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Global-eudaimonia

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Title:
Global-eudaimonia rendering the world in the human heart
Creator:
Hope, R. Kiffin
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Language:
English
Physical Description:
106 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Environmental degradation ( lcsh )
Environmental responsibility ( lcsh )
Nature -- Effect of human beings on ( lcsh )
Environmental degradation ( fast )
Environmental responsibility ( fast )
Nature -- Effect of human beings on ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 99-106).
General Note:
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Statement of Responsibility:
by R. Kiffin Hope.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
49642180 ( OCLC )
ocm49642180
Classification:
LD1190.L58 2001m .H66 ( lcc )

Full Text
GLOBAL-EUDAIMONIA:
RENDERING THE WORLD IN THE HUMAN HEART
by
R. Kiffin Hope
A. A. Spartanburg Methodist College, 1986
B.A. University of South Carolina at Spartanburg, 1989
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Humanities


This thesis for the Master of Humanities
degree by
R. Kiffin Hope
has been approved
by
Glenn Webster
Date


Hope, R. Kiffin (M.H*., Humanities)
Global-Eudaimonia: Rendering the World in the Human Heart
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Mark Tanzer
ABSTRACT
This work describes the present planet wide ecocrisis as a crisis arising out of the
spirit of humankind. It recounts the probable living-connection that our remote human
ancestors had with nature, how and when this connection may have been severed, and
how a human-wide psychological re-connection with nature is imperative if the
ecocrisis is ever to be resolved. Expanding upon the thought of deep ecologist Arne
Naess, mythologist Joseph Campbell, and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, the ecocrisis is
portrayed as being a physical/material reflection of a sickness or crisis of the human
spirit; namely, Western and westernized civilizations have come to view the fate of
humanity as distinct from that of nature. This, however, is shown to be an unrealistic
view. As aspects of nature arising out of nature, it is impractical and ultimately
suicidal for humanity to separate its welfare and fate from that of natures. If the
ecocrisis is human-bome, then before the Earth can be healed, humanity must
undergo a spiritual and psychological shift which reconnects it to the very foundation
of its being: nature.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Signed
Mark Tanzer
m


DEDICATION
To my beautiful wife, Jennifer I lovingly dedicate this work to you for your
boundless support and encouragement in finishing this project. Love to you always.
To my sweet daughter, Katherine I hope that you come to live in a world where
the splendor of nature is explored and loved instead of plundered and exploited.
To my good friend, author John Major Jenkins I extend deepest appreciation to
you for your insights and suggestions during my final months of research and writing.


CONTENTS
Key......................................................vii
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION...........................................1
Accident and Intent.................................1
2. A PLANET SUFFERING.....................................8
The Human Effect....................................8
Our Present Situation..............................12
The Dawn of a New Worldcentrism?...................14
3. CONTEMPORARY ECOLOGICAL THOUGHT.......................17
An Outdated Worldview..............................17
Ecophilosophy, Environmental Ethics, Ecopsychology,
and Deep Ecology...................................18
A Critique of Environmentalism.....................20
The Integrative Character of Deep Ecology..........22
Our Common Being...................................25
4. HUMANITY AND THE WORLD: FROM INTEGRATION
TO DIS-INTEGRATION.....................................30
The Ancestral Psyche...............................30
The Notion of Justification........................37
v


The Possible Roots of our Psychological Dissociation
from Nature...........................................39
The Devolution of Eco-logical Life....................41
5. INDIVISIBLE REALITY......................................53
One Visible Animal: the Organismic Worldview........53
Intrinsic Value, Purpose, and Purposiveness...........62
World-loyalty.........................................66
6. DENYING THE WORLD .......................................73
Evil: Limiting the Forms of Attainment................73
Human Neuroses and the Ecocrisis......................79
7. EMBRACING THE WORLD......................................90
Global-Eudaimonia: A Proposed Way of Living and of Thinking
about the World.......................................90
Epilogue: Mysterium tremendum et fascinans............95
BIBLIOGRAPHY.......................................................99
vi


KEY
The four works by Carl Gustav Jung are distinguished as:
FS: Flving Saucers: A Modem Myth of Things Seen in the Skies
MS: Man and His Symbols
MDR: Memories. Dreams. Reflections
UDS: The Undiscovered Self
The four works by Joseph Campbell are distinguished as:
HTF: The Hero with a Thousand Faces
HAI: Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Vol I The Way of the Animal Powers.
Part 1 Mythologies of the Primitive Hunters and Gatherers
MTB: Myth and the Body
MLB: Myths to Live By: How we re-create ancient legends in our daily lives to
release human potential
The two works by Alfred North Whitehead are distinguished as:
PR: Process and Reality
RM: Religion in the Making
The two works by Ken Wilber are distinguished as:
BHE: A Brief History of Everything
SES: Sex. Ecology. Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution
vii


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Accident and Intent
Before the appearance of rationalizing, high technology wielding, fossil fuel burning
human beings, one may assume that the planet Earth went along in a manner that by
its very balanced character straightforwardly and, perhaps even in some sense,
happily harbored the diversity of lifeforms upon it. Yet, while one may conceive in
his imagination the inestimable loveliness of pre-human Earth, it has to be admitted
that our planetary home spinning as it does in the heavens is, always has been,
and always will be a dangerous place to live.
We know of the widespread volcanism and tectonic upheavals that took place
as the Earth suffered from the afterpangs of its cosmic nativity. We know that
meteoric devastation has pummeled the planet and caused the disappearance of
innumerable and wonderful manifestations of life; and that sun activity and the
precession of our world regularly bring about alternating ages of cold and hot,
annihilation and flourishing.
In the relative calm but increasing chaos of the Earth today, stellar and
planetary dangers nevertheless still lurk: an undetected asteroid could impact our
world tomorrow, a chain of volcanoes could reawaken overnight, or the next ice age
could usher in literally in the blinking of an eye. The fate of Earth and its lifeforms
are forever subject to celestial and terrestrial caprice. This will always be a condition
of life, whether on this planet or any of countless others scattered about the cosmos. l
l


Here in the advent of the twenty-first century, we find that our world is
warming up. Scientific studies conducted by the United Nations Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)1, the United States Global Change Research
Program (USGCRP)1 2, and the National Research Councils (NRC)3 4 Committee on the
Science of Climate Change all unwaveringly indict the activities of humankind as
complicating the naturally reoccurring phenomenon of global warming. As opposed
to the planet warming gradually and perhaps manageably with the unfolding of this
meteorological exhibition, Earth is warming up more quickly than expected or
predicted owing to the release of greenhouse gases from the human dependence on
fossil fuels for powering automobiles, industry, and homes. These gases effectively
trap the Sims heat within the planets atmosphere, thus preventing heat from being
efficiently radiated back into space. Instead of homeostasis, the Earth is beginning to
suffer from a fever. And what is virtually unknown by most persons and little
understood by climatologists, is that when the Earth warms up, an ice age is waiting
in the wings to appear upon the planetary stage* While a gradual increase in the
warming trend can be imagined, or hoped, to be gradual and manageable, [w]e know
that, in the past, other climatic changes have flipped on and off, without much of a
middle ground (Calvin 9). Therefore, [i]ts more a question of how badly we are
augmenting the overheating tendencies. And what sort of trouble well make for
1 IPCC report entitled Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaption, and Vulnerability
2 USGCRP report entitled Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The
Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change
3 NRCs Committee on the Science of Change report entitled Climate Change
Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions
4 See William H. Calvins The Ascent of Mind
2


ourselves with major climatic change (3). The impact of human activity on planet
Earth is overwhelmingly clear. The Climate Change Impacts on the United States
report states:
The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) has risen about 30% since
the late 1800s. The concentration of CO2 is now higher than it has
been in at least the last 400,000 years. This increase has resulted from
the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, and the destruction of forests
around the world to provide space for agriculture and other human
activities. Rising concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are
intensifying Earths natural green house effect. Global projections of
population growth and assumptions about energy use indicate that the
CO2 concentration will continue to rise, likely reaching between two
and three times its late-1 ^-century level by 2100. This dramatic
doubling or tripling will occur in the space of about 200 years, a brief
moment in geological history... [Scientific evidence confirms that
human activities are a discernible cause of a substantial part of the
warming experienced over the 20th century... It is very unlikely that
these unusually high temperatures can be explained solely by natural
climate variations. The intensity and pattern of temperature changes
implicates human activities as a cause (Melillo 12, 13).
The fact of this increasing acceleration in warming has been the subject in
recent years of the contentious Kyoto Protocol. The protocol was created in
December 1997 and is an international convention that proposes legally binding
targets for reducing all major greenhouse gases. Although the Kyoto Protocol may not
in the end be the answer of the worlds ecocrisis on the political level, it is
nevertheless a start in the right direction. As philosopher Ken Wilber points out in his
A Brief History of Everything, in order to even approach solving the worlds ecocrisis,
the human race must:
reach {a} mutual understanding and mutual agreement based on a
worldcentric moral perspective concerning the global commons. And
we reach that worldcentric moral perspective through a difficult and
laborious process of interior growth and transcendence. In short,
global problems demand global consciousness... (285, authors
italics).
3


While the dangers of global warming have been accepted as a scientific reality
and as a planetary condition worthy of immediate attention and action by 178
Kyoto treaty nations, including the European Community, Japan, Germany and many
other Western and westernized countries, the United States under the present
administration unilaterally refuses to be a participant in the unfolding of the protocol.
This administrations position is more that of uninformed refusal of the evidence
rather than denial of it on any verifiably legitimate grounds. Ironically, it is this
administration that requested the aforementioned NRC study a study whose results
have obviously not penetrated beyond the realm of cursory consideration by Bush and
his advisors. Irrespective of the overwhelming scientific evidence of global warming,
they remain unimpressed, saying that additional studies are needed, and subsequently
attracting deserved worldwide condemnation for their unfaltering ignorance and
foolishness in the face of a planetary crisis. Regarding this, Carl Pope, Executive
Director of the Sierra Club, stated:
President Bush is trying to distract attention away from his overall
energy plan, which drills, digs, destroys and pollutes, but doesn't solve
our energy needs ... As he submits his plan to Congress, it would be
more honest for President Bush to stand in front of old, dirty power
plants or gas-guzzling SUVs. The Presidents plan means more
pollution, more global warming, and fewer wild places for our families
to explore and enjoy (Pope, Internet press release).
As philosopher and deep ecologist Arne Naess (b. 1912) writes, ecopolitics
should ideally be concerned not only with specifically ecological activity, but with
every aspect of life (Naess 130). Further to this point, Naess offers: [W]e need in
society even as it is now operating people who are competent to take part in
economic decision making and take part in informing the public about the
consequences of different decisions (Naess 106, authors italics). What is deeply
unsettling is the fact that environmental degradation will continue before any well-
4


formulated, world-centered goals are adopted into any major political partys agenda
(162).
This work, however, is not really about the Bush administration at all. I
mention this administration only because it would seem to be the worlds most recent
and obvious manifestation of the dark side of materialism and seeming mal-intent
toward the natural environment. This administration merely serves to put a face on
the ecologically destructive, profit-driven monster industries of the U.S. and world
economies: oil, mining, chemical, weapons, energy, automobile, timber, plastic, and
agribusiness.
Then again, it is not solely these industries that are to blame. More to blame, I
would say, are the unenlightened individual consumers who place no ecological
forethought into their purchases and activities, and thus do not anticipate the potential
ill effects their buying has on the environment and ultimately themselves and others.
While there is a growing contingent of persons around the world who support green
industry by selecting products manufactured in sustainable ways and that are
relatively safe for both humans and the environment, this is not the case with the vast
majority individuals in westernized countries and it is through this vast majority
that the ecocrisis is truly perpetuated. As Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) once
remarked: Our culture has gone into an economic and political phase, where the
spiritual principles are completely disregarded ... {And our} society is disintegrating
consequently (Sukhavati, video, my transcription). A phase where persons purchase
needlessly, and so support the monster industries; a phase where we find our roads
and highways jammed with large, polluting SUVs; shopping mall parking lots
overflowing, internet sales skyrocketing, an overemphasis on appearance and attire,
televisions, music and art with no depth, mass media with shallow content and no
insight, and the countless other vagaries of meaninglessness. This phase stems from
the fact that in our own human interiors we are lacking in contentment. This inward
5


lacking, or what I understand to be dissociation from intuition and nature, according
to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, leads to a culture of excessive materialism:
The negative atmosphere that this creates becomes the context for all
kinds of social ills which bring suffering ... In particular, a lack of
contentment is the source of damage to our natural environment and,
thereby, of harm to others ... This is one of the reasons why I believe that
the culture of perpetual economic growth needs to be questioned. In my
view, it fosters discontent, and with this comes a great number of
problems, both social and environmental. There is also the fact that in
devoting ourselves so wholeheartedly to material development we neglect
the implications this has for the wider community (Dalai Lama 165, 166).
In its present iteration, the Western way of life displays an extremely exaggerated
focus on the material in the sense of both material items and the material plane of
being as opposed to that of the spiritual plane of being.
How has this psychological split from nature come about? How is it that the
Occidental world has come to relegate nature to being a mere background
phenomenon, not understanding it as immanent outside and inside of every human
individual? Is it that we have emptied our lives of nature and now must fill the
emotional void with material treasures such as automobiles, personal watercraft,
handguns, huge salaries, fashionable cloths, wide screen televisions, large homes, and
jewelry? As we shall see, it is by living inauthentic lives that humanity has created a
spiritual wasteland interiorly and has come to begin the outright destruction of the
planet exteriorly. Our hearts are no longer emotionally charged with feelings of
connectedness to and respect for the very world that sustains us our hearts are
attached to manmade things and so we have progressively lost any true sense of
identity with the natural environment. As the Gospel according to Luke (12:34) says,
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Suggs 1347). At this
moment, our hearts are in the wrong place, for what we treasure is not real and not
connected in any natural sense with the world we inhabit. When our treasure again
becomes the whole world, then we shall be living authentic lives lives rooted in
6


Nature. And our hearts will be content, because the Earth, its families of living things,
and the beauty inherent in its many expressions are the only real treasures that we can
ever know and meaningfully value.
For now, with purely economics and quick gain in mind for the majority of
our representatives and citizenry, there is no long term personal, governmental, or
social strategy in place or in the works that would act even as a mere guide in the
course of our activities; or that would allow the planet to begin to heal itself of the
copious injuries inflicted upon it by the human race.
7


CHAPTER 2
A PLANET SUFFERING
The Human Effect
In its publication Living Planet Report 2000, the World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) indicates that the human race is pushing the Earth beyond its ability to
support life. If individuals living in the poorest nations consumed as much as those
living in the richest, the human population would require two planets the size of Earth
for resources, arable land, and habitable space (Pomeroy, Internet news article). In
other words, our planet could, at best, support only one or two billion persons living
at the level of the average middle class American (Eldredge 184). As it is, the human
race at its present level of economic activity is already exceeding the planets ability
to readily support life. At this rate, significant human suffering and ecological
destruction are inevitable. In fact, the suffering and destruction are already evident.
As temperatures worldwide continue to rise through the effects of global warming,
catastrophes will continue to occur. In their book Dead Mars, Dying Earth, John E.
Brandenburg and Monica Rix Paxson state:
The toll in human suffering {is} ... appalling. In 1998, over 300
million people, over one-twentieth of humanity, were displaced from
their homes by weather disasters, and over 50,000 people died. The
economic losses have only just begun we are experiencing the
beginning of a trend that will unquestionably get worse because we
have yet to start making a dent in the causes (198).
Further, the WWF report goes on to claim that in the last 30 years the worlds forest,
fresh water and marine environments have declined by a frightening one-third.
As the pollution content of our atmosphere grows worse, particularly in urban
settings and areas near industrial and manufacturing centers, human suffering
8


likewise worsens. Asthma, a disease that made its first appearance
contemporaneously with the European Industrial Revolution, has now become a
modem plague (Brandenburg 19). As the worlds consumption of fossil fuels has
increased exponentially since that time, the incidence of asthma has correspondingly
increased, especially in children. The American Lung Association states that of all
chronic diseases among children, asthma is the most prevalent. The U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention reported a 61 percent increase in asthma cases
between 1985 and 1995 (Brandenburg 19). The culprits of this plague have been
determined to be ozone and sulfur dioxide, both byproducts of fossil fuel emissions.
With approximately 100 million automobiles on the road worldwide today (20)
spewing dangerous heat trapping and polluting emissions, is it any wonder that
asthma is so pandemic? As Arne Naess states: [P]rivate cars {are the} ecologically
most irresponsible form of transportation ever to be introduced (Naess 210). In
addition to this, there are, of course, the thousands of manufacturing and power
production plants spread around the globe bellowing out the same noxious gases.
Admittedly, fossil fixel emissions are dangerous for all humans, but for asthmatics
they may be life-threatening, since their respiratory systems may shut down when
exposed to elevated levels of these gases (Brandenburg 19). It would seem that fossil
fuels are our way of life in the West and our way of death (21).
Further, over the giant continent Antarctica, there is a hole in the ozone layer
roughly twenty-eight million square kilometers in size that is known to be directly
caused by human-produced pollutants called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A
chlorofluorocarbon is an ozone-depleting compound made up of chlorine, fluorine,
and carbon. CFCs are commonly used as solvents, refrigerants, and foam blowing
agents. An ozone hole also exists over the North Pole. While it is not nearly as
significant in size, it is nevertheless being monitored closely (Howe, Internet news
article).
9


