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.
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 lliving
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.
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
Personal Growth for a Flourishing Planet