“Without “non-paper elements,” like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.” Thich Nhat Hanh
We, as humans, have lived in the planet with the common goal of taking advantage from nature mainly for the benefit of our species. This has been the norm since the beginning of the human civilisation.
As an externality, in current times, our lifestyles have been affected, not only our quality of life, but also our survival on the planet as a global community.
However, at the same time, humans have developed the consciousness, from immemorial times, of living in harmony with nature, which has also continued until today. This has also positively supported the human species survival on planet earth.
We need to highlight that a great minority of the global population has kept connected to nature in current times, represented mainly by indigenous groups, ecovillages, regeneration communities, and in general, community of people who have decided to live off the grid all around the world.
It is not a surprise that as a global community, the human species is facing problems which affect their quality of live, with imminent threats to their lives itself, when the great majority of the planet is living in a state of separation from nature.
I would like to go deep in the details about those who have chosen the path of connectedness to nature, as my intention is to highlight this path as a necessary path that we need to embrace in order to regenerate life on earth as a global community.
First, we need to re-named the real problems that affect the quality of life and the life itself of the human species as a global community. Planetary issues such as Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are not the problem, these are the symptoms of a bigger problem. The problem is the separation of humans, as global community, from nature.
“The world is sick and dying and we have to understand that. Earth is a living body; it has veins and blood. Damaging certain places is like cutting off a limb; it damages the whole body. You dig, you exploit the earth; if you knew she can feel, you’d stop; but you plunder her”. Kogi Mamos
And for solutions to look for, we don’t need to do this. As commented before, there are already multiple examples of communities living in harmony with nature. Their impact is minimum, or in many cases, they are already regenerating the cycle of life in the areas where they are living.
The indigenous communities are those who has managed to live in harmony with the planet across most of the history of our civilisation as a human species. Their mindset is commonly shared by all indigenous groups all around the planet. I can relate to multiple indigenous groups from the countries I have lived, the countries of my heart, Mexico and Colombia.
I will talk about one particular indigenous group, which is based in my home country, Colombia, and also very close to the area where I used to live my first 20 years of my life.
The Kogi, one of the Tayronas indigenous groups based in the “Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta” of Colombia. They understand the Earth to be a living being and see the “little brother” actions like extraction, mining, pollution and other activities, as damages to the Planet and a real threat to the other ways of living on earth.
They live in “Aluna”, which is a realm of thoughts. They have survived as a culture because the Kogi ‘s focus on the life of the mind.
It is in this realm, that the essence of the nature’s cycles are nurtured. They achieve this through meditation, where they communicate with all living things on the planet — humans, animals, plants, soil, rocks and all supports of life.
That is what anthropologist has called the Kogi way of thinking as “mind in nature”.
So, what we need, as humans living in a modern society, to emulate that way of thinking in order to live in harmony with nature?
I think before going deep into practical actions, we need first to embrace the term “mind in nature”. And for me this is the key element that is mostly lost in our society. Most of society institutions operate from a practical point of view, a just scientific approach, or a benefit approach. Governments, businesses and civil society have mostly a lack of “mind in nature”.
Due to historic actions in our human civilization, the current education, economy and political systems, have influenced us to live in a state of separateness from nature. We live mainly in utilitarianism terms.
Just think about the way humans are organized to live in the planet as a global community. The economy and political system are based on the benefit to humans, degrading the natural resources in order to serve to the human species.
So, I think we need to question the meaning of living as a global community. By that, I mean, to question the way we are organised as a global community.
We use economy and politics to sustain that way of living, which we are aware it is not in harmony with nature. Perhaps we need to follow nature and go back to our roots, which is to live in local communities.
Keeping a mindset of “mind in nature”, which I have re-named, for a broader approach, a “planet earth mindset”, will guide us to live with the rhythms of nature, which will also influence us to operate under a platform of actions as part of nature, and no more as separate beings.
The actions that we embrace as human beings, will need to come from values such as compassion, empathy and caring for the planet. We need to avoid having a self-interest approach to the planet, and as commented before, avoid a utilitarianism approach.
“It is to know the forests as sacred again, and the mangroves and the rivers, the mountains and the reefs, each and every one. It is to love them for their own beingness, and not merely to protect them because of their climate benefits”. Charles Eisenstein.
“You carry mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother earth is not just your environment. In that insight of Inter-being, it is possible to have a real communication with the earth, which is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship, you have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change your life”. Thich Nhat Hanh
To emulate nature as a human species, we need to have a regeneration approach, and we only can have this once we translate those values into the practical world.
I would like first to explain what regeneration is from the biology point of view, which is the original term created.
“Regeneration is the process of renewal, restoration, and growth that makes genomes, cells, organisms, and ecosystems resilient to natural fluctuations or events that cause disturbance or damage. Every species is capable of regeneration, from bacteria to humans”.
“The Gaia hypothesis, also known as the Gaia theory or the Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet”.
In Gaia, we can see a natural regeneration planet. And is in this broader view, that humans can live as part of nature, and no as those in need to control it.
As commented previously, there are multiple cases in our modern society apart from the indigenous communities, which has been operating under a realm of a “planet earth mindset”. I would like to mention two regenerative movements which I have been following during the last years:
An ecovillage is an intentional, traditional or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate social and natural environments.
The Global Ecovillage Network envisions a world of empowered citizens and communities, designing and implementing pathways to a regenerative future, while building bridges of hope and international solidarity.
Transition is a movement that has been growing since 2005. It is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges they face by starting local. By coming together, they are able to crowd-source solutions. They seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on supporting each other, both as groups or as wider communities.
In practice, they are reclaiming the economy, sparking entrepreneurship, reimagining work, re-skilling themselves and weaving webs of connection and support. It’s an approach that has spread now to over 50 countries, in thousands of groups: in towns, villages, cities, Universities, schools.
This movement started in Totnes (UK), the first declared Transition town. The global movement is managed by Transition Network, “a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild the world”.
A network of organisational partners working to establish “regenerative hubs” for economic development at the scale of entire bioregions around the world. They have started with the creation of the Regenerate Costa Rica Hub, which was established in July 2018.
They highlight how much potential the network represents for creating transformational learning experiences that translate directly into impacts in their projects on the ground.
As Joe Brewer, one of the key people involved involved in this project, described it: “ Human bioregions are defined where ecology gets mapped to cultural identity among those who “know how to live here” in the landscapes of their birth.
One of the key partner is Gaia Education, which has developed a curricula for sustainable community design inspired by the restless, forward-thinking ongoing inquiry of the world’s eco-communities and transition settings worldwide.
The Regenerate Costa Rica Hub is working with Gaia Education’s curriculum creators to prototype a course on bioregional design that can be replicated in other parts of the world.
More examples of regeneration communities around the world, can be found in the work of Daniel Christian Whal. As he quoted:
Analysing the current trend of regeneration in our modern society, can we have regenerative businesess in a degenerative economy system ? This was the questions that Daniel Christian Wahl asked himself. He shared the views around this question based on a business leader meeting held in London in early November, where he was an speaker.
A Planet earth mindset embraces us to a realm of inter-being, where love for the planet as a living entity, will influence us to create a regenerative culture in local communities with a global communication approach.