“We do not, as children, first enter into language by consciously studying the formalities of syntax and grammar or by memorizing the dictionary definition of words, but rather by actively making sounds – by crying in pain and laughing in joy, by squealing and babbling and playfully mimicking the surrounding soundscape, gradually entering through such mimicry into specific melodies of the local language, our resonant bodies slowly coming to echo the inflections and accents common to our locale and community.

“We thus learn out native language not mentally but bodily. We appropriate new words and phrases first through their expressive tonality and texture, through the way they feel in the mouth or roll of the tongue, and it is this direct, felt significance – the taste of a word or phrase, the way it influences or modulates the body – that provides the fertile, polyvalent source for all the more refined and rarefied meanings which that term may come to have for us.” David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Learning and creating languages is an interesting intellectual pursuit, but I think there’s more depth to it than that, something I’ve discovered in my exposure to other languages. The idea being that language goes back to our primal roots, through cries, grunts, murmurs, screams. The calls of animals we hear in the wild places are the primal matrix from which languages evolved, like the first light sensitive cell on a microorganism that eventually became an eye.

Our first experience of language acquisition is instinctive, not intellectual; it is something experienced by the body, and from there our learning of language is built up. Looking through a dictionary we might be mistaken that language is a purely intellectual pursuit, something “raised above” our instincts, and that translation between languages is just a logical pursuit of matching meanings of the words and/or parallel grammatical approaches.

Perhaps this is the reason I never learnt French in school (despite 6 years of learning), because the formal approach in a school doesn’t resonate emotionally or instinctively with us; it doesn’t access the roots of language. It’s well known that emersion in a language is the best way to learn, and that’s certainly the case with me: I’ve learnt more French and Spanish since living with them.

Sometimes I say something in Spanish, not because I know intellectually that it is correct, but because I have a gut feeling that some words or phrases are correct. I think even if I make mistakes in another language (or my own even) it is understood because I am learning to speak from a “gut feeling” level and am understood at the same level. The flow of the words (or even their non-flow) can communicate more than the words themselves.

I think even the written word, though supposedly abstracted from our bodies, can have an effect on us. Going back to gut instinct, we can get a feeling for the words on a page, not just their dictionary meanings. So much has been done so that our experience of the body is distrusted, and I think that use of language has a lot to do with it. If we trust the sensations of the body through our languages a whole new level of communication is accessible.

“This, in essence, is the hypothesis that Lovelock and his close collaborator Lynn Margulis were to call “Gaia.” The idea significantly modifies the central Darwinian paradigm of modern biology. Competition – natural selection at the species level – becomes much less important than the overall integration of living things within a symbiotic global network. The basic unit of evolutionary survival becomes the biomass as a whole, which may select species for their capacity to enhance the liveability of the planet.” Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth

There can be said to be three interpretations of Gaia; scientific, theistic and philosophical. The science, which I have described briefly, is basically about looking at the Earth physiologically, as a body, and the practical implications of that. But I’m not a scientist, so although I take an interest I can only explain it up to a point. Theistic Gaia is the view that the Earth is sentient, and is literally seen as a single living being. Not something I believe in, but the image is interesting and certainly useful in a poetic sense.

What really interests me is a Gaian-based philosophy. This stands somewhere between science and theism, using scientific ideas and mythological images as a model that we use to view the world and as an ethical guide.

For a while we have had a view of evolution as something competitive and the Earth as an arena in which this biological struggle is played out. Although science is not meant as a tool to give us meaning or ethics, anything that gives us a view of the world, whether myth or science, also gives us a sense of meaning and ethics. Sometimes it is obvious though mostly it is subtle.

The view of competitive evolution has become a tool to legitimise a “dog eat dog” or “every man for himself” attitude. In this view the Earth is a resource and the world is seen as a hierarchy of power where the strongest preys on the weakest. And to some extent this is true, if you see the relationship between some species, and individual organisms of the same species, you will see there is a competitive, even violent, relationship. However, in the same way the classical view of physics breaks down in quantum mechanics, the localised competition of species breaks down in the broader ecological view. Each species fulfills a role in the bigger ecological system; any competition is just one aspect of a cooperative network.

