A Way of Life (Nature)
If I were to go on a nature walk, what would I expect to encounter? I would likely observe forests, mountains, streams, plant life, animal life, etc., and all occurring in its natural environment. Nature occurring naturally, set apart and preserved for me to appreciate as a distinct subset of reality. Given this understanding of the term, nature is observable as an external reality.
This view of nature, as convenient and as widespread as it is, casts aspersions on humanity, for we and everything we do is consequently deemed unnatural. Are not all things natural by the fact that they exist? After all, what can be pointed out as having occurred outside the forces of nature?
Has not the human species emerged as naturally as any other? Furthermore, have not all that human hands touch, though transformed, reengineered or processed, remain wholly composed of this planet's natural resources– all ingredients being composed of naturally-occurring elements in their origin?
A beaver constructs a dam. Is it natural. A bird puts together a nest. Again, natural. A human being designs and builds a home. Natural? If we do include human beings in this category of life we call nature, then shouldn't we also consider all that we make natural? So, where do we draw these lines, or must we draw lines at all? If we must consider nature a noun, and a category of life, then let us include all things in that category.
It is accepted by the greater scientific community that all things in the natural world, though they may appear to be concrete form, are instead a gathering of energy in various shapes, rhythms and levels of density. The natural world, then, is energy expressing itself in a multitude of ways. Can we not then claim that everything is somehow alive, and all that exists is an expression of energy in some form? Can we not then consider all things, due to the animation present on atomic levels (proton, neutron, etc.) to be considered living things?
Let us let go of "nature" the noun and explore another, relatively common use of the word nature, that is much more inclusive than our first example. When I speak of human nature, I am referring to human behavior. Is nature behavior? Not only does this use of the word enable us to include all living things, but it acknowledges a common thread by focusing on that which is behaving– the energy or intelligence behind the expression.
Let's agree, then, that nature is a way of behaving. It is not a category of things, but instead the expression of all things, for everything exhibits behavior. It is distinct behavior. Everything in our world behaves somewhat differently, and those differences show up in many ways– shape, size, scope, color, rhythm, density, and the ability to change. All things have their own distinct nature that is specific to itself within a given species and kingdom.
To reiterate, all things that occur are natural by their very existence, and all these things have their own way of behaving, which is their very nature. Nature is not isolated. Nature is the way in which all things within the whole of existence behave.
To pull together what we have so far, let us agree that we have one complete living whole that is expressing itself in distinct behavior, made up of many parts that somehow know what they are doing to gather in groups and interacting to form units and organized energy and all sustained over periods of time.
This is our reality, and we are part of this whole, behaving as we might, being true to our nature and interacting constantly with other parts of this whole functionally over the course of our lives, behaving as we must or behaving as we see fit.
Our nature, like all living things are directed by intelligence, run by energy and formed by how the patterns of energy manage to work together to maintain functionality. In the Chapters ahead, we look closer at the fundamentals of mind, body and spirit that are common to all beings and entities and that interact constantly to express all distinct natures within the one whole. Mind, body and spirit arise out of the three primal gifts that work seamlessly together at the core of life as it expresses its potential.