P N C O

Mostly photography, with the occasional philosophical contemplation

10: Nature’s Gift

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A few months ago i came across a documentary about the work of Joanna Macy. She’s an environmentalist with a Buddhist background, who has done a lot of work to help people cope with the problems the earth is now facing. And which we are facing. Her work is called ‘the work that reconnects’ and this summarizes it perfectly. For myself it has been a process of years in which i’ve learned step by step to start to reconnect with myself again. Due to circumstances i became lost in a world of mind which was disconnected from the larger whole which was always there, but i couldn’t see back then. Through my own pain came the recognition of something larger.

With a personal crisis i really was forced to look deeper into my inner life and had to face my inner demons. The gifts i’ve received from going through this growth process are immense. Cause they’ve all learned me that it’s important to strive to become a better person. Not to be seen as a better person, or to gain recognition. Instead, it’s out of an intrinsic value that i recognize within myself and within others. I owe it to myself, my parents, brother, friends and family and i owe it to total strangers. The process was hard and difficult as it always is, just like in stories. And sometimes it still is tough. But luckily i’ve learned ways to deal with difficult emotions and situations. Buddhism has brought me a way to work on inner and outer peace. I’ve learned that i’m not the stories my mind tells me. So much of what i remembered from childhood now makes sense. Experiences  which didn’t make sense at that time, make perfect sense now. There is more balance in my life.

And with this new found balance there is room for new things to arise. When i first heard the message Joanna Macy was speaking of, i felt a longing to experience this myself. Although i’ve studied about nature, i never felt the connection which i knew from when i was younger. The exhilaration, joy and pleasure just to be in nature was replaced with a more rational way of looking at nature and its various uses. At the end of the study, i became aware of this discrepancy. I knew that it was not for me to find work in this field. I did felt the connection, but on a different level. When i heard someone saying that he knew a women who had studied nature conservation only to find out that she was actually looking for her own relationship to nature, i understood. This was also the case for me. I´ve always felt a curiosity to understand nature, cause i wanted to understand myself. So when i studied nature without seeing the relationship between nature and myself, i got lost in the woods. Joanna Macy gave me a few bread crumbs which brought me back on the path.

More recently i was looking for a workshop to learn more about the work that reconnects. After some failed attempts to find a workshop, i was lucky enough to find one right in my own hometown even though these teachings are not yet well known in the Netherlands. So i signed myself in to the workshop about deep ecology which was held this weekend. At a beautiful farm in the rural part of the municipality we came together with 9. Under the guidance of two wonderful persons, we were invited to start to uncover our concerns, fears and worries about what is happening on the planet right now. Some were angry, some were very sad. For myself, it was a search.. a search for the words, a search for what i really feel about the current situation. And so i spend the weekend, opening myself up to what lives inside of me. I could sense a longing for connection, a longing for being. An authentic wish to once again take my part in the whole and leave all my protective shields behind.

By working with and in the group, sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone, sometimes together, we created a space in which everyone could be and could share their concerns for the planet. We talked about animals and plants and how they suffer by the hands of human actions. A deep sense of belonging, of wanting to explore our pain and struggle with the current situation was present throughout the weekend. Each made their own discoveries, small and little. As a group we could see that it was not about what ´they´ do. It´s about what we do and what i do. Only i can make the change and connect with nature again. And that´s what i´ve felt throughout the weekend. The connection is always there, but it takes responsibility to be able to be aware of it. If i´m only focusing on what i want and what i need, i´ll close myself off and lose the connection. But if i am able to look beyond my own needs and see all the needs of all those around me, it´s easy to see we´re all together in this. There is one beautiful planet and we´re all on it. Yes, we are struggling. We might need to change drastically. But it´s our personal freedom to choose how to change. Or not to change.