Can the body’s major organs compete with each other? Can the heart win or lose against the lungs? Of course not, they are major organs and are completely and utterly interdependent with one another. However, minor organs or biological features can compete. A species of fish whose ancestors got trapped in a cave system lost their eyes because there was no need for them. The digits and claws of whale ancestors have eventually receded to be replaced by more useful flippers. The long grasping digits on the feet of our tree climbing ancestors have been reduced to small stumps on the end of our feet. But these minor “competitive” adaptations are relative compared to what is going on in the whole body.

We can use this analogy to look at the Earth. It too has major organs, species or certain groups of species that cannot be replaced. For instance, I remember in a biology class being taken out by my teacher with the class and being asked “Can plants live without animals or can animals live without plants?” No one answered plants, and yet that was the answer. Most plants, because they get energy directly from the sun, are self-sufficient, so if the animal kingdom inexplicably disappeared many photosynthesisers would be able to survive. Not so with animals.

There is, what I consider, to be a myth about humanity as the “dominant species”. We might have become very powerful and intelligent but that’s a very superficial dominance. Let’s put it this way, prey do not depend on predators but predators depend on prey, the foundation of a building does not depend on the upper floors but the upper floors depend on the foundation. This echoes a fairly Taoist principle and gives a different spin on Jesus’ “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

We owe our existence to the almost omnipresent microbial lifeforms, like bacteria, that were the first life-forms to exist and surely will be the last ones to exist. When Gaia was young this was, and still is, the basic components, “major organs” or major organisms, that sustain her existence. Without them nothing larger, like humans, could exist.  So it really does turn the concept of dominance on its head. We owe our existence to life-forms that are smaller, simpler and far less intelligent than us, which is humbling really.

We are left with an image that humanity is an interesting but unimportant contribution to the Earth’s evolution. We are left with the principles of respect, humility and cooperation. A good starting point for how we might conceive a Gaia-based philosophy. But this philosophy isn’t just for individuals to choose, as one philosophy amongst so many to pick and choose from; it is the context of all other philosophies. In a sense all organisms are gaian by default. All organisms derive their evolution from a long history where biological traits are developed within an ecological context. To defy this context is to upset the balance and threaten your own existence. Only humans need to make a mental effort to align with gaian-based principles.

This philosophy is something that has to be built into the structure of society itself, a structure that operates with respect, humility and cooperation to the home it depends on for its existence. We cannot go on thinking and acting the way we do, seeing Earth as a resource to be used and abused in service of commercial consumerist philosophy, and other humans and other nations to be viewed as opponents to be beaten in some never-ending economical and fashion-driven race. This cannot work anymore, there needs to be a reform in human civilisation and I think we are waking up to realise it now.

“You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it.” Robert Shaw

“Before Lovelock used the name Gaia, people could not really grasp his ideas at all. His friend, the novelist William Golding, suggested the name of the ancient Greek mother-goddess, Gaia. And when Lovelock tried that name, people began to understand him.” Mary Midgley

One of the problems with Gaia is that she’s very difficult to see. Of course I can see the Earth, it’s unavoidable, but when I say Gaia I mean the self-sustaining living system; a planetary ecosystem or even superorganism. I can’t directly see the all of the processes that go into the whole planetary system and certainly not in just my short human lifetime. It is too large and complex and even today’s science suffers from that limit, itself being quite a young human experience.

If you try to know Gaia by isolating one part, like the atmosphere, a forest or an ocean surface, you lose sense of the “big picture.” To get a sense of what Gaia is its best not to get too carried away with the details because you might lose the context. And here is where we replace the reductionist and atomistic way of seeing things for something holistic or “top-down,” that uses physiology as a model and metaphor for understanding the Earth’s living systems. This requires some intuitive or peripheral viewing to begin to work with, that can be adjusted and refined as our understanding of its workings become clearer.

I say peripheral because it’s one of those things that catches your attention out of the corner of your eye but seems to disappear when directly looked at. Put another way, it’s like when you like too closely at the details of a painting and you lose sense of what the pictures is because all you can see are colours and brushstrokes. Looking at the details of a painting, or of the Earth’s living systems, is a useful and necessary way of learning how the whole has come together, but to get a good view of it all we really have to “fly with the eagles,” get a view of the whole landscape as a working body.

