Conversations on the topic of spirituality — On Beauty, Truth, Love, and Nature.
This is a series of articles based on the conversations in several meetings that are taking place with folks from all over the world on the questioning and understanding of each of our own spiritual beliefs, trying to align and comprehend what are our conceptions and misconceptions about “the other and their belief systems”.
Last meeting’s conversation was very interesting, due to scheduling there were only two of us, so the conversation was more like a dialogue, enlightening how everyone has a different spiritual path, even though we all believe in good.
Nature is the life that moves us all. It’s incredible how in all we do, there isn’t one aspect of nature that we can’t attribute either meaning, symbolism, or beauty.
Part I — Truth and Love
In the Vedanta philosophy from the Vedic period, in what we consider today’s India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and surrounding areas, there are three main “categories” in the metaphysics:
- Brahman or Ishvara — which is the ultimate reality
- Atman or Jivatman — the individual soul and self
- Prakriti — primal condition or individuality of everything else, body, matter, physical reality.
Pramāṇa (in Sanskrit: प्रमाण) means “proof”, or “which comes from valid knowledge”, and this six pramana are the ways in which one can identify valid knowledge:
- Pratyakṣa (perception)
- Anumāṇa (inference)
- Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy)
- Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances)
- Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof)
- Śabda (scriptural testimony/ verbal testimony of past or present reliable experts).
To have the knowledge we need to have, one must identify its own perceptions. Much of what we do in therapy nowadays is to identify faulty perceptions about ourselves and others, about life in general, or just ideas we have about things that may harm our understanding of reality. If you need to go from a psychological point A to point B, there is an inherent need to identify the missteps and the turns you can miss if you don’t take a good look at the map you need for your inner road. The same happens in human relationships, or relationships with things that are living, to have a plant you need to water it, to have a garden you need to tend for it, to support a forest, you need to be caring towards it. Some of us pay too much attention to others as our moral compasses, and some pay too much attention to what they feel are our moral compass. Religion has served for millennia as a moral compass for a lot of people, but it has also served as a scapegoat for a lot of issues — if a religion does not have a strict rule to respect women, for example, it may be seen as a set of “laws” which is not congruent to the living reality of living things. So humanity creates these set of “laws” which one must abide to, to reach some sort of place of either social harmony or inner harmony — when a religion or spiritual path does not offer valid and harmonic “rules of engagement” it’s natural for one to feel lost in one’s path.
If we follow a religion to understand some sort of truth, we follow the stories and storylines of that religion in order to reach an understanding of what we feel may be true. It does not mean that scholars and philosophers do not reach deep thinking and understandings through the “laws” and “compasses” but, it’s difficult to ascertain if we can indeed understand a common goal of truth, between us all, if we don’t focus on the good of each religion or spiritual path. In the end, we can all agree, that living through compassion, caring and understanding may be the best way to relieve our own suffering of not understanding the reality we live in.
Even with the sciences as they are at this point in history, spiritual leaders and philosophers keep reaching the collective understanding that in order to understand whatever it needs to be understood, we must gather in kindness, sharing, and compassion, to follow a line of mutual understanding until we reach some sort of volatile truth.
The realness of a solid spiritual path, or religious path, is always kindness and good. There is no way around that, evil for all it stands is not spiritual — if it causes harm. The way we look at the world might change if we seek the positive in each other. That’s how to heal the intergenerational issues that humanity faces, in the wake of a new transition to sustainable and culturally rich, and just societies.
Part II — Beauty and Nature
The religiosity of the Potiguara in the Brazillian Amazon is reliant on contact with Mother Nature through the soil, making contact with benevolent spirits and ancestral beings, through music (like the tambor, zanzumba, and macará), and the Pajé (what we call in the Western countries and most of Europe, the Shamans), in the case of the Potiguara, is a person who can discover the gift of healing, of spirituality, all by themself. This healer of spirits is for us all a reference in how we can identify the ailments or issues we need to solve in order to move forward healthily.
The need for healing in this sense comes from disengagement from common notions of the ecology of the human being, of non-integration with the natural world.
Deep ecology comes to us in a sense that it retains the issues of the “earth connection” into a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging translates itself into a restructuring of human societies in a way that is congruent to the wellbeing of all that is living on this Earth. Ecosophy considers the human being an inherent part of its environment, not exactly separated from it, and neither the center of it.
Our human perception is faulty in the sense that when we try to understand the natural phenomenon, we can ever demand to see them through a non-human perception — which may lead to the faulty understanding of a human intelligence superiority. The book by Franz de Wal titled “Are We Smart Enough to Understand how Smart Animals Are?” is a great treaty on human and non-human animal intelligence and how far behind humanity actually is in the issue of understanding its own natural behavior and other species behavior patterns can lead us to notions of what we deem as intelligence, and how different types of intelligent there really are in our shared reality. For centuries, until very recently, humanity has looked to nature as an item, either for consumption, or as something to be tamed, or as something to be controled. This comes from a very primitive fear of death, of being inferior, of being prey. So we seek to understand, manipulate and make our own.
This also comes from very patriarchal notions of “belonging” — the patriarchy is considered a form of submission into a set of rules of engagement in which there is an inferior being (the woman, gay person, transgendered, so forth) and a superior being (the male specimen). These notions of dominion and submission in the sciences are horrifyingly still very present, and despite the rising number of female scientists, it’s a general assumption, that most of today’s thinking patterns are made subjectively out of century’s old white men assumptions of things they wished to appropriate for themselves in order to have some sort of status. Maslow’s pyramid that sustains modern psychology is a very bad appropriation from the Blackfoot’s Nation notions of cultural wellbeing, and Darwin’s theory of evolution is a rip-off of millennia-old ideas on natural evolution by an Arabic philosopher, and we can go on and on. This stealing of ideas always comes with the caveat that if we need to steal them, we don’t really understand them well enough. The science of peer-reviewing assumptions leads to pages and pages of what we call “bad or pseudo-science”, but to ask experts from areas which are only experts because they retain some sort of status of “intelligence” in today’s society — which may or may not be true — leads to centuries of scientific assumptions, instead of bridges of understanding and actual knowledge seeking.
When studying, for example, the behavior of a dog, we can’t really have the right understanding of a normal dog’s life, emotions or behaviors, if we are studying them by locking them in a cage for their entire life.
There are still, today, discussions in the sciences if animals have feelings or not. That leads me to question the entirety of the scientific field, the level of ignorance that it takes to consider humanity as the superior being on this planet, takes ages away from a right understanding of what we are, what we are doing here, and where this society is going.
To say all modern science is attempting at ecology is by no means a misunderstanding of it. To understand ecological phenomenons, humanity needs to deal with its fear of nature and its fear of being superior to the planet itself. The fear of nature, can’t lead us to tame it anywhere. I’m just glad people are waking up for the reality of “good” wildness and what “savagery” really means. Taming the violence in human social systems might be better than trying to have circus lions.