In October 2000, BBC News reported that the U.S. National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) released satellite images revealing the ozone hole as
having extended to cover populated areas in the southern tip of South America.
Health officials in the city of Punta Arenas in Chile advised its citizens to wear large,
sun blocking hats, long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants. Exposed skin was said to
bum in about seven minutes because of the higher levels of ultraviolet-B radiation
(Reynolds, Internet news article). Although the ozone hole expands with the onset of
winter and reduces in size in the warmer months, it has never deepened so far
north. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said near total destruction
of the ozone in some layers of the stratosphere had been observed since the middle of
September (2000)... (Kirby, Internet news article). Although international treaties
have limited or banned the manufacture and use of ozone-depleting CFCs, the
integrity of the treaties is only as sound as the actual industry regulations and
government monitoring system within each country.
The importance of the ozone layer cannot be undervalued or underestimated:
it protects Earths lifeforms from the deadly effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation
emanating from the sun. For humans, ozone depletion is thought to be responsible for
damage to eyes, a rise in incidents of skin cancer, and a dramatic decline in human
sperm counts (Colburn 240). Additionally, increased ultraviolet radiation is
effecting amphibian populations worldwide. A significant increase in incidents of
death and deformation in frogs, toads, and salamanders has been catalogued by
zoologists since the mid-1990s. It is believed that the increased UV radiation...
weakens amphibian immune systems making them more vulnerable to disease and
parasites (Howe). The unnatural levels of UV radiation are also causing behavioral
changes in the amphibians, which interferes with reproduction and threatens species
population levels. Moreover, the effect of one species dying out endangers all other
animals in an immediate food chain. Other findings indicate that the higher UV
10


dosages can detrimentally effect the one thing that all humans in some part depend
upon: crop plants (Howe).
It seems as if our past is quite literally coming back to haunt us. The
Antarctic ozone hole was discovered some fifty years after CFCs were put into wide
use: The lag time before effects emerge in vast, complex systems can give a false
sense of safety and increase the opportunity for catastrophe (Colburn 245). As
Colbom et. al. state in Our Stolen Future: [W]e have been altering the fundamental
systems that support life. These alterations amount to a great global experiment
with humanity and all life on Earth as the unwitting subjects (240). Although the
release of CFCs into the atmosphere has been significantly curbed worldwide in the
last decade or so, there may be effects yet unknown and unmanifested. It seems as
though the human species lacks the ability to see beyond the immediate individual,
social, or economic benefit of a product or activity. As we look back, we see the error
of our ways. We then realize that hindsight cannot save the world. At present, a
dangerous trend is evident, and the net effects on the human, animal and plant realms
are inestimable. As Mark Hertsgaard wrote in Earth Odyssey:
Like the captain of an oceanliner who has to turn the helm miles ahead
of where he actually intends the vessel to change course, humans will
have to alter their environmental behavior years in advance of seeing
much positive effect (12).
So, while all of the danger that has faced the planet and its lifeforms in its
estimated 4.6 billion year history has been accidental, the principal danger now
bearing down on our world and its myriad populations of persons, animals, plants,
landscapes and oceanspheres is not so much coming from the realm of
circumplanetary happenstance and earthbound natural occurrence, but from
humanitys particularly Western civilizations sheer neglect, uncaring, and
11


seeming malicious intent toward this wellspring Earth. Because these actions are
deliberate, such negative intentionality can essentially be understood as evil. As I will
clarify later in the text, I do not mean evil as in a demonic or biblical sense, but more
in the sense that philosopher Alfred North Whitehead expounded his Religion in the
Making; that is, evil is that force which limits or extinguishes the conditions
conducive to the furtherance of positive and creative forms of attainment (RM 96).
The apathy that the contemporary world exhibits toward the realm of nature in
its actions seems to be congenital to our species, with technological progress and
prowess only deepening the wounds on the surface of the Earth and with our
correspondence to her.
Our Present Situation
It is here where we find ourselves today. Earth and her manifold species are at a
historical crossroads of either turning toward all-out human-induced devastation and
mass extinction or, perhaps, at attempting to maintain or re-create a habitable world,
though with the cognizance that natural dangers will forever persist. We have not
hundreds of years or even decades to change course, but, theoretically, only a mere
few years or less. As Sir Peter Blake has offered:
The problem has to be addressed right now, whatever the economic
consequences. We are doing more harm now than ever before. This is
about the whole ecology of the world, which has taken hundreds of
millions of years to get it right (Antarctic Melting Before Our
Eyes, Internet news article).
Global warming, the phenomenon of the planets climate variability, and its
associated effects are more than likely survivable on the scale of life. In fact, we
know that hominids and thousands of other creatures and plant species have survived
12


ice ages; so too, hopefully, modem humans and other lifeforms can survive the
immanent period of heat and the consequent new age of ice that is upon us.
But beyond the threats of ice and heat, the twenty-first century carries with it
the far reaching devastation begun in the twentieth century: habitat loss, ozone layer
depletion, species die-off and extinction, pollution, and the invasion of exotic species.
However, it will not be these things by themselves that bring about the end of life on
Earth, but rather the synergism of these factors (Schneider 111, my italics) all
factors that have either been initiated or complicated by the actions of humans.
All things being equal, it will not be natural catastrophe that destroys the
world and humanity. Rather, such onslaught will be originated from humanity itself.
If each individual human does not soon come to regard the seriousness, solemnity,
and the ineluctable truth of the interconnected and co-dependent reality of all living
things and the tenuous and fragile organic framework from which all things hang,
then this world and all things in it will surely perish. As the Swiss psychologist Carl
Gustav Jung (1875-1961) wrote in his work The Undiscovered Self.
Virtually everything depends on the human soul and its functions. It
should be worthy of all the attention we can give it, especially today,
when everyone admits that the weal or woe of the future will be
decided neither by the attacks of wild animals nor by natural
catastrophes nor by the danger of world-wide epidemics but simply
and solely by the psychic changes in man. It needs only an almost
imperceptible disturbance of equilibrium in a few of our rulers heads
to plunge the world into blood, fire and radioactivity (97).
In a psychoanalytic perspective, the exterior ecological woes of the world
provide us with a mechanism for recognizing and addressing the problems of
humanitys own interior spiritual ecology. It is a corrupt, misinformed, or ignorant
interior ecology that reveals itself through the actions it commands of the body, and
thus comes to negatively influence the exterior ecology, i.e., the realm of material
nature. Certainly, it can be argued, things look bleak. Nevertheless, I feel that there is
room for hope, regardless of the bad news that waylays us daily.
13


The Dawn of a New Worldcentricism?
Since the early 1960s there has be an ever-growing ecological awareness building in
the minds of individuals and expressed by certain eco- and world-centered type
organizations. Whether this original awareness was motivated by the publication of
Rachel Carsons famed book Silent Spring in 1962, the first images of Earth
transmitted back to the surface by the early astronauts, or some mysterious power
slowly working itself up through the human psyche, or a combination of these and
other things, this awareness and the increasing number of persons involved in and
influenced by the ecomovement are subtly, yet surely, effecting the course of
geopolitics on a large scale, and changing how individual persons view themselves in
relationship to the world on a smaller scale. It is my feeling that the incorporation of
ecological ideals into the minds and actions of this ever-growing number of persons
planetwide represents a positive actual change in human behavior. This could be an
indication that many individuals are reconnecting with or reacquiring the ability to
listen to our infixed, inalienable and undeniable nature-sensibility and acting upon the
boundless wisdom flowing through the intuitive aspect of the human psyche.
The ecological crisis now upon us can either be viewed as a totally
devastating situation for Earth or, more appropriately, as an opportunity to bring
together the many countries, political agendas, policies, and peoples of the world to
meet a single challenge that regardless of race, religion, sex, or citizenry could
unite us across all conceptual borders. For as the imminent mythologist, religious
scholar, and anthropologist Joseph Campbell remarked, if nothing else unites us, the
ecological crisis wilF (MLB 265, my italics). But, as Campbell would surely agree,
the participants in this world-embracing union will come to learn that in order to save
the material world, the spiritual/psychological (psycho-spiritual) world of humanity
must be repaired and made whole in the process. For that reason, it will be primary
and necessary for this union in the course of its endeavors to recognize the common
14


essence animating all life on Earth and engender in themselves and encourage in
others a profound love for the natural forms this power manifests and is thus
reflected in. In the healing process, there must be equipollence, a harmonious balance,
between the material and spiritual worlds; for the salvation of one world is absolutely
contingent upon the salvation of the other.
The greatest delight in life is the recognition of and participation with the
resplendent beauty inherent in the world, whether it is the laugh of a child, the
soothing sounds of the ocean surf, one person helping another, or the delicacy of an
alpine flower. The greatest sorrow in life is that things are always changing and dying
away, whether a loved one, an aged tree, a planet, a star, a galaxy. Nevertheless, it is
only with the intermingling and contrasting of delight with sorrow, sorrow with
delight, that the other can be known, understood, and appreciated. As the Taoists
know, this is simply the way things are and always shall be. Coming and going, life
and death, birth, maturation, and decline there is no escape, nor should there be,
from these natural inevitabilities: life is only complete with death, change is
unavoidable, stability is followed by instability. What is surely avoidable is the
human spiritual ineptitude being expressed in the terrible behaviors humans have
against humans and the natural world. Such passes out of ordinary sorrow and gives
over into tragedy, tragedy being a purely human invention. Delight and sorrow, life
and death, all wax and wane like the phases of the moon. Tragedy, on the other hand,
is a unique effect visited upon the world via human ignorance and the imposition of
its appalling, dreadful, and regretful behavior onto and into the natural order of
earthly life.
Whether the fate of this planet turns out to be that of devastation or re-
creation, the fact remains that [t]he future can come from nowhere else but the
energies of the psyche (Sukhavati, video). Let us hope that the energies of the human
psyche can be attuned quickly and determinedly to a way that affirms life. Should we
not act appropriately, and consequently allow the Earth to become a lifeless
15


wasteland, we will, according to Pulitzer Prize winning author and psychologist Dr.
John E. Mack, have committed a crime of cosmic proportions (Mack 275).
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CHAPTER 3
CONTEMPORARY ECOLOGICAL THOUGHT
An Outdated Worldview
As this work unfolds, I will explore the possible motivating factors of the aggressive,
savage, pioneering and destructive spirit within the human character that is ostensibly
responsible for our histoiy of unwise actions and ill regard toward the natural world.
Particular examination will be given to Western and westernized civilizations; for the
westernization of the world seems to correlate precisely with its ecological, spiritual,
cultural, and societal disintegration. It is my contention that the root of this failing in
the human character arises from the fact that the human species has come to
dissociate itself psychologically from the sea of life and thriving from which it has
emerged. This unadapted alteration and distortion of normal dynamisms (UDS 81)
lies beneath what philosopher Fritjof Capra regards as a crisis of perception (Capra
15). In his book The Turning Point, he states that this crisis:
derives from the fact that we are trying to apply the concepts of an
outdated world view the mechanistic world view of Cartesian-
Newtonian science to a reality that can no longer be understood in
terms of these concepts. We live today in a globally interconnected
world, in which biological, psychological, social, and environmental
phenomena are all interdependent. To describe this world
appropriately we need an ecological perspective which the Cartesian
world view does not offer... What we need, then, is a new
paradigm a new vision of reality; a fundamental change in our
thoughts, perceptions, and values (15-16, my italics).
Rupert Sheldrake and Matthew Fox similarly address the imperative for a revisioning
of reality in their book Natural Grace. They write:
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[A]s a new millennium dawns, a new vision is needed which brings
together science, spirituality, and a sense of the sacred. Their
separation underlies our present crises of ecological devastation,
despair, and disempowerment (Sheldrake ix, my italics).
Ecophilosophy. Environmental Ethics.
Ecopsvchologv and Deep Ecology
In the last four decades or so, realizing the elements of an ecological perspective and
a seme of the sacred has been the ambition of several ecomovements, including
ecophilosophy, environmental ethics, ecopsychology, and deep ecology.
Ecophilosophy has specifically sought to bring together the basic concepts from the
science of ecology such as complexity, diversity, and symbiosis to classify the
place of our species within nature through the process of working out a total view
(Naess 3). Environmental ethics has been an effort to extend (albeit altruistically) the
scope of value beyond the merely humanistic realm of consideration to include other
facets of nature as well (plants, animals). Ecopsychology and deep ecology, however,
are two movements that have actually attempted to reawaken individuals to the
common character of our being with that of all expressions of nature.
Ecopsychologists and deep ecologists view the animating force (anima mundi)
supporting all of nature as the same force that animates human beings, and thus the
thought is that we should find ourselves inextricably linked and co-dependently
bound to the creaturely and plant life all around us. Deep ecology, however, is action-
oriented and asks the individual to proceed upon the revelation/recollection of our
shared source of being and ultimate oneness with creation by living a life of
voluntary simplicity (Naess 109) and by being politically active in both ecological
and societal concerns. Further, deep ecology points out that the artificial extension of
value to nature is hollow; for if one truly comes to experience and enjoy the
connectedness with nature that undoubtedly our ancient fathers and mothers had, such
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concocted impositions upon nature are seen as gratuitous and unwarranted. In the
introduction to Arne Naess Ecology, community and lifestyle, translator David
Rothenberg remarks:
If one really expands oneself to include other people and species and
nature itself, altruism becomes unnecessary. The larger world becomes
part of our own interests. It is seen as a world ofpotentials to increase
our Self-realisation (sic), as we are part of the increase of others...
{Self-realization} gives us a direction to proceed in; a way to see our
actions as part of a larger gestalt (9, translators italics).
Although ecopsychology and deep ecology are different by degree, one
common characteristic of these modes of thought is their depth. Each attempts to
move beyond the unprofound and ultimately meaningless vagaries and shallowness of
the environmentalism movement and examine the roots of the ecological crisis, not
just the superficial results of the crisis. Also known as utilitarian ecology, social
ecology, or shallow ecology, environmentalism as a philosophy is anthropocentric,
as opposed to the more ecocentric and worldcentric attitudes expressed in
ecopsychology and deep ecology. According to Arne Naess, the aim of
environmentalism is to [fjight against pollution and resource depletion. Central
objective: the health and affluence of people in the developed countries ... (Naess
28). Deep ecology on the other hand rejects this image in favour of the relational,
total field image. {Here,} [ojrganisms {are seen} as knots in the field of intrinsic
relations (28, authors italics). Naess states: Im not much interested in ethics or
morals. Im interested in how we experience the world... If deep ecology is deep it
must relate to our fundamental beliefs, not just ethics (Naess 20). Further, Naess
relates that the deep ecology movement... asks for the development of a deep
identification of individuals with all life forms ... I think this process to be one of
maturation as much as of learning (85, 86).
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A Critique of Environmentalism
When one considers the concept of environmentalism, he or she may think of the
hundreds of volunteers assisting in the cleanup of the 1989 Exxon Valdez
ecocatastrophe, good citizens picking up litter along a local highway, or cleanup
efforts at Superfund sites. As is suggested in these examples, environmentalism is a
philosophy of reaction; that is, environmentalism has everything to do with the
activity of cleaning up a negatively effected environment or addressing an impending
ecological threat, but nothing to do with getting at, facing, understanding, and
preventing the root problem that caused the ecological threat, degradation, or tragedy
in the first place. Merely cleaning up a mess, so to speak, does not prevent a calamity
from occurring again. As such, environmentalism as a whole does not view the
varieties of life expressed in nature as knots in the field of intrinsic relations, nor does
it approach finding an ecological perspective or a sense of the sacred. Naess writes:
A widespread assumption in influential circles of the industrial
countries is that overcoming the environmental crisis is a technical
problem: it does not presuppose changes in consciousness or economic
system. This assumption is one of the pillars of the shallow ecological
movement (96).
One often comes across automobile bumper stickers that read
Reduce*Reuse*Recycle seemingly the mantra of environmentalists. Likewise,
these words even appear on T-shirts, caps, and billboards. And while it is encouraging
to realize that many persons are conscious of the problems facing Earth and the life it
harbors, such slogans are superficial and merely promote a reaction of some type to
an existent bad situation an ecological afterthought, if you will and not any
consideration as to why such a slogan has to be advertised in the first place. It is not
that environmentalism does not have its place, for it is a human obligation to attempt
to right the immanence of ecological wrongs; but much like the practice of Western
allopathic medicine, environmentalism is more of a Band-Aid approach to the
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worlds dis-ease providing relief, although mostly temporary, of the symptoms of
the disease rather than offering any truly preventative or curative modalities. Just as
chemotherapy or radiation treatments will not in themselves stop the spread of cancer,
cleaning up after the devastation of an oil spill or the derailment of a train carrying
toxic wastes will not cure the ecological crisis. In the treatment of cancer, it is now
known that alternative, Eastern, and complementary medical modalities are beneficial
in strengthening the body and thus dispelling illness.
In the end, however, it is changes in lifestyle, attitudes toward others and the
world in general, a healthy diet including organically grown whole foods, and ample
exercise that are now recognized as being simultaneously a preventative measure and
potential cine for many different types of cancer. Such changes in lifestyle and
disposition help to keep the body and mind in balance by creating an awareness of the
processes taking place in the functioning of ones material form and spiritual center.
Thus, to prevent the conditions for a particular ecological disaster or to wisely face
the woes of the worldwide ecological crisis at hand, a similar type of deeper
consideration has to be made into the events or conditions leading up to the
problem(s). In other words, we cannot clean up our way to a healthy environment
anymore than one can expect to be forever cured of cancer with dangerous,
controversial, and potentially deadly treatments.
Consider the body of our human selves as an extension of the Earth, and vice
versa. Why? Because the diseases visiting the Earth are also a result of the bad
lifestyles, dispositions, and decisions made by human beings. So, for example, why is
there such rampant air pollution in our cities and suburbs? Because of human
lifestyles. The insistence of persons on using their own, oftentimes gas-guzzling,
automobiles to commute to work, school, and shopping malls as opposed to using
public transportation or bicycling is just one reason. Air pollution is the symptom of
such atrocity, a distressed atmosphere the disease. Or, if the atmosphere is compared
to the lungs of human beings, then emphysema or asthma are the disease, attacks of
21


coughing and choking the symptoms. It is all circular and enjoined. The disease of the
atmosphere is the disease of human body, and the root cause is the same: human
activity. To rid the lungs of disease, the atmosphere must be rid of disease. To rid the
atmosphere of disease, the dependence on fossil fuels as the primary energy source to
power automobiles and industry must be replaced with some type of no/low emission
alternative, like hydrogen fuel cells or solar power, for example. Although perhaps
my point has been belabored, this example illustrates why environmentalism will not
save the world. By analogy, environmentalism for the natural environment is like
chemotherapy to the body of a cancer sufferer. Such treatments will not save the
patient necessarily, whether the patient is the Earth or a human individual. It is much
better to modify lifestyle so that disease never rears its head in the first place.
If we never understand why the reactionary efforts of environmentalism are
necessary, then the root cause of Earths and, resultantly, humanitys diseases will
never be dispelled. The polluting of air, land, and water; oil spills, waste, and the
proliferation of landfills, the loss our ozone layer, loss of habitat, and the extinction of
species will continue unabated because a life-affirming and proactive worldcentric
philosophy was never realized, made known to, or practiced by individuals. Instead,
mere knee jerk responses will continue to be the primary challenge to otherwise
completely preventable calamities within nature. As Naess says, environmentalism
lacks explicit concern with ultimate aims, goals, and norms (33).
Environmentalists may in fact be the ultimate materialists, for they do not see
that in order to save a landscape in the material world, the landscape of the human
heart the spiritual landscape must at the same time be made whole.
The Integrative Character of Deep Ecology
Deep ecology comes to serve as a type of comprehensive philosophy, integrating the
best aspects of ecophilosophy, environmental ethics, ecopsychology, and
22