Maybe it is an imaginative metaphor or poetic license. Maybe it is simply a lens through which we can view the Earth and our place on it. The fact is humans have been living with these lenses for a long time, and even science has to use metaphors as it struggles to create language for concepts that are beyond our immediate experience and accessible only through the imagination. By such lenses we are inspired and guided by a vision that has a bearing on our sense of meaning and morality.

Now I want to suggest an exercise, to “connect” with Gaia without intellectual analysis. If you have access to natural surroundings, go there and sense Gaia around you. You can visualize it in your mind, and you can feel it in your heart but also you can connect the experience with your body, letting it resonate through your being. Take any or all examples and see how it feels.

Feel that the Earth is a body, something that can be healthy or unhealthy, that evolves and changes depending on the forces acting upon it and within it.

Feel that Gaia is something to have a relationship with, or as a web of relationships between sky, land, sea, Sun and all organisms that has been evolving since life first appeared on Earth and to which humans are just newcomers.

Feel that life was just a passenger on a volatile rock but that grew and became a very influential force on the planet, where all organisms evolved together to keep the Earth alive.

Feel that water is the lifeblood of Gaia, that it also pumps through you.

Feel that photosynthetic life absorbs the energy of the Sun and then finds ways of sharing that with other organisms, along with nutrients.

Feel that the air you breathe and the food you eat are a source of communion with all other living things.

Feel humanity as an intelligent parasite living off of Gaia like an energy-hungry and resource-greedy disease.

Feel the outcome if humanity carries on like this.

Feel that humanity, like any disease, is killed off by its host in order to be healthy.

Feel that humanity chooses a different fate and works towards a healthy symbiosis with Gaia, directing our intelligence to work in harmony and collaboration with her.

In feeling Gaia this way we embrace a worldview that guides our attitudes and actions to a very different relationship with the Earth than we have now. Personifying the Earth has little to with defying science and more to do with engaging those aspects of the human psyche that cannot be convinced by intellectual analysis alone and creating an empathy with the very system that supports our existence. Harmonious planetary relationships require that we can feel with Gaia, not only think with Gaia.

“We do not live on the Earth, we are a part of how the Earth lives.” David Richo

“You go to Nature for an experience of the sacred… to re-establish your contact with the core of things…The final test is whether your experience of the sacred in Nature enables you to cope more effectively with the problems of humanity.” Will Unsoeld

“Paradoxically, turning attention to the inner life can make us acutely aware of the beauty and fragility of the earth. Since our collective habits of behaviour appear to be leading toward annihilation, recognition of our capacity for conscious evolution has become an increasingly compelling necessity. Spiritual awareness of our relationship to the whole earth can no longer be considered the prerogative of a few introverted individuals. Although it may take a leap of faith to believe that a radical shift in human consciousness is possible, this global mind change may be necessary to shift our collective trajectory from self-destruction to self-renewal.” Frances Vaughan

I have spoken of three functions of ancient Druidry and have put them into a relevant form for modern times, but what I have not really gone into detail about is Druidry as a nature-based spirituality. We could say, maybe, that Druids were ecologists and environmentalists. But considering the times they were living in, everyone in their cultures had to have some basic ecological knowledge of some sort, so it could not be seen as a druidic “function” but a basic fact of life for everyone. Today, whether we are into Druidry or not, this is something we should all have, we should all be familiar with ecological knowledge, of the fact that we are part of an ecological system and that it is the very basis for our existence. Locked away in our cities we are disconnected from where our food comes from, where our oxygen comes from, where our water, gas and electric come from, even where out money comes from! We are so familiar with a world which is so human dominated we forget just how embedded we are in the living systems of the Earth, how much we depend upon them and how much we affect them.

It’s important for our eco-starved species to once again gain an ecological perspective that pervades every aspect of our activites on, or more appropriately as part of, the Earth. Humanity and every aspect of its evolution should find a way to evolve with the Earth’s evolution and also creatively contribute to it. The development of a holistic intelligence is one that can only grow as a part of nature, the work of politics and relationships also includes our relationship with nature and the journey of the spiritual life is a part of nature not apart from it. Nature is such a fundamental part of Druidry that each of the functions I have described can be better understood if we put the suffix “eco” on each; ecoeducation, ecopolitics and ecospirituality. In such a way we recognise that ecology isn’t just one of many subjects but the entire context of our lives. An important resource for modern Druidry’s worldview can be found in the scientific developments of the Gaia Hypothesis and Earth Systems Science and the implications they have for every aspect of our lives.

