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Back to nature – what else?

Sometimes, when I am completely alone with myself in nature - and these can be moments - I feel such a warm kinship with the life around me that I want to embrace it, as one does with friends. Then I can press my chest against a tree trunk and forget about my difference, but then the worst happens: shame arises within me. How can I, as an adult, as a human being, hug a tree! Isn't that cheesy?

Two difficult questions

No, it's not, on the contrary. Kitsch is the imitation, the fake. In the feeling of connection with nature, the realization flares up that the source of our existence arises from it. Ultimately the call should be: Not back to nature, but back to nature! But how can you return to a place where you are anyway?

The demand “back to nature” has become necessary because we said goodbye to nature centuries ago so that we could subjugate it to ourselves as we wish. But can you subdue something that you are? Yes, apparently you can; It succeeds by dividing oneself mentally and emotionally into two, creating an inner-psychic, cultural schizophrenia, splitting off “nature” as something foreign – and becoming modern.

What would a river be without an mouth?

“Back to nature” means changing your perspective: It is not nature that is there for me, but I am there for nature or, even more correct for me: we are given to each other. Whether I want it and understand it or not, I join the ebb and flow of the food chain and deliver my molecules to the great counter of life for further use. Returning to nature would be the end of the know-it-all attitude, the end of a Western attitude that says: “Nature, all well and good, but we can do it better.” “Back to nature” would be the path from homo arrogans to homo sapiens .

“Back to nature” also means no longer seeing death as the end, as the negation of life, but as the mouth of the river that releases us into the sea. It is true that there is no river after the mouth, but what would be the point of a river without an mouth? And also: What would a sea be without rivers?

We don't need an afterlife

What is soul? No matter how different the definitions are, it seems self-evident to us as the carrier of our liveliness. Whoever breathes out his soul is no longer what he was before. Doesn't everything living then have a soul, from the amoeba to man, from the algae to the vine? Can a living being have no soul or vice versa: Can something without a soul die? Nobody would think of talking about a car that died or a dishwasher that died. They are broken".

Aren't the body and soul one, rather than, as we are led to believe, divided? Isn't the separation of body and soul an auxiliary construction first of the monotheistic religions and later of materialism, which believes that it can do without a soul? Is a soulless biotope conceivable? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? And aren't the water there, the rushes and mosquito larvae, the frogs and the heron, the wood and the stones part of a complex whole? None of this is an arbitrarily interchangeable “thing”, but rather something that has grown with you and belongs to you, something born out of time. Isn't it the case that in nature there is only wholeness, and if we are part of nature, then we too are indivisiblely whole. We don't need an afterlife for this. In a world with an unseparated soul, we can feel supported and carried forward even without transcendence.

Be edible

So if we want to “go back to nature” – will you come with us? – then we leave the anatomical perspective, get off our high horse or Western ivory tower and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed, opening ourselves up to beauty, but also to death and the finite, which are the basis for the diversity and overwhelming fullness of being. Then we are ready to give up our self, which strives for security, distance and dominance, in order to discover a new, integrity-based, because integral, self in contact with the world that we are. The Hamburg biologist and philosopher Andreas Weber goes one step further and talks about “being edible”. Longing for immortality, he says, is an “ecological mortal sin.” Coffins are our last attempt at separation, in the coffin we are not yet edible for the worm world, let us delay our edibility a little longer; As ash in the wild, however, we would be edible in a quasi-predigested form. Mysticism and biology come together in the knowledge of our edibility.

Where does the inner world end?

Returning to nature means recognizing that our siblings also have an inner world, that they perceive the world subjectively, just like we do. Ultimately, everyone knows about the inner world of all life, and thinking one step further: that there is an interrelationship between the inner and outer worlds. Everything feels, wants to be whole and healthy, can be happy or suffer, everything perceives, just not necessarily in the same way as “we humans”. But who is “we”? You as a reader feel differently than I do, every person's inner world is different from that of the other person; this is our everyday experience. And if you have a dog or a cat, that applies to them too, right? Ultimately, this “we” does not exist, this statistical cross-section of the inner lives of all people, but your inner world and my inner world and that of everyone else does exist. So the question arises: In which living beings, in which species does the inner world end? Do only living beings with a nervous system similar to humans have an inner world? What inner world do birds, fish, snakes, insects and plants have? Andreas Weber was able to observe under the microscope how single-celled organisms retreated in fear from the deadly drop of alcohol on the glass under the lens. Do single-celled organisms want to live? Everything speaks for it. Not only do we look at our surrounding world, it also looks back - and is probably permanently traumatized by people.

Radical reciprocity instead of romance

When we eat an apple, it becomes part of our body; in other words, part of an apple tree turns into you or me. The idea may seem astonishing at first, and yet this process is the normal state of nature and even applies to stones, even if their transformation process into a mineral and thus into a plant nutrient takes longer than with other beings. There is nothing on the earth's surface that is not involved in the great metabolism, and who knows: perhaps our planet is a molecule in the metabolism of the universe?

This is not about fantasies, romantic feelings or Rousseauian ideals, but about a necessary revolution if we want to maintain the level of our civilization. What is needed is a radical reciprocity and reciprocity that grasps us from the ground up and in which humans assume responsibility in a fundamental way for how they behave towards a sentient, vulnerable, equal world. Then the search for meaning, which has been going on for centuries, ends because we bloom in connection in a completely natural way and because this blooming only happens because each being is intertwined, linked and interwoven with the other. It is a blossoming of siblings.

Symbiosis instead of fight

“Returning to nature” would mean respectfully acknowledging that the other-than-human world is not made up of things that we can do with as we please or like; that we intervene in the world even when we cannot recognize life there. Because every intervention remains an intervention into the life streams and connections of the world, and we rarely - if ever - know exactly the consequences of our actions. Tomorrow our intervention could mean something different than it does today. “Back to Nature” recognizes: Life is synergy and symbiosis, not fight. We still resist the embrace of the trees. That's why, says Andreas Weber, we need "a revolution of the soul - and a profound realignment of our relationships." Only then do we have a chance of a future worth living and similar to the present.

For more information: Andreas Weber, Being Edible. Attempt at biological mysticism, thinkOya publisher, ISBN 978-3-947296-09-5, 26,80 euros

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Written by Bobby Langer

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