Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Flow of Nature

"Perfect Harmony"
- along a wilderness trail -

I came across a letter recently published by a veteran Jesuit priest who, after 45 years in the ministry, has now decided to resign as a priest in protest over the structure of the institutional church. His comments about the inherent and intolerable problems of “hierarchy” in the institution really resonated with me, not only as a commentary about the established church but as an insight into the “toxic” way most people approach life in general:

We humans cannot be fully ourselves
without being in communion with all that exists.
We need conversion from the prevailing consciousness
that views reality in terms of separateness, dualism and hierarchy,
to a new awareness of ourselves as interdependent partners
sharing in one Earth-Human community,

In plainer words, we need to end the worldview that structures reality
into higher and lower, superior and inferior, dominant and subordinate,
which puts God over humanity, humans over the rest of the world,
men over women, the ordained over laity.
As Jesus commanded so succinctly,
‘Don’t lord it over anyone, serve one another in love.’

In one sense these few paragraphs pretty much summarize why I think so many people find themselves “stuck in a rut” in their everyday living. We are all part of the design and rhythm of nature, and yet so many of us live in a way that moves contrary to the natural flow- of course this will always lead us into a lonely, dead-end way of life. 

Living here in the desert, I am more in tune with the world of nature nowadays than I have ever been before in my life. I have come to understand that the essence of the natural order is ecology and not hierarchy.

Every day as I walk along a wilderness trail it is very obvious to me that all the “parts” are essentially the “whole.” Nothing in nature is more important or less important than anything else, everything “is” a complex web flowing together in a beautifully intricate dance of life – the sky and the sun, the stars at night, the sand and the water, palm trees and cacti, flying insects, birds of the air, even the snakes that crawl under the rocks, everything has a purpose, nothing is ever relegated to a position of inferior or superior. This is how nature is designed and we human beings are woven into the fabric of it all.

But in our hubris, humans have determined that we are somehow superior to it all, and in fact we have designed our entire world on such a way that it is often contrary to the natural order.

Many people honestly believe that a world of nature is somehow out there apart from us,  and that exists to serve us.  Even when it comes to our relationships with one another, we have crafted a world that looks like one big “organizational chart,” with some people at the top of the hierarchy and others who are thrown into a trash heap at the very bottom of the pile.

No matter where you go you will always find someone who is “in charge” of somebody else, even in families and in personal relationships, somebody always seems to be “in charge” of somebody else. This is especially true in the world of business, politics and public life. The “mom and pop” 10-person organization, the vast medical or educational establishments, the way in which organized religion is structured – everything is ordered in terms of hierarchy and everyone is always looking for ways to climb up the ladder of success.

Is it any wonder so many people feel like their lives have somehow wound up in a dead –end?  That’s what happens when  you go against the flow of nature.

It is not even slightly surprising to me that all the great wisdom teachers over the ages, people like Jesus and the Buddha, have all taught that that we can only find our “true selves” when we break out of our ego and learn that there is no separation after all.

We human beings cannot be fully ourselves
without being in communion with all that exists.

The very nature of life is ecological not hierarchical.

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