Such a fundamental part of human life is ecology that I’m reluctant about treating this as a separate subject, because our various activities, like spirituality, education and politics, do not stand apart from nature, but can only exist because of nature. Each of the functions of Druidry can be envisaged as pillars of Druidry; The Three Pillars of Druidry. Or better yet, trees; The Three Trees of Druidry. The fourth “pillar” or “tree” is nature, but it does not stand separately, it itself is the Three Trees and also the sky above them and the earth below them. The “function” of ecology or environmentalism, must be so fundamental to the other three functions that it pervades them, their growth and their evolution, as it should with the whole of human existence. Leaving this subject last and apparently separated from the others signifies the human psyche’s split from nature. Something that a nature-based path like Druidry can facilitate in this modern world is the healing of the human consciousness in relation to nature.

“Like all political activists busy with their mission, environmentalists often work from poor and short-sighted ideas about human motivation; they overlook the unreason, the perversity, the sick desire that lie at the core of the psyche. Their strategy is to shock and shame.” Theodore Roszak

 

“Every political movement has its psychological dimension. Persuading people to alter their behavior always involves probing motivations and debating values; political activism begins with asking what makes people tick. What do they want and fear and care about? How do we get and hold their attention? How much can people take- and in what order of priority? Have we overloaded them with anxiety or guilt? How do we make credible the threats we perceive? Movements that fail to think carefully about this may fail to persuade.” Theodore Roszak

 

“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Ancient Disney wisdom (th´nk ye  Meeery Popp’ns!)

 

You know how it goes, “We’re polluting and overpopulating the planet, killing species, killing each other, we’re destroying habitats, and we’re using up all of the resources. If we don’t stop this madness and change our ways we will all die and leave the planet in a poorer state than it is.”

 

And for some reason some people have difficulty accepting this… some sugar perhaps?

 

At the root of the problems, Ecopsychology tells us, is a global insanity, insidiously working through human society (ok, insidiously is my word for it). Except we can’t put it that way, because insane people, when you tell them they’re insane, ignore it, deny it or lose their last vestiges of reality, spiraling into more insanity.  What’s really a problem is that this is leveled at not just one person, or one group, but the whole of human civilization! I’d hate to be the person that’s trying to convince all of that to become more environmental and stop itself destroying itself. Oh wait, I’m… well, at least I’m not alone… I think.

 

How do you get an insane person to accept the fact they’re insane and need to do something about it? How do you get a whole species to do the same?! My head hurts.

 

The good news is that the environmental meme is getting everywhere, even through films. Once upon a time environmentalism was about stoned hippies and maverick scientists, but now we have a politician (Al Gore) on the silver screen presenting a funny cartoon frog to show how bad a situation we are in.

 

Unfortunately, because he’s a politician, his presenting the message hinders the message just as much as it helps the message. Does anyone really trust a politician? Do politicians trust other politicians? The criticisms I see about “climate change” on wordpress are usually always followed by “Al Gore,” making me think that people can’t make the difference between “climate change” and “Al Gore,” and why they’re criticizing.

 

But we are presented some credibility from Hollywood. One of their pantheon’s star deities, Leonardo DiCaprio, has also created a film to get the message across. This time creating a film that has more people presenting the problem, of different cultures, different nations, different ethnicities, different professions, different genders giving us a cozy “us” to make the message more sympathetic. And instead of saying “We’re un poco loco” (insane), he just said “We have to change the way we think,” which is a far easier pill to swallow. Suffice to say, I have seen less criticism of him than of Al Gore, simply because he’s not a politician but a handsome*, rich and famous cinematic hero to be adored and worshipped, along with anything he says.

 

So the “insane” populace of our planet is waking up, acknowledging the problems we have and even that we’re the root. You can see the environmental meme getting everywhere, adverts, films etc. It’s becoming quite an acceptable concept in general. A few days ago I even saw it in a very unlikely place; a film with Vin Diesel, Babylon A.D., where I wasn’t sure if it was about violence with a little bit of story, or a story with violence. Either way the meme “Save the planet” is there, at beginning and end. At the end Vin Diesels character says “Save the planet, one baby at a time. What a bitch.”