environmentalism. From ecophilosophy, it takes up into itself the use of the notions
of complexity, diversity, and symbiosis; from environmental ethics, the understanding
that there is value in nature (for deep ecologists the value is inherent, however, and
not imposed upon it altruistically by human individuals); from ecopsychology, the
acknowledgement of the ground of being common to all earthly life; and from
shallow ecology, a.k.a. environmentalism, the knowledge of the requirement to
urgently respond to ecological emergencies. Each, nevertheless, to one degree or
another, performs a service to the natural world.
As mentioned, the greatest strength of deep ecology is in its comprehensive
and integrative nature. By including humanity in a total view or gestalt within the
planetary realm, deep ecological thought allows one to see her/himself in relation to
all else. As such, humans can, in the words of Arne Naess, experience Self-
realization. By placing the smaller human selfback. into the larger Self of the world,
one becomes more frilly involved in nature, an Earth citizen, and ultimately more
fully human. The more one brings oneself into integration or reintegration with
nature, the more the cosmological Self is actualized and realized: the individual
realizes/actualizes his universality of character, and the universal realizes/actualizes
its wholeness by virtue of its separate, yet inseparable, parts. Further, deep ecology
maintains that the natural world possesses intrinsic value; i.e., nature does not simply
exist to satisfy the physiological and material necessities of human beings. On the
contrary, humans are completely dependent on the environment for its survival, and
should not be viewed as the center of creation. Instead, the deep ecologist views
herself or himself as a member of an extended family of biotic and abiotic entities.
This philosophy views each natural manifestation as possessing both purpose and
purposiveness. That is, all things exist side-by-side, each having its own goal/purpose
or function within itself and its environment and concurrently serving/acting in some
way as the goal/purpose or function of other life.
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The dualistic character of Cartesian-Newtonian thinking has taken the brunt of
the blame in the last few decades for actually making or allowing us to become overly
rationalistic, mechanistic, addicted to technology, hypnotized by the mass-
mindedness of Western civilization, and thus less human. As Charlene Spretnak
points out in her book The Resurgence of the Real'.
It's not a human if its felt connections with the unfolding story of the
bioregion, the Earth community, and the cosmos are atrophied, denied,
and replaced. Its not a human if it can no longer experience awe and
wonder at the beauty and mystery of life, seeing nothing but resources
and restraints. Its not a human if it is socialized to be oblivious to the
unity of life, so lonely that it is vulnerable to all compensatory snares
(129, authors italics).
The challenge then for us today is to become more human; because becoming more
human will allow us to regain the dignity of being once possessed by our remote
progenitors. And, as I will explain later, it will be necessary for us to step into the
psyche of our human ancestors to relearn our connection to the Earth and the cycles
of life. This is not nostalgia, however, nor a wish to recover some lost paradise.
Rather, revisiting the ancient human psyche may well permit present-day humanity to
bring crucial survival knowledge forward and into a time where our basic instincts
need to be reawakened and the love once had for our world reinvigorated. I believe
modem humans can benefit from relating to the archaic mind. In so doing, a sense of
kinship with the natural world will, with hope, emerge, along with a longing to
further identify with the unknown, unspeakable, and essential ground-of-all-being
from which all matter springs; and from which were bom in the past the myths that
oriented our ancestors in their immediate environment and to the larger context of
nature and the cosmos.
24


Our Common Being
As indicated earlier, it is my feeling that attempts at granting or imposing human
ethics upon the natural world is essentially ineffective in redeeming human character
and repairing the human/nature relationship. I believe that this is the case because no
real connection has been made with nature; there is only the meaningless application
of human sentiment applied to nature instead of there occurring an acceptance of the
intrinsic value inherent in it. To recapitulate my argument thus far, I propose that
humans must quickly and necessarily re-member, re-connect with, and re-collect the
knowledge that we have come forth from the same ontological ground of being as the
flora, fauna, and Earth beneath us all things that we unhesitatingly degrade and
may ultimately even destroy. As philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr writes in The
Need for a Sacred Science:
The destruction of the environment is the result of modem mans
attempt to view the natural environment as an ontologically
independent order of reality, divorced from the Divine Environment
without whose liberating grace it becomes stifled and dies (131, my
italics).
While arguments from ontology typically form the basis for philosophical
forays into proving the existence of God, for my purposes as with ecopsychology
and deep ecology it is to make clear the existential commonality inherent in all life
on Earth and thus the undeniable intrinsic kinship shared among all creatures and
entities, whether mountains, forests, rivers, animals, or the ecosphere in general. This
is not to say that all things are the same or should or can be valued as equal via
human perception; rather, my point is that a healthy human relationship with the
planet can be achieved more readily and expediently if the human species would
ponder upon, accept, and embrace the notion of Earth and all the life she sustains as
being, in Platonic terms, one single living creature truly endowed with soul and
intelligence (Hamilton 1163). This view accepts the Earth as a world made up of
25


interdependent individual forms and societies of forms that allow and provide for the
continuation of life and the flourishing of all other entities. As such, humans will be
understood as being enveloped by, influenced by, influencing, and participating in the
natural world as aspects of the natural world. Deep ecologist Arne Naess writes:
[W]e are the first kind of living beings we know of which have the potentialities of
living in community with all other living beings (Sessions 239).
From this perspective, humankinds actions are seen as having true, lasting,
and, within the last few centuries, particularly detrimental effects upon every facet of
nature and its functioning. To this point, I posit that if humans are to overcome the
dissociative fallacy that is at the root of our present ecocrisis, we must:
1. Accept as an operating and grounding fact of existence the ontological
correspondence between us and non-human nature;
2. Align, or rather realign, ourselves with the normal, healthy homeostatic
functioning of the planet;
3. Come to fully understand and wisely act upon the knowledge that by
further deteriorating the conditions necessary for the flourishing-
equilibrium of all earthly life through our myriad dangerous activities,
humanity is thereby threatening the likelihood of its own long-term
survival; and
4. Live in such a manner as to affirm life, and encourage the habitability of
the planet, thus by consequence promoting the likelihood of the long-term
survival of all species.
In this complex organism called Earth every individual entity and society of
entities ultimately have significance and bearing on how the entire world functions.
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The human species over the last four hundred years has progressively obscured the
fact of its involvement in this organicism.
From a worldcentric moral perspective then, one understands the necessity to
view nature and existence contextually and globally simultaneously, always giving
consideration in thought and deed to the general welfare of the whole of the
environment and its components. A worldcentric understanding honestly places
humans firmly in the biological midst of nature, and acknowledges that one should
live sympathetically and empathetically within nature. Ken Wilber describes this type
of approach to nature as a holonic ecology {BHE 305), where humans:
make pragmatic distinctions ... and realize that it is much better to
kick a rock than an ape, much better to eat a carrot than a cow, much
better to subsist on grains than on animals ... Our first pragmatic rule
... for environmental ethics is: in pursuit of our vital needs, consume
or destroy as little depth as possible. Do the least amount of harm to
consciousness as you possibly can. Destroy as little intrinsic worth as
possible. Put in its positive form: protect and promote as much depth
as possible (BHE 305).
As humans, we can ratiocinate and thus recognize and foresee and therefore
curb, stop, or more wisely pursue the particular anthropogenic activities that threaten
the life-creating, life-maintaining, and life-emanating qualities of planet Earth. If we
do not begin to immediately act upon our awareness of our negative influence(s) upon
Earth, we are knowingly and soullessly disrupting and negating the very delicate and
perhaps universally rare conditions from which we have arisen biologically and
developed consciously. Theologian Matthew Fox writes: [W]hen a civilization loses
its meaning of soul, it is coming to an end. I feel that our civilization lost the meaning
of its soul some time ago (Sheldrake 34). Soullessness and the loss of the meaning of
soul correspond exactly with the deterioration of the vitalistic human entelechy, the
preponderance of crass materialism, and the ecological and spiritual degradation of
the world.
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In our seeming value-ridden oblivion to the consequences of continued
senseless actions, humanity has created a planetwide toxic-effect an effect not only
destroying the flora and fauna that have unfailingly allowed us to develop and thrive
as a species, but the very fabric and integrity of human morality and our regard
toward non-human nature. Human behavior on the whole is at odds with a notion of
true progress. Presently, Earth is suffering the onslaught of the processes and products
of a civilization so disconnected and dissociated with the rest of creaturely and
vegetative existence that we find ourselves, along with the rest of life on the planet, at
the threshold of all-out environmental devastation.
However, as mentioned earlier, all of humanity consumes and is guilty of
environmental degradation and destruction to some extent. But the extremes taken by
modem humans to obtain sustenance and other resources for living is psychotic and is
indicative of a mass state of nature-amnesia. As Naess says, The good life is not
made dependent upon thoughtless consumption (Naess 87). In fact, with the
influence of rampant population growth and the rewards or punishments offered to
indigenous peoples by large corporations seeking resources on tribal lands, we
discover that even those who attempt to live by the tried and true primitive ways are
falling under the manipulation and control of the westernized world and consequently
handing over their sacred lands to be plundered by far-off rich nations. Such
activities are literally dis-connecting these peoples from their lands. At minimum,
such tribes and places should be protected; for it is their way of life that should
remind all of us that the satisfaction of vital needs need not endanger the very
functioning of the planet. Of the encroachment of West upon primitives, the French
metaphysician Rene Guenon (1886-1951) wrote in The Crisis of the Modern World:
[T]he West is undeniably encroaching everywhere; its influence first
made itself felt in the material domain, since this comes most directly
within its reach, working through conquest by violence or through
commerce and by securing control over the resources of other
countries; but now things are going still further. The Westerners,
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always animated by that needs for proselytism which is so exclusively
theirs, have succeeded to a certain extent in introducing their own anti-
traditional and materialistic outlook among other peoples; and whereas
the first form of invasion after all only affected mens bodies, this
newer form {of encroachment} poisons their minds and kills all
spirituality (Guenon 144-45).
Regardless, humans, Western or otherwise, have the capacity to behave
compassionately toward the Earth, exercising and acting upon emotions typically
reserved for interhuman relationships. Doing so would begin the process in healing
the split consciousness which is so characteristic of the mental disorder of our day
(UDS 86, authors italics). A fundamental human goal should be to bridge the
dissociative gulf now existing between the mind of humanity and the realm of nature.
Perhaps this can ultimately be achieved by pondering the archaic mind and
recapturing a sense of both our humanity and animality; by recognizing the individual
self as immanent in the grander Self of nature; by accepting the fact of our inherent
and inescapable ecospheric belonging (Naess 168); and by orienting our activities
from a worldcentric perspective. As Plato claims, we are, it seems, along with the rest
of creation, but an aspect of the one visible animal (Hamilton 1163).
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CHAPTER 4
HUMANITY AND THE WORLD:
FROM INTEGRATION TO DIS-INTEGRATION
The Ancestral Psyche
According to Joseph Campbell, myth and ritual once rooted our remote human
ancestors firmly in the particular landscape within which they found themselves and,
in a general sense, placed them in an overall harmonious relationship with nature. For
Campbell, myth served as a fimction of the underlying ground-of-being what Jung
termed psyche that is thought to bring about and animate all levels of material
expression. Myth represents that wisdom of the species by which man has weathered
the millenniums (MLB 14). And thus it was through myth that the ground-of-being,
the mysterium tremendum et fascinans (HAI8), communicated the truths and ways of
existence to early humans. Campbell remarks:
Throughout the inhabited world, in all times and under every
circumstance, the myths of man have flourished; and they have been
the living inspiration of whatever else may have appeared out of the
activities of the human body and mind. It would not be too much to
say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible
energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation (HTF
3).
Whereas the ground-of-being/psyche may have resonated with and informed
the bodies of our distant human ancestors through the mechanism of instinct (as
revealed to us now in the behavior and activity of the animal world), as humankind
emerged out of purely animal mentality and began to develop in self-conscious
awareness, the images of myth as well as direct observations of the many aspects of
nature provided the lessons for living. Campbell states, In the earliest period, as
30


among primitives today, mans teachers had been the animals and the plants {MLB
55).
As the human consciousness grew in awareness and began to reflect upon the
deadly results of the clans survival behaviors, guilt, Campbell believed, over having
destroyed the life of a fellow animal creature during the hunt must have disturbed the
developing moral sensibilities of early humans. This empathy for the animal was
probably inspired as a result of our ancestors considering the intensity of the animals
gaze as it lie dying from the wounds inflicted upon it by spears and stones; because,
as Campbell notes, compassion... is an impulse launched from the eyes. Moreover,
it is not tribal- or species-oriented, but open to the appeal of the whole range of living
beings (MTB, Internet document). As the hunters approached the animal, its life
escaping from the outflow of blood, they must have recognized a powerful emotion-
filled regard in its eyes that was a simulacrum of human suffering and fear. Such an
expression may have triggered in the primitive human mind a memory of an
expression not unlike that seen in the eyes of a mortally wounded comrade or an
ailing family member. If the eyes, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, are the windows
of the soul, then in the waking human consciousness a sense of there existing an
equivalence or likeness of character and being between that of the hunter and the
hunted must have come about; for at the point of death, the eyes reveal the same
fierceness of emotion welling up through them, whether the eyes are those of a
human or some other animal. Yet, as Campbell remarks, there remains:
the cruel fact to be recognized that killing is the precondition of all
living whatsoever: life lives on life, eats life, and would otherwise not
exist. To some this terrible necessity is fundamentally unacceptable,
and such people have, at times, brought forth mythologies of a way to
perpetual peace (.MLB 169).
From the stories of myth, then, arose the reliving of the great deeds within
them through the activity of ritual: whether dance, chanting, or the beating of drums,
ritual was the mechanism whereby humanity atoned itself with the natural realm after
31


