Section 2: Natural Living
beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the
world, as in being able to remake ourselves.” – M.K. Gandhi
Every great journey begins with the first step. Find your inspiration
in the constant rebirth of nature all around you. We must see again
with new eyes. We must rebuild our thoughts on the foundation of
truth . All the answers exist in nature, in our heritage, and in
our technology. The answers are all out there. All we need to do
is take the first step.
Take the time to learn about your connection with nature by stopping
to watch the sun rise or set. Be aware of the true causes of problems
in the world. Be skeptical of anyone who says it is impossible.
Even the best among us may be mired in cynicism, wrapped up in ego,
or thinking too conventionally. Keep in mind that we may be misinformed.
Don’t be deceived by one-sided reporting on issues. Know that there
is more to life than the money it costs to buy something. The things
of daily life are wonderful things that we should take care to do
with all our heart. You know what is right. Do what is right.
How do I know this? When I ask myself, “What is the purpose of
my life?” The simple answer comes back, the life of my children.
It is the same as it has always been and it always will be. It is
the same as for bacteria, plants, insects, birds and all other forms
of life. Our primary purpose is the creation, preservation, nurturing
and propagation of life. The purpose of life is to live as well
as we possibly can.
The first step, I propose, is to embark on a path that reduces
the complexities to a level that we can understand. By focusing
our attention on the essential purpose of life, we will recover
our awareness of nature . The essential elements of life, even our
complex modern ones, are still the food we eat, the home that shelters
us, the type of transportation we choose, and finally our life’s
work. In all of these we must consider how we can best serve the
needs of our lives so that we may create a nurturing environment
for our children and their children. In our choice of food, the
homes we build, the cars we drive, and the work that pays the bills,
we must ask ourselves, does this truly support our purpose? And
if it does not, then we must choose to change our ways, creatively.
Some of the best things in life can be found in sharing food with
family and friends, finding happiness by exploring natural places,
having fun by playing in water, creating, loving and even just being.
These things are the basis of a fulfilling life based on the purposes
of creation. Many creatures in nature demonstrate these same traits.
I’ve learned to have fun and even laugh at myself in relation to
the many things that I’ve changed in quiet contradiction to the
norms all around me. I remain humble in the face of nature and people
who every day teach me something new. But yes, the issues of preserving
life on this planet are very serious. Given the grave consequences
of ignoring the warning signs and knowing that our purpose is creating
and preserving life and nature, surely you will agree we must act
now. To this task I propose, based on my direct experience, learning
from many mistakes, the following step by step process. These steps
offer a fun, simple, and effective system for living naturally as
you apply it in your own creative way.
This section combines the steps that you can take, as my family
has, in order to make the changes necessary to create a lifestyle
that connects you with the wonders of life and is in harmony with
Listen to silence. Find a quiet place and listen to the silence
of nature , full of life, full of music. Take some time to think
about who you are, what you are doing, and why. What is your purpose
in life? What talent do you have that, when you do it, puts you
into such deep focus and enjoyment, that you don’t notice the passage
Plan to take next weekend off, completely off. Go for a walk in
nature . Make it a long walk as deep into nature as you can. After
walking into nature for several hours, away from other people, stop,
listen, and look around. Don’t think. Simply be aware of nature,
life, rocks, leaves, sun , wind, wild flowers, leaves, grass, birds
chirping and your heart beating . What value and beauty do you
feel? Can you sense your connection to this force in nature that
creates life? You can notice it when you tap into the harmonics
So maybe that seems a bit over the top. It worked for me when their
seemed to be no other answers. Alone in nature I was re-awakened
to a primitive driving force within me to nurture and preserve life.
By feeling nature’s pulse I found the energy and understanding
I needed for the battles ahead.
Another way I like to connect to nature , one that may be more
accessible to you on a regular basis, is to start by walking down
to the local coffee shop. Buy your own reusable mug with a lid if
you don’t have one already. Select one of the organic coffees.
If you can, sit outside in a sunny spot. If it is too cold, then
simply sit near the window . Sip your coffee and observe, without
thinking, without judging. Let the caffeine infuse your arteries
with that positive energy boost. Then simply be. Dream. Love what
you see around you. You are connected to all of nature, the little
weed in a crack on the sidewalk, yes the people, the cars, trucks,
buses and even the small puddle with birds playing in it.
More than anything it is a reconnection with nature . You are a
part of Gaia, the living earth. Take notice of it when you swim,
through the plants you eat, in the warmth of the sun on your face,
and when you hold someone, mother to son, father to daughter, and
lover to lover. We are all one. We are all connected through time,
space and matter as one in nature. The intelligence of life, the
creativity of ever diversifying life forms is intimately connected
to everything else in the universe. Something in this nature we
share connects everything to everything. Our goal must be to find
these connections . Our perception of individuality is not real.
We are both metaphorically and scientifically one with the broader
context of nature as a whole. Two implications are: First, that
the harm and destruction we inflict on nature injures us all as
a whole. Second, that our actions towards the healing process individually
will heal the whole of nature.
