ~ Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker
Life hangs in a delicate balance between light and dark, between the sun and the moon. Mother Nature is us, and we are her. We should hold the shape of her like a trophy, her magnanimity beaming through her skin like a moon with a sun center. The sun brings energy to all things, photosynthesizing all of life on the planet. The moon sifts the oceans and gives life repose and time to recuperate.
Between the two, we humans thrive, or at least we attempt to do so. Our mythologies and our poetry are ripe with sun and moon analogies. We honor the sun with our gold coins and the moon with our silver coins. Indeed, the sun and the moon are inescapable aspects of what it means to be a human being. As such, it behooves us to empower ourselves with the energy of the sun and moon; both literally (think plant-shaped solar panels) and figuratively (Tom Robbins’ above quote).
2.) Use only the energy that you need
“Live simply so that others can simply live.” ~ Gandhi
In historically healthy cultures the idea of the accumulation of private property beyond one’s needs was considered a mental illness. Governing this precept, one could argue that our culture is mentally ill. Therefore, we must learn to curb our inner excess.
We must learn how to tap the power of limits. Nature abhors a vacuum, especially creatures that are acting like vacuums. Don’t be a vacuum. Be an open space for nature to explore itself instead. After all, you are nature and nature is you. By cultivating a moderate lifestyle you create an ever-widening open space for further exploration.
Your comfort zone grows and grows until it subsumes the world, and suddenly you are an interdependent agent as opposed to a codependent or even an independent agent. When we model our actions off of nature by taking only what we need, we are less likely to leave burnt-out husks of ecology in our wake, and more likely to leave environments plentiful and biodiverse so that life can be further cultivated.
“When you’re deeply sensitive, love is ecstasy. Music is godlike. Heartache is a wide, somatic wound. Visual natural beauty is jewel-drenched, wild bliss. Tension and conflict are muscle tightening and toxic, straight down to the cells. So how do you hold it all? You rinse, re-center, and remain clear. You recycle your sensitivity by propelling yourself and others to create waves of change in a super starving world. Direct your passion by spreading your heart only across what clearly matters most. Surround yourself with the souls and spaces that groove alongside your own- the ones that also desire to chase the beauty, courage and freedom we’re all here to teach each other. Choose love over fear and let go of all the rest, breathing what isn’t best for you straight out of your bones. Remember: there is power in the body. Harness it for the greater good, and allow nothing confusing, peace disrupting, or hurtful stand in its way.” ~ Victoria Erickson
Life: soak it up, squeeze it out, cleanse, and then do it all over again. This is the essence of mimicking nature. Whatever it is, whether it’s our bodies (what we’re eating and the diets we cling to), our minds (what we’re thinking and the ideas we cling to), or our souls (what we’re believing and the idols we cling to), one of the keys to living a healthy life is the ability to recycle.
Take it in, enjoy it for what it is, or for what it has to teach you, and then let it go. Tap into it, allow it to tap you, and then release it so it can tap and re-tap forever. Recycle everything. This not only creates healthier people, who are more willing to live in balance with nature, it creates more sustainable environments. Go forth and recycle.
4) Trump competition with cooperation
“Let there be space in your togetherness.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
The basis of nature is cooperation and democracy. It’s in our DNA. It can be seen in every organism from ants to primates. In The Descent of Man Darwin mentioned “survival of the fittest” twice and he mentioned the word “love” 95 times. And the essential aspect of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” was NOT competition or who ends up with the most “stuff.” That’s just a myth. It is cooperation and the ability to adapt and overcome.
In a culture where competition, taking, and hoarding are higher values than cooperation, sharing, and gifting, the culture is a dead thing and can only ever end by eating itself. But if we can find the courage and the resolve to flip the tables on this social dynamic, we can turn the tide and resurrect the living-dead culture from the zombie that it is into the thriving entity that it could be.
When we live in a fear-based way, competition, paranoia and rampant security based on insecurities are the norm. But we don’t have to live this way. We can choose to live in a courage-based way, where love and cooperation are the norm. My hope is that in the end courage and cooperation will win over fear and tyranny.
5.) Honor diversity
“I think we need to shift an industrial paradigm to an organic paradigm. We need to conceive institutions individually, not system-wide, as one’s which don’t value just utility but respect and promote living vitality, the energy of organization and its potential to be transformative, but doesn’t think in terms of linearity but thinks of creativity, and multiple options for everybody in it. That is not about conformity, but diversity and it’s critically about customization.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson
Diversity is the key to optimal healthiness within nature. Diversity reduces our vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which we reside. Everything from reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park to the contrasting wonders found between diverse cultures, gives testament to the power of diversity in nature. And since we are nature, it behooves us to respect the diversity inherent within the human condition.
We need more than heroes who simply leave paths for others to follow; we need heroes who leave guidance on how others can create their own paths –the more “paths” the better. The more personalized philosophies the better. This is because personal philosophies empower individuals to become more self-actualized. Even bad philosophies can be good, as they have the power to teach by bad example what not to do.
6.) Wear masks that bring you to life
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Nature is excellent at wearing masks. And it is even more excellent at keeping its secrets hidden. But maybe by learning to wear masks ourselves, we might possibly become more effective at forcing nature to disclose her secrets.
Masks have utility but only insofar as they embolden what’s beneath. The art of mask-wearing is precisely the art of digging up hidden inner-selves in the deep menagerie of the Self, revealing their furtive subterfuges and clandestine agendas and uncloaking their secret schemes.
Might wearing sun masks and moon masks make us more systemically divergent and more balanced with nature? Might wearing wolf masks and lion masks cause us to act less like oppressed sheeple and more like courageous people? Might wearing whale masks and owl masks cause us to work smarter not harder?
Might wearing coyote masks and crow masks teach us more about the shadowy underbelly of nature and the need for playfulness and trickery in our cultures so that we don’t take ourselves too seriously? Humans are a very imaginative species.
Indeed, it’s the very reason we have come so far as we have in our evolution. There is no reason whatsoever that we should stop using our imaginations to penetrate and disclose the secrets of the universe. And masks are an excellent way of doing exactly that. Like William Hazlitt wrote, “Man is a make-believe animal –he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.”