 

One baby at a time? One life at a time? One individual at a time? My head’s hurting again. Does anyone know any Ecopsychologist that could help me with global anxiety? Oh wait… that’d be me… Still, some of those babies will be the children of Leo Di admirers, so maybe it won’t be too hard to convince future generations.

 

So how do I break the news to you lovely gorgeous people that we could all be doomed because of our stupidity? Well I can start with complementing you, flattering your egos a bit, like a patronizing salesman. What a great big…. car you have. What a beautiful set of… kitchen implements you have. And whilst I polish your ego for you, species die, people kill each other, the fabric of civilization is tearing itself apart, and we have to do something NOW. We can’t waste time making sure egos are comfortable.

 

Okay, maybe I’m not painting a pretty picture. I may not be giving you enough “sugar” with your “medicine.” I’m not Mary Poppins. But there’s enough consciousness about global issues that I can be a bit risqué, I can ride the wave of environmental popularity and point out the shocking truth without ruffling too many egos. If your ego can’t take what I’m saying, you probably would have switched off at the beginning of this blog, so it’s not like I’m forcing it down anyone’s throat on my own blog! This is my thoughts and feelings, my opinions, and I’m just expressing myself here. The real convincing can only be done by you.

 

That’s why I don’t agree with extreme environmentalism; you know the idiots who go round evangelically pushing their ideas on people, jeopardizing any chance that other, more sensible, environmentalists have of making environmentalism credible to the wider world. Then there are environmental terrorists. Need I say more?

 

Environmentalists are stuck between a rock and a hard place (or the Devil and the deep blue sea).  On one hand there is a desperate urgency to the world’s problems that we don’t have the luxury to be gentile and politically correct, we need to act NOW. On the other hand, we have to carefully go through the sticky slimy web of human society’s various degrees of skepticism, cynicism, arrogance, ignorance, insanity, lethargy, idiocy, prejudice, misguided enthusiasm, half-hearted commitment and Machiavellian deception, which cannot be bypassed. They need to be faced and resolved one by one, step by step, individual by individual. By which time NOW may be too late…

 

Aspirin!

 

So, you, individual**, yes I’m talking to YOU. Let’s not beat around the bush any longer, this world’s in a rubbish state, caused by humans and only resolvable by each and every human on this planet. That’ll be us; me writing this, you reading this and even everyone else not present here. I’ll do my part, you do your part, we’ll collaborate where we can, spread the meme and hope the rest of the world gets it. If that doesn’t work, maybe there’s a good pro-environmentalist film showing at a cinema to go and see.

 

So, Mr Roszak, have I passed my test?

*Any criticism is spurred only by jealousy. I have no problem here, I’ve been told that I look like Leo. I can’t see it, but who am I to argue? lol.

 

**okay, there’ll be several individuals reading this, probably. Thank God for mass media.

“This is the way that people are educated about issues nowadays. This is the main avenue for learning in today’s world.” I would just hope that enough people go to see them, so the studios will be encouraged to make more films like that in the future and that there is an audience for them and they are profitable.” Leonardo DiCaprio

 

“Our world faces a true planetary emergency. I know the phrase sounds shrill, and I know it’s a challenge to the moral imagination.” Al Gore

 

“It’s not just global warming, it’s not just a loss of biodiversity, it’s not just the pollution of our oceans and the clearing of our rainforests and all these complicated systems, The [11th Hour] movie talks about the world economy, it talks about politics, it talks about personal transformation and environmental consciousness that we need to have in this generation to implement a lot of these changes that need to occur.” Leonardo DiCaprio

 

Right, so I am piecing together some things; Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Four Noble Truths.  This synthesis has produced what I am calling the Four Noble Films.

 

Now the Four Noble Truths are central to Buddhist thought, starting with “Life is suffering” and ending with the “Noble Eightfold Path.” But of course they aren’t just a way to resolve suffering and achieve a mystical state of being; it is a pattern that can be used to resolve any problem. Physicians use a similar pattern to diagnose an illness and prescribe a cure for it.

 

The first step is to assess the problem or illness. In my Four Noble Films I have the first as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Here he’s saying “we have a problem, it’s called the Climate Crisis.”

