Man and Nature

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Man and Nature

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Ruben Chandrakumar '19

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Who am I? The most powerful question which is answered most accurately by silence.

Throughout recorded history, it is an easily observable pattern that individuals who took a pilgrimage of solitude in seek of truth, especially individuals who felt a deep connection with Nature, were able to come to a state of implicit understanding. Physical journeys from location to location show a shift in the mental locations of focused consciousness. The movement in the exterior movement directly correlates to the conscious experience of the mind and its thoughts. Notable individuals who attained truth from truly experiencing solitude in the vastness of the universe include the Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau and many more awakened individuals. The connection between the rebirth of Egos and nature is one that ties across cultures, religions and philosophies over thousands of years.

To understand how nature effects our mind it is necessary to know the primary functioning of a brain in a more common, societal environment. In these environments, there are many objects of your consciousness which dictate your focus. The brain functions as a receiver of information. The manner in which the information is used and regulated occurs at both conscious and subconscious, or instinctive, levels. It is estimated that around 90% of your actions throughout each day are done subconsciously. Because our brain is wired to work efficiently, almost all actions which can be automized or made into a subconscious habit reduce the amount of mental energy and awareness you need to do the habit. This natural wiring and our technological, capitalistic culture which is filled with distractions and stimulations provides more information to our brains than ever before in known history. Additionally, a study by Fermin Moscoso del Prado Martín estimated that the brain consciously processes around 60 bits of information per second while our brains receive millions of information per second. This means that despite the influx of information from our modernized society, our ability to consciously process information is restricted. The biological, more primitive mind of following whatever appears within the conscious experience does not demonstrate discipline nor focus. This primitive mind is being exploited day after day in a society filled to the brim with stimulations, distractions and temptations which fills the insatiable Ego.

When the brain is not being stimulated, the individual is allowed to self-reflect on experiences. The solitude that nature provides allows the known-unknown and the subconscious fantasies to manifest in our mind. The less stimulated a brain is, the more freely it is able to enter dreamlike, relaxing, meditative states. The dreamlike brain is a nonverbal, pattern detector which thinks in images. This unstimulated mind mediates between what we understand and what we don’t understand. In isolation, the dreamlike brain awakens and produces images of the potential negativity of the past; as a result, repressed emotions and experiences to emerge. When you acknowledge the negative potential that you were being willfully blind to, you realize that your awareness of the unexpected and your lack of security is not as terrifying as some might imagine. You recognize the limitations that your subconscious habits were holding you to. Most people never enter dreamlike states so their darker, repressed side is never known within their conscious awareness. However, the more aware of your negative fantasies you are, the less likely they are to manifest into reality as your awareness allows for you to control and integrate your more insatiable, aggressive, dark personality.

This manifestation of the unconscious Shadow Self as described by Carl Jung as “that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors.” The Shadow Self represents the negativity in the infinite potential. Only once an individual has faced the Shadow Self will the individual progress on the path to true enlightenment. This idea of finding the Higher Self, transcending the Ego and finding light through facing the dark unconscious fantasies is not held to only the psychology of Carl Jung. This same archetype of finding light in the dark can be seen in the Christian ideology as represented by the figure of Lucifer as the dark, fallen angel of the lit Heavens. In fact, Lucifer in Latin means “light bearing.”

To follow the societal and individual path to transcending the Ego, we will follow Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The hierarchy begins with physiological needs such as air and water. Following physical needs leads up to safety and security needs. After these are fulfilled, a social system of order and social roles for individuals must be maintained to ensure a sense of belonging. After society is constructed, Maslow described esteem and respect as the next step in the hierarchy. The top of the hierarchy is self-actualization.

So to begin, Nature creates Man. In the process of evolution and survival of the fittest, Man perceives, competes with, labels and fights with Nature. Eventually, man’s basic physical needs are satisfied. After man’s physical needs are satisfied, Man creates societies and cultures to keep himself occupied with the presence of other humans. Eventually, collective, global societies form. This balance of competition and collaboration distorts Man’s perception of himself. The two poles of selfishness and altruism, of chaos and order, of dark and light confuse Man. Man’s confusion can cause hatred, wars, extreme ideologies, and fear. Upon this seeming conflict and division between the socialized moral Man and the crude, amoral Nature, lay the underlying link. As the socialized Man escapes his subconscious psychological socialization and standardization of common beliefs and expectations, he finds himself in the chaos of Nature. In the apparent chaotic nature of the universe, Man gains awareness of the infinite potential. This awareness of infinite potential and of the totality which supersedes the duality of poles is what can be described as the Transcendence or Death of the Ego. Out of this Death of the former Self, a new sense of unpredictability arises. This destruction of the former results in a demand for a transformation and the rebirth of order. The chaotic order of Nature leads Man to understand the interior through exterior observation.

Through observing Nature consciously, Man realizes that chaos exists for itself in the environment but also within the minds of every individual. Truly experiencing nature means consciously being present within the moment. In this way, experiencing nature becomes a form of meditation and therapy. Nature provides a rare chance to confront the chaos directly. Through living in nature one realizes a greater capacity of growth through their individual capability.

Nature’s ability to catalyze the detachment and transcendence of the Ego through experiencing and realizing the vastness of the physical and mental universe is what shows the bare nature of Consciousness as the truly infinite: the unlabeled, inseparable entity which exists beyond the multitude of manifestations it takes as humans, other organisms and such.

The infinite potential, unpredictability and totality which is realized during the transcendence of the Ego is what many individuals refer to as God. A common phrase in the Bible is that Man is made in the “image of God.” The interpretations of this vary as all perspectives of Christianity are but if we understand the image of God as that which exists independently, not limited by duality or poles, as the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer or the Conscious Force that initiates the eternal dance of change. If Man is made in the image of God, Man is a Creator, a Preserver and a Destroyer. All of these abilities are held within the potential that Man possesses. Upon realization of the infinite capability that Man shares with God, Man is no longer confused by the stimulating environment of society and is allowed to return to his true identity of being at One with the Infinite Universe.