taking a life away from it. Whereas the ritual that preceded the hunt was to attract the
local animal(s) that the clan hunted, and through which the animal was persuaded to
become a willing victim during the hunt, the ritual following the hunt was to appease
the animals spirit and invite it to be reborn in physical form so that it could be thus
honored again during a similar hunt and ritual at some future point (MLB 171).
Campbell states:
[T]he {ritualistic} life was addressed largely to the ends of a covenant
with the animals, of reconciliation, veneration, and assurance that in
return for the beasts unremitting offering of themselves as willing
victims, their life-blood should be given back in a sacred way to the
earth, the mother of all, for rebirth (HAI9, my italics).
The storytelling and rituals performed in association with the hunt and its
bloody results provided the seeking-for-forgiveness that was believed to be demanded
of the dead creatures spirit. Furthermore, these activities had the effect/affect in the
minds of the hunters of sanctifying the animals spirit. Ritual must have eased the
increasingly compassionate minds of early humans and given them a sense of
accomplishing atonement (literally at-one-ment) with the consumed animal as well as
the landscape that had witnessed its horrific slaughter. The ritual and myth and the
overall atmosphere of thanksgiving surrounding the consumption of the animals
flesh came to justify the act of killing. In those times, it would have been beyond the
scope of our ancestors imaginations not to offer an appeasing ritual of prayers and
chants to mollify the animals spirit and inform it that its body had been sacrificed to
further provide life energy to the clan. To not honor the animal and its generous
willingness to die as is the case today in the Western world would have made
the act of killing akin to murder, rather than that of an activity of satisfying a vital
need. Arne Naess states that the complicated rituals which surround the hunt in
many cultures illustrate how closely people feel bound to other beings, and how
natural it is to feel that when we harm others, we also harm ourselves (Naess 174,
authors italics).
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But even beyond the necessity of the telling of myth, pondering its enigmatic
images, and the performing of ritual in association with the hunt and the consumption
of the animal, early humans, it is believed, had an even deeper, more essential
motivation and purpose in carrying out particular ceremonies and sacraments. It may
be that they had some intuitive acquaintance with the mysterious, transmundane, and
life-emanating ground-of-being animating and supporting all material things. Carl
Jung offers:
[S]ince the earliest times men have felt compelled to perform rites ...
In a primitive world no one reckons without his host; he is constantly
mindful of the gods, the spirits, of fate and the magical qualities of
time and place, rightly recognizing that mans solitary will is only a
fragment of a total situation. Primitive mans actions have a total
character... (FS 50, my italics).
Living so absolutely in nature as they did, our ancient kin must have
recognized all things as having some quality of life and spirit; from rocks and trees, to
clouds, and the whole range of animals that dotted the plains and filled the forests.
The wind, perhaps, was a spirit messenger bringing news of the approach of dry, wet,
or cold weather. The sun in its intensity was a potent god with the power to illuminate
and warm the world. Trees may have been revered for their offering of shade, shelter,
fuel, and nourishing fruit. It could be that clouds were thought of as strange,
amorphous water bearing tribes of beings that traveled upon the air to unknown
regions. The hunting skills of the hawk, tiger, and wolf may have been watched
closely and emulated in the endeavors of the huntsmen. The foraging of a bear may
have indicated to early humans which berries and roots were safe to consume. This
sense of identification with the living things and features of the landscape allowed
early humans to fully recognize their correspondence to, integration with, and
immanence within the world.
The world-centered consciousness possessed by our progenitors is much like
that described by the Finnish mythologist Pekka Ervast (1875-1934). In his The Key
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to the Kalevala, Ervast referred to such a consciousness as Atlantean, where, for the
ancients:
the world appeared... as being foil of emotion... Nature spoke to ..
. souls in its own language flowers in the meadow, stones on the
earth, trees in the forest, lakes, mountains, clouds, wind, thunder, sun,
moon, and stars all reflected specific sentimental images within
their consciousness, so it is not difficult to understand why the ancient
nations in their thinking were animists ... {They} not only perceived
the emotions of nature, but also the invisible beings of nature ...
These are partly fantastical forms constantly vanishing away having
their source in the internal streaming of elemental life coming from the
vegetable kingdom, the air, water and wind and partly living
beings, actual fairies and nature spirits which live within the elements
and belong to a wholly other developmental system than human beings
and animals (Ervast 212-13).
For Arne Naess, a life lived from a mythic perspective, a perspective of seeing
all things as alive even stones! (Naess 61) not only allows an individual or a
group to live in accord with nature, but expresses behavior that Naess considers
beautiful (85). Such beautiful behavior comes about because the environment is not
contemplated or viewed as being strange or hostile (85), as present-day society
would have it, but rather as something valuable which we are inclined to treat with
joy and respect, and the overwhelming richness of which we are inclined to satisfy
our vital needs (Naess 85, authors italics). Life being lived through a mythic
perspective represents for Naess a deep maturity (86); a maturity of mind where
unconditional attention (63) is given to the environment at all times. As such,
maturity as it is understood here has nothing whatsoever to do with technological
progress or with advancements in the machinery to plow highways, devastate
landscapes, or dam rivers. Rather, maturity, the behavior expressed when living under
the guidance of myth, is the human ability to live and act from a worldcentric, as
opposed to a purely egocentric or anthropocentric, perspective. Naess states:
[S]o-called mythic thought is gestalt thought... And if the gestalts
rather than their fragments are identified as the contents of reality,
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mythic thought then characterizes contents which are largely
unavailable in our culture ... [Deterioration of gestalts ... implies
deterioration of the culture. This is also true of our own culture (61).
With a mythic perspective there is an ongoing dialogue between the
uniqueness of the individual self and the ubiquity of the universal Self that belongs
wholly to nature. There is a constant and ongoing interiorization of nature and by
consequence an exteriorization of beautiful action (Naess 86); that is, acting from
oneself as a whole ... {is} most meaningful and desirable ... (86, authors italics).
Myth and ritual were fundamental in significance and consequence to the
behavior of early humans and their relationship to the rest of the natural world. As
evolutionary heirs to this primordial structure of the archaic, nature-centered human
mind, its original character must still lie somewhere buried within the modem human
psyche as a substratum ofprimitiveness in every person (Avens 26). Admittedly,
the myths of our ancestors, and those of primitives today, are not true in any concrete
way; that is, they are not stories of actual events. But, as both Campbell and Jung
have pointed out, myth is the language of the psyche; myth was how that
unintelligible elemental power communicated to the human family. Similarly,
philosopher Freya Mathews, author of The Ecological Self, believes that a mythology
or cosmology:
serves to orient a community to its world, in the sense that it defines
for the community in question, the place of humankind in the cosmic
scheme of things. Such cosmic orientation tells the members of the
community, in the broadest possible terms, who they are and where
they stand in relation to the rest of creation (12).
Myth, according to Mathews, is a psychological prerequisite for cultural
viability (44). The informing character of myth guided each individual in wisely and
effectively performing his or her duties within the clan, and aligned the overall
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behavioral patterns of the clan with that of the climate, food sources, and landscape
within which they happened to be. To this degree, the imageries of mythology...
serve[d] positive, life-furthering ends (MLB 14). Further, the animistic qualities
regarded and revered in nature the spirits of trees and rocks and animals, the angry
god letting loose his thunderbolt, the Earth goddess, and so on while not factual in
themselves, represented actual characteristics of the things as perceived by early
humans. Giving a mask to, or recognizing a personae in an aspect of nature is a way
of making that thing more actual, realizable, understandable, and sacred to the human
mind.
Recovering those primeval principles once acted upon by our ancestors would
be a great first step in connecting again with the realm of nature and animal life. This
is not to say that the entire human race should return to a hunter-gatherer mode of
existence. The notion of six billion persons romping through what few forests and
undisturbed plains that remain on the planet is an absolutely ridiculous notion; for
surely the planet could sustain such an unlikely onslaught even less than the suffering
it endures from humanitys current irresponsible practices. Rather, my point is that
the principles should be lived, not the actual ways of living of our hunter-gatherer
ancestors. We should come to see nature as something that we truly exist through,
that we come out of bodily, and that we are directly akin to by virtue of the one fact in
life that we can be sure of: we have all come into being as a result of the one
foundational, numinous, and suprasensible Being that subsumes and supports all
levels of existence in the visible and invisible cosmos. When the world is seen as it
actually is alive rather than segregated, fragmented, and dis-integrated from the
facticity of wholeness, then the Atlantean consciousness will arise again; and in the
eyes of those who never knew, the world will become animated and seen as a great
arena of living beings. This powerful insight somewhere still resides in our present-
day minds, clouded in recent centuries by scientific rationalism, reductionistic
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philosophy, and demythologization. And it is especially with the dissolution and
eventual loss of myth that a culture falls into:
uncertainty, and with uncertainty, disequilibrium, since life ...
requires life-supporting illusions; and where these have been dispelled,
there is nothing secure to hold on to, no moral law, nothing firm (MLB
10).
This, surely, describes our world today.
While persons of Western and westernized countries tend to distinguish
themselves from the rest of nature because of our ability to rationalize, we must
understand that such a capability does not set us apart from nature but rather should
allow us to mindfully consider our existence within it. Such a capability carries with
it a responsibility to use it wisely. Such a capability logically should allow us to see
that for our inappropriate actions in the field of nature, there are ill-consequences in
the environment that directly effect its inhabitants, including ourselves. We are, as
Freya Mathews has pointed out, a mythologically and cosmologically dispossessed
culture, a culture clinging to a bankrupt worldview which prescribes a cramped
materialistic individualism, the consequences of which we are presently reaping
(12).
The Notion of Justification
Alfred North Whitehead writes in the chapter The Order of Nature in his Process
and Reality:
{A} characteristic of a living society is that it requires food ... Having
regard to the universality of reactions with environment, the distinction
is not quite absolute. It cannot, however, be ignored ... [A]ll societies
require interplay with their environment; and in the case of living
societies this interplay takes the form of robbery ... [WJhether it be
for the general good, life is robbery. It is at this point that morals
become acute. The robber requires justification (105, my italics).
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In Whiteheads philosophy of organism, this rule, as such, applies to all levels
of existence, from sub-atomic events to the animal realm, from cells to galaxies. For
my purposes here, however, I will keep the point rooted in earthly matters.
As I discussed in the previous section, our early ancestors came to recognize
that killing an animal was in some sense robbery. Because of the equanimity
recognized and experienced between the animal and themselves, a feeling of guilt
compelled them to thank and honor the animal in ritual and venerate it in myth.
Whitehead did not make explicit what he felt justification was or should be. But in the
case of our ancestors as well as in primitive cultures today the rites justified the
robbery. There was a direct correlation between the animal and the clan in that they
shared the same landscape, were aware of the presence of the other, drank from the
same streams and watering holes, and otherwise generally coexisted within the same
sphere of life with its inherent dangers. As such, one can say that the clan knew the
animal and thus identified with it readily. The guilt, then, at slaughtering the animal
was unavoidable. Clearly, there was an innate and acted-upon understanding in the
psyche of early human societies that they were merely a feature of the surrounding
panorama, not an independent player upon it; they had such an intimacy with nature
that the universality of reactions with environment was recognized and
incorporated, even if unconsciously, into their daily lives. Our early kin knew what
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) said so well: No humane being ... will wantonly
murder any creature, which holds its life by the same tenure that he does. The hare in
its extremity cries like a child (Krutch 262).
To understand the ritual associated with the kill as an act of morality in the
contemporary sense of the word, however, is to miss the mark entirely. Morality, to
me at least, seems to represent a deliberate action or non-action in association with a
particular state of affairs. For our human ancestors though, I believe that the rituals of
thanksgiving displayed for the dead beast, the territory, and whatever deities the clan
ascribed to were indeliberate, connatural, and involuntary. I do agree with Campbell
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in that, yes, guilt was experienced, but that the ritual sprang from a deeper source, the
psyche, rather than being an early manifestation of what we would now call morality.
It is for us today that morals must become more iacute because, generally speaking,
individuals belonging to the Western world have absolutely no sense of identification
with the meat and vegetables before them on their plate, nor the landscape now
being developed more than not which we pass day in and day out to and from
work and shopping. For us, vegetables come from a grocer and meat from a butcher.
We have lost the connection with that which we consume to fuel our bodies. Instead
of the animal being thanked, a meaningless prayer is uttered at the table to the unseen
God of the Old Testament (Mythos: On Being Human, video). Our race has bypassed
our actual participation mystique, and we live now without identification with our
sustenance. Lacking overall in the ability to identify with nature, our psychical moral
agency deadened, we have become mere robbers, mere takers. Neither seeking or
offering justification for our actions within the natural world, our Earth is suffering.
But how did this state come about?
The Possible Roots of our Psychological Dissociation from Nature
It is impossible to say with any real accuracy how or why early humans crossed the
boundary between going with nature and going against ox forcing nature. Theories
abound as to how this original psychological break with Earth came about. Was it the
introduction of agriculture? Agriculture requires that a parcel of land be plowed, the
native plants uprooted and destroyed, and the animals dependent on that land for food
and shelter displaced, thus placing undue pressure on similar wellsprings (what the
Westernized world calls resources) elsewhere. But what was the impetus for
agriculture? Author Barbara Hand Clow suggests in her book Catastrophobia that the
introduction of agriculture came about from a deep fear of scarcity (26) resulting
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from a cataclysm that took place roughly 11,500 years ago. This period corresponds
exactly with the end of the last major ice age, when the Earth was warming and the
glaciers were retreating northward. Her studies show that this cataclysm resulted in
what geology refers to as the Late Pleistocene Extinctions and what biblical theology
refers to as Noahs Flood (Hand Clow 1) or the Fall of Mankind. Hand Clows
research suggests that the cataclysm(s) probably a series of post-glaciation floods
and/or a meteoric impact was followed by massive crustal adjustments and
flooding for thousands of years, while human cultures struggled for survival... (1)
The deep, unresolved psychological aftereffects of these cataclysms is why today:
the majority of humanity believes that the end of the world is coming
soon because this horrible trauma has not been processed. Many of us
are afflicted with catastrophobia, an intense fear of catastrophes. This
causes individuals and societies to think of the future in terms of a
coming, potential disaster; thus, most people do not care for Earth and
its inhabitants... Crippled by collective fear from the past earth
changes the racial memory of this geological paroxysm our
surface minds are filled with floating images of disaster, guilt, and
suffering. We project these painful thoughts out of our ... minds,
which creates a coming apocalypse as a self-fulfilling prophecy (Hand
Clow 1, authors italics).
For Hand Clow, we are a wounded species afflicted with global collective
fear (11, authors italics). While this theory may border on the fantastical for some,
it is nevertheless generally agreed upon in geological and anthropological circles that
such a series of cataclysmic events did occur around this time and that this same
period witnessed the advent of agricultural practices.
From this point onward, human consideration for the landscape and its
indigenous plants and animals began to wane. Surely there was still a focus on nature,
but heavenly rather than earthly. That is, agricultural societies became attuned to the
movements of the stars and the equinoxes of our sun. We had gone from hunter-
gatherers following herds and foraging to stargazing; from tracking animals to
tracking stars. Our old familiarity with and respect for animals was turned upward
40


and outward: when we began to regard the stars, we saw animal shapes in the
constellations, such as a bear, a dog, a bull imaginary star forms still with us today.
With agriculture, the human population grew. As the population grew, more food was
required to feed the burgeoning civilizations; more land had to be turned under and
more native plant and animal species destroyed or displaced. A vicious cycle had
begun.
With this new knowledge of the skies, humans could predict the seasons for
planting and harvesting, the cycles of rain and drought, and, as with the ancient
Egyptians, the flooding of rivers. These celestial observations and the resultant
accurate predictions of climate patterns may have endowed our progenitors with a
sense that they were in some way controlling nature rather than merely observing and
acting upon patterns within it. We had left our initial state of being aspects of nature
in the supposed pre-cataclysmic world, to become observers of the stars in the post-
cataclysmic, or antediluvian, world. The human race had made a second
psychological break from nature and become the controllers of the coming and going
of seasons. Nature was now our subject, instead of we Hers, as it had always been.
The Devolution of Eco-logical Life
One of the earliest known recorded examples of the human mistreatment of the planet
appears in the dialogue Critias by the Greek philosopher Plato (b. 428/427, d.
348/347 BCE). In it, he details an account of severe soil erosion induced by the over-
harvesting of timber (Hughes 1):
By comparison with the original territory, what is left now is, so to
say, the skeleton of a body wasted by disease; the rich, soft soil has
been carried off and only the bare framework of the district left ...
Our present mountains were high crests, what we now call the plains
of Pheleus were covered with rich soil, and there was abundant timber
on the mountains, of which traces may still be seen. For some of our
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mountains at present will only support trees, but not so very long ago
trees fit for the roofs of vast buildings were felled there and the rafters
are still in existence. There were also many other lofty cultivated trees
{that} provided unlimited fodder for beasts. Besides, the soil got the
benefit of the yearly water from Zeus, which was not lost, as it is
today, by {it} running off a barren ground to the sea; a plentiful supply
of it was received into the soil and stored up in the layers of nonporous
potters clay (Hamilton 111 b-d).
When considered in a religious context, this passage suggests that if existence
is not rooted in equihbrium, punishment through divine (or more likely earthly)
providence will follow. That is, Zeus, in this example, tantalizingly sends much
needed rains, yet the nourishing moisture slips away, never fully penetrating the soil
and revitalizing the land. Since the land was abused and balance disrupted, a sentence
(erosion) has been handed down. Further, scholar J. Donald Hughes writes:
Once the land was bare of trees, the torrential rains of the
Mediterranean fall, winter, and spring washed away the unprotected
earth. Unimpeded erosion destroyed the uplands that might have
grown trees again, and the silt, sand, and gravel which reddened the
rivers was deposited at their mouths along the shores of the virtually
tideless Mediterranean Sea. The new swamplands extended for miles
and served as breeding grounds for mosquitoes (Hughes 69).
Whether conscious of it or not, in the Critias, Plato had observed the crucial
role that forests play in water conservation and the subsequent serious effects of
deforestation and soil erosion (Hughes 71). While Plato does not outright point to
these situations as problems (environmental or societal), his observations are
important for modem day eco-researchers because of the insights offered into the
long history leading up to our present-day environmental crisis. His observations let
us know that as far back as twenty-three hundred years ago there was a dawning
recognition that the impact of human activities could change the conditions of a
landscape for the worse. The soil erosion that Plato mentions has, of course, been
42


compounded through the centuries by the exponential increase in human population
and the subsequent resource demands placed on the planet.
Deforestation is, indeed, one of the most evident of the deleterious human
activities that occurred during the Classical and Hellenistic periods (roughly between
the years 600 BCE to 200 BCE). Trees supported all aspects of lifestyle at that time.
The wood from trees was used as fuel for fires in heating and cooking. Some wood,
once reduced to charcoal, was used in firing pottery and in the reduction of ore.
Wood, as in Platos own example, was used in construction, acting as rafters and
support beams in homes and other buildings. Also fashioned from wood were
furniture, horse drawn carts and chariots, artwork, and the handles of weapons. Pitch,
tar, and resins, all used in waterproofing, were removed from trees by fire (Hughes
68-69). Further:
Greek wine was usually flavored and preserved by adding pine resin,
collected from live, scarified trees, which eventually died. As the
Greek cities began building navies in earnest, the demand for fine
lumber and tall trees for ships masts greatly increased, and it became
necessary to import these products from forested areas at greater
distances (Hughes 69).
Beyond the effects of deforestation imposed by humans, however, was a
widespread and consistent human-oriented activity that would come to have an even
worse effect upon the land: the grazing and browsing of domesticated animals.
According the Hughes, a frill four-fifths of the land surrounding Athens that was
found unsuitable for agricultural practices was used as pastureland. Additionally, the
herding nomads of the time, who were unimpeded by mountain ranges or arbitrary
political barriers, further stressed the land and hillsides by subjecting virtually
inaccessible areas to severe overgrazing and thus the loss of vegetation important in
maintaining soil integrity (Hughes 75). And it was the loss of vegetative life that
would come to threaten wildlife:
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[A]nimals and birds suffered, not just from hunting, but also by the
modification of their habitats by the spread of agriculture, grazing, and
deforestation... [T]he total effect of ancient pressure upon wildlife
was the extinction of some species, the introduction of others, and the
general alteration of the ecosystem (Hughes 72-73).
It is not evident in the limited historical literature regarding the ecology of this
age that the conclusion was ever made by the thinkers of that time that human
activity, even while obviously degrading the landscape, was necessarily a bad or evil
thing. Surely there had to have been a recognition that the inherent natural beauty was
escaping from the hillsides as trees were felled and were replaced by whatever
indigenous herbs happened to take over, but this does not seem to have been
remarked upon by the writers of Platos time or before. There was, however, the
recognition that the world then did not seem to be as beautiful as that world of the
Golden Age described by Hesiod. During the Golden Age, the Earth brought forth
grains and fruits of itself without the need of any human cultivation efforts. The birds
and other animals assisted the human race in its endeavors of their own free will. But
as the years went by, this idyllic condition began to fade and humans found
themselves, as in the biblical account of Adam and Eve, having to encounter on a
daily basis the grossness of toiling for food and the many other discomforts and
diseases now associated with life (Hughes 61).
As Greek culture was integrated into that of the Roman Empire, the
conquering ways of Rome were not limited to the villages, cities, and barbaric
civilizations that it overran. The Romans treated the natural environment as it would
have any of the myriad provinces it had taken over. Hughes notes, that if the Romans:
needed any justification of this beyond their own pragmatism and
cupidity, they could find it in Greek philosophy, which had reached
them in a late, skeptical form that had removed the sacred from nature
and made nature an object of manipulation in thought and, by
extension, in action. Our {present-day} Western attitudes can be traced
most directly to the secular, businesslike Romans (Hughes 149).
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It is as if the Romans took the words of Protagoras literally: man is the measure of
all things (Hughes 149), and so can do with the world as he pleases.
More than at anytime before its arrival, the mentality exhibited by the Roman
Empire toward nature was that since it was a lesser aspect of divine creation, it would
have to justify its existence by its purposeful relationship to mankind (Hughes 149).
This seemingly irrepressible Old Testament mentality seemed to synthesize itself into
the overall Roman worldview, as did the late, skeptical form of Greek philosophy, as
just mentioned. Not only were the angels to bow to Gods greatest creation
mankind but, according to the account in the book of Genesis (1:28), God further
gave the human species rule over earthly nature and its creatures: [Fjill the earth
and subdue it, have dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, and every
living thing that moves on the earth (Suggs 12). As with Protagoras statement, it
seems as though the Romans took this biblical command literally, as well. In both
cases, it followed that all of non-human nature should somehow serve and have
usefulness for human purposes (Hughes 149). Since, in the Old Testament sense, God
was outside of nature, the creator of nature, but not Himself in nature, the natural
environment came to be seen by the Romans, and much later to Western civilization,
as a mere soulless, inanimate resource. The old organismic and animistic views
shared by most religions and cultures outside of the Judeo-Christian influenced
Roman Empire began to fall away with the encroachment of Roman expansion. For
the Romans, the biblical command from God to have dominion over all of nature
came to be understood as blanket permission to do what they wished to the
environment (Hughes 148). Joseph Campbell claimed that this domineering attitude
came about because it was believed that nature, since the expulsion of Adam and Eve
from the Garden of Eden, was of a fallen character. Referring to this Judeo-Christian
mode of thought, Campbell once remarked: {What} a horrible tradition: the
degradation and denial of nature, and the serpent cursed and woman along with it
(Sukhavati, video).
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The apathetic behavior exhibited toward nature in the Near Eastern and
Western civilizations since the dawn of the Christian era may actually been rooted in
the sense of catastrophobia inherent in Christian doctrine. The end-time tidings
prophesized in The Revelation of John in the New Testament suggested to the early
followers of Christianity as well as suggesting to the more Fundamentalist sects of
Christianity today that this world we live in is but a temporary world, thus not
worthy of great attention and caring. Philosopher Richard Tamas writes:
[D]evout Christians {focus} their attention more exclusively on the
future and the unworldly, in the form either of the promised Second
Coming or of a Church-mediated redeemed afterlife. In either case,
there result{s} a pronounced tendency to negate the intrinsic value of
the present life {and} the natural world ... (133).
A duality was firmly established between the spirit of humankind and the very
Earth humans came out of and lived upon. The Earth was but a place for the
temporary spiritual development of humankind; the Earth itself, when compared to
the importance of the human spirit had no other value beyond that of utility. The
Christian world had now mostly divorced itself from the natural realm. It is important
to remember, however, that, as with our leaving a hunter-gatherer existence for the
bounty of an agriculture existence, and our dismissal of myth since we humans could
control the coming and going of seasons, the changes in attitude toward nature were
the result of psychological shifts in human thinking. These psychological shifts were,
of course, not representative of an actual change in the absolute human embeddedness
in and indebtedness to the natural world. No god came down from the heavens and
changed the rules of life in favor of humans over the rest of earthly nature. The fact of
our dependency on nature has never changed, only our psychological orientation to
Her.
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Of all the observations made thus far concerning the detrimental influence
Christianity has had in the shaping of the Western worldview and its psychological
dissociation from the natural realm, (that this world is temporary and humans are to
have dominion over it), it is particularly interesting to note that the life of Jesus, the
very foundation of Christianity, as portrayed in the New Testament Gospels and the
Thomas Gospel displays no such contempt for nature as the distorted religion that
was to grow out of his teachings. In fact, the obvious love for and connectedness to
nature that Jesus experienced is evident in his living a life mostly out-of-doors
visiting villages, preaching along countrysides, and praying alone in the wilderness
(Hughes 141-42). Common throughout the New Testament are the stories where
Jesus uses parables, similes, and metaphors of images taken from the natural world,
and {the many} references to trees, birds, seeds and growing grain, vines, sheep, and
the work of farmers and herdsmen... (Hughes 142). Jesus, often taking refuge from
the crowds of followers he had, would seek peace and solace in the mountains, along
the sea, or in the desert:
The chief characteristic of such places is their isolation; in contrast to
city and village, they were quiet and free from the distracting presence
of crowds of people, suitable places to go for a period of time to
commune with God (Hughes 142).
And here is the rub: it is highly unlikely that the person Jesus, who so loved
the stillness and re-creation found in nature, would approve of the Western
bastardization of his truly Earth-loving example. If a mountaintop, a quiet wilderness
or seashore were the settings where Jesus was most able to commune with God, then
this speaks volumes of his adoration for it. Frankly, where would he find such
peaceful places in the world today? Few places remain that are not populated or
despoiled by the human footprint. My own view is that Jesus Christ not only loved
the natural realm, but that he actually identified with it. By communing with God in
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nature, one can say that Jesus came into God through nature. The etymology of the
word commune is 'that which is common and to be in close rapport (Merriam-
Websters). Jesus thus found the sense of himself more in common or attuned with
God when in a natural setting; and, so, he was able to more readily feel the influence
of the spirit of God and receive communication from and thoughtfully pray to Him.
Call it literary license, but I believe that the correspondence existent between
the human and natural worlds is best exemplified in the story of Jesus on the Cross.
We read of Jesus nailed to the tree. Jesus, the Son of Man, thus representative of all
humanity, is physically enjoined with the Cross, the tree. The Cross, in my metaphor,
is the Daughter of Nature, if you will, and representative of all of earthly creation.
More pointedly, the fete of both the tree and the man in this situation is exactly the
same: death. The fate of humanity is the fate of nature; the fate of nature is the fate of
humanity. The two are inseparably enlinked. The pain of one is the pain of the other,
and so with death. The resurrection of the human spirit will correspondingly witness
the resurrection of Nature. Jesus words upon the Cross, Father, why have you
forsaken me, could just as easily have been the imagined utterance of the tree to the
God of creation. For its fete, the fete of Nature, should not have been that of Man.
Jesus, as the Christ figure, willingly died upon, or rather with, the tree in a symbolic
sense. He gave his life willingly to demonstrate to the human race the undeniable
coequality of being and coextensiveness of destiny with nature. As author Matthew
Fox stated in Natural Grace: [Djivinity is in creation. When creation flourishes and
is radiant, divinity flourishes. When creation is crucified, the Christ dies all over
again (Sheldrake 32).
Twelve hundred years later, this Christ-like love for nature was once again
lived through the person of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis saw God in all things and
all things as God. Aware of the preternatural force that invisibly animates all things,
he would:
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call all creatures, however insignificant, by the names of brother and
sister, since they came forth with him from the one source ... It came
to pass by a supernatural influx of power that the nature of brute
animals was moved in some gracious manner toward him. Even
inanimate things obeyed his command, as if this same holy man, so
simple and upright, had already returned to the state of innocence
(Johnson 114-16).
With two such powerful nature-embracing figures as Jesus and St. Francis, it
is amazing that the Christian worldview paradoxically came to see Earth as
deanimated and desacralized.

