I’m going to envision and sketch an image of the interrelatedness of our environments: human, natural, and spiritual. I’ve come to imagine them as dynamically one since I witnessed the image of the Earth from the moon; we all live here together. I am of course expanding the meaning of the environment beyond the usual focus. Here is a basic word definition of “environment” from my online dictionary: “Descending from the Middle French preposition environ “around,” environment, in its most basic meaning, is “that which surrounds.” In our daily news, we always predominate on problems in our social environment. We, however, have now had to recognize with “climate change” that the natural environment needs to be dealt with. I want to relate each of these to our spiritual story and environment that surrounds us in a different perhaps interior manner. What I see though is that this spirit understanding needs to relate to what we do in our social and natural environments. If it does not relate, it would be called “spiritual bypass”, in other words, it’s superfluous to our actual on the ground reality, and could just as well be referred to as “spiritual fluff”. In this current pandemic crisis, we have the opportunity to let go and release the structures of the past and build systems and structures that serve all.
OUR SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT – OUR CURRENT APPROACHES
None of us at the beginning of 2020 anticipated that this little microbe would show up and cause havoc everywhere in our lives. So first, I’d like to consider our human social environment and touch on some of the myriads of problems, and highlight how we tend to look at them piecemeal and not related. A systems approach would be much more realistic and probably much more successful. “When we look at the state of the world today at our multi-faceted global crisis, what is most evident is that none of our major problems, energy, the environment, the climate emergency, economic inequality, and now the COVID pandemic. None of these problems can be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means they are all interconnected and interdependent.”- Fritjof Capra, Center for Eco-literacy. Our media and then of course ‘the man in the street’ or you yourself tend to look at a particular social problem in itself and not interrelated to the others. Such an approach is no longer really working successfully in our planetary culture; we are all in this together for better or for worse. It is time to wake ourselves up, to reinvent and recreate the social structures in which we live, so they can serve all.
OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE NATURAL WORLD AND TO THE PLANT KINGDOM
How do plants and the human community coexist on this planet? We tend to take the reality of the plant kingdom for granted, and yet evolutionarily, though it’s excluded in most cases from our spiritual stories, plants have created the planet on which we inhabit. Plants continue to maintain the atmosphere, nourish us with food, and support us much more, so humans and animals can survive and breathe. Current research, much of it in Europe, has revealed that plants are much more aware of their environment than we in the past have recognized. We think of plants more as decorative to our social environment, so the support they give us and wisdom that they embody is little understood, minimalized, or rationalized.
EMBODYING AN INCLUSIVELY GROUNDED SPIRITUAL STORY
With the image of the Earthrise from space, I and some others realized that we live in an interrelated planet. If one’s spiritual life is not grounded in the Earth and in our social reality, where is it grounded? With my conceptual diagram above, I want to show that we live in Oneness and interrelatedness; all three of these environments or aspects of our lives relate dynamically to one another. Sadly, in our current world politics, cultural, racial, and religious divides, this is not the case. The future I envision, though, is one of finding our integrity and truth in our Oneness and in inter-cooperation between communities, cultures, countries, and individuals in new systems that support us all. I feel there are others who share this vision of a workable future for all and can release a past that no longer works. This is the opportunity I see for us all in this year of 2020.
Things that inspire me:
Learning in a variety of ways, literary, analytic, experimental, communicational, and being compassionate.
Creative endeavors, such as art, music, poetry, and dance. Hiking in the woods or in nature. Feeling the energy of oneness in nature that is not felt in the city. Strumming on the guitar and composing poetic verses.
The spirit of oneness in my experience. The connection between different facets of my experience, such as visual colors, harmonies, nature and language. Spirituality is sensing my world as both.