Unselfing, love, and the sacred

This week’s five explorations at the intersection, of nature, art and wisdom.

“There is nothing now but kestrel”

I was reminded of this wonderful quote from Iris Murdoch on how the beauty of art and nature provokes “unselfing”. In my opinion, getting out of the self’s way is critical to the deeper connection we need with nature – and with art.

"Beauty is the convenient and traditional name of something which art and nature share, and which gives a fairly clear sense to the idea of quality of experience and change of consciousness. I am looking out of my window in an anxious and resentful state of mind, oblivious of my surroundings, brooding perhaps on some damage done to my prestige. Then suddenly I observe a hovering kestrel. In a moment everything is altered. The brooding self with its hurt vanity has disappeared. There is nothing now but kestrel. And when I return to thinking of the other matter it seems less important. And of course this is something which we may also do deliberately: give attention to nature in order to clear our minds of selfish care." (mailchi.mp, Iris Murdoch on How Nature and Art Allow Us to "Unself," Ursula K. Le Guin's Playful and Poignant Letter-Poem About Why We Read, and a Life-Straw)

Read more: https://www.themarginalian.org/2019/10/21/iris-murdoch-unselfing/

Lose yourself, allow love, defend love

I discovered Donella Meadows, co-author of The Club of Rome’s report, The Limits to Growth, this week. Perhaps seen as a development of the Murdoch quote above, Meadows suggests this unselfing is love. And love is what you defend.

"I can think of only one word for the experience of being so swept away by something outside yourself that your inner chatter ceases, time stops, you forget who you are, where you are, or even that you are. The word is love. Whatever person or thing, sunset or cathedral, symphony or ski-slope, fills you with that kind of ecstatic self-unconsciousness is something you love. You will go to astounding lengths to defend the possibility of having that experience again — and of others having it." (The Academy for Systems Change, Turtles, Eagles, Whales, Love, and Power)

Link: https://donellameadows.org/archives/turtles-eagles-whales-love-and-power/

“Man must love all creation or he will love none of it.”

We have a lot to learn from indigenous people, from around the world. Such as Chief Dan George – and this quote:

"It is hard for me to understand a culture that not only hates and fights his brothers but even attacks Nature and abuses her. Man must love all creation or he will  love none of it. Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it. Without love our self esteem weakens. Without it our courage fails. Without love we can no longer look out confidently at the world. Instead we turn inwardly and begin to feed upon our own personalities and little by little we destroy ourselves." - Chief Dan George.

More about Chief Dan George: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Dan_George

Considering the sacred

One of reasons we’re in a mess as a society is that we don’t measure what matters. If dollars and cents aren’t where it’s at (and we know that to be true, even if we don’t dare say it out loud), then what do we measure? Can we measure the stuff that moves the dials of our souls? Can we measure the sacred? Should we forget about measuring altogether? Paul Kingsnorth is always an interesting read.

"Speaking the language of the dominant culture, the culture of human empire that measures everything it sees and demands a return, is not a clever trick but a clever trap. Omit that sense of the sacred in nature – play it down, diminish it, laugh nervously when it is mentioned – and you are lost, and so is the world that moved you to save it for reasons you are never quite able to explain." (Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays)

Link: https://www.paulkingsnorth.net/confession

The Tuscon Color Journal

Loving the illustrations of Paula Borchardt. Here is her Tucson Color Journal. Every day for a year she painted one colour that represented something from nature she saw in or from her yard. Noticing is where it all starts, and actively noticing colours is a great way to do it.

© 2022 Paula Borchardt

Link: http://paulaborchardt.com/illustration/tucson.html#tucson-color-journal