In 1966, U.C.L.A. historian Lynn White, Jr. argued that Christianity was to
blame for the exploitation and disruption of nature witnessed in the Western world.
He claimed that it promoted an anthropocentric worldview, where humans are
superior to nature and, so, should be its rightful master. His further claimed that:
since the roots {of the ecological crisis} are so largely religious, the
remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not
... Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asias
religions},} ... not only established a dualism of man and nature but
also insisted that it is Gods will that man exploit nature for his proper
ends (Sessions x).
While in my own view, I see the original Judaic mindset more responsible for
the ecological crisis than that of the Christian New Testament view, Whites point
could be taken to mean that it has been through the expansion of Christianity that the
Old Testament command to dominate the Earth has spread. White would nevertheless
go on to advocate a return to the teachings of St. Francis who preached the equality
of all creatures (Sessions x). In the end, however, I think that Whites stance was
unbalanced and reactionary. It is impossible to claim that one thing, one religious text
(most likely taken out of context in the overall scheme of things) can translate into a
49


world on the brink of human-induced worldwide environmental destruction. It is not
in question that the spread of the Western lifestyle has negatively influenced the
healthy functioning of the biosphere. Rather, what is questionable is the belief that the
cause of our current ecocrisis is solely attributable to the influence of Judeo-
Christianity.
The history of human actions illustrates many things that we as a species have
done wrong. For nearly twelve thousand years our race has mutilated nature, and so
ourselves. But is the study of historical ecology and anthropology vital to our future?
J. Donald Hughes believes that it is:
History {provides} us with many examples of ancient peoples who
failed to adapt themselves to live in harmony with the ecosystems
within which they found themselves, who depleted their environment,
exhausted their resources and exist today only as ruins within eroded
and desiccated landscapes. That fate might also await our own
civilization, but this time on a global scale. Ancient history is a
warning and a challenge to our attitudes, our ability to understand, our
technological competence, and our willingness to make far-reaching
decisions. The challenge will not go away, and the response we will
make is not yet clear (156).
What is frightening is that Hughes published these words in 1975, and over a
quarter of a century later it is still not clear what the human response to the ecocrisis
will be.

The gradual loss of the influence the primeval myths and rituals may truly
represent the root cause of the pathologies seen everywhere in nature. As we have
seen, the supposed function of myth and ritual was to promote a consciousness of
solidarity of all life, a unity of feeling between individuals as well as a sense of
harmony with the whole of nature and life (Avens 59, my italics). Increasingly, we
find the human race mindlessly scarring landscapes through mining, timber
harvesting, grazing, and unwise farming practices; oceanspheres are molested through
50


