While India froze this winter, much of Europe seemed to bask in unseasonably warm temperatures – another sign that the climate is breaking free of its old patterns and we are drifting into an unpredictable future – a future that is very much of our own making. With the onset of industrialisation and the ability it gave homo sapiens to punch so far above his weight, the delicately balanced eco-system of our earthly home began to slide out of kilter.
For generations, this slow tipping of the balance remained imperceptible, but as the village slowly slowly became global, the dots were gradually joined up and the picture they reveal is finally emerging in all its stark darkness. Our species has turned into a malignant cancer on the Earth’s once beautiful surface, multiplying uncontrollably and eating away at finite resources without regard for the wellbeing of the host.
Now that surface is everywhere seared and scarred and rutted and pitted and potholed and polluted and poisoned, burned and ravaged and left for dead by the fevered activity of its most industrious inhabitants. Nature is the real treasure is a reminder of the ultimate relative values of the things humans have destroyed the Earth to obtain – jewels and riches – and the things without which we cannot survive – water and nature itself.
Once exuberant and seemingly endlessly bountiful nature is forced back into ever smaller pockets and corridors across this ruined landscape. Pushed to its limits, nature is economising – eradicating species and letting go of vast areas into wasteland populated by unlovely pariah species – weeds, cockroaches, crows etc, or by nothing at all. Birds who have flown expresses this fragility of the natural environment; looked at from a distance, it appears like a soap bubble whose surface is perishing, becoming pitted with holes, fading away.
If most of us feel powerless when faced with this reality, it is not surprising – each of us is so small against the whole, and whatever actions we may take so puny, so far away from addressing the problem in all its magnitude. And yet, every small action must ultimately count, and small actions are all we can each of us do. Simply to create an inner connection with the natural world, so that we are really aware of its beauty and preciousness, helps to strengthen it, as it in turn strengthens us – this is the feeling evoked in Herbal cure from paradise and The spring of my lord.
If we become aware of the deeper implications of what we do and how we live, the way in which everything connects in one vast web of being, from which nobody can separate himself or his actions, then, too, we become less and less able to act in ways that are harmful to other parts of that whole. The time of reintegration conveys a sense of this web of interconnection between all things everywhere, including the natural world on which we all depend absolutely for our continued existence on Earth.
This subject is so vast and so vital that these few words can only skim the surface of its substance. Perhaps the mandalas may help to give deeper expression to our feelings of love and respect for our earthly home.
Note added in February 2023
Fifteen years have passed since these words were written – and while they certainly retain their urgency and most still resonate, there are a few I would not write today, and the entire subject has become tainted by a horrific gaslighting operation perpetrated by the very forces who have created all the pollution and desecration of the earth's treasures in the first place. I would no longer describe humanity as a cancer on the earth, not because it isn't still acting like one, but precisely because this concept has since been advanced by the gaslighters as a way to make the mass of humanity feel guilty and full of self-loathing and self-recrimination.
The truth is that humanity and the Earth belong together; there is nothing cancerous about our nature. The carcinogenic aspect of our occupation of the planet is entirely connected to those dark forces who are now seeking to make us all feel guilty, and train us to live as destructive, thoughtless, mindless consumers, while they themselves continue to destroy and damage organic life in every conceivable way.
Above all, the absolute lie about carbon dioxide being a dangerous gas, when it is in fact a vital gas of life in this biosphere, without which there is no vegetation – thus ultimately no organic life – must be called out at every opportunity. The more carbon dioxide there is, the more green the planet becomes. The lie really is that monstrous in its wrongheadedness. There are many other related lies regarding fossil fuels and so-called renewable energy sources that should also be exposed whenever possible, but beyond pointing the finger firmly back at the heavily polluting chemical industries, the heartless logging operations, the deadly industrialised farming practices and genetically modified crops, this is too vast a subject to tackle here. Among several mandalas highlighting the value of our connection with nature, created since this blog was originally written, Guardians of the heart feels especially relevant in this time.