Humans and Nature. Why is there so much conflict?
Humans, unfortunately, are in perennial conflict with Nature. This conflict is harmful to the careful balance in Nature. Despite this, Nature is receptive to all human activity. The impact of human activity on Nature is concentrated in the space between the earth and the sky. This is also the area which houses the lungs of life — the atmosphere. Besides the high mountains, the plains and valleys, oceans, and forests, Nature includes the spin of the earth on its axis, gravity, earth’s position in the ring of planets around the sun. The interaction of all of these elements has a bearing on the balance in Nature.
Humans, unfortunately, are in perennial conflict with Nature.
The main problem area is the atmosphere. The pollution we generate is making Nature very ill. The earth may look beautiful from space, but its “physiological component,” which is the air we breathe is toxic to the body in many parts of the world. Unchecked human activity is threatening to turn earth into a dying planet.
Unchecked human activity is threatening to turn earth into a dying planet.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is the highest it has been in the last 14 million years (1). This is attributed to human activity, a decrease in the forest cover, and the rise in the usage of fossil fuels as the primary source of energy (2). In areas of high population density such as along the major rivers and coasts where humans have the upper hand, Nature is under enormous pressure. When humans venture into remote and unpopulated areas, they are at the complete mercy of Nature. Nature does not use this against us, treating us the same as the rest of the animal and plant life in such places.
Physically and physiologically, humans are very fragile. The body requires significant protection and care, unlike, for instance, animals in the wild. The faculty of the mind more than makes up for our inherent biological fragility. Significant scientific advances are helping make our lives comfortable. Nature is absorbing the costs involved as part of the quest to advance our civilization. Is it worth it?
Nature is absorbing the costs involved as part of the quest to advance our civilization. Is it worth it?
Paradoxically, the human mind which is capable of such ingenuity that is responsible for external well being is incapable of helping with inner well being. Everything we do externally ultimately comes down to our need for peace and joy. Technology distracts us from the lack of peace and joy in our lives, but it cannot bring us these two essential things.
The body represents Nature, and we have an intimate relationship with the body. The lungs hold oxygen just as the atmosphere holds air. Blood vessels are like rivers and streams, and bones are like rocks and boulders. The mind is like the vast sky. Thoughts are like the stars. There is warmth in the body, just as there is warmth on earth. The similarities go on. How we treat our body reflects how we treat Nature. We take the body for granted until we fall sick. Similarly, Nature is taken for granted until there is a significant crisis.
The body represents Nature, and we have an intimate relationship with the body. We take the body for granted until we fall sick. Similarly, Nature is taken for granted until there is a significant crisis.
Once we begin to have respect for the body, which is a priceless gift, that feeling of reverence will automatically extend to Nature. The backdrop for all human experience is Nature in various forms. We focus on the experience, forgetting the backdrop. Without Nature, there is no human experience.
The background on which all thoughts project is the space of awareness. The sky and the surface of the earth with it's land and water features remain relatively unchanged while human civilizations come and go. Similarly, the screen of awareness does not change, while thoughts and experiences that project onto that screen keep changing.
We spend a lot of effort trying to recreate and hold in the conscious mind joyful experiences while battling unhappy experiences in the same space. It is like turning our houses into a “battleground” where strangers show up to settle their differences while we are having a joyful time with family members. This is continually going on in the mind, and it is hard not to get pulled into the middle. As the days turn into weeks, months, years the situations, circumstances, people involved all change, but the screen on which all this plays out remains unchanged.
A part of the inner world remains untouched, while another part is continually changing. Taking a step back, we find ourselves straddling both. Just as we can watch clouds move in the sky, we can also watch thoughts move in the mind. Clouds don’t move or stop moving on account of us watching. Similarly, thoughts may not necessarily change just because we are watching.
Which part of the being is us? The one involved in thoughts and experiences as the “I,” or the one watching everything play out on the screen of awareness? The mind cannot answer this question, even though it has a “voice.” Awareness may be able to answer this question, but it is silent. In essence, we cannot answer this question to the satisfaction of all.
Our inner aspect encompasses both the individual “I,” which operates on the screen of awareness, while our outer element extends from the physical body to Nature. There is a link between awareness, the “I,” mind, thoughts, physical body, and Nature. This link exists in everyone. In between awareness and Nature, we are very different in our mind, body, and thoughts.
Our inner aspect encompasses both the individual “I,” which operates on the screen of awareness, while our outer element extends from the physical body to Nature. There is a link between awareness, the “I,” mind, thoughts, physical body, and Nature.
Nature is fully grown and visible all around, while awareness remains rudimentary. Unless this inner aspect of our being grows and flowers, we will continue to dwell on our differences. When we fight over our differences, the common ground which supports all of us suffers. This common ground is Nature.
Human conflict with Nature will cease when awareness grows. Just as the vast sky gives space for clouds to move, the immense sky of awareness provides the mind with room to manifest itself completely. When our differences melt through awareness, they don’t spill into the bed of Nature through our external conflicts.
When our differences melt through awareness, they don’t spill into the bed of Nature through our external conflicts.
(1). Zhang, Yi Ge; et al. (28 October 2013). “A 40-million-year history of atmospheric CO2”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 371 (2001).
(2). Etheridge, D.M.; L.P. Steele; R.L. Langenfelds; R.J. Francey; J.-M. Barnola; V.I. Morgan (1996). “Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn”. Journal of Geophysical Research. 101 (D2): 4115–28.