fishing, oil drilling, and the pollution and wastes produced by sea vessels; the
biosphere is being depleted of all-protecting ozone through the human use of
chlorofluorocarbons; while the natural phenomenon of periodic global warming is
being accelerated because of fossil fuel emissions.
These activities are culminating in species die off, life-robbing pollution, and
wild and furious weather that possibly is signaling the premature arrival of Earths
next ice age. What is the justification for these human activities? The behavior of
Western civilization and those emerging societies that similarly idolize the materialist
way of life are essentially offering no justification. There is no Earth-honoring in
striking oil, felling a hillside of trees, netting and drowning dolphins and sharks on a
tuna run, or savagely injuring a manatee with a personal watercraft. Aggressive,
forceful, and deadly behavior between humans is judged as rape or murder. But when
this type of human ill behavior is thrust upon nature, it is called supply and demand,
mining for resources, making way for progress, and meeting the needs of society.
Anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis has pondered this phenomena of human
behavior and asks:
Can we return to the Garden {of Eden}? We all know it has to be
done. But can we find the courage? With all our technology, our
power, our sciences, our religions, our pride, our circumstance, can we
return to the humility of being just one of Gods creatures? One
species in a web of many? Weve, lived up to now with the survival
myth of a middle eastern desert tribe; with the many and varied myths
of priests needing power; with the many and varied domination myths
of explorers, colonizers, engineers, scientists, technocrats, ideologues.
Why not a new myth? One of the Earth, not of us? One of humility?
The humility of understanding as much as we can. Why not the power
of each small person caring for their small garden? Why not the
terrible and heretical, sometimes laughable, idea of St. Francis
suppressed by a fearful church: the equality of All all species. Why
not a new myth that brings understanding of nature and power to help
it, not hurt it? An Ecology of Mind. Why not? Just tell me, why not?
(Millennium, video).
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The West and the Western influenced world has today come to manifest the
original meaning of the Greek term hubris: to run riot (Avens 4), especially with its
technology-assisted onslaught of nature. We are, according to Roberts Avens,
suffering from a character flaw of a grotesquely excessive masculinity and
rationality (Avens 5). From the remote past to the present time, humankind, or rather
mankind, particularly the Judeo-Christian-Roman inspired West, has progressively
fragmented the world, bringing about a worldview that offers no correspondence
between our species and the rest of nature.
Can a heart-filled empathy with Earth be regained on the level of the human
species? It is immediately imperative that we move in this direction. As Maybury-
Lewis said, We all know it has to be done''
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CHAPTER 5
INDIVISIBLE REALITY
One Visible Animal: the Organismic Worldview
While it is true that Plato, and perhaps many other ecologically-minded individuals of
the time, recognized what we would today call environmental degradation and yet
surely viewed nature primarily as a resource, the Greeks of that period nevertheless
had an overall organismic view of the sphere of earthly life and of the cosmos. The
entire universe and its components were conceived of as arising from the same
fundamental ground-of-all-being and, as such, all corporeal and incorporeal, all
visible and invisible things constituted a single living, breathing, cosmically vast
creature imbued at every level with character, purpose, purposiveness, and value.
There was not the distinct psychological boundary between what present-day
Cartesian science delineates as animate and inanimate things, conscious and
unconscious creatures. As J. Donald Hughes offered in his Ecology in Ancient
Civilizations. All life, sharing the same substance and forming part of the living
world, therefore, shared a certain sympathy of affinity in the Greek worldview
(Hughes 21, my italics). Plato discussed this sympathetic, organismic view in his
Timaeus dialogue:
[W]e may say that the world came into being a living creature truly
endowed with soul and intelligence by the providence of God ...
[T]he original of the universe contains in itself all intelligible beings,
just as the world comprehends us and all other visible creatures. For
the deity, intending to make this world like the fairest and most perfect
of intelligible beings, framed one visible animal comprehending within
itself all other animals of a kindred nature (Hamilton 30, my italics).
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This view, a view extending back through our remote human ancestry, has
been incorporated into the much more recent worldview of deep ecology, where
humans and all other aspects of nature are seen as but a weave in an infinite,
cosmological tapestry.
But what does Plato mean when he suggests that the universe is a single living
creature, one visible animal made up of innumerable other living societies? On a
sublunary level what is the potential significance of planet Earth being a single and
possibly conscious cosmic body likewise composed of countless other societies and
sub-societies of creatures? All living, all in some way animated, some conscious,
some perhaps not, but all aware in that they react to the presence of other living
things and ambient conditions. By living things, one can say any thing from a
subatomic event, a cell, a flower, an Arctic fox, a sea, a person, an aspen glen, an
asteroid, or the biosphere of Earth. Living things may be too strong a term for some;
but by living, again, the sense is that there exists the ability of a thing to react to its
environment and the presence of and commingling with another thing/other things.
As such, using this definition, the entirety of creation is in some sense living thus
spoke Plato.
Not only are all things living, but all things are simultaneous materially and
immaterially interconnected. This notion is expressed superbly in the Hindu religion
in the story of Indras net Indra being the king of heaven. Here the cosmos is
metaphorically represented as a vast net spread out across the very depths of space-
time. In the center of each knot of this net resides a shining jewel of everlasting
beauty and perfection; and each jewel reflects the radiance of the inestimable host of
other jewels. Each jewel is also manifestly bound to the others via the form (i.e.
rope) of this cosmic net. For the Hindus, the reflection in each jewel represents the
light and power of the original, immaterial, animating ground-of-all-being, and the
net the material plane through which this power is made apparent. The reflection of
each single jewel in all the others is particularly profound because it demonstrates
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that all individual beings or material realizations (rocks, trees, animals, planets,
humans) are simultaneously reflecting and have come into being through the same
animating force. German rationalist philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-
1716) introduced a similar idea in his The Monadology. Whereas the Hindus
envisioned all-reflecting jewels, Leibniz envisioned all-perceiving monads. Leibniz
asserted that each monad perceives (reflects) all other monads. Leibniz interpreter
Robert C. Sleigh notes that in The Monadology:
God creates, conserves, and concurs in the actions of each created
monad. Each state of a created monad is a causal consequence of its
preceding state, except for its state at creation and any of its states due
to miraculous divine causality. Intrasubstantial causality is the rule
with respect to created monads ... (Audi 426, my italics).
The organismic, interconnected, inter-reflective worldview is likewise found
in Chinese medicine, a tradition stretching back some 3000-5000 years. The
philosophy of Chinese medicine views the human body as a whole as influenced by
its parts. Dispelling the dis-ease of one organ of the body means balancing the
functioning of all organs of the body to bring about the healing (making whole)
process (Capra 317). Practitioners of Chinese medicine work in healing the body
from the perspective that the health of the body reflects the state of ones
interpersonal relationships, diet, and natural environment. An imbalance in any of
these areas can manifest as a sickness in the body. A healthy human body or, by
extension, a healthy garden, crop, or landscape is dependent on an uninterrupted flow
of ch 7; thus, there is an overall recognition of the interdependence of organism and
environment (Capra 317, my italics).
Ch 7 or ki (Japan) is essentially the Oriental description of the ground-of-all-
being variously mentioned throughout this text. Ch 7 is not substantive except that it
acts through physical nature as the life force of all things: The word literally means
gas or ether and ... denote{s} the vital breath or energy animating the cosmos
(Capra 314). From the perspective of Chinese medicine, health or dis-ease within a
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body whether the body is the human form, a farm, or a forest is not causally
isolated or independent. If a river is dammed, for instance, the ch 7 ordinarily flowing
freely through the river and down into the various dependent ecosystems is
interrupted; distress will follow and many plants and animals will die. Should the dam
be dismantled and the river allowed to flow frilly, life will return and flourish.
Likewise, a person may develop a tumor traceable to a lifetime of consuming foods
laden with pesticide residues or genetically modified (GM) foods. The complex
molecules of these substances have interrupted and distorted the life-giving ch 7
energy found readily in non-tampered (organic) foods. Theoretically, the body could
begin to heal itself if a new diet of pesticide-free, non-GM foods were to be
introduced. This thought is not unlike that of dependent origination found in
Buddhism, where the condition of a thing, person, environment, or society is
directly contingent upon the psychological or natural sphere it lives within or with
which it interacts. All things and occasions are viewed as inescapably bound and
interrelational.
In the 20th century, the organicism found in Platonic philosophy, Hinduism,
Chinese medicine and Taoism would find new expression in the work of physicist
David Bohm and in Alfred North Whiteheads philosophy of organism; the
holographic theory of the nature of reality; the Gaia hypothesis; the Integral Vision of
philosopher Ken Wilber; and deep ecology.
In his book The Holographic Universe, author Michael Talbot writes:
One of {David} Bohms most startling assertions is that the tangible
reality of our everyday lives is really a kind of illusion, like a
holographic image. Underlying it is a deeper order of existence, a vast
and more primary level of reality that gives birth to all the objects and
appearances of our physical world in much that same way that a piece
of holographic film gives birth to a hologram. Bohm calls this deeper
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level of reality the implicate (which means enfolded) order, and he
refers to our own level of existence as the explicate, or unfolded order
... {For example,} when a {sub-atomic} particle appears to be
destroyed, it is not lost. It has merely enfolded back into the deeper
order from which it sprang ... {However,} Bohm prefers to describe
the universe not as a hologram, but as a holomovement (46,47,
authors parenthesis and italics).
By holomovement, holo (as in hologram) refers to the inter-reflective aspect of
reality and movement to the interpenetrating, participatory aspect of reality. For Bohm
(1917-1992), there is no such thing as a thing; that is, instead of all objects being
ultimately reducible, Kantian things-in-themselves, they are energetic, interactive,
and dynamic processes in perpetual flux. In Bohms opinion, reality is so absolutely
interwoven that to conceptually divide up the world/universe in a Cartesian-like way
is an arbitrary task fraught with philosophical and scientific problems fragmenting
and naming things turns out to be nothing more than mere convention, since
everything is an aspect of the one single, collective universal continuum (Talbot 48).
The implicate order comes to represents the ground-of-all-being so far discussed (i.e.
psyche, the power reflected in jewels of Indras net, ch i); the explicate order
represents the realm of material existence through which this power is made manifest.
Bohm believed that each aspect of reality/nature contains information about the
whole, and the whole, thus, informationally, behaviorally, and conditionally reflects
the overall state of its parts. He ultimately viewed reality/the universe as an undivided
and undividable whole.
As we have seen, boundaries seem to be conceptual rather than actual. Even
the dualist philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) pointed out there is a continuity
of possible realities and of possible smaller perceptions. Every colour, as for instance
red, has a degree which, however small it may be, is never smallest; and so with heat,
the moment of gravity, etc (Kant 203-04). Arne Naess emphasizes the ultimate
indivisibility of nature and the universe by stating that aspects of nature are bound in
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an interdependent relationship (Naess 48, authors italics); that is, the parts of nature
are relational rather than relative or subjective (Naess 48): We arrive, not
at the things themselves, but at networks or fields of relations in which things
participate and from which they cannot be isolated! (49, my italics). Naess concludes
that human society:
must strive for greater familiarity with an understanding closer to that
of Heraclitus: everything flows. We must abandon fixed, solid parts,
retaining the relatively straightforward, persistent relations of
interdependence (50).
J.E. Lovelock applied this type of thinking to Earth in his 1979 book Gaia: A
New look at Life on Earth. In this work, he argued that the complex sum of the planet
is greater than the relative simplicity found in each of its parts. It can be drawn from
his thinking that the consciousness/ground-of-all-being animating all things on Earth
(whether animate or traditionally inanimate things like rocks, grains of sand, etc.)
may very well resonate and harmonize in such a way as to possibly give rise to a self-
conscious, self-organizing, self-regulating world-entity. Lovelock wrote:
[I]f Gaia (the living planet} does exist, then we may find ourselves
and all other living things to be parts and partners of a vast being who
in her entirety has the power to maintain our planet as a fit and
comfortable habitat for life (1).
Lovelock named this supposed world-entity after the Greek goddess who drew
forth the Earth from the original chaos of creation. In my opinion, Lovelocks Gaia
hypothesis is the Platonic idea of the universe being one visible animal in
microcosm. In other words, if, macrocosmically, the entire universe is a living
creature, then, via the principle of inter-reflectivity, microcosmically every element
contributing to its grander being must also be a living creature; and even the
microcosmic creatures must in some way be macrocosms unto themselves consisting
of microcosmic creatures, and so on ad infinitum.
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Alfred North Whitehead similarly expressed this view in his Neo-Platonic
philosophy of organism. He referred to complex organisms/beings such as humans as
nexus (pronounced nex-oos), and the multiplicity of less complex organisms
constituting the nex us as nexus. As such, a human is a nex us, a cell a nexus; the
universe is a nex us, a galaxy a nexus. However, a galaxy is a nex us in itself, its
constitutive planets and stars are each a nexus. And so with a cell of a human being:
the cell is nexus, the subatomic reactions manifesting it are each a nexus (PR 34-35).
As such, nexus designates a complex single being as brought about by the activities
and processes of the possible infinitude of nexus- societies working within it each
thing is therefore a society of countless other things. Philosopher Ken Wilber
clarifies this type of thinking by simply calling what we ordinarily think of as things
holons. He writes: Each whole is simultaneously a part, a whole/part, a holon. And
reality is composed, not of things ... nor wholes nor parts, but of whole/parts, of
holons (SES viii, authors italics).
Whitehead further argued that what some metaphysicians and physicists speak
of as individual objects should rather be thought of as aspects of an ongoing and
eternal process, for the physical world is bound together by a general type of
relatedness which constitutes it into an extensive continuum (PR 96). He states that
the universe is:
a dim background shot across by isolated vivid effects charged with
emotional excitement. The very presumptions of a coherent
rationalism are absent. Such rationalism presupposes a complex of
definite facts whose interconnections are sought. But the prior stage is
a background of indefiniteness ... [W]hat lies beyond the routine of
life is in general void of definition; and when it is vivid, it is
disconnected (RM 24).
While Whitehead conceded that abstractions are necessary in order even to
attempt to fathom the multifariousness of reality, to consider an abstracted thing as
an actual, reducible, and finite point of reality able to exist absent from its natural
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environment is to succumb to the fallacy of misplaced concreteness (PR 7-8). Simply
put, this is the mistake of believing that anything is concrete or is even concretizable.
Further, when this background is fallaciously reduced, it loses its identity as unity, or,
rather, as in union and integrated with its environment that is, when it is vivid, it
is disconnected.'' As long as it is clearly understood that there is always a context
behind and beneath an abstraction, a philosopher, physicist or ecologist may then
more insightfully and wisely use the perceived uniqueness of an abstracted thing as a
means of examining it and the society or condition that supports it. It is difficult not
to succumb to a sense of existential nausea when considering that all objects, theory,
science, mathematics, and philosophy are merely abstractions, i.e. ways of getting at
things. The laws of thermodynamics and gravitation, the theories of relativity and
creation ex nilhio are only methodologies, albeit complex ones, used in attempting to
distill some element of extrinsicality and singularity from the amorphous background
of indefiniteness that all objects and creatures exist within. When contemplating these
notions, one comes to understand why modem day ecophilosophers and deep
ecologists use (or sometimes overuse) the term interconnected. But even the notion
of interconnectivity seems meaningless when considering that reality is perhaps
essentially liquid as opposed to enlinked. American poet Wallace Stevens (1878-
1955), often referred to as the Poet of Reality, nicely describes this situation in his
work Reality Is an Activity of the Most August Imagination:
... [TJhings emerged and moved and were dissolved,
Either in distance, change or nothingness,
The visible transformations of summer night,
An argentine abstraction approaching form
And suddenly denying itself away.
There was an insolid billowing of the solid...
(Stevens 396-97, my italics).
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As intimated in the preceding examples, all material creation issues forth from
the same ground or source of being; thus, what we categorize as objects or organisms
are each and all ontologically akin and are a product/creature of and process/evolving
creation within the living animal known as the universe. But this is only one part of
the story, because not only do all things seem to spring from the same immaterial
source of being, but all things materially/manifestly interpenetrate or, as stated
earlier, inter-reflect as well. In his landmark PBS television lectures entitled Body,
Mind & Soul: The Mystery and the Magic, Dr. Deepak Chopra, M.D. discusses the
scientific evidence supporting this. He states that based on mathematical calculations
stemming from radioisotope studies, the following astounding postulations have been
formulated:
1. At any one moment there are on order of one million atoms in an individuals
body that have in the past been in the bodies of all other humans past and
present; for example, Jesus, Buddha, Mozart, van Gogh, Debussy, Gandhi,
Genghis Khan, your neighbor, your enemy.
2. Within any given three-week period, a quadrillion (1015) atoms have
circulated through an individuals body that have circulated through every
other living animal and plant species on the planet. Consider a tree in Africa, a
squirrel in Siberia, a peasant in China, or a whale in the North Atlantic, and
one has in his or her own body matter/raw material that passed through all
those other bodies/forms within the last twenty-one days (Body. Mind & Soul:
The Mystery and the Magic lk
Ultimately, what does the knowledge concerning the invisibility of reality mean? It
demonstrates that the human species is not distinct or separate from the natural realm.
Indeed, we are in and of nature; a part of rather than apart from Her. And, lastly,
that each element, aspect, and character within nature has, in one form or another,
value. For if there is, as there appears to be, a solidarity of being across all species
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and conceptual boundaries within creation, then how can one thing not be of value to
the ftmctioning of the whole?
Intrinsic Value. Purpose, and Purposiveness
Modem humanity in general is tragically unenlightened and uncontemplative
concerning its own nature as inescapably caught up in and influencing its
surroundings. Today we are dissociated and disengaged not only from the fact of our
dependence on nature, but the simultaneous notion that we are destroying Her. This is
at the same time biting the hand that feeds and global mass suicide. This seems to be
a fifo-ability unique to our species. This dissociation and disengagement, of course, is
reflective of our own inner character. Focused mostly on material wealth and the
mind-numbing spectacles of mass media and popular culture, we come across as
being frightened of facing and integrating into our lives the eternal, elemental,
informing, universal, raw, animalistic, and original aspects of our human character
that were foundational to our remote ancestors. Because present-day Western
humanity is cut off from these aspects of itself, it is cut off from the realm of nature.
This disengagement creates the illusion that we are not of, nor have any bearing on,
the natural realm. The nature/world-amnesia that this creates prevents us from
experiencing the suffering not only of the Earth, but that of our fellow human beings
and the plant and animal inhabitants upon the planet as well. Hence, we live our lives
in a lie, going along without regard for much at all other than self-gratification and
material gain.
This insulation, while it may exist within ones own psychology, is false and
is allowing the human species to heartlessly wreak havoc upon the Earth. Given the
evidence of the worlds indivisibility, one must conclude that this isolation is a self-
created and self-imposed psychological condition and devalues nature rather than
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recognizing value in Her. The unilateral decisions and ecologically detrimental
actions taken by individuals, corporations, and governments portray human societies
as being radically egocentric, speciesistic, and anthropocentric, thus totally
disregarding the intrinsic value flowing throughout creation.
The notion of intrinsic value is a sensitive subject and seems to elicit
passionate arguments from the extremes of either totaling embracing the idea or
outright denying it. As with any other argument, of course, the argument for intrinsic
value could be excessively and ridiculously broadened or narrowed to the point of
intelligent and sensible collapse. For instance, one could ask, Have la thought, a
care, or a love for a single quantum event, a light wave traveling through the cosmos,
or a snowflake? Do these things stimulate affection in me? This type of analysis,
however, is not in keeping with the ambition of holding in mind the general welfare
of our world. This type of analysis holds in mind the particularities of the world only.
On the other hand, extending the argument too far could find one moving to India to
join a sect of Jains, who walk barefoot at all times so as not to even accidentally step
on and harm an insect, and who wear veils over their mouths and noses so as not to
inhale a gnat or mosquito.
Narrowing ones analysis or sympathies could lead to ludicrous questions
such as, What has more value an artificial tree or a live three thousand-year-old
bristleconepine? They are both trees by definition, one could argue, and therefore
equally valuable. In the scheme of things, certainly the bristle cone pine has much,
much more significance in the healthy functioning of an ecosystem and the whole of
nature. If anything, the artificial tree would represent an undue burden on the
ecosphere, both in the pollutants released in its manufacture and its eventual disposal.
And over-widening ones sympathies too could lead to a highly restrictive diet such
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as that preferred by fruititarians, who will eat only fruit that has fallen naturally from
the plant.
The salvation of our world will not come from such reductionistic or
expansionistic calculus. A calculus of value is not the philosophical and
psychological goal of movements like deep ecology. That is, as I have earlier
discussed, value need not be applied to nature or created in the minds of individuals
and then attached to nature. Rather, value should simply be recognized in nature as its
most prominent aspect. If value seems too strong a term and concept to accept as
inherent in natural forces and earthly creatures, then perhaps one can at least
acknowledge somehow, even if feebly, that the maintenance, flourishing, equilibrium,
and continuation of nature is the single most highest necessity for the maintenance,
flourishing, equilibrium, and continuation of plant, animal, and human societies. Such
flies in the face of reductionistic rationalism, Cartesian delineations, and analytical
philosophical inquiry. Essentially, there is nothing to analyze: the world must live in
order for its inhabitants to live.
The westernized and industrialized societies have in effect taken themselves
out of the ecosystemic functioning of the world. In the remote past, our human
ancestors existed through the natural world both as residents within it and as
functions of it. As such, primitive humanity had both purpose and purposiveness in
nature. By purpose I mean to say that early humans, whether conscious of it or not,
had, like any other animal, the desire for the continuation of ones own life and
perhaps that of his immediate tribe or clan. For the primitive mind, this desire may
have been ones only aim. Our early human ancestors also possessed purposiveness in
that by eating berries, for instance, seeds of plants were spread; by walking through
streams sediment was lifted and carried off to enrich the soils of many miles distant;
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his hunting habits kept prey herds healthy as usually only the sick or lame were
regularly brought down. Further, the carcasses of these animals would provide
sustenance for carrion animals and gradually yield to the landscape as fertilizing
nourishment. Perhaps the harshest aspect of early humanitys purposive character was
the fact that human themselves were at times robbed of life by creatures of prowess. It
could be argued that it was originally this latter element of purposiveness that
provided early humanitys consciousness with the impetus to attempt to control his
own fate and welfare. This impetus would come to transform early humanity into
arrow-wielding creatures of hunting adeptness. The evolution of this consciousness
has now found our race as victimizers of nature, rather than Her subjects. We have
become creatures with purpose, but with no purposiveness and no value in a
naturalistic sense; animals of taking with no giving back offering no reciprocity,
only atrocity.
The challenge to humankind is in determining a way to reinstate itself back
into the functioning of Earth, as opposed to continuing on its present path of
l
terrestrial trashing. There seems to be an unwillingness to let loose ourselves from the
luxuries and conveniences of modem existence and return to a more simplistic
lifestyle. Alternatively, if humans cannot reinsert themselves into the ecosystem, then,
at minimum, we should allow for the flourishing of non-human nature by reducing
our interference in its functioning. As Arne Naess has pointed out:
Species are a significant part of one anothers environment, therefore
the tendency towards non-natural... communities threatens their
structure, function, and stability. The extinction of one species of a
community may eventually result in the extinction of hundreds of
others. Therefore the saving of one may result in saving hundreds
(Naess 46).
The much disputed argument or claim of intrinsic value in nature ultimately
becomes a point not worth arguing. For it makes no difference whether one wants to
help encourage life and a flourishing-equilibrium in nature by attaching value to
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nature or accomplishing the same result by recognizing and acting upon the bare fact
that a healthy environment can only be attained and maintained by prudent action and
wise non-action (e.g., not purchasing a gas-guzzling, horribly polluting SUV, for
example). The attainment of a wholesome environment is the enduring goal,
regardless of ones intellectual mindset or philosophical and religious predispositions.
For some of us, however, we in some way feel that we honor Nature and ourselves as
characters in the natural realm by imagining, recognizing, or otherwise realizing
sanctity within Her. The latter and mysterious way is via what is known as a religious
or mystical experience. This experience evokes a condition in the individual that
Alfred North Whitehead termed world-loyalty; it is a far deeper, intense, and
weighty state of mind than that known or, perhaps, even knowable to persons of
shallow reflection and emotional ineptitude.
World-loyalty
In his short yet remarkable text of lectures entitled Religion in the Making, Whitehead
offers that at the instant one becomes aware of the indivisibility of reality and the
solidarity of being shared with all other creatures and forms across the spectrum of
existence, he or she becomes world-loyal. This moment may come during quiet
contemplation at home or, in drug induced states, or, more commonly for most of us,
in a natural setting. Regardless of the condition conjuring this state, for Whitehead it
comes about when one grasps that "the elements of the universe {are} the unity of one
fact" (RM150, my italics). This cognition is expressed to an individual through a
quickly passing superior mentality that, once achieved, proffers only a brief glimpse
into the realm of complete and total universal comprehension. It is a moment when
we seem to "essentially arise out of our bodies" (PR 129). It is a plane of mentality
that in Religion in the Making is severally and indiscriminately spoken of as a 'higher
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experience', a 'vivid experience', or a 'religious experience' (RM 95,27, 86). As
philosopher John F. Haught puts it in his text Science and Religion, it is an awareness
that "creation is going on within us, beneath us, behind us, and ahead of us" (117).
For Whitehead, such instances represent a religious coming into being. It
should be pointed out that, more than likely, Whitehead did not mean religious in a
biblical or theological sense, but rather religion in its original sense: to bind with or
link back to the originating power of the universe. Experiences of this type are an
"apprehension of {the} character permanently inherent in the nature of things" (RM
61, my italics). It is the realization that, to borrow a phrase from Nietzsche, "All
things are enlinked, enlaced, and enamored" (Nietzsche 336). This apprehension, on
Whitehead's view, is the beginning of binding or linking oneself consciously not only
to the originating power of the universe but the outflow of creation from it; life then
becomes to be seen as a platform of and for becoming. This act of connecting to
creation is world-loyalty. This type of experience is recognized to be a fleeting
moment of penetrating and measureless universal insight a seeming poetic
moment of instantaneous communication and unity with one's surroundings; a
mercurial flash of oneness, divinity, clarity, and experiential climax; "an irrepressible
sense of awe at the sheer facticity or 'thatness' of the universe" (Haught 116). Naess
would see this as someone gaining an ecosphericperspective (Naess 80), where he
or she realizes there is no such thing as isolation, for all things live in deep
connection to all that surrounds (Naess 80, my italics).
For Naess, this realization of the individual self as inextricably in the
whole/gestalt Self of nature is a moment of one connecting the individuals
unfolding to that of the whole planet (Naess 163). Realization of the individual self
in the greater Self of creation induces and commands world-loyalty. One finds herself
living wholly as a part of creation, not living partly within the whole; living joyfully,
yet simply and matter of factly; living meaningfully within the graces of creations
humor. One comes to know and live by the knowledge that all things are literally in
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this ongoing act of creation together. As Whitehead noted, This universalization of
what is discerned in a particular instance is the appeal to a general character inherent
in the nature of things (RM 67).
When the experience is over one is usually completely silent, for the depth of
what has just occurred is "beyond the vulgarities of praise or of power" (RM 154).
Philosopher David Abram in his The Spell of the Sensuous suggests that, at least in
the outdoor setting, one may become so intensely integrated with his immediate
environment that his surroundings actually respond to his emotions and elicit feelings
from him. Abram further states that this reciprocal interchange "is a sort of silent
conversation that {one may} carry on with things, a continuous dialogue that unfolds
far below... verbal awareness" (52).
Such experiences seem to be instances when one becomes plugged in, so to
speak, to the incorrupt, unfiltered essence of creation; or when there is at once an
apprehension, comprehension, sympathy, love, and empathy for the wondrousness of
all beings. This fleeting state of universal awareness is moving, oceanic, and all-
consuming; it speaks of a love so deep that one, if even ever so briefly, experiences a
solidarity of being and becomingness with the multi-various entities pervading his
immediate environment and by extension the entire cosmos. David Rothenberg, Arne
Naess translator of Ecology, community and lifestyle, states that when the individual
recognizes his ontological connection with creation it is a kind of a-ha! experience
(Naess 8), a moment of insight (8), an instantaneous shift (8) from ones old
worldview to a new worldview where when one remembers that:
parts of nature are parts of ourselves. We cannot exist separate from
them. If we try our Self-realising {sic} is blocked. Thus we cannot
destroy them if we are to exist fully... We must see the vital needs of
ecosystems and other species as our own needs: there is thus no
conflict of interests. It is a tool for furthering ones own realisation
{sic} and fullness of life ... Identification in this sense is the widest
interpretation of love (Naess 10-11).
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In her book The Resurgence of the Real, Charlene Spretnak similarly
describes this moment when one comes to the awareness of his or her solidarity of
being with all of creation: When our larger identity is realized, the result is
spontaneous loyalty {to the world}... and even love (78, my italics). Where one may
have been divorced from nature through living the unenlightened life indicative of
Western social conditioning, such experiences in a sense marry one to nature.
Usually, religious experiences occur when one psychologically, if just for an
instant, becomes unfettered, unencumbered from the concerns, preoccupations, and
complexities of this troubled and materialistic frame of Western existence. At the
moment of this release, one is rapturously caught in the flow of becoming, where
struggle is absent and the seamlessness of reality is brought to absolute and
inarguable completeness in ones awareness. The religious experience invites the
individual to reside in a domain where character can be forged, the inward parts
cleansed, sincerity set free, and one's intimate convictions of love for the world and
others can earnestly be practiced (RM15). This becoming of the self through the
experience is a becoming with the universe; it is a conscious orientation toward
preparing the way for a right and realistic life. On Haught's view, "The authentic
religious attitude ... is a steadfast conviction that the future is open and that an
incalculable {positive} fulfillment awaits the entire cosmos" (Haught 19).
The religious experience seems to be a psychological springboard from which
to launch and orient oneself into a religious and world-loyal existence. In other
words, such an experience is necessary at the level of the individual if one is to begin
to live a genuinely religious, world-embracing (UDS 72-73) existence. The
experience comes to act as the glue, so to speak, which keeps a person adhered to the
world this is world-loyalty. It is the practice or private ritual of reminding oneself
that all aspects of one's environment and the entire universe interpenetrate, for all
temporal actualities include "the universe, by reason of its determinate attitude
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towards every {other} element in the universe" (PR 45). In Religion in the Making,
Whitehead states:
The peculiar character of religious truth is that it explicitly deals with
values. It brings into our consciousness that permanent side of the
universe which we can care for. It thereby provides a meaning, in
terms of value, for our own existence, a meaning which flows from the
nature of things (RM123-24, my italics).
These lines in their simplicity convey much that is complicated. At once we
see that the religious experience (though perhaps occurring accidentally and without
warning) is representative of when our senses recognize the revealed truth of the
worlds interconnections correspond to the fundamental value embodied in the
motion of creation; that the identification or empathy with the "permanent side of the
universe which we can care for" is one's loyalty to the unfolding, evolving, and
advancing of life; and, that the character of human existence is (or can be) in
harmonious coexistence with the overall character of nature. As mentioned, for
Whitehead, religion and thus world-loyalty must begin without exception at the
level of the individual; for it is only to the individual that the religious experience can
occur. As Jung points out, the individual is that infinitesimal unit on whom a world
depends ... (UDS 125).
The realization of our ontological solidarity of being with nature is much
deeper than the casual thinker may believe. The experience is more than one merely
rejoicing for the superficial beauty perceived in a flower or a landscape or a stream.
Rather the realization of our solidarity of being causes one to rejoice in the fact that
the flower or tree, for example, simply exists, and is extending towards its own goal
within the set of conditions it finds itself in; and that as an element of those conditions
it is adding to and participating in the goal and positive, novel travel of the
collectivity of the society.
The sublimity of the fact that all things interpenetrate in such a manner may
touch the human individual on an emotional level never visited outside of dreams.
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And it is, indeed, when the emotions residing at this depth are stirred and reawakened
that one becomes world-loyal. One finds herself wholly involved in creation as a part
and participator. At this point, ones thinking and deeds become chiefly aimed at
affirming life and creating dialogues with those persons who negate life so as to
communicate the fullness and beauty of existence to others and, to the extent
personally achievable, prevent further tragedy and life-negating in the world. Once
one experiences the solidarity of being inherent in creation once one is infused
with a world-loyal sentiment for life there occurs what Ken Wilber calls an
irreversible shift in ones psyche and worldview {BHE 171). He writes:
And thus Spirit has ... looked through your eyes and seen a global
world, a world that is decentered from the me and the mine, a world
that demands care and concern and compassion and conviction a
Spirit that is unfolding its own intrinsic value and worth, but a Spirit
that announces itself only through the voice of those who have the
courage to stand in the worldcentric space and defend it against lesser
and shallower engagements {BHE 171, my italics).
And, again, it does not matter whether someone projects value onto/into nature, has a
caring yet mechanistic worldview, recognizes value as inherent in nature, or is
miraculously, instantly, and forever transformed into a world-loyal existence via
religious experience. As long as one at least lives as if he or she is not the extent of or
center of the world, then conditions here on Earth will begin to improve as a result.
Our temporal, material world is the unfolding story of individual persons and
actualities in aggregate communities and the survival of the community depends
on the ability of the individual person or thing to successfully work and co-exist
within the context of the community. In Process and Reality, Whitehead argues that
every so called particularity is universal in the sense that it is co-existential in its
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condition of living with all other actual entities within its society or community (PR
48). Whitehead remarks, "There is no such thing as absolute solitariness. Each entity
requires its environment. Thus man cannot seclude himself from society" (RM137).
While Whitehead surely meant that an individual person cannot in good mind seclude
himself or herself from human society, the argument can safely and effortlessly be
extended to say that humans and human societies cannot seclude themselves from the
society of nature, i.e. the ecosphere. For not only does the human individual require
the community of other humans to have a sense of self, intellectual and ideological
connection, and the opportunity to procreate, but none of this, of course, is even
imaginable or possible without being and living in and through the context and
nurture of Nature. Therefore, as Naess so concisely states, To relate all value to
mankind is a form of anthropocentrism which is not philosophically tenable (Naess
177). Not only is relating all value to the human species not philosophically tenable,
but this evil, this life-negating prejudice, is leading this world into the next mass
extinction and possibly accelerating the onset of the next ice age.
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CHAPTER 6
DENYING THE WORLD
Evil: Limiting the Forms of Attainment
In August 2001, the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology
convened in Hilo, Hawaii. Keynote speaker, University of Oxford zoologist Robert
M. May, whom also heads up the Royal Society, expressed his dismay over the
extinction rates that his studies have uncovered. While there are many detractors to
his findings, one is still struck by his frightening findings for even if his
measurements are only fractionally accurate, our world is in serious trouble. In an
article from the November 2001 Scientific American magazine, Mays research was
discussed:
[Tjhe extinction rate the pace at which species vanish
accelerated during the past 100 years to roughly 1,000 times what it
was before humans showed up. Various lines of argument, he
explain{s}, suggest a speeding up by a further factor of 10 over the
next centuiy or so ... And that puts us squarely on the breaking edge
of the sixth great wave of extinction in the history of life on Earth
(articles ellipses, my italics).
From there, Mays lecture grew more depressing. Biologists and
conservationists alike, he complained, are afflicted with a total
vertebrate chauvinism. Their bias toward mammals, birds and fish
when most of the diversity of life lies elsewhere undermines
scientists ability to predict reliably the scope and consequences of
biodiversity loss. It also raises troubling questions about the high-
priority hotspots that environmental groups are scrambling to
identify and preserve.
Ultimately we have to ask ourselves why we care about the planets
portfolio of species and its diminishment, May said. This central
question is a. . question of values ... (Gibbs 42, my italics).
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The destruction of the Earth and its societies of creatures and organisms by
the human population describes nothing short of a psychological and emotional
devolution, especially in persons of Occidental descent. The lack of recognition of the
inherent value, beauty, and magnificence of our planets ecology and the respect,
tenderness, and love it commands is, according to Arne Naess, symptomatic of our
species suffering from a kind of radical blindness (Naess 66); that is, ones ethics
in environmental questions are based largely on how one sees reality (66). We are,
as a whole, blind to any real aesthetic or moral values with regard to nature. Of
course, though, even the most staunch and idealistic deep ecologist, for example, is
guilty of some infraction or imperfection in her behavior toward the natural
environment; we are all liable to a greater or lesser degree of living unsustainably; all
damnable for viewing existence anthropocentrically in a universe which is obviously
more lovely and important that the present-day ultra-materialistic Western person
cares to contemplate. Without question, we must rob the lives of plants and animals to
satisfy our bodily vital needs. But otherwise, what are we doing?
The poetic, mystical connection that we each could have with nature, with our
very life-bed, is lost in a haze of consumerism, commercialism, corporatization, and
celebrity-sponsored products. It is unsettling to ponder the fate of a planet whose
most powerful species is running amuck a species whose societies are
simultaneously consumed and powered by the meaninglessness of non-vital trade,
bottom lines, and the transient luxuries that are pushed on us day in and day out on
television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and Internet advertisements. Of this,
philosopher Ross Poole states that what is brought about by this uncontemplative and
unchecked consumerism:
is not satisfaction, but frustration; not creativity and repose, but
endless repetition, punctuated with occasional satiation... It is not
surprising that the identity constructed through the capitalist market is
a vulnerable one. The individual is cut off from most of the resources
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necessary to provide coherence to his life. There is little reason to
suppose that there are larger webs of meaning (e.g. of the universe, of
human history) (Poole 142).
Such is choking the life out of our souls and so the life of the planet itself.
Arne Naess remarks: What makes the ecological situation especially serious is that
there is a deeply grounded ideology of consumption and production which is
unecological (Naess 104). We have sought to dismantle and demystify nature. Our
technologies have empowered us to bring about the virtual ruination of the planet.
Our machines for drilling and mining are as thoughtless and indifferent as the creators
and operators of those mechanical monstrosities. Naess states:
A global culture of a primarily techno-industrial nature is now
encroaching upon all the worlds milieux desecrating living conditions
for future generations. We the responsible participants in this
culture have slowly but surely begun to question whether we truly
accept this unique, sinister role we have previously chosen (Naess 23,
my italics).
In my estimation, Naess is right on target by designating ours as a sinister
role. Western and westernized human existence is recognizably parasitic, and thus
ultimately evil and self-defeating. As parasitical creatures, we are benefiting from the
bounty we take from the Earth, while at the same time surely killing our planetary
host. In other words, the human population is only encouraging its own ends, much to
the detriment all other life. There is no obvious co-beneficial or symbiotic
relationship that we have with the Earth and its myriad creatures. Human behavior to
this degree is evil in a Whiteheadian sense. Again, I am taking a liberty with
Whitehead by extending his arguments into the field of deep ecology, but, as you will
see, his concept of evil describes precisely the havoc we as a species are bringing
upon this world.

