Discovering Meaning in Nature

Words of Intent

We are dangerously out of touch with our nature as humans, and this is as a result of a disconnect between language and experiencing. Our greatest strength – imagination – is now our achilles heel, and may mean the end of us.

It is tragic really, the trance which is going on, right here in these our human bodies; tragic that we don’t encourage deep inquiry into experiencing. This is one reason why we don’t get our relationship with the rest of nature – and with each other – in a healthy perspective; why we are destroying our home – the planetary ecology that originally gave rise to us – this disconnect from our bodies.

Our way forward is always right at hand, even if we don’t see it. It’s as close as eating, walking, running, laughing, sleeping, spewing, crying, feeling sad or happy, lying down, or turning-somersaults. The way forward is in the heart of our life – in its actual processes of seeing, thinking, smelling, tasting, touching and feeling. When these ordinary aspects of experiencing are entered into with precision, their true nature becomes evident, and an inconceivable dimension is found, which upends our usual ways of perceiving.

At Sāvatthī in Ancient India, the Buddha spoke about this to his students:

“Practitioners, dwell with your heart well-established in the four placements of mindfulness. Do not miss the Deathless.
“What are the four? Here, a practitioner dwells contemplating the body in the body… feeling-tones in feeling-tones… psyche in psyche… and the dynamics of phenomena in the dynamics of phenomena – ardent, comprehending clearly, present, having removed hankering and distaste with regard to the world. Dwell, Practitioners, with your hearts well-established in these four placements of mindfulness. Do not miss the Deathless.”
– The Deathless (Amata Sutta: SN V.41) Translated by Christopher Ash

‘The Deathless,’ here, refers to a precise experience, which is known when you become thoroughly familiar with experiencing, and when experiencing can know, without reactivity, its natural limit. The content of this site, with the sites it can lead you to, is intended to support an emerging Western understanding of human experiencing which doesn’t depend on materialism and reductionism, but which also doesn’t fall into superstition or mere belief.

These new insights – especially in phenomenology – can ground a non-theistic sacred approach to nature.  This word ‘nature,’ when I use it without qualifying phrases, I use to point to ‘This’ that we are experiencing, now – wherever you are, whoever you are, and whatever you are doing. It is inclusive of all our distinctions, including those that point to humans, trees, mountains, birds, animals of all kind. ‘Nature,’ when I say it without indicating a more restricted use, also points (often astonishingly) to whatever ‘This’ is primordially, in its profoundly ‘bigger-than-all-that-is-perceptible’ nature. The biggest ‘nature’ is the all-encompassing, and ‘impossible-to-think’ This. It is our very activity.

I have studied and practiced Buddhist meditation for five decades, in the schools of Zen, Dzogchen, and early Buddhism (Theravada); and in the last twenty years, I have studied and practiced the Western ways of psychotherapy and of phenomenology. (Yes, there are ways of ‘meditatively practicing’ phenomenology.)

These disciplines will be the main cultural supports which I call on, in these pages. There’ll be a ‘science’ thread, too. I have not been formally trained in science – not even high school science – but I have been, like the majority of Westerners, marinated in the dominant scientific outlook. I love science, and I wish this project to also be consistent with good science.

I take the opportunity to thank my teachers, my friends in the inquiry, and my family. And, I hope you, Reader, find something here which contributes to your understanding. May all be well, happy and safe.