 

The second step is to see where the problem comes from, the cause. Where does the problem of the Climate Crisis come from? Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour takes Al Gore’s film a bit further by saying “It’s the way we think, we need to change the way we think.” The Climate Crisis is just a symptom, and I think what was said in The 11th Hour hit the nail on the head.

 

The third and fourth step`s I haven’t come across yet and it’s be appreciated if anyone has seem them and can tell me LOL.  Well, the third step is an affirmative “we can resolve the problem.” And if there’s a film, it would show various examples of how individuals and groups of people can and have changed. The fourth step would show us how to resolve the climate change by resolving the cause. Now this doesn’t have to be a Climate Crisis based Noble Eightfold Path, there are plenty of other ways to do this, ways that can work through every level of human society.

 

To summarise the Four Noble Films;

First: An Inconveniant Truth; we have a problem, and it’s the Climate Crisis. We need to do something about it!

Second: The 11th Hour; we can change the way we live, how much energy we use, but these change the effects, not the cause. The cause is the way we think. We’re greedy, energy addicted materialists. This simply doesn’t work anymore. We need to change our mentality.

Third: Unknown; There are ways to changing thinking on individual and group levels.

Fourth: Unknown; One way is… Well, I’m working with Ecopsychology, Druidry and a Gaian worldview, and they work for me. What about you?

Anyway, I’d thoroughly recommend The 11th Hour. I was impressed by it. Even more impressed than Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.  I’m looking out for the next films, but not worrying if they don’t appear. In fact DON’T worry if they don’t appear; our need to resolve the climate crisis does not depend on films, and if it did we might well be doomed. No, the real answer lies with us and how we respond to it. As inspirational as the films are they are not the answer, that inspiration has to channel itself through each one of us and into the world to be of any use. Their “nobility” is not who made them or what they’re saying but the effect they can produce in us to resolve this situation.

 

Psychosynthesis Egg of Being or egg diagram

Psychosynthesis Egg of Being or "egg diagram"

“I suggest, to begin, that Ecopsychology is best thought of as a project, in the sense of a large multifaceted undertaking. This makes room for a great number of perspectives and interests and rules out the idea that Ecopsychology will ever resemble a traditional discipline.” Andy Fisher, Radical Ecopsychology

 

 

“Nature is always trying to reestablish harmony, and within the psyche the principle of synthesis is dominant. Irreconcilable opposites do not exist. The task of therapy is to aid the individual in transforming the personality, and integrating apparent contradictions.” Roberto Assagioli, The Golden Mean of Roberto Assagioli

 

“In one of his letters Freud said, “I am interested only in the basement of the human being.” Psychosynthesis is interested in the whole building. We try to build an elevator which will allow a person access to every level of his personality. After all, a building with only a basement is very limited. We want to open up the terrace where you can sun-bathe or look at the stars. Our concern is the synthesis of all areas of the personality. That means Psychosynthesis is holistic, global and inclusive. It is not against psychoanalysis or even behavior modification but it insists that the needs for meaning, for higher values, for a spiritual life, are as real as biological or social needs.” Roberto Assagioli, The Golden Mean of Roberto Assagioli

 

“Growth is hard, regression is easy.” Ken Wilber

 

Ecopsychology is not defined by any one person, by any one discipline, by any one method. Put simply, it is a bridge between ecology and psychology and whatever comes after this is up to a psychologist’s or ecologist’s own “perspectives and interests”. The Earth Sanctuary, where I live and work, is made up of people who have experience with Psychosynthesis (among other things). It is through this, and other experiences, that we hope to approach Ecopsychology.

 

What can Psychosynthesis do for Ecopsychology? The principle of synthesis for a start. Although Psychosynthesis is perhaps not very different from some other schools of psychological thought (its inclusive nature in fact incorporates many ideas and practices into it) it tends to talk about synthesis, mainly the synthesis of the personality, where we find ourselves having to adapt our personality to suit our situations. Psychosynthesis takes the resulting “subpersonalities,” as it calls them (a similar concept in Gestalt Therapy talks of “creative adjustments”), and through recognising and integrating them they might be reconciled with the whole of the personality. One such subpersonality or creative adjustment may be the suppression of an ecological identity or ego. Many urban people are so submerged in a human environment that they have lost an ecological perspective which has usually been a natural and healthy part of human existence. If we are to live harmoniously with the planet then one psychological work is to reintegrate this wider, more-than-human, perspective as a part of us by seeing ourselves as a part of the more-than-human world.

