Forest Center
                             Personal Growth for a Flourishing Planet


                                                           










THEME ONE:  THE NATURE-HUMAN RELATIONSHIP
At Forest Center we seek to understand the human-nature relationship through inquiries into two interrelated areas:
the ecological self and the living earth.

THE ECOLOGICAL SELF

Historically, the aim of personal growth proponents has been to understand the psyche mostly within the context of one's insulated individualism and family of origin. In the last few decades, largely through the contributions of ecopsychology and deep ecology, the territory upon which self-investigation occurs has widened to integrate the greater natural world. We are increasingly recognizing that self abides symbiotically within Earth and Cosmos; we have begun to engage in a less individualistic and more ecological way of understanding the psyche, as Andy Fisher has stated. Out of this more expanded exploration, the term "ecological self" arose ~ at first coined by mountaineer philosopher Arne Naess, originator of deep ecology.

​​​LIVING EARTH
Championed by religious, academic and economic institutions over
millennia, a long-standing anthropocentric stance pervading society 
has promoted an illusory and devitalizing sense of separation between
​humans and the natural world ~ all while downgrading the world of nature
"out there" to a functional, mechanical, inferior and inanimate entity to
be freely exploited for the sole benefit of human "advancement" - usually 
for a privileged few. Our ancestral wisdom honoring Earth as a living
organism saturated with mysterious intelligence and meaning now lays 
mostly dormant. Modernity's engulfing profit-driven economy based on
blind growth has accelerated the momentum of this ruinous mindset 
further entrenching the notion that the whole of Earth is a composite 
of soul-less, inanimate “resources” rather than a complex, self-renewing
community of life steeped in beauty and natural wisdom...and integral
(secondarily) to the survival and the well-being ​of the human animal.


People from all walks of life today are resurrecting the ancestral way ~ 
Earth and Cosmos are alive and humans co-participate in this l​living
matrix as one thread in a grand weaving. 
A collective remembering of
​our "deep connection to the intelligence of the cosmos" is gradually
resurfacing and richly infusing some segments of our culture.
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Considering the ways in which modern culture emphasizes fragmentation and separation, the implications of this insight are life altering. Awakening our communion with nature on the deeper level of the psyche, for example, reveals the subtle interconnections between today’s widespread ecological and psychological challenges. Theodore Roszak, author of The Voice of the Earth, points to this notion by saying that we cannot save the soul while the biosphere crumbles. Thus, one of today’s critical tasks, as ecopsychologist Bill Plotkin states, is to grow whole so that an ecocentric identity becomes the rule rather than the exception.

In short, reclaiming an ecocentric identity and resolving the environmental crisis rely on and build upon one another. Healing self and nature happens in a mutually inclusive way and awakening our ecological self might just help move us forward toward this renewal.

     
     I try to remember that it is not me, John Seed, trying to protect 
     the rain forest. Rather, I am part of the rain forest protecting
     itself. I am that part of that rain forest recently emerged into                 human thinking.      -
John Seed

 
  More and more people are waking up to their deep connection to the                 intelligence of the cosmos, and are seeking to find ways of living that do not   violate their rediscovered ecological sensitivities…. Our task now is to explore   ways in which the new animism can be integrated in the very heart
 of  Western culture.                                                                        
-Stephan Harding


  Would people who practiced reciprocity to an animate, intelligent Earth
  have invented fracking, strip mines, Three Mile Island, or the economies of        weapons, massive warfare, and destruction?            
-Geneen Marie Haugen