It is a sunny, spring day. The grass is warm to sit on and there are birds, butterflies and bees busy doing their bit to fill the moment with a variety of sounds to enjoy. The sky is a wonderful blue with only an occasional puff of cloud drifting north. What a lovely scene. What shall we focus on? Shall we focus on the utter awesome beauty of it all or the suffering that is the underlying structure of such a scene? While I sit in the sun, bugs are killing other bugs. Birds are eating those bugs who survive. Birds, when they are not busy finding food for themselves and their offspring, are busy trying to avoid cats and other creatures that want to eat them. Big creatures and small creatures struggle daily, to survive. I don’t suppose they have time to sit and be amazed by the awesomeness of the living moment. It’s not easy for humans either. Suffering is a part of our lives. Our happiness is fragmented. For many, happiness is a rare thing.
Getting here was no walk in the park. Evolution in not an ethical system but a process to ensure life continues. Nature certainly has a dark side. So why do we sit and venerate our moments in nature? How do poets and writers manage to find hidden in this relentless fight for survival, such meaning and beauty? Maybe it is because we are, all of us, overwhelmed by that unanswerable question: Why is there something rather than nothing?
I confess to believing in God. The philosopher’s God. Religion focuses mainly on human-God relationships based on certain historical events. Philosophy does not have this limitation. Philosophy always begins an inquiry from a blank page – although often building upon established ideas. As I sit on the grass I think of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Marion and others. All of them overwhelmed by the savage beauty of nature, the potential of humanity and the mystery that surrounds every single moment of our lives.
Humans live by story. We understand the world and ourselves through the narratives that bind us together as a society. Maybe we rely too much on story? Maybe if we could, for a moment, stop putting ourselves out there and writing ourselves into the public book of social narratives, we might find that it is in those small moments of intimacy with nature and reality, we discover who we really are.
The story of the universe and humanity did not begin at some point in the past with the big-bang. The story of the universe begins in the present moment as the ground of our experience. I believe we are looking in the wrong place to understand who we are. History does not have the answer, the moment does.
I live in a village surrounded by fells populated by grouse. They have adapted particularly well to their environment. I am beginning to believe that humanity, despite its amazing achievements, has not adapted as well as the grouse. Not because we haven’t succeeded, quite obviously we have. But because we have succeeded without truly understanding what we are and how we fit in with the rest of nature. What if we have built the wrong world? What if we had built a world as amazing as the one we have, but better? A world that reflects our own true natures and not those of the characters we have created for an engineered story.