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In Religion in the Making, Whitehead defines evil as a power or behavior that
is:
positive and destructive; what is good is positive and creative ...
[E]vil in itself leads to the world losing forms of attainment in which
that evil manifests itself... Thus evil promotes its own elimination by
destruction... The evil of the final degradation lies in the comparison
of what is with what might have been ... [T]he evil lies in the loss to
the social environment. There is evil when things are at cross purposes
(96-97, my italics).
For Whitehead, evil arises as a result of non-identification with ones society,
which in my argument means non-identification with ones surroundings, i.e. nature.
In other words, an individual must merge (RM 60), come into, or commune with
the societies of nature. Only by becoming an interactive and supporting character
within nature can our species hope to be positive and creative instead of positive and
destructive. As Whitehead points out, to the degree that behavior falls outside of that
mode of living that is positive and creative, to the degree that this character is
incomplete, there is evil in the world {RM 62); conversely, to the degree that
participators in life stay within this character, there is harmony in the actual world
(RM6\). When human-induced phenomena such as deforestation, air and water
pollution, and accelerated global warming are limiting the forms of attainment at an
estimated rate of27,000 species each year (Gibbs 43), we certainly can recognize our
evildoing and our sinister role.
However, it is not so much the preservation of species or the conservation of
resources that should concern us. Rather, in the spirit or character of being positive
and creative, the human role or responsibility is not so much that ofprotecting the
natural environment as allowing it to project, push forward, or evolve into the future.
We deny it and so ourselves that life-afiSrming prerogative by destroying it. Our
world is dying because of human activity: ecosystems are failing or have died and
extinction rates are multiplying exponentially. But not only is the wasteland of our
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own human interiors creating a wasteland here on Earth, but the disconnection that
we have with nature is just as significant as the disconnection that we have with our
fellow human beings. Take, for example, the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in
New York City. We have certainly proven that even using conventional objects such
as jet aircraft that we can inflict horror on a scale previously unimagined. Thus, as
aspects of the Earth, the loss of human life also represents our world losing forms of
attainment. And so the evil that the human species inflicts upon the world in general
does not bypass we the evildoers. Whitehead writes:
[E]vil is exhibited in physical suffering, mental suffering, and loss of
the higher experience in favour of the lower experience ... Evil,
triumphant in its enjoyment, is so far good in itself; but beyond itself it
is evil in its character of a destructive agent among things greater than
itself In the summation of the more complete fact it has secured a
descent towards nothingness, in contrast to the creativeness of what
can without qualification be termed good... [A] species whose
members are always in pain will either cease to exist, or lose
the delicacy of perception which results in that pain... (RM 95-96,
my italics).
With all the opposition that humans hurl at the Earth and other human
societies, how do we stop our own and thus our worlds descent towards nothingness?
How do we turn our thoughts and deeds to an ascent toward creativeness? Through
conscious and willing psychological integration and identification of self with other,
whether the other is human, forest, bird, wolf, mountain, stream, and on and on.

Because the modem human is in many cases cut off from his own self, he is
thus not Self-realized in the world of humans nor the world of nature. Because of this
dissociation between self and other, he or she does not recognize that this detachment
from the larger human and natural societies within which we exist is in itself
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individual psychological pain and suffering. This world-denying attitude hardens us
because, as Whitehead pointed out, we lack the delicacy of perception which results
in that pain'1 We, therefore, do not experience the suffering in the world that we
could help eliminate. We do not truly know the suffering in ourselves, the suffering of
other people and entire human societies, nor the suffering of our very planet. True
human progress should be measured not by technological prowess but by our capacity
to ease or eliminate suffering across the face of the planet and so increase the peace
experienced by all beings. Our own individual pains arise, perhaps, from the utter
loneliness we experience by denying the world.
By dissociating from the world, we have created the illusion that we as
individuals are separate from it. This overwhelming, yet often unrecognized or
misunderstood, loneliness, this false solitude acts as a type of psychological
anesthetic inducing what I have termed nature-amnesia, or more comprehensively,
world-amnesia. But, as discussed, this separation or self-exile from the world is
foundationally without merit.
As we have seen, the world is indivisible, we are in it, of it and it could never
be otherwise. Thus, to me, the greatest evil is, in fact, denying the world; for by doing
so we deny that we can either damage it or help it along a path of positivity and
creativeness. We have, according to Whitehead, become almost an entire race of
persons of narrow sympathies and thus apt to be unfeeling and unprogressive as
we reel in the illusion of our own egotistical goodness (RM 98).
To heal ourselves, to heal our relationships with other persons, societies, and
nations, to heal the wounds we have inflicted upon nature, we must broaden the value
that we have for ourselves into the concept of the world (RM 59).
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Human Neuroses and the Ecocrisis
In his 1956 text The Undiscovered Self, Carl Jung discusses the individual and
societal struggle for integration and wholeness in a world wrought with the fear of the
Cold War and the threat of global nuclear annihilation. Jungs reflections of the
prevailing psychological state of Western civilization at that time actually grants a
way of penetrating the cause and meaning of todays ecological problems.
Jung considered the phenomena of the Cold War and other extremes of
politics and social order as symptoms of a psychic imbalance within the minds of
humans. He referred to these pathologies as psychic epidemics (UDS 13) or
psychic infections (UDS 160). For Jung, psychic epidemics variously manifest as
diseases within the political, societal, and religious realms of humanity. He
specifically mentioned totalitarianism, communism, and theological dogma as
symptoms of psychic infections as expressed in societies through groups of
individuals. It is likewise my contention that human-caused phenomena such as
deforestation, ozone layer deterioration, wildlife and habitat loss, and the acceleration
of global warming via fossil fuel emissions are symptoms of a psychic infection but
as exhibited in nature rather than in social structures. Much of what Jung had to say
speaks directly to the environmental problems that are upon us today.
Through his argumentation, Jung suggests that to a great degree Western
civilized individuals (and resultantly societies as wholes) have lost contact with the
instinctive sensibilities inherent in the human character, but presently shunned except
by those still living it what we ordinarily consider primitive cultures. This disruption
of character, Jung believes, has come about through an increasingly scientific
approach to reality. While Jung fully appreciated the benefits of science and believed
that scientific rationalism should be incorporated into the totality of human
experience, he points out that a gulf has been opened between faith and
knowledge (UDS 85) that is, between instinct and reason. Namely, a great
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disparity exists between the ability to rationalize and make scientific judgments about
reality and the ability to simply allow reality to inform our human sensibilities the
instinct and nature-keenness had by our remote ancestors has been overshadowed by
reason, causing humanity to lose its cosmic correspondence (UDS 73) with the
natural realm. According to Ken Wilber, while among human individuals this could
be described as a neurosis, collectively the human neurosis creates an ecological
crisis (BHE 154). Further, philosopher Richard Tamas has noted that:
the impersonal and soulless world of modem scientific cognition is not
the whole story. Rather, that world is the only kind of story that for the
past three centuries the Western mind has considered intellectually
justifiable (421).
This cosmic correspondence refers to what Jung considered a transmundane
faculty or capability of participating instinctively and non-rationally in the unfolding
of reality and in interacting with nature a mystic participation (Levy-Bruhls
participation mystique) where the prelogical, unscientific, non-Aristotelian mind
orients itself in the psychic, ground-of-all-being substratum underlying material
creation (Avens 25, 26). Given our over-rationalization of the world, the faculty of
cosmic correspondence is lost or is being denied, thus a general disturbance
(UDS 77) in the positive and creative functioning of the world has come about:
[I]t is quite natural that with the triumph of the Goddess of Reason a
general neuroticizing of modem man should set in, a dissociation of
personality.. .[A] splitting of the world... runs through the psyche of
modem man.. .(UDS 77, my italics).
For Jungian scholar James Hillman, the instinctual, non-rational aspect of
human character is an irreducible psychic reality (Tamas 425) with the potency of
the archetypes (425). Hillmans observations of Jungs original insights make
explicit the primacy of the psyche (425). Whereas Jungs early teacher and mentor
Sigmund Freud was interested in exposing the egos antipathy to the instincts
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(424), Jungs own psychology, particularly in his later works, was rooted in bringing
the psyche and consequently instinct back into the arena of human experience.
In Jungs later psychology, instinct is understood to be the original, informing,
and reality-mediating construct of the human mind; that is, instinct is the realization
of the wisdom of nature as appropriate to the human mind and the human form.
Instinct is concurrently the learned and intuitive responses to life that are contained in
both genetic memory and in the collective unconscious. Though a distinction is made
between these two ideas (genetic memory and the collective unconscious), Jung
believed that they were coextensive and coequal, emanating from the one ubiquitous,
enigmatic, and animating energy in the universe psyche, that is, the ground-of-all-
being: [F]or when all is said and done it {is} ... as Jung has said, at bottom the
psyche is simply the world (Avens 49).
Psyche antedates form but also finds expression through it. The wise,
connatural application of psyche through form is seen in the plant and animal realms.
The animal form is informed by psyche, not so much through genetic heredity, but
through perhaps resonating with psyche on a subtle, intangible level. This quiet
association allows the wolf, the tree, or the creek to go with nature', where in the
human realm, most actions go against nature. Psyche is understood as the animating,
invisible force acting as the engine of matter. Paradoxically, psyche is at the same
time not removed from or otherwise visible except through matter. Just as in the
material realm, psyche is at best conceptual; matter is likewise merely conceptual
without the motivating power of psyche.
What humans have forgotten is that they are both psyche and world. What is
veiled behind centuries of denial is the fact that the force that animates the flora and
fauna is the same force that animates the human individual and societies. This
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Jungian gulf or dissociation thus brings about a civilization that not only selfishly
shuns the sacredness of other humans, but the very inviolability of nature in general.