 

One exercise in Psychosynthesis is to draw your personal life history from present to past, to get a sense of your development through your life, seeing it as a coherent process rather than just a string of random events. This same exercise may be done with how humans have appeared in the universe. In one book I have, called Thinking Like a Mountain, there are a few meditations that try to facilitate just this, guiding us through various images that link us back into the natural processes of cosmic and ecological evolution. After all, humans belong in this universe because its laws and evolution make us possible. James Lovelock also did his own synthesis on the Earth’s evolution, but more as a scientific exercise than a meditation, in The Ages of Gaia. These can help us to gain a perspective on the history of things and help us re-identify ourselves as a part of this history, synthesising our presence within the greater whole. With the current atmosphere of globalisation, human history is undergoing its own process of global synthesis, where we can look back and see the various stages we have gone through as a coherent process; from our evolution in and dispersal from Africa, and subsequent diversification, to our current reconnection across the globe. Psychosynthesis has tools to help us see that cosmic, ecological, human and personal evolutions are part of a coherent, synthesised, process.

 

In Ecopsychology there is a concept called the ecological unconscious, described as “the living record of cosmic evolution, tracing back to distant initial conditions in the history of time.” (Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth). The structure of it has been determined by the nature of our universe as well as the psychological evolution of our species and beyond to the start of life. The previous ideas about identifying with ecological and cosmic evolution can help us reconnect with the ecological unconscious within us. But we have to be careful that this reconnection to the “bigger picture” doesn’t mean regressing or becoming a mere product in its unfolding. We can, instead, be a positive contributing factor in our personal lives and as a species.

The ecological unconscious is something new to Psychosynthesis, its model of the human psyche, called the Egg of Being, describes several “types” or “aspects” of the unconscious but nothing explicitly ecological. So where does the ecological unconscious fit into the Egg of Being? At first, because of its description as something related to the deep evolutionary past of life and the universe, I thought that it could be in the lowest part of the lower unconscious (1) which can represent the individual psyche’s unconscious past or the physical body. Unfortunately this is still not a very whole picture, it still leaves the middle (present/emotional-intellectual) unconscious and especially the upper (future/spiritual/transpersonal) unconscious as somehow not related to what the ecological unconscious represents. Our choice then remains to either regress when connecting with the ecological unconscious or to detach from it when pursuing “higher” evolution. In either case it fragments the psyche, “dissecting” the Egg of Being.

Since the ecological unconscious is a developing model, there is room to look at in various ways as people define it as it best works for them. The Egg of Being model is quite versatile in that it doesn’t just have to represent an individual but also can be used to look at the psychological dynamics of various things, such as human groups. We can also use the Egg to look at the ecological unconscious and give it not only a deep aspect but also a higher aspect of spiritual or transpersonal evolution. This is made possible because the nature of the universe includes this potential within it, not as something imposed on it from “out there” in some spiritual dimension separate from our universe. Therefore humans represent a part of the unfolding potential of the universe, emerging within the living Earth just as a flower might, and also within the human psyche the ecological unconscious can be seen to somehow be “omnipresent” providing it with its structure and evolutionary potential.  The whole process of the psyche is embedded in the ecological unconscious. To put it into other terms, personal and human evolution of the past, present and future, are all a part of the universe’s own evolution. Our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual evolution are contained within the greater picture of the universe’s evolutionary processes especially that of the living Earth’s, though it is by no means diminished for being so.

Psychology shouldn’t just be about therapy and healing, it should also be about how we open up to and develop our “higher” potential. Many people have worked with this in mind when working with Ecopsychology, sometimes calling it Transpersonal Ecopsychology or Econoetics, which you can find on the internet. Psychosynthesis can be one contribution to this, facilitating every level of our evolution and integrating that into the wider ecological evolution of our planet of which we are a part.

Further refence to Econoetics can be found as a three part series, which is part of some work done between myself and the author:

EcoNoetics- Part I http://earthsanctuary.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/673/

EcoNoetics- Part II http://earthsanctuary.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/econoetics-part-ii/

EcoNoetics- Part III http://earthsanctuary.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/econoetics-part-iii/