IS NATURE OUTSIDE OF US?

ACCORDING TO DAOIST/TAOIST TEACHINGS...NO

To answer this for ourselves though, first we need to define what we think of when we imagine ‘nature’. Is it only the earth, animals, plants, atmosphere and bodies of water? Or is it also our intuition, essence, character; our human nature? And is our external environment just an extension of our inner state? 

Mostly we separate ourselves, moving through our lives as if we are severed from our outside world. We take ourselves out for walks, we go in search of wilderness needing to bathe in the rays of the natural kingdom. What we often forget, is that we can find this inside of us. To go within, is to connect with nature. We are seamlessly one with the beauty of the universe, the cosmos and our fellow beings. 

Everything in the universe is within you - Rumi

We crave being with greenery. We need fresh air, sea breezes, dewy grass smushed underneath our feet. We tend to crave what we lack, but our search to fill this hole is never ending, for nature isn’t missing from us at all. What’s absent is our awe of self.

We’re drawn to what we intuitively are. We feel at peace when we’re in our true home. We restore and replenish. Like a battery needing to charge, we are energised by swimming in the dappled moon light of a thousand trees, in the park at the end the road.

to forget how to dig the earth is to forget ourselves - Mahatma Gandhi

In Daoism/Taoism, the thread of nature unstoppably linking everything is observed as an amalgamation of the Yin and Yang and Five Element Cycle : Wood (Spring, Birth) – Fire (Summer, Climax) – Earth (Harvest, Comfort)  – Metal (Autumn, Release) – Water (Winter, Rest).

Life is made up of continuous sequences of birth and rest, Yin and Yang. Nature is just a bunch of cycles, flowing constantly around us, and within us.

Seasons change from Spring to Summer, Autumn to Winter. Menstrual cycles recur each month; building the anticipation of potential life then the hope being released, letting go of creation. The moon and its many phases repeat; waxing to waning, and we gasp at its beauty, regardless of how full or how thin its crescent. Each day, the rise and fall of the sun; we wake, we work, we wind down and we sleep.

Forest fires ignite the beginnings of dormant plants. The ocean tides swell and empty themselves. The lustful growth of lovers, that burn out and turn dry if not watered. The caterpillar metamorphoses into the butterfly after first sacrificing its life. 

Nature is patiently changing, fluctuating and adapting how best to survive in its current climate. Just like us. Our existence is no different. In the every day, month to month and spread across our lifetimes we flow through the cycle of the Five Elements. Chunk it up or refine it down, it is always a formation of a life to death cycle.

WE DELIGHT IN THE BEAUTY OF THE BUTTERFLY, BUT RARELY ADMIT THE CHANGES IT HAS GONE THROUGH TO ACHIEVE THAT BEAUTY - MAYA ANGELOU

When we stop opposing change and the cyclical nature of life, when we listen and accept the ebbs and flows and see the beauty in our process, like we appreciate each season, we understand it is the way of life, rather than an unpredictable inconvenience of random highs and lows. We know the pattern – the sun always shines after the storm and the flowers will always die. The buds will then bloom again after winter, as long as the conditions are nourishing.

When we admire our own shedding layers like we’re mesmerised by the golden leaves falling from the trees every year, we give ourselves the best chance of sprouting. When we lean in, instead of resisting, when we take care and nurture ourselves like we do our gardens, our house plants and our children; that is when we flourish.

IN CHINESE MEDICINE, THE BODY IS SEEN AS A GARDEN. IF THE LEAVES ARE WILTING OR TURNING BROWN, YOU EXAMINE THE CONDITION OF THE SOIL, SEE IF THE PLANT IS GETTING ENOUGH WATER & SUN OR IF THE ROOTS ARE BEING IMPINGED UPON. YOU DON'T JUST PAINT THE LEAVES GREEN - HARRIET BEINFIELD

Go be in nature, whenever you can. Touch the bark of wise trees, find shapes in the clouds, be grateful for the rain, but remember the reason why going outside revives you. The nature without ourselves doesn’t hold anything more magical than the elements we hold within. See them, listen to them, love them, nourish them. For those elements are you, as nature is not outside of us. 

Last Updated: November 2020

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