Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jim Conrad, Naturalist

Some time ago I signed up for Jim Conrad's weekly Naturalist Newsletter. Jim is one of those lucky individuals who have the courage of their conviction. He spends every waking moment doing something he loves. He attained this freedom when he realized that some things are more important than money.

I often marvel at how Jim's views and mine are so closely aligned although my convictions seem to waver. I still heavily favor my creature comforts!  But he seems to take the thoughts right out of my head and express them much more eloquently than I ever could.

This is just an excerpt from his Nov 1, 2009 edition. To see more of Jim's free newsletters go to his web site


by Jim Conrad, from his Newsletter

For years I've heard about Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code so when I stumbled upon a website offering it as a free text download I grabbed it. Finally I know why everyone wants to take a new look at Da Vinci's "The Last Supper." The novel has spawned a whole new generation of conspiracy theories, plus there's a spate of new books and websites either debunking The Da Vince Code's most provocative assertions, or embellishing them. It looks like most people just don't know who or what to believe.

At the same time I was reading The Da Vince Code, poll results came out reporting that despite an avalanche of scientific data documenting the effects of global warming, people believing that there is solid evidence that Earth's average temperature has increased over the past few decades has dropped from 71% last year to only 57% today.

Moreover, in the current public debate on healthcare issues, one side says one thing as the other says the opposite, and opinion seems to track with the side spending most on TV ads. Also I hear on National Public Radio that about half of North Americans believe in ghosts.

It seems that this may be yet another of those yin/yang situations: The more information we have, the less capable we are of processing it. As the information explosion continues, maybe average people will lose their ability to deal with information so completely that they'll become as superstitious, functionally ignorant and vulnerable to manipulation by truth-bearing "illuminati" as our ancient ancestors.

That doesn't have to be the case, however, for Nature offers us all the truths we really need. Moreover, if anything on Earth is trustworthy, surely it is Nature, for Nature is the Creator's most profound and immediate Creation. Nature's structure, the evolutionary trends She manifests, and the spiritual insights She inspires within each of us spontaneously, reveal truths enough to guide us through meaningful, enriched and enlightened lives.

Nature's structure reveals sacred patterns, the most obvious being those of recycling, the sanctity of diversity, and the recognition of mutual interdependency among all components of the biosphere.

Nature's Earthly evolutionary history reveals to us aspects of the "Creator's plan." Maybe the most transfixing feature of this history is the fact that throughout Earth's biological evolution species have arisen with ever more intense awareness of their own context, and with ever greater capacities for feeling creative inspiration. This trend amounts to a spiritual imperative for each of us personally: To harmonize our own lives with the flow of Earthly evolution by always struggling to know more, to understand more, to feel more...

Surely spiritual insights gained by reflecting on Nature's nature inevitably vary from person to person, because we are all programmed to interpret the input of our senses differently. Among my own most useful spiritual insights are those based on The Six Miracles of Nature, which I outline and annotate at http://www.backyardnature.net/j/6/.

Those Six Miracles, to me, reveal a Universe more mysterious, more generous and more beautiful than my little brain can grasp. Meditation on them has bestowed me with a satisfying spiritual rootedness, and a profound reverence for The Creative Impulse. And when I find myself wondering about "the meaning of it all," sometimes I glance that Meaning by imagining what form the Seventh Miracle may someday take.


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