The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Cultural Dependence, Nature Deficit

Modern anatomically similar humans began roaming this planet of ours some 200,000 years ago.  Those early humans were part and parcel of the environment; dependent upon it, and intimately bound up in the rhythms and cycles of the natural world.  Around 10,000 years ago the western elements of humanity began to cultivate crops and settle in one place.  Culture began.

Thus, for at least 95% of humanities existence we had been integral, necessary parts of nature.  With the emergence of western-styled culture we gradually began to become more and more dependent upon our culture and less and less on nature. 

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution only 250 years ago (less than 2% of our time on earth) we ramped up that attachment to culture at the expense of our understanding of nature.

Today, the western cultural tradition has almost lost contact with nature and has become almost entirely dependent upon culture.  Even that part of nature that nourished us (food) has been acculturated by the process of genetic modification, the addition of pesticides and herbicides, and on to the ways in which we obtain our food.  Most of us no longer have anything to do with the planting, sowing and reaping cycle; we obtain our food from supermarkets.  What is of even greater example of our detachment from nature is our water supply; we drink from plastic bottles, not from natural springs.

This massive swing away from nature has affected us in more than physiological ways.  Our psychological, emotional and spiritual states have also suffered.  So much so that one commentator, Richard Louv, has coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder, which he describes as describe “the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years.”1

Yet, we have a chance to recover from this disorder.  Fortunately, we humans survived for over 98% of our existence understanding and being part of nature.  There are many examples of people and communities attempting to re-discover our natural place in the earth system. 

When we begin to re-discover nature we also re-discover our soul(s) which is not really surprising, if we realise that soul is our nature.

We are fortunate to have a number of examples and guides emerging to help us recover and re(dis)cover our natural selves and our place in nature.  In the western tradition we have the works of Richard Louv (already mentioned) and also many others, such as: Joanna Macy, Bill Plotkin, Thomas Berry, David Korten and Chellis Glendinning.  In the country in which I now live (Australia) we have the example and writings of John Seed.  There are many many others.

Then, of course, we have the example and teachings of indigenous peoples from all over the world.  In learning from indigenous peoples we, from a western heritage, must be careful not to steal or take as our own the practices, rites, or mysteries that do no belong to us.

We do not need to.  All we need do is enter the forest and…
…Stand still.  The forest knows
Where you are.  You must let it find you.”2
1. Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods, Workman Publishing, New York, 2005.

2. Final two lines from the poem “Lost” by David Wagoner, quoted in Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul, New World Library, Novato, California, 2008, p 29

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Something Has Come Up

A few days ago a friend rang to postpone a meeting we had planned.  “Something’s come up,” he said.  Following our telephone conversation I pondered that phrase: Something’s Come Up.

Things do, don’t they?  Come up, I mean.  No matter how precisely we plan, and attempt to control, our lives, things change.

Something Has Come Up is the flip side of the coin where the other side is the phrase, All Things Must Pass.  Things arise, things pass.  Understanding, and accepting that simple truth allows us to be content.  Knowing this, we can be content in the midst of happiness or sadness.

Misfortune arises and I react with sadness.  Yet, knowing that All Things Must Pass allows me to be content – knowing that the sadness will pass.

When I feel happy, even though All Things Must Pass and my happiness will subside, I can remain content.

In each of the above two paragraphs I could have substituted the phrase All Things Must Pass with the phrase Something Has Come Up.  My sadness will ease because something comes up.  My happiness will subside because something comes up.

Why do all things pass?  Why does something come up?

Simply because all things are connected.

The world is not a mechanistic machine in which events occur in a linear orderly fashion.  Our western-styled culture has adopted such a view over the past few centuries.  In doing so our approach has been to break things apart and study them in isolation, neglecting the wider context and the systems within which all things exist.  So, we have learnt more and more about less and less. 

Eastern and indigenous cultures, however, have understood the interconnectedness of things and that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts.

Over the past hundred years or so aspects of western science have also begun to understand this holistic worldview.  Quantum Physics, Systems Theory, Complexity Theory, Chaos Theory, the science of Emergence, the Butterfly Effect, and many more theories and ideas are disrupting the long-held mechanistic view of the world.

Our social environment, by and large, seems to be lagging behind.  The ways in which we approach education, health, social services, commerce, energy, transport, policy-making, ad nauseum, cling to a mechanistic, piecemeal, linear approach.

By clinging to this approach we continue to think that by analysing situations in pieces, planning in a linear fashion, and thinking we have the mechanisms to fix problems, all we are doing is creating bigger and bigger messes.

We must begin to understand that we are part of an infinite, interconnected, co-existing, and co-creating universe.

That means seeing the two sides of the coin:

  • All Things Must Pass
  • Something Has Come Up