Stop everything! You need not do anything!
The first step is awareness. This means being aware of nature and
your connection to everybody and everything else. Be more thoughtful
about your actions. Connection to nature is easily felt by simply
removing all thought and focusing on your breathing as your lungs
make the connection with air which is connected to the infinite.
Awareness provides you with the knowledge, intelligence, compassion,
empathy and feelings needed to desire, through love, to protect
your greater self, called nature.
This connection became clear to me during the birth of my children.
This epiphany is the first step along the path of Natural Living.
Without this first step the other steps may be too difficult since
they are built on the foundation of awareness. Only with awareness
of your connections , as you go about the process of living, can
the rest of these steps continue to make sense.
There are some essential features of all our daily lives including
eating food , sleeping in a home, getting to work, and the work
we do to earn a living. These common activities are the most damaging
to nature . This correlation makes sense. The activities that are
common to all people create the largest stream of consumer activity.
The main activities of our lives include providing a home for our
families in which we share family meals. Eating food is essential
for all life. These two natural activities are at the root of life,
all life in one form or another. For humanity, however, two other
major activities have been created by modern civilization. These
modern activities include the need to work, to earn money, to pay
for a home and food. Also, the majority of us must use some form
of mechanical transportation , such as a car, motorcycle, truck,
bus, train or plane now that there are so many of us living and
working in different places.
Our modern civilization, despite the many advances, has at its
core the need to provide for the essentials of life. These are primarily
the need for clean air, nutritious food , fresh water, solid shelter
and some rest. As it turns out these ancient essential activities,
given our vast billions in number, create the largest impact on
nature . We can well do without television, video games, and alcoholic
beverages which are massive consumer activities. However, we can
never do without food to sustain us, a shelter of some kind, work
to pay for it or transportation to get us from one to the other.
That’s why these activities end up being the most problematic activities.
Since these activities are the root of the problem the greatest
impact can be made by addressing them first. That doesn’t mean doing
without, but it does mean asking deep and hard questions about each
and every aspect of these cornerstones of our lives if we desire
to find a future for our children.
That is why Natural Living revolves around these essential
activities of daily life:
Food – Switch to organically grown natural
healthy local products.
Home – Transform your living space so that
it uses energy efficiently, is created from natural renewable materials,
and provides a healthy and inspiring place to live.
Transportation – Take the necessary
steps to better use public transit . Whenever possible avoid the
use of a car. If a car is required make the switch to an ultra low
emissions vehicle or better with your next purchase.
Work – Do what you love to do. Ensure that
this activity is life supportive. Make plans to change the work
you do to be supportive of a sustainable society in the long run.
Live near where your work.
In order to make these changes, it’s necessary
to change our mode of thinking. So much of what we do every day
seems routine and common to everyone. Most of the systems that form
the fabric of our societies support these common routines. These
engrained systems aren’t normally visible. We don’t even consider
them, since they seem so normal. Unfortunately many of the normal
things of every day life have developed from the abnormal until
they’re perceived as normal. We need to break these linked systems
in order to change the essential activities of our lives.
The glue that links together the essential activities of Natural
Living includes four principle changes in the way we think.
Actually, these aren’t changes at all; they are more of a reawakening
to the essentials of a life worth living. After all, it is a search
for the good life, a life that creates and sustains life that is
at the heart of Natural Living. In order to find the path,
the life force that holds nature together for people, we must consciously
adjust our way of thinking. Unlike most forms of life in nature,
humanity has the responsibility of a brain as our niche survival
trait. This brain has advanced so far that, combined with our large
numbers, the machines we’ve created, and the new ways we transform
nature, we have the power to destroy ourselves. Of course that
same brain, when applied creatively with a broad understanding of
our connections to nature, has the power to be not only life-sustaining,
but the greatest celebration of life through awareness of life itself.
That’s why the four steps that bind together the activities of
Natural Living revolve around the way we use our brains.
Awareness – Use your reasoning powers in order
to get beyond your self, to move beyond self awareness, into a universal
awareness of your connection to nature . This evening, my daughter
explained it to me this way: “We breathe in oxygen from the air
and breathe out carbon dioxide for the plants to breathe in our
carbon dioxide and then they breathe out oxygen for us to breathe
in again.” We as a species are symbiotic with the plants all around
us. Think of it!
Plan –The power resides in each of us to
take the first steps. We must plan to make changes in these essential
aspects of our lives through these first steps, and all the remaining
steps of our lives. Planning is our connection to the element of
time—so relevant to life’s trans-formative powers.
Choice – Make choices consciously in every
moment, with a full awareness of your connection to nature . Making
choices consciously breaks the binds of illusion built into the
routines of daily life.
Creativity – In making the choices of daily
life, apply the full depth and power of your creativity, to find
the broad array of your connections . We need the power of creativity
to help us find new answers or rediscover old answers.
