Friday, April 5, 2013

Occupying Oneself IV

Scott Bradley

Occupying oneself as this physical body re-integrates this human experience into a wholeness, but it goes much further than this. It re-integrates this humanity with the world. I am the world. The world is me. I speak to the world. The world speaks to me. I am not other-than the world. The world is not other-than me. I treat the world, Nature, not as an exterior, inanimate other unconnected to myself, but as myself. And as with my own body, though I pare my fingernails, I am careful not to cut off my fingers.

I have previously made reference to a book by David Abram entitled The Spell of the Sensuous in which he makes a case for a phenomenology of the human integration with Nature and demonstrates how the evolution of human culture, most specifically the phonetic alphabet, has sundered this connectedness. Shamanism and animism, far from being vestiges of an ignorant, superstitious past, are reflections of this unity of the human experience and the world. The rocks do speak. We understand rocks because we hear their voice and they hear ours. All understanding is participatory and reciprocal.

Though such statements may strike us as superstitious fantasy (I speak for myself), they only state the obvious for the indigence peoples of the world, those people who still truly dwell in the world. Because they are still ecologically united with nature, still need to know what that particular birdcall implies for the family dinner, they understand the world as organically connected with themselves.

Occupying oneself may sound like a perpetuation of the extreme ego-involvement of our recent cultural development, but is in fact quite the opposite. Occupying oneself, realizing the entirety of the human experience, involves, in addition to taking responsibility for all of one's responses to the world, also taking responsibility for the world. Because I am this body, I am also this world. Loving the other as oneself applies to everything because everything is oneself. But this brings us back to loving oneself; everything hinges on this self-relationship; learning to love oneself is the greatest gift that anyone can give to the world. Our destruction of the planet is a kind of hatred and is an extension of our own self-hatred.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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