The psyche as considered in human terms was referred to by Jung simply as
the human psyche. Thus, the human psyche and the information and intuition
contained therein span back into the remotest recesses of human animality;
conceivably back to the point where nature directly informed the mind as opposed to
the mind imposing its overly willful and rationalistic whims upon the world. Here the
world and the human animal were, perhaps, as one. Philosopher Richard Tamas
writes:
Though it was clear that human experience was locally conditioned by
a multitude of concrete biographical, cultural, and historical factors,
subsuming all these at a deeper level appeared to be certain universal
patterns or modes of experience, archetypal forms that constantly
arranged the elements of human experience into typical configurations
and gave to collective human psychology a dynamic continuity. These
archetypes endured as basic a priori symbolic forms while taking on
the costume of the moment in each individual
life and each cultural era, permeating each experience, each cognition,
and each world view (385, my italics).
The cosmic correspondence inherent in the structure of the human psyche is
instinctive and in the past connected the individual and societies to the immediate
environment (UDS 73); yet this archetype-interpreting, reality-mediating faculty of
humankind has been cut off and is presently unable to readily communicate to the
human mind and effect wise actions in the promotion of survival. It is seemingly a
mystery denied to our generation (Anderson 16). Assuming this faculty exists, why
do human individuals and social organizations no longer participate wholesale in this
cosmic correspondence? Jung feels that this natural human sensibility is
unconsciously known but currently lost, thus a general disturbance (UDS 77) is
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being visited upon the world because of this disconnection. That is, reason has
neuroticized (UDS 77) modem man, and he suffers with a dissociation (UDS 77)
between the self and the world. Jung, in fact, calls this a splitting of the world (UDS
77).
Translating his psychology into the realm of deep ecology, Jung would
perhaps regard this human psychic infection manifested in nature as a loss of the view
of the human animal as a microcosm of the world (UDS 72-73). This view has long
since dropped from {man}, although the very existence of his world-embracing and
world-conditioning psyche might have taught him better (UDS 72-73). Here, Jungs
notion of a splitting of the world (USD 77) is brought home. Man either has
somehow elevated himself above the rest of the world because of his ability to reason,
or has forgotten or dismissed his microcosmic character within the macrocosm. In
either case, the fact remains that the world in its bounty and beauty support the human
being both as the source from which he arose and as his sustenance for continued
thriving. Nevertheless, the human animal in so many ways disparages and spurns the
root of his bodily being. Humanity as a whole fails to appreciate the simultaneous
grossness of the body and the ethereality of the psychical nature that animates it. In
the words of William Anderson: The World is matter in mind (9). Robert Pogue
Harrison similarly states: Soul and habitat we are finally in a position to know
this are correlates of one another (Harrison 149). However, our inherited tradition
in science as handed down from Descartes has been reductionists. This
approach has led our species in a direction unfavorable to the development of human
wisdom and the promotion of life; that is, we have not been world-embracing (UDS
72-73).
From a deep ecological position, this would suggest that Western mans
deafness to the good sense inherent in the world-conditioning psyche (UDS 72-73)
has lead to the reductionists, subject-object worldview we now possess. While this
approach has allowed for great discoveries and has benefited humankind in
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innumerable ways in the areas of medicine, astronomy, and biology, the positive
advantages of knowledge {have worked} specifically to the disadvantage of
understanding... (UDS 19, authors italics). The modem scientific method seeks to
predict outcomes and gain facts, while a contemplative regard toward the world seeks
awareness, comprehension, sympathy, empathy, and love. This seems to describe the
typical distinction made between science and metaphysics.
As Jung noted, the predicament the world finds itself in is rooted in the fact
that unreflective science has allowed us to distance or dissociate ourselves from the
rest of the world. This reductionism, is, in the words of Roberts Avens, borne from a
lack of imagination (Avens 10). Jung states that science conveys a picture of the
world from which a real human psyche appears to be excluded the very antithesis
of the humanities (UDS 21). Scientific rationalism has, as such, robbed the
individual of his foundations and dignity (UDS 24). As noted earlier the benefits of
science have come at a detrimental cost to the Earths natural systems. Author
William Anderson writes in his book The Face of Glory:
Much of the damage that humanity has inflicted on the environment
has been made possible by the effects of mans own creativity; the
discovery that he could manipulate matter in its atomic and molecular
nature to make new chemicals in order to increase yields, to kill off
unwanted pests and weeds, and to preserve and distribute the vast
surpluses of food that are only made possible by the use of
agrochemicals; the discovery that he could refine fossil remains in oil,
coal and gas to create new means of transport on land and sea
and in the air and to generate electricity; and the discovery that he
could tap the energies of nuclear power... [T]he only way to evade
our self-inflicted fates is through our own creativity, to evolve a
science that takes into account the {potential} effects of any new
invention or chemical or source of power (7).
In Jungian language, Anderson adds that arriving at the point of an accountable
science will depend on our creative ability on other levels, the deep levels of the
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psyche, the inner environment of all humanity which is where pollution and
degradation truly begin (Anderson 7).
The advancements in science that have allowed for the extension of human
life and given us television and space shuttles has also provided us with the
mechanisms to chase the fairies from the woods, the nymphs from the streams, the
gods from the heavens, and wonder from creation. Although such vague and timeless
archetypal symbols seem non-sensical and beyond the realm of believability, Jung
held that the power behind these spirits and symbols (undifferentiated psyche) was
the uniting agent between the human animal and non-human nature. This force as a
mechanism was the common factor that leveled the field between what we now
consider the disparate subjects of Human and Nature. The archetypal symbols
provided a means of communicating with nature while acting as a mirror into which
man could gaze and recognize himself as an expression of the magnificent
strangeness through which he existed. Philosopher Alan D. Schrift notes in his text
Nietzsche and the Question of Interpretation:
{A} narrowing of possible points of view or denying of perspective
is the essential characteristic of all dogmatism, and insofar as every
such exaggeration of a single viewpoint is in itself already a sign of
sickness.. .(186, authors italics).
Where nature was once a lively and sentient force to be reckoned with and
admired, rationalism and scientism have reduced and fragmented her into bare,
inanimate matter and mere material parts. There is nothing admirable in this. As
Schrift remarks, if an interpretation of a text or work seeks to dogmatically reduce the
complexity and beauty of an expression (as the rational, scientific mind does with
nature and reality), then that interpretation is a deficient and inferior one. An
interpretation only succeeds when, in Whiteheadian terms, it is positive and creative
and thus opens a text to more speculation, wonder, and life. Schrifts thinking further
compliments Jungs sentiments by offering two primary categories of interpretation:
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1. Interpretations that are hostile to life (186), i.e. the life of the text, or
negate life (186); and
2. Interpretations that invite proliferative play (186), affirm life (192) and
enhance the creative and procreative impulse of life (192).
This works well with Jungs understanding of the rationalistic mind. Through
scientific and religious dogma, specific interpretations are attached to a thing (e.g.
nature or spirituality), thereby denying the infinite possibilities that should be allowed
in the course of the life of a text. In the text of nature, the centuries of reductionistic
interpretation have been hostile to life on Earth and the proliferation and thriving of
our fellow creatures: [T]he denial of perspective is the denial of the basic condition
of all life (Schrift 186). In fact, Jungs, as well as Whiteheads, argumentations can
be extended into what I will call a Nietzschean ecology or nature perspectivism.
As Schrift has pointed out in his text, Friedrich Nietzsche argued that critically and
dogmatically limiting the interpretation of a work of art is necessarily a flawed
interpretation; that is, if an interpretation is portrayed as being definitive and thus
does not act as a springboard for further interpretative play, then that interpretation
has narrowed the field of other possible valid, proliferative, life-emanating, life-
supporting interpretations and has failed in inspiring one to ponder what Whitehead
considered the deeper depths of the many-sidedness of things (PR 342). Likewise,
if Earth is viewed as a work of art as rendered upon the canvas of the universe, then a
nature perspectivism would consider any human activity that narrows the conditions
of creativity, diversity, and complexity within the natural realm as circumscribing the
novelty and existential freedom otherwise potential in or extant through it. Such
activity is evil in a Whiteheadian sense and life-negating in a Nietzschean sense.
Shrift writes:
[T]he value of keeping the activity of interpretation open, and in
calling for a plurality of interpretations... does justice to the
pluridimensionality and plurivocity of the text, whether the text be a
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literary work, a historical event, a social practice, or the world (188,
my italics).
Schrrft further discusses the notion of textual fitness (193). That is, the
activity of interpreting a text must fit within the general condition of the text: the
interpretation should neither negate the life of the text nor otherwise detract from
what is felt to be the general welfare of the text. Applied to deep ecology, an example
of textual MH-fitness would be the exorbitant release of fossil fuel emissions into the
biosphere or the brutal destruction of a landscape in order to expose some element or
mineral. Such activity is hostile to life and does not support or affirm the myriad
and countless creatures that depend on the biosphere.
In reducing its perspectives of nature, Western civilization has de-animated,
demythologized and demystified the world, thus we have arrived at the life-negating
antipathy held toward nature and resultantly ourselves. How is one then to have a
sense of dignity when Western humanity ignores the very foundation upon which
dignity was once predicated? Our attempts at achieving true human dignity now fail
because the Western individual has only the reductio ad absurdem model of nature as
a foundation. As the human capacity for creativity and ratiocination has increased
since the dawn of self-awareness, we have become less and less dependent on
instinct. Because of the world-denying and un-introspective existence that the modem
human lives, we are paying a terrible price psychologically by not heeding the world-
embracing (UDS 72-73) instinctual forces that reside within us. Jung says that by
denying these forces, humans are kept:
on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological
complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food
and, above all, a large array of neuroses (MS' 71).
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In the hollowness we feel, we search for sacredness and a sense of the
mythical in a scientific world. Jung in his The Undiscovered Self text suggests that the
spiritual void and the loss of dignity experienced in the lives of humans can be
recollected and regained if the symbols, nature and the psychic background of all
existence are again acknowledged. The world is an expression of the psyche and is
endowed with the dignity of a cosmic principle, which philosophically and in fact
gives it a position coequal with the principle of physical being (UDS 58-59). By
reconnecting with psyche, a principled life is achievable. Roberts Avens remarks that
we cast blame and seek answers to our woes outwardly because of the lack of faith
that anything good could ever come from {our} own souls (Avens 5).
Jung feels that individuals should ideally be and act as agents (mythically,
instinctively, volitionally) of psyche, but such subjectivism is devalued by the dogma
of science and the church (UDS 59). Nevertheless, it is the business and burden of the
individual to reform society. However, this cannot be fully realized without a new
process of self-nourishment (UDS 59). This self-nourishment is thought of as being
an instinctual re-cognition of the mystery, wonder and beauty of nature and psyche,
and the animating power of the ground-of-all-being. Combining the thoughts of
Avens and Jung, in order to literally make the world a better place, each individual
must simultaneously understand that goodness is inherent in his own soul and that he
must re-attach himself to nature and the society of humanity. This can happen only if
one listens to his instinct, for [ijnstinct is anything but a blind and indefinite impulse,
since it proves to be attuned and adapted to a definite external situation (UDS 81)
the natural world. Instinct provides the mechanism to identify with, or attune (UDS
81) ourselves to, the natural world, our external situation. Instinct will allow the
individual and society to, again, fit into the context of nature:
If the flow of instinctive dynamism into our life is to be maintained, as
is absolutely necessary for our existence, then it is imperative that we
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remold {the} archetypal forms into ideas which are adequate to the
challenge of the present (UDS 82, my italics).
Whereas four decades ago Jung saw the challenge of life as dealing with the
Cold War and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, the challenge of our present is
the environment: saving it, preserving, conserving, and projecting it, and making
peace with it. While the external problems of each era are elementally different, the
cause of our worldly woes resides in the life-negating denial of instinct. To save our
world and ourselves, according to Jung, we must begin again to listen to instinct.
Ultimately, then, just what does instinct communicate? The ultimate and ineluctable
truth of being: everything flows into everything else, all is connected. British poet and
writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was often consumed with the thought of
this truth. In one of his essays, his says of this Truth: I feel it alike, whether I
contemplate a single tree or flower, or meditate on vegetation throughout the world,
as one of the great organs of the life of nature (Richards 393).
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CHAPTER 7
EMBRACING THE WORLD
Global-Eudaimonia: A Proposed Wav of Living
and of Thinking about the World
In ancient Greece, the great Classical philosophers often commented on the notion of
eudaimonia. The original meaning of eudaimonia referred specifically to human
happiness, flourishing, and personal well being as the greatest goals for the
individual. While, of course, there was regard for other human individuals within
ones family or society (this is what Naess calls inter-human loyalty), by and large
the concept of eudaimonia was anthropomorphic at best, and egocentric at worst.
However, by prefixing eudaimonia with the word global, I believe that is possible to
shift the importance from the exclusivity of anthropomorphic or egocentric happiness
and flourishing to that ofworld-happiness, and nature-flourishing. However, like
Naess philosophy of deep ecology, a global-eudaimonian philosophy does not
purport to be a logic-based system of thought and action, but rather a collection of
ideas that seek to remind one of his or her true and sacred connection to nature as
nature and to ask him or her to wisely act upon that knowledge in lifes endeavors.
At the core of global-eudaimonia is the intention to bring about a
rapprochement of what Arne Naess calls inter-human loyalty (Naess 193) and
Whiteheads world-loyalty: where the consideration of oneself and race is not
neglected or negated but rather incorporated into the overall flourishing-equilibrium
ofNature.
What is flourishing-equilibrium? Flourishing-equilibrium is a non-selfish,
non-anthropocentric attitude toward creation; it promotes the fact of the complete
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existential co-dependency between individual, community, and environment; and of
the value of all manifestations within the one visible animal. Flourishing-equilibrium
is a condition where it is possible to imagine and realize growth, novelty, creativity,
and evolution in the world, but safely within the parameters of a things environment,
society, or organism and acting with the least possible opposition with other
environments, societies, or organisms. Now, while Plato may have historically been
among those humanistic-type of philosophers who would have contemplated
eudaimonia in a strictly human-centered way, it should be noted that ultimately
Platos concept of it would have been, perhaps, radically different. Since Plato
believed that the cosmos is one vast organism, he certainly would have recognized
that eudaimonia would not work if only applied to the realm of humans: for each
organism, society, or animal within the cosmic animal could not exist without what
ecophilosopher and Plato interpreter Timothy A. Mahoney recognizes as the
maximal harmony among all of the parts and the whole (Westra 48). But how does
a global-eudaimonist go about his or her life?
A global-eudaimonist moves through life sensitive and responsive not only to
his or her own needs and aspirations, but recognizes as an elemental feature of
existence the need to empathize and resonate with the overall life-perpetuating
character of nature. From here, though, intellectually and philosophically, global-
eudaimonia crosses a conceptual border and finds itself in the realm of something
akin to the Buddhist philosophy Buddhism being perhaps the most intellectually
refined philosophy known to humanity. For the ideal sought in Buddhism is the
alleviation of suffering experienced by sentient beings and in maintaining a selfless
and interrelational association with all creatures. It is worth noting here that the
notion of sentience in the Orient is markedly different from how the meaning is
interpreted in the Occident. The Buddhist embraces as an unmitigated fact, not as a
unquestioned truth, that the entire universe is sentient by virtue of all physical
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manifestations being a correlate expression of the original uncreated and immaterial
energy animating all things; and, that there are levels of sentience based on the
complexity of an organism; but that ultimately and necessarily all delineations
between this and that are conventions of the human mind used in studying,
contemplating, or communicating with the infinite inflections of the original energy.
Buddhism in its purest form fosters what Buddhist scholar and monk Robert
A.F. Thurman terms a realistic view of life: that is, that all actions and thoughts have
consequences and relativities that are experienced by other beings; and that a bad or
life-negating action or thought has a potentially likewise bad or life-negating
ramification in the world; and that conversely, a good or life-affirming action or
thought has a potentially good or life-affirming consequence in the world. Here the
highest proposition of Buddhism is brought to bear: that each particular creature
should have as a foundational predisposition of its being the yearning and need to
promote the happiness and peace of all other creatures. In simple terms, compassion
is the key to salvation and enlightenment. Thurman understands this not merely as an
idealistic individual pursuit, but as an evolutionary goal, both philosophically and
biologically, for all societies of sentient beings in the unfolding development of the
universe toward what he calls Buddhahood and what Whitehead in his Process and
Reality termed the Apotheosis of the World. He writes:
Faith in such a possibility is a good place to begin this journey to
liberation; it encourages us to set forth. But we all can move beyond
faith to direct experience and full knowledge of our true state.
Whether or not enlightenment is a plausible goal for us is a vital
question for our lives. If it is possible for us to attain such perfect
enlightenment ourselves, our whole sense of meaning and our place in
the universe immediately changes. To be open to the possibility is to
be a spiritual seeker, no matter what our religion. Enlightenment is not
meant to be an object of religious faith. It is an evolutionary goal,
something we want to become ... Once we recognize the biological
possibility of our evolving into beings of full understanding, we can
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begin to imagine ourselves as buddhas, awakened or enlightened
beings.
Buddha is not a personal name. It is a title, a state we can attain. It
means awakened, blossomed, enlightened. It is the blossoming
of all happiness and positive powers. By definition, being enlightened
is a fully evolved way of living. It is perfect freedom a freedom so
total it cannot be lost even in relationships. It is perfect security,
certain of its reality, perfection, and eternal bliss it is the goal in the
quest for happiness.
This evolutionary process and its result of buddhahood have profound
effects on the individual, on the society one is a member of and, by
resonance, on the whole world. These effects are incalculable by our
usual yardsticks of self and social improvement, being a
transformation of the very ground of the social contract. A society of
enlightened beings is bound to be an enlightened society (Thurman 86-
87, my italics).
A strange revelation of Buddhism is that although environmental degradation,
human and animal suffering, toil, turmoil, and hate are rampant, all things nonetheless
exist through the felicitous condition of nirvana. Nirvana is thought of as the natural
blissful state of the universe that is occluded by the suffering and selfishness inherent
in the majority of sentient beings. According to Buddhism, however, this state can be
'tapped into' psychologically regardless of worldly suffering. When a person becomes
enlightened in the Buddhist sense, by recognizing the inherent blissfulness of
existence and by having his or her goals become focused on and fused to the
advancement of the well-being of all beings rather than the selfish aims of ones own
gratification and material wealth, the radiance of nirvana can begin to be experienced;
not only on the human level, but the natural realms as well. This is the very reason
why global-eudaimonia incorporates the realistic view and compassionate aspects of
the Buddhist philosophy into itself: such leads to an absolutely life-affirming
existence.
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