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December 09, 2011


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Hi Brian. It looks like you've shrunk reality into nature in this post. How could we ever push reality away or be 'insulated from reality'? And how would driving a scooter be more real then driving a car, or nature be more real then my living room?

My best,

Ruud, good questions. I'll admit that I used "nature" in several senses, not precisely.

I contrast natural with supernatural. That's one way of looking at "nature," as what is physical, material, part of the observable universe. So in that sense, yes, a nuclear power plant or your living room is natural.

Another sense is non-human-produced, as in "this is a natural, rather than artificial remedy." You take an herb rather than a drug. So your living room isn't natural, while the ocean is.

Then there's another sense: perceptions of the world, versus thoughts about it. This is kind of difficult to describe, but it feels right to me. When I ride my scooter, my senses (sight, touch, hearing, etc) are alive in a different fashion than when I drive my car.

In the car, I'm more prone to focus on my own mind. I listen to talk radio. I think about stuff. I'm much more insulated from the outside world inside what motorcyclists call a "cage." So riding the scooter feels more natural, because I'm more attuned to sensations rather than mental goings-on.

Hope this explains what I meant by "nature" a bit more clearly. You're right: I wasn't very precise about this.

Brian, thanks for the explanation, and for taking the time to answer.The thing that triggered my comment was your use of 'reality'. Wearing thin shoes or driving a scooter gets you closer to nature, not closer to reality in my opinion. In a car you are insulated from the weather, from nature maybe, but not from reality. A ride in a car is just as 'real' as a drive on a scooter, but of course you are more exposed to, or insulated from the weather, or nature, if you like.
The really real reality is everything. You can not separate yourself from it by wearing the wrong clothes or driving a car;)

my best,

Ruud, I hear you. And philosophically I agree with you. Experientially, though, I sure feel different when I'm out in nature, as contrasted with being in the "built" environment.

Last night there was a full moon. Near the end of my usual two mile dog walk around a loop road in our rural area, I looked up and saw the bright quasi-orange moon just above the horizon, straight ahead, just over a big oak tree. It was below freezing. The wind was whistling through fir branches.

At that moment everything seemed absolutely right with the world. I don't get that feeling when I walk down a city sidewalk. Maybe I should, if "should" means anything when it comes to feelings like this. Anyway, that's why I make a distinction between non-human nature and what humans have naturally created.

I just have different experiences with them.

Brian, thanks again (and I promise, I'll stop nagging you after this....)

In the end, what's the difference between embracing a mystical believe and 'embracing Mother Nature' (or 'connecting with the earth')? Aren't they both romantic ways of distancing yourself 'from nasty, dirty, impure, imperfect physical stuff'?

Get really real...there is no such thing as Mother Nature!


What would be an exact example of a mystical belief? I don't see a problem with connecting with nature. Within nature, one is going to find all kinds of physical stuff.

Do we always need to be in a constant state of being really really real?

Brian, mystical belief was my shortcut for 'religions, mystical practices, and spiritual paths', sorry for being unclear.

No need for a state, we are always already really real:)

I like the Nilch by the way, see if I can find them here in the Netherlands.

take care,

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