nature

Taoism is all about recognizing nature as a mirror for the universe. There are three fundamental rules that nature teaches us. The first is that nature is polarized. Everything is created in existence to something else. This creates duality which puts everything on a spectrum between two extremes. This concept allows us to identify our surroundings and somewhat adequately predict what might happen. Between the duality of hot and cold for example, you might land somewhere around warm, but you won’t ever land on wet. Wet exists within its own spectrum of wet and dry and with that, we are able to understand a little bit about the world around us.

 

The second rule is that nature holds pattern. Nothing is random. Everything falls within its own natural conditioning. Look around you. Right now, I see the weave of a basket, the roots and branches of a tree, the frames in the window, the checker tile on my kitchen backsplash. Pattern comes from sacred geometrythe geometric shapes and their representative essences that define creation. You can read more about that in A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, or here on this site. 

 

The third rule is that pattern repeats. The pattern of the roots of a tree is replicated in the Bronchial Tree within our own lungsboth used in the full cycle of respiration. The nature of a cycle is that it will repeat as evidenced by the seasons, the tides, and the phases of the moon. 

 

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As we look to nature cycling around us externally, we can use these subtle shifts to look inward into our own personal natures. Our physical cycles and fluctuations as well as our emotional changes all exist with duality and pattern. We go through our own personal ebbs and flows, waves and troughs. We experience joy and elation only after we’ve gone through hardship. Sometimes these cycles look like little ripples and other times, they are massive waves, but neither are recognized without awareness. By understanding nature, we gain a sense of security. When we recognize duality, pattern and cycles, we are less likely to get blindsided by our obstacles and instead we learn to expect the uncontrollable and prepare for the blow.

 

Robert Frost was big on using the seasons as literary elements to portray time and space, growth and decline. He, like many other poets and writers, used the seasons to convey something universal in all of us. Humankind has a deep, innate connection to the land, but right now, as the world is crumbling around us, we’re the least connected that we have ever been. Some of us, myself included, will go days, months, or even years without experiencing a truly remote piece of the natural world, a place where wisdom bubbles up from the streams. This split is making us forgetforget our true place in nature. Genesis taught us to subdue the earth, but this was a mistranslation. We must understand the earth and her nature, but we do not have dominion over her. We are just as equally a part of nature as a bear, a fish, a coyote, or a whale. In fact, because we are more evolved than our planetary brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility to this land and to protect all that roam it. 

 

Our job all along was to work in partnership with land and respect its underlying conditioning that is mother nature. We do this by accepting the duality of nature’s maternal care as well as her undeniable destruction. Any beauties, joys and pleasantries that the earth gives us, must be reciprocated by loss and suffering. She plays an indifferent game of balance. By appreciating her patterns and recognizing her cycles, we become more attune to the world around us. There is security in the understanding that accompanies awakening, but more recently we've grown blind. All the answers have been right in front of us this entire time.

 

Humankind is an abusive houseguest. We grew to believe that we were the owners, but in actuality, we are guests on this land. And now, she is becoming restlessfrustrated with our blind ignorance. All she has done is show us the way, and we've left her bare and naked and now, now we wonder what to do. We better act quick, because in the end, this is mother's planet, not ours. The irony is that we can use her teachings to predict our future. Create, sustain, destroy. She's been patient with us for far too long. Mother Earth will be just fine. But that doesn't mean that she will hesitate to serve humanity with a swift eviction notice if we continue treating her house like shit.

“I was asked to write an obituary for the land – but I realize I am writing an obituary for us, for the life we have lost and can never return to – and within this burning of western lands, our innocence and denial is in flames. The obituary will be short. The time came and these humans died from the old ways of being. Good riddance. It was time. Their cause of death was the terminal disease of solipsism whereby humans put themselves at the center of the universe. It was only about them. And in so doing we have been dead to the world that is alive.”
An excerpt from Terry Tempest Williams' A Burning Testament
Read the whole piece here.