Inquire to Break Through

by May 22, 2019

Full Ecology can best be found in the times and spaces that on most days you tend not even to see. Sort of like the Chinese ancients observed long ago when they wrote only fish cannot know water. There are circumstances sustaining human life that none of us tends to give much thought.

You probably don’t spend much time during the day thinking about breathing.  But not one single thought, feeling or action can happen without breath. Then there’s this: The oxygen breathing requires – the oxygen you need to survive and thrive – Is available because plants, mostly tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton are busy moving carbon and sunlight through their bodies to generate oxygen. You breathe because of the trees and other plants that green the world. And those plants breathe, in turn, by taking in the carbon dioxide that you and countless others exhale.

This is kinship. Your essential connection with all things all the time. There’s precious and ample guidance in that kinship, but recovering it requires seeing, questioning and then dismantling the barriers between our human psyches – the way we know and act – and the natural world. And each of these – seeing, questioning, and dismantling – requires action. Action that is intentional and patient.  Like the perseverance of a hatchling sea turtle looking to break through, first its egg shell, then the layers of earth beneath which its egg was buried. First, the hatchling develops a carbuncle – the temporary egg tooth that makes it possible break open the shell. Then, after actually hatching, the young turtle must begin digging – a prolonged and necessarily incremental effort that, after three to seven days, through the layers of earth between its nesting place and the surface of the land.  

On your part, the action will first be in honing tools of inquiry – your own version of carbuncles for opening yourself to new ways of seeing your relation to the world around you. And, as for the fledgling sea turtles, the evidence of your action will be the result of smaller actions – of persistence. One foot following the other. Each contributing to reclaiming and expressing your own nature. Until your inquiries, your tireless small actions reveal, first one, and then multiple cracks in the wall of separation. Each crack an entryway – a direct connection with the natural world. A reliable way home.  

The loss of our ability to see and learn from this connection is the basis of the disorientation, materialism, loneliness, and pervasive anxiety that so plague contemporary human experience. Full Ecology contains ways of seeing and knowing, ways of listening and acting that make visible and available the natural network of connections from which human nature is born and by which it is sustained.