After my time in Haida Gwaii this past week, I have become quite obsessed with better understanding and reassessing my relationship to nature. It became far more clear to me while I was there that there is still a sense of separation between me and the rest of the world; that I still cling to that ‘pinnacle of evolution’ story inherited by most human beings, placing myself at the top of the ladder even as I know better and inherently feel differently about my role here. Some remnant of my social conditioning still exists, and still I feel fear in wild and unknown places sometimes.
Haida Gwaii was truly a magical place, a dark and excessively light place all at the same time, filled with ancient sounds and beings that seemed to speak of another experience and possibility of being human. Somewhat opposed to the way we function as modern humans—separate from nature for the most part, but then even ‘above’ nature as we attempt to save or preserve or conserve it in our green-ed ways—the islands had this quality of being of nature; as existing within the perfection of the system of all things.
I haven’t read much Rousseau, but in finding this quote spent a bit of time looking over his philosophies and life story. An interesting fellow to say the least, he had what I would consider very good ideas about education and the effects of society on the human spirit, and yet they were, as Jung asserts in this quote, limited. Rousseau believed that in order to live a fulfilled and balanced life we had to study and appreciate nature greatly, but gave very little emphasis to the cultivation and expression of the ‘natural’ qualities of the human being. He asserted that education should promote the basic goodness of all people, and ‘make the citizen good by training’, which, while I do also trust in the basic goodness of all, suggests that there is a basic ‘flaw’ to our existence that must be trained out of us as well.
Jung, on the other hand, did not believe in a basic flaw, aside from the fact that he felt we had distanced ourselves so much from our heritage and natural roots that we have simply forgotten how to live honestly and well within this system. That it was not something we had to ‘train’ ourselves to do—to live in right relationship with other species, each other, and nature as a whole—but remember how to do.
And this is what I have been thinking on. What exactly does it mean to live in right relationship with nature, as a human being at this time in history? What are the key qualities and perspectives that need to be uncovered within us all so that we may live in harmony, and not continue on the path that we have walked so far along?
As always, I come back to the key elements of my shamanic practice: gratitude, respect, honoring, awe….gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.