Over the centuries Man’s perception of Nature has been turned from an object IN itself into an object FOR itself that is approachable with human affinity. Basically speaking, man has come to view nature from outside her reach in the safe and secure confines of the artificial world he has constructed to protect himself from her unpredictable and threatening ways. In the process, man has transformed Nature into his own image with his own value of things.
Man may conserve Nature and visit and admire her beautiful beaches and landscapes, but he no longer lives in conformity and in harmony with her natural rhythms and laws. He boxes and bottles it, but rarely let his hands and bare feet touch the earth on which all life depends. He has come to appreciate her beauty in so far as it can be approached without fear and retribution and he has come to connect with her elements in so far as he can turn them into something for human use, consumption, and profit.
Man has made Nature’s beauty more accessible and her elements and phenomena more ‘user-friendly’, but in doing so he has made Nature appear more objective, more harmless and less necessary to the affairs of man. Fewer and fewer people are living in direct contact with nature anymore, which means that fewer people feel dependent on and connected to her as the mother of their existence.
This humanization of Nature basically began with the transformation and refinement of man’s senses into instruments of art. As a result, the five faculties, or senses, were ‘humanized’, so to speak, and humans developed the capacity to enjoy a musical ear for music, an artistic hand for painting, and a literary eye for poetry, etc.
Art, or artifice, was invented and thus began the advent of man-made inventions and man’s identification and association with an artificial world, separate from and divorced from true Nature.
Man first began to humanize Nature at the external level: Tools were created and with them reservoirs, canals and vehicles were built, and with them, communities were formed. For the first time in his short history on earth, Man was living in man-made, not natural dwelling places.
That wasn’t the end of it, however. Once living in artificial surroundings commenced, Man found it expedient to categorize and label everything into separate parts. Then after things became divided, Man found it necessary and convenient to assign a value to each of these things in terms of right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, and good and bad.
As a result, Nature had become humanized on an internal level and Man found culture. He had ultimately taken Nature out of Man and, as a consequence, became ‘civilized.’ As with the domestication of an animal, when one tames or removes the ‘wildness’ from an animal, e.g. one takes the wolf out of the dog, Man had turned his attention to himself and began to transform his own natural and primordial instincts into artificial ones.
Once man removed what was natural to his being, he then deemed it necessary to follow it up with educating Man and teaching him artificial ways of behavior. As Man had already done to horses by harnessing and tethering them, thereby taking away their natural instinct for freedom, he then turned his efforts to breaking man and transforming his instinctual and natural ways to more domesticated and civilized ones.
Eventually he succeeded by taking away his spiritual part, his natural part, his innocent part, the part connected to the earth and instead put in its place the conforming part, the part that taught uniformity, the one that taught him the virtues of the artificial world, artificial laws and artificial patterns, basically, the part that had no connection to the earth.
Slowly as man increased or refined his senses, he concurrently decreased his instinctual or natural faculties and his link to nature. This has led man to steadily separate and detach himself from his natural affinities and instead has got him to identify with artificial ones. This transformation of the senses has in turn transformed man’s interests and his perception of reality.
Instead of seeing and defining reality through Nature and identifying with a process or a series of processes, aspects of life which were cyclical, Man felt the need to organize and control the world around him at his pace and rhythm. In order to do that he devised a system of time which was based on a concept of causality and which was measured in terms of straight lines and the effects that came about for each cause.
Thus began man’s new version of reality, one in which everything came to be defined in terms of time and man’s connection to the past, the present and the future. Man had virtually severed his primary connection to the present and by doing so had created a dualistic world, a world of division and separation, a world in which man was no longer living in the present-at one with his nature and Nature around him.
He was now living in a new world, a world in which he was living outside of Nature, in antagonism to her and independent of her laws and ways, a world in which man, not Nature, was in control. It was a man-made reality, with man-made laws, not natural ones. Man was no longer part of Nature, following her natural laws, but he was outside of her, ‘objectively’ measuring them. He had created a new reality- his reality. And it was all a product of his mind.
This new version of reality was punctuated by a need to objectify everything and this could only be done by accentuating the faculties of the mind and reducing those of the heart. The ‘feeling’ man, in touch with both his nature [his intuition] and Nature at large [his environment], became the rational man, impersonal and removed from his environment, busying himself setting up theories and trying to prove them by logical experiments.
Thus man’s separation from Nature was complete: on an external level, he was no longer living in harmony with his natural environment but in artificial man-made- surroundings. And on an internal level, he was no longer connected to Nature and her natural laws but was living in his head, in a world of division, an analytical and dualistic existence, in which the world had become defined by the mind.
As a result of this transformation, Man had reduced his reality to that which could be seen and understood in terms of materialistic phenomena and idealistic values and nature had become nothing but a convenient backdrop for man’s personal and cultural ambitions and realizations. In the process of this steady and relentless withdrawal from man’s natural roots and values, Man had come to construct artificial connections and values.
How long would it take before man started to realize that something vital to human existence was missing?