To become aware of this responsibility is on the one hand a heavy weight. But on the other hand i see it as a precious gift, a wonderful opportunity to learn to cooperate. First of all to cooperate with myself and not to fight myself. If i can befriend myself and appreciate who i am, i can be of so much more value than when i´m lost in inner turmoil. Learning about deep ecology and the work that reconnects has given me a platform with which i can investigate this further and to explore where my strength and weakness lies. Cause i feel that this was just the start. It felt like a younger part of me was there all the time, who was waiting for this to happen. I could sense his joy and his pain. And i could also sense the wisdom which lies within. Knowing there´s no true separation. It makes me feel whole and in contact with my true nature, which is not limited to this body.

The bigger challenge which lies ahead is to learn to use this information and experience to share this with others. This writing is an early attempt.  As it all feels so fresh, i´ve chosen the image of young wet grass. I felt it was right for me to share a bit of the experience. As so much happens on an internal level, it is difficult to really describe what i´ve learned from the weekend. But if there is one thing, it has to be gratitude. And the interesting thing is that it´s not just gratitude for nature, life, all beings and the people i was with. I was taught that i can be grateful for the person i have become. It really feels humbling to hear that and it helps me to share more of my authentic self instead of adapting to others. And that is also more valuable. Cause i´ve always felt intense joy when i could help others or see others excel. When someone is truly sharing his or her inner drive and passion, it is so inspiring. It made me realize that i can be of much more help if i am grateful of myself. Not out of arrogance, but out of recognition of my place in the whole. So i´m looking forward to explore the work some more and find out what it all means what i´ve learned this weekend.

 

 

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The net of being (by Alex Grey ©)

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The Net of Being

© Alex Grey

Copyright of the image lies with Alex Grey, a great visionairy artist.
Visit his website here:  http://www.alexgrey.com

note: This image of Alex Grey is more revealing than all the words and letters i’ve written underneath.. nevertheless, it might be interesting to read 😉

Something in me has the idea that i need to speak out. But I realize how futile that is. What is there to speak about? It’s the obvious which has been overlooked all the time. The obviousness of being. Just accepting and letting all go. There is this one secret. But it cannot be shared. For there is nobody to share it with. And yet, within all the dualities we play with, it is forever there.

I was always on the guard for complacency, but I never realized it works a little different than I thought it did. And that’s the trick with a lot of things. Every insight tells you the same story. Once you see it, you realize how futile your previous attempts were and how wrong you were. This insight taught me why I always felt incredibly vane. I was afraid of the idea that the world resolves around me. And yet, all spiritual teachings will tell you to turn your focus inwards, towards the self. So I was puzzled by this apparent paradox. I tried to get rid of the feeling of I in my life, but that’s the best way to fuel the whole idea of ‘I’. In the end it’s all I in disguise.

So it’s important to stay open to everything. It might be that everything you think is true, is but half of the story. In my case it was. I was trying so desperately to be myself, that I couldn’t be myself any longer. And yet, in my striving I was of course.. myself! I had only limited myself beyond the body. Stuck within a world of thoughts, I thought I’d find the answer there. But thoughts are mere responses, not answers. They only point back to the answer, which is unspeakable.

I’ll try to explain this a little by telling a personal experience. Ever since I took magic mushrooms some 7 years ago, oneness was the thing I was looking for. In that first trip I sat with my feet in the lotus position and after 30 minutes in that posture, I felt the blanket which was lying on top of me was not just the blanket. It was a part of me, just as much as the body is a part of me. My search for Oneness had started. But it confused me just as much as it excited me. What if it were only the drugs who initiated this feeling? What if it is all just a dream? I have been trying for 7 years now to grasp the true significance of that moment, but only by writing this down I realize it. It was there all along. I just didn’t see it at the time. I never followed the logic of the moment all the way down. Cause if I say that I was one with the blanket, doesn’t that imply that I’m one with everything?

And yet, I realized that in thought, but never really felt it for real. In the trip I felt it, but back then I was still hooked upon the idea that I was somehow living from the center somewhere in my body. It has taken a lot of reading, thinking, discussing, to free me from this delusion. Of course I have this body; of course it needs care and attention. But it’s not everything I am. This body is but a wave in the ocean. The ocean being all at once