These are the steps of Natural Living. Before
getting into the details of these steps the next chapter provides
you with a quick start guide. If you are like me you’ll want to
get started right away. The next chapter provides first a short
term step by step summary of actions you can take along with their
associated benefits. Then a long term step by step summary of actions
are provided that enable you to make the deeper changes we all must
make in order to create a sustainable world. These one page guides
are designed to give you a quick reference to the most essential
information on the steps of Natural Living to make it easy
for you to review each day.
The following tables provide a quick summary of the Natural
Living action plan. The first column is a reference to the most
significant consumer activities or “Life Activities” that are currently
destroying nature . The second column, “Take Action”, provides a
simple list of priority first steps that will make a major impact.
The third column, “Results and Benefits” summarizes some things
you can expect to accomplish.
First Steps, are simple and easy things we can all do to
start along the path of Natural Living. The second table
(not included in these sample pages on the web), Natural Living,
is a list of priority steps that provide goals which you can set
your sights on achieving throughout your life. These represent the
essential elements of Natural Living and will result in the
vision outlined in the introduction. Ultimately Natural Living
reverses the current trend towards the destruction of nature and
moves us to a restoration of nature and our reestablishment of reverence
All it takes is for a few million of us to do these things, and
those few million to encourage a few billion to join us, and that
changes everything. Considering the so called “six degrees of separation”,
making this change happen globally isn’t that hard to imagine. Through
many projects in my own life, I’ve often heard, (as I am sure you
have) that “it can’t be done...it won’t work….it costs too much”.
And yet, in most of these cases those precise thoughts have been
proven wrong. It can and must be done. “Can’t”, “won’t” and “costs
too much”, are indications that creative solutions exist waiting
to be discovered. Change for most of us is difficult to deal with
emotionally since it means confronting the unknown. The wonderful
part is that once we confront this fear we are rewarded with the
creative energy to continue.
Take action today by cutting out the First Steps table.
Post it on the fridge at home or in your office, and try to make
progress each day towards achieving some of these changes. When
you’ve achieved some success with the first steps, then begin to
focus on the Natural Living steps in the second table. As
you achieve these steps celebrate the many benefits you and nature
Review these tables and keep them in mind each day. Then you can
return to the following chapter to find specifics and details on
ways you can achieve Natural Living. Or, after reviewing
these tables you may want to skip to section three, which records
the experiences of my family, and learn about our journey. It can
be done. We all can do it.
Results and Benefits
Transportation by Cars
and Light Trucks
transit or car pool once per week. Purchase
an efficient vehicle that meets your needs. Avoid trucks and
truck-like vehicles such as SUV’s.
transportation costs. Reduces pollution
. Sends a message to two of the worlds largest and
most destructive industries, car and oil companies.
Meat and Poultry Food Consumption
one day a week. This results in a 10% reduction
in meat consumption.
less hamburger a week could potentially be saving over two-and-a-half
thousand square feet of rainforest, while preventing an additional
26,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
Also, the decrease in meat in your diet
substantially reduces your consumption of pesticides, hormones,
and animal antibiotics. Pesticides alone accumulate in meat
at 9 times greater levels than in vegetables and grains. Less
meat is better for your health . (Your Heart Your Planet)
Fruit, Vegetables and Grains Food Consumption
eat organic carrots, tomatoes, lettuce,
bananas, cereals and apple sauce. These are readily available
at most large main stream super markets.
vegetables taste better. Eliminating most fertilizers,
herbicides and pesticides will improve your family’s health
and that of the agricultural environment where
these foods are grown. Organic farming practices ensure improved
soil conditions rather than the loss of soil related to conventional
Home Heating, Hot Water and Air Conditioning
better ventilate your home in order to reduce your heating
and cooling energy requirements.
use of fossil fuels that generate carbon
emissions at the heart of global warming. Done
on a large scale, these changes significantly reduce the amount
of polluting emissions created by these processes.
Household Appliances and Lighting
new appliances, especially your refrigerator, select the most
efficient model available. Check the “EnerGuide” ratings for
energy usage and expected savings.
energy usage will save you some money.
The reduced electricity demand will mean less pollution from
the power plants and less wasted energy in the
gigantic power grid. Your refrigerator is most important because
it is running all the time.
renewable materials to furnish your home. Try using recycled
furniture, improve insulation levels, and improve the use
of passive solar design including
better insulating windows if renovations are required.
The use of
renewable materials or recycled materials dramatically reduces
the need to extract these materials from the earth. Reduced
pollution and less waste will be created.
Insulation and passive solar features in a home
will significantly reduce the energy requirements
reducing the pollution and costs.
Household Water and Sewage
flow shower heads and taps. Make sure that all toilets require
no more than 6 liters of water for each flush. Transform your
garden into a naturalized landscape that requires little or
will be reduced leaving this precious resource in a cleaner
state. By naturalizing your garden, far less water will be
wasted on plants that aren’t native to your local area. Also,
by eliminating the need to use pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer
in the naturalized garden, less water will be contaminated
by these substances.
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