Hurricane Maria is roaring while Irma’s echo still reverberates. Both carry a message from Mother Nature for each and every one of us.
When it comes to nature, we’re like a child in a control room. Many buttons, switches, and knobs, but we don’t know how they are all wired on the inside. There are only so many functions we can learn by trial and error, by pressing on something and looking for a direct outcome.
So we put all our focus on mechanical actions that show us direct natural reactions. Reducing gas emissions, recycling plastic, fighting to save the forests and so forth.
However, we don’t take into account a whole other level where we need to maintain balance with nature, and that’s the inner workings of the human being: our thoughts, aspirations, intentions and relationships. All of the above are also part of nature. Again, like the child in the control room, we have no idea how these buttons play out.
“Therefore, our thoughts, emotions, and desires are all products of natural evolution and have a function in the natural system – we just don’t know what it is.”
While it usually escapes our modern thinking, human beings, and all that they do, think, and feel, is inseparable from the natural system. Unlike earlier cultures, we’ve lost our instinctive sense of connection with nature and have grown to see the natural world we inhabit as separate from us. But the reality is that no aspect of our being is detached from the natural system and we are completely subject to its laws.
Therefore, our thoughts, emotions, and desires are all products of natural evolution and have a function in the natural system – we just don’t know what it is. However, not knowing how something works doesn’t mean it has no effect. Rather, it means we haven’t yet discovered how it works.
So before you classify this article as far-fetched, let me remind you that until some 500 years ago, virtually everyone believed the earth was the center of the universe. And when someone suggested the earth was moving around the sun, it wasn’t so easy for people to digest. Copernicus’ writings were banned in some circles for almost three centuries.
In terms of our understanding of natural eco-systems, just about 20 years ago no one realized that wolves can change rivers. When a few wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone Park after a 70 year absence, they forced deer to move to areas where they’re harder to capture, which allowed overgrazed areas to regenerate dramatically. The trees grew higher; birds started moving in; more beavers emerged and created niches for other species; and very quickly, a vast eco-system has flourished with many new species. But most interestingly, the regenerating forests stabilized the riverbanks, setting fixed courses for rivers to flow. And so, a few wolves have changed the physical geography of Yellowstone Park.
NATURE DRIVES ALL BEINGS TOWARDS BALANCE. NOW IT’S OUR TURN.
The natural system evolves every level of being to a state of dynamic equilibrium, which then gives rise to a more complex level of being. It took billions of years for Earth to form a stable crust around its molten mantle to set the conditions for biological life to emerge. Then, a few more billions of years passed until optimal conditions were created, such as balanced levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, to enable advanced forms of animal life to emerge.
Some 8 million years ago, an ape got smarter, and eventually became the ruler of planet earth. Well, kind of. It has no control over natural disasters, keeps engaging in war with itself, poorly manages the Earth’s resources, and poorly distributes them for wellbeing of its species. But in his mind, at least, this ape is now the ruler of the world.
So, if nature creates increasingly complex levels of dynamic equilibrium, then it is only natural that at some point nature will start pushing for balance on the level of human consciousness. And according to Kabbalah, that’s exactly where we are at.
We have entered a new era of human evolution, facing a transformation that is far beyond our mechanical actions. To put it simply, we have to change ourselves. The inner qualities, inclinations, and intentions of the human, must come into balance with those of the natural system.
WOLVES CHANGE RIVERS. HUMANS CHANGE HURRICANES.
It’s hard for us to see the connection between our inner world and the natural world. We certainly don’t see how our intentions and desires can bring about a hurricane. But then again, we also didn’t see how wolves could change rivers.
Nature is a holistic system. Every single element bears an influence on the entire system, and all of nature’s elements are interconnected and interdependent. The challenge with regards to the influence of humans on the system is that our inner world is only seen by one observer – ourselves. So as a society, we focus on the mechanical actions that we can all see and judge on the outside.
But in nature, the forces that have the greatest potential are actually those that are most subtle and hidden. Physicists will tell you, for instance, that the strongest known force in today’s universe is the strong nuclear force, which is effective on distance scales a million times smaller than an atom.
So today, we have to drill into the subtle and deeper layer of our being. What force will we discover there? An “egoistic gravity” that keeps us feeling separate from others and from the rest of nature. That we’re constantly willing to put self-benefit above the wellbeing of others. That we lack a sense of connection with and consideration of all people and all other beings. This is where we are opposite to nature. And this is where we have to find balance.
Like the child in the control room, we don’t see how the inner, psychological world is connected to the biological world. But the time has come for us to grow up and learn what these buttons are doing.
Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag explains that “nature, like a skillful judge, punishes us according to our development. For we can see that to the extent that humankind develops, the pains and torments surrounding our sustenance and existence also multiply… the right conclusion must be drawn—that nature will ultimately defeat us and we will all be compelled to join hands in following its laws with all the measure required of us.” (“The Peace”).
While the still, vegetative, and animate realms maintain an instinctive balance, ours will be a conscious one. It will begin when we start nurturing our inner attitude towards each other and shape a network of positive human connections that will ripple through the rest of nature. This will be the basis for the future human society. A society where you, your fellow man, and nature are one. A society that pushes the right buttons in the control room so that natural catastrophes don’t have to occur.
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