Samstag, 8. Oktober 2011

UU Theology III - Nature

Ralph Waldo Emerson distinguishes some of the following strands in his famous essay "Nature" (1836):
- Delight in nature: "In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man."
- Mysticism of nature: "Standing on bare ground ... I became a transparent eye-ball."
- An ethic of harmony with nature: "The greatest delight ... is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable."
- Nature is useful to humans: "To "man", it serves as commodity, beauty, language, discipline."
- Questions about where nature actually exists: "What is ultimately real - nature or some other realm? The world is a devine dream from which we may presently awake ..."
- Transcendental aspect of nature: "It leads the mind to the higher power, God, and then disappears. These are the happiest moments in life."

This outline reveals the presence of an important dualism in Emerson's essay:
1.) the mysticism of nature versus
2.) the transcendental aspect of nature.
The first locates the divine in nature itself, the second ascribes a mediating function to nature in the sense that through nature, our minds attain what we actually seek - the God Who "stands" behind nature.

Green parties all over the world give priority to the "interconnectedness of all life on Earth." Its key values are (according to Charlene Spretnak): ecological wisdom, grassroots democracy, personal and social responsibility, nonviolence, decentralization, community-based economics, postpatriarchal values, respect for diversity, global responsibility, and future focus. Many greens practice some form of paganism, neo-paganism, shamanism, or goddess religion, and many worship the Earth as a spiritual being. Worship is thus an expression of awe at the intricate wonders of creation and celebration of the cosmic unfolding.
Spretnak's "sustainable religion" puts her at odds with humanistic commitments. She rejects what is human-centered in favor of the earth-centered. She explicitly denounces humanism because of its focus on the human. In her view, it is hubris to declare that humans are the central figures of life on Earth and that we are in control. In the long run, Nature is in control!

For me there is no insurmountable difference between human-centred humanism and earth-centered religions. For me the "circles of love" are allways growing larger and larger. First, your families and friends, then humanity, then nature and finally the cosmos as a whole - the cosmocentric world view. But you must not allways follow these steps. Focus on what is most important for you today. Or start with the cosmocentric world view, since this is the most encompassing and thus most important world view - the cosmic dimension of love!
While the world is real the mind has the capacity to change its conception of it, its relationship to it. If we can change the appearance of nature by changing our mental picture of it, is the world only as real as the image you carry of it in your mind? You decide ...!
Rig Veda 1.6.3 states: "Nature's beauty is an art of God. Let us feel the touch of God's invisible hands in everything beautiful. By the first touch of His hand rivers throb and ripple. When He smiles the sun
shines, the moon glimmers, the stars twinkle, the flowers bloom. By the first rays of the rising sun, the universe is stirred; the shining gold is sprinkled on the smiling buds of rose; the fragrant air is filled with sweet melodies of singing birds, the dawn is the dream of God's creative fancy."

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