philosophy from the mind of steve:
Since my early years growing up, I have been an avid hiker and wilderness explorer. This has remained a constant thread in my physical existence, and therefore instilled within a deep appreciation and love of the natural world. Through this melding with my planet and universe, I receive strength at times when the workings of modern human activity conspire to overwhelm my inner serenity. I do not tire of the beauty and order to be found in the wilds. They speak to me.
Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.
I am a naturalist at heart, a worldview that certainly was initially fostered by my father who is in heaven, or at least somewhere other than here in some form other than how I knew him. Those days of yore under the splendid Mojave night sky, where he taught me what he knew of the universe and life, clearly had a lasting impact on a young mind. My dad would be 92 now had he lived.
As a naturalist, someone who lives in accord with they ways of the natural world, or at least genuinely strives to do his best at it as contemporary circumstances allow, I assess my world according to what seems to be natural, without contrived human belief systems or demands. My philosophy has a core of moving beyond self to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Of course, a powerful sense of self, commonly referred to as ego, is natural, as evidenced by the fact that we all have ego states that seem to endlessly control our thoughts and actions. Our selves want what is best for us, or what they believe is best based on our past upbringing and experiences. Escaping this prison of separation, as Albert Einstein referred to it, is not easy, again witnessed by the fact that hardly anyone is successful at doing so. Only enlightened spiritual masters or gurus seem to have perfected the path.
Being one who frequents the natural world beyond the city limits, often far beyond, I find it easier than many folks in finding a more relaxed and selfless way. How can one be overflowing with self in the boundless magnificence of the natural world? I am insignificant, and it becomes evident once away from the established psychological fortresses of human civilizations, away from the modern conveniences of electronic communication devices and my little self constructed world of self importance. In the wilds, human protections are gone.
I am just another creature out here in the wild places, one tiny aspect of life abounding throughout the infinite universe, one of thirty million other species with which I share the planet. I am no better than any other life because it is not “other” life – we are all life as a collective. It is precisely this knowledge of my place that has been key in calming my mind when contemplating the dreaded end of life scenario we all must face, and it is an essential reason that I began following a new path to inner enlightenment, and consequently wrote the book Bioform, as a means of clarification and sharing. I did not choose to be in this life, but now that I am here, I feel that one of my purposes is to transcend the routines of typical human existence that affect affluent nations, and discover peace in the present moment.
Viewing life from a naturalistic standpoint also highlights the faulty logic of human utopias and the potential to establish them. We know utopia to be a mythological condition, and if we look to the natural world, the animal kingdom specifically, we can see this demonstrated there as well. No matter how much we wish the lion could lie down with the lamb, it cannot happen because the lion has to eat somehow, although interestingly, I have seen wildlife photographs of three young male cheetahs gently lounging with a young antelope, a prey that they could have swiftly dispatched and eaten had they been hungry. Of course, such situations are rare, and the law of life, that of tooth and claw, prevails the vast majority of the time. Death is a natural aspect of life’s continuum, but humans are the premier species for serving up mega death for purposes other than the needs of survival. We frequently kill to boost our collective ego needs in the form of nationalistic expansion or religious purification.
My lifestyle for my own enjoyment should not be one that impinges on the lives of others. I do not want to harm anyone or anything because of my actions. This comes from my love of nature and my desire to respect life, one of the three tenets by which I live: Respect Life – Share Peace – Live Now. In 2008, about 20,800 days into my physical life, I took a major step in this direction by selling my petroleum burning automobile, wishing to no longer destroy the common and finite air supply most living bioforms on this planet need to breathe to remain living. I replaced it with a human powered recumbent tricycle, a move that practically no one else would even consider in this day and age of rapid and effortless travel as our bodies grow soft and weak.
This had an interesting effect on my mind, for while pedaling many miles cross country to visit my mom and sister a couple states distant, it became apparent that I was even more in tune with nature as I progressed along the roadside. My seat is only 7.5 inches from the ground, and I can reach out and touch plants as I pedal by. I am out in nature as I ride, not contained in a toxic car as I speed along oblivious to life outside. I produce no toxins, powered by rice and beans rather than petroleum and chemicals. I make no noise. I move along slowly, contemplating my existence, becoming increasingly healthier with each pedal stroke.
As I continue through this physical life I call my own, I find that my naturalistic views are moving me farther from the status quo of my culture in many ways. I no longer wish to contribute to problems that are not respectful of life, and while such an ideological stance is by no means easy for me to put into actual practice, I find significant inner rewards through accepting the challenges of living in a simpler manner than what is expected by intelligent people of affluent nations such as America.
I have read that if the entire human population of this planet pursued the same materialistic lifestyles of the average American, it would require four Earth planets to provide the natural resources we would need to sustain the extreme overindulgence. The self constantly tells us that we need ever more material goods to enrich our quality of life, and the more we have, the happier we will be. This mindset also finds roots in our hidden need to call attention to ourselves, something we all did in early childhood: “Mommy, daddy, look at me! Look what I can do!” By having bigger houses and fancier cars, we single ourselves out as more successful than those around us, many of whom envy our lavish possessions, all while a large percentage of the world’s people is living in poverty and dying of malnutrition. Statistics are revealing for those who take the time to look and think.
The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.
The people of this country in which I reside are a minority planetwide, yet we use the majority of our finite planetary resources. About seven percent of Earth’s population own 60% of the land, use 80% of the harvested planetary energy, and enjoy most of the luxuries. Seventy percent of humans have no potable drinking water in their homes. Ninety percent do not speak the English language. And, while you are reading this, realize that 65% of the people here do not have that ability, regardless of language – they do not know how to read. Interesting also is that only about 1% of all human beings have a university education. Oh, and one more tidbit: 60% of us are existing on 10% of the Earth’s land. There just may be some better ways, but we sure have not found them yet. Simplicity and nature perhaps?
The drain on our finite planet is vividly showcased in affluent societies where the mark of national success is linked directly to the economic status of the country; the more money we all spend and the more goods we all buy, the more successful we all are. The Democratic Party currently in control of America, despite promises for change, continues to refer to its citizens as consumers rather than citizens.
We are consumers, a term that many with the enlightened comprehension of our need for balance with the natural world consider a personal affront. If we want to be a good consumer, we must, of course do what? Well, we must of course consume, and the more we consume, the more we help the country’s economic success. We are doing the patriotic thing, after all, even though it is rapidly draining resources and drinking up our pond. And if we consider the planned obsolescence built into goods in order to keep the money flowing into corporate vaults, things are truly accelerated. Any society that uses consumption of limited resources as its marker of success is ultimately, by definition, doomed to collapse. It’s only a matter of time for us.
For many years I have enjoyed the final stanza of a little poem by the famous poet Robert Service, a man who had a way with words. He talked about being soaked in custom, as most of us are, and how perhaps the wild places might silently call us to a new reality. Here is his poem:
They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching –
But can’t you hear the Wild? – it’s calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling . . . Let us go.
My love of the natural world, of nature, of all the wondrous bioforms and landforms of my planet and universe, has resulted in my essence as a naturalist, one who views life from a naturalistic stance. Often, if perplexed over a certain issue, I will question myself as to whether it is natural, to assist in finding an answer. This does not always work, but often comes in handy for me.
If you find my ideas here personally helpful, you may enjoy the 332 page book in which I detail my philosophy of life, Bioform.