I wonder about the direction of humanity in a world where selfie was declared the 2013 Oxford Dictionary word of the year. If that wasn’t enough to get my attention and inspire a response, the 2014-15 word of the year was vape! Now, we have “vapers” taking “selfies” and sharing them on social media sites. Will everything in our future be based on technology, fascination with media distractions, and endless hours of screen time?
First, our imaginations were engaged by radio, then television gave us more literal entertainment, and now the Internet bedazzles us with 10 bazillion pixels. Studies reveal that the average amount of time Americans spend staring at mobile devices and TV is just shy of 6 hours per day. Meanwhile, Nature waits for humans to notice a world of wonder, indeed, awe inspiring brilliance, just beyond their hypnotized gazes.
I’m compelled to ask, “Why settle for virtual reality?” Will the emerging culture re-awaken to the essential need we humans have for authentic non-technological connection?
Thank goodness for the Merriam-Webster editors’ choice of culture as the 2015 word of the year. If culture arises from language, and dwells in our stories, let’s investigate how we communicate and begin to place more awareness on our words. How often do we hear words like dignity, tenderness, reverence or even compassion in our routine lives?
The ethos, or fundamental character and spirit, of a culture is revealed in its language. The indigenous Haudenosaunee people of North America embody a relationship with all that is based on a concept they call Gano:nyok, which means “the words that come before all else.” Their words express gratitude and appreciation for all things human and non-human, mother earth, the moon, stars, sun, water, air, winds, animals and all the sacred elements.
To put it simply, my personal passion is to provide a path for individuals to quiet their minds, open their hearts, and fall in love with nature all over again, just like all of us did as young children. To honor all that is. Of course, this wish applies to me too. I recognize a glimmer of hope in biomimicry and the new field of biophilia.
The whole concept of the “separate self,” that super-hero/triumphant individual, has long been on my mind as a source of anguish and profound imbalance for our culture. I continue to question the validity of putting self above all else.
It’s not easy to say why I’ve been living with this inquiry. For now, let’s attribute my concerns to the following proverb: “If we don’t change our direction, we’re likely to end up where we’re headed.” My fascination with the condition of humanity and nature may be as simple as my experience that it flat-out feels better to be part of an aligned group of people sharing common concerns about the wellbeing of the whole.
Extending kindness and caring to all that is human and everything non-human, combined with honoring the value of community above and beyond the individual are the missing ingredients in our political, social and economic relationships. The drive for endless growth and limitless consumption is systematically threatening our future.
The obsessive focus on “self,” combined with our perception of separation, may well be the root cause of our imbalance with the natural world. In my observation, embodying reverence for all the sacred elements is the courageous path of compassionate behavior that inspires authentic leadership. This insight is essential for individuals to prioritize the wellbeing of the whole.
Embracing the ecological truth of the interconnected and interdependent nature of the universe is a crucial next step for humanity. This level of cultural awareness translated into action is the fundamental foundation of a civilized society. One that functions in balance and harmony with self, one another and the Earth, will be necessary if we are to have a future culture worth cultivating.
The question arises, how do we accomplish this basic shift in human consciousness? The shift won’t happen on a screen or in a computer; it will require direct immersion. Deep Nature Journeys is one program designed to offer a path to support this transformation of society. Time alone in nature with no reading, no writing, no fire, no cell phones, no distractions. Just you and your deepest true nature surrounded by the beauty and stillness of the wild.
There is so much more to be said about the healing power of nature to relieve stress, mind chatter and fatigue. The pace of modern life has too many of us uptight and contracted with the daily demands of increased productivity and off-the-charts performance. I like to pose the question: “Where are we headed, and why are we in such a hurry?”
A Deep Nature Journey offers an opportunity to push the pause button on the frenetic pace of modernity. It offers business and thought leaders, as well as followers, a contemplative opportunity to ponder the current anthropocentric paradigm.
Your experience and view of the world will surely change. Spending time alone in nature represents a tremendous gift to you and your community, which unlocks the door to a profound experience of the unification of inner and outer nature with no separation. The wonderful magic and mystery of everything non-human arises to awaken all of your senses, enhance your creativity and enliven your life’s purpose.
Posted by Bud Wilson. A version of this article first appeared here.
Bud Wilson has 35 years of experience as a social and environmental entrepreneur, leadership trainer, educator, business, non-profit, and community leader. Bud is a steadfast advocate for principles of deep ecology. He believes that regenerative human behavior is the next essential step for humanity. To learn more about Deep Nature Journeys, please visit their website or find them on Facebook. All images courtesy of Bud Wilson.