Nature Based Spirituality – Beats Yoga, Meditation and Tai Chi for Real Change

Simply getting back in touch with nature and my own true nature changed my life radically even after 20 years of Eastern Spirituality.

In my experience, if Eastern spirituality moved my life by a factor of 10 degrees then getting back in touch with my true nature moved my life by 170 degrees.

All human problems come  from separation from nature. The ego is insatiable and thrives on imbalanced thinking. Nature on the other hand seeks balance. Therefore, there is a wonderful authenticity that comes from nature-based spirituality. For the entrepreneur,  artist, business owner and performer nature-based spirituality drives to the very core of what courses success. Anything that helps us separate our ego from our authentic nature brings us personal power and sustainable success.

Now before I upset the millions of people who follow Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation practices for their personal growth, let me be really clear. It’s not the practices or authenticity of the teachings of these practices that brings them into doubt, it’s the quality and authenticity of the average Western teacher of these practices that makes them less than ordinary. For example: in yoga there are seven steps to self awareness. All Yoga teachers subscribe the those steps, they are in the Yoga Sutra. The first two are Yama and Niyama, but have you ever heard of them? Not usually, unless you are an advanced student. But the teaching of Yoga is built on Yama and Niyama, The 10 commandments of Yoga, and we are meant to learn and practices these long before Asana. Most teachers in the west don’t know them, don’t practice them, but have fantastic gymnastic ability. So, they’re not really teaching Yoga, they’re teaching gymnastics under the brand called Yoga.

The fourth level of Yoga is Pranayama but you can walk off the street to any New York or Sydney Yoga school and learn Pranayama. That’s like giving you a seat on a rocket to the moon without an oxygen tank. It’s just ego tripping. But the teacher gets paid, loves sharing and feels good, and the students think they are on the cusp of nirvana even if, after the practice, they treat their partner or the world with judgement and superiority. It’s just too easy to fake it, with the teacher unaware and inauthentic in their own practice.

There are 3 day courses to become a yoga teacher. What do you learn in three days other than tricks? It’s where authenticity went out the window. Yoga, tai chi, meditation are far more sophisticated teachings for self mastery than nature, but they’ve been hijacked.

Finding this authenticity is not easy. It is so easy to get our Ego all caught up in Eastern arts such as yoga, meditation and tai chi without some sort of grounding influence. That influence used to be the relationship with a Guru, but those individuals who were not profiting commercially from teaching have vanished and been replaced by a majority of teachers who themselves are ungrounded, unqualified and personally unstable. I believe there is an opportunity to bring the grounding of nature back into spiritual development, especially Eastern teachings which, as I’ve noted, have become separated from their own beautiful authenticity.
My old Yoga teacher and guru Sri K Pathabhi Jois was the last in a lineage of true guru’s. His motives had little commercial orientation until his teachings went west and became diluted by the rush to make money as a teacher.
Emulation is not Spiritualisation
Nature presents an authentic representation of self-awareness that is not distorted by commercial, cultural or academic reason. This is rare.
Books and teachers present models of how we can achieve great states of self-awareness and enlightenment as if, by following some instruction book we will achieve the same result as somebody else. You just have to go around the world meeting those people who claim to have some level of enlightenment to realize that this is false.
There is no path other than your own. Rather than a road with a common destination, spiritual development is a process of evolution.  There is no end there is just a process and it applies to all seven areas of life.
Great entrepreneurs understand the process of evolving more than most meditation teachers.  For entrepreneurs, their Ego usually sabotages the first two or three attempts at successful business ownership. Great actors understand the concept of a  evolving because they need the depth to mine characters within themselves and soon recognise all humanity in all it’s shapes and sizes, exist within them. They simply can’t achieve great acting without evolving.
Evolution  is the opposite to emulation. The ego can emulate spiritual development simply by reciting the Buddhist Dharma or bending backward in Yoga or standing on one foot and repeating routines in Tai Chi.  the ego can read from prayer books, wear  robes and chant hymns without really finding any authenticity. But in nature those things don’t exist. It is more simple.
People are different in nature, more generous, more creative, more visionary, more inspired and more purposeful. They are also less righteous,  and get past desperation faster.
Earthing or grounding ourselves brings spirituality to life.  and the key here is that spirituality in nature applies to all 7 areas of life, not just morals and ethics.
It’s this separation from nature that can allow corporate leadership to act badly toward people or cause environmental abuse. It’s this separation from nature that allows a husband to abuse their wife and it’s this separation from nature that allows communities to go to war against others. The ego is a dangerous thing and it’s also a wonderful thing.
The Ego works for us when we are connected to nature, not against us, but most of us lost this connection to nature. Once we worked with our hands in the soil and understood the rhythm and harmony of nature and could apply it to our lives, but city life has made us separate.
We have invented religions and spiritual practices that purely engage the ego and enhance the separation from nature and this makes the Ego self empowered and dangerous. The key here is not to condemn the ego but to witness it and to know when we are in it and when we are out.
For example, corporate leadership thrives on engagement. This is the positive side of the ego. When it’s engaged in activity it’s positive and productive. However, few people realize that the ego operates in duality and while it may be engaged in something at one level it will be disengaged at another.
This is a marked difference between  ego and spirituality. The ego is subject to motivation while the spirit is subject to inspiration.
Motivation requires an incentive and that incentive is usually associated with improvement. So we motivate people and ourselves by promising improvement. This improvement varies depending on the needs of the individual. For some the improvement takes the form of money and for the others it takes the form of quality of life. Either way, motivation engages the ego to cause a result and offers it a reward in return.
Inspiration, on the other hand, requires no incentive, has no motivation, is not engaged and does not act on the promise of reward. Inspiration is simply a call to action. For those who have never experienced inspiration the concept of action without reward seems in comprehendible. For them there is no idea of action that does not result in improvement.

Inspiration on the other hand comes from a place of complete abundance, no need.
I guess this reveals that there are a wide diversity of motivation techniques that engage the ego and cause action. In this way the ego is extremely healthy. What is often not recognized is that all human problems come from the duality of the ego. For everything it gains in a positive way there must be some equal and opposing results in a negative way.
A great example of this is in a Canadian corporation that implemented harmonious workplace practices in order to reduce stress in the workplace. Rather than working to reduce the cause of stress, the ego, it worked to reduce the impact. And so by engaging the ego in a harmonious workplace practices it gave the ego incentive to disengage in a harmonious practices outside of the workplace. In other words, the company sent stress home.
Motivation can act in isolation in individual areas of life to cause change and growth. Because of this isolation and fragmentation into work, relationship, social life, mental health, health, financial areas there develops a hierarchy of values which means we become motivated in the area we think is highly important and unmotivated in the area we consider to be not of value. The consequence of this are shadows in our lives that are of no interest until they become problems. The classic example is the businessperson who considers their work to be a high priority and they work long hours with incredible stress only to find out that their relationship has gone into the mud pays unrecoverable.
Another example is where a person devotes themselves to a relationship and suddenly finds that their finances are in the mud and now must commit themselves to the work they were trying to avoid during the years of highly valued relationship time.
Nature-based spirituality does not fragment. Everything in nature is connected, interconnected. Therefore we never look at a fragmented area of life as being of high priority to another area of life. Relationship, work, money, social contribution, health, mental health, spirituality are all equally prioritised. In this way there is no hierarchy of values and therefore no shadows but in the long term cause enormous pain.
So, the key to nature based spirituality is to observe the ego without cursing it. To know that Ego is great, motivating and  engaging and yet not be trapped into thinking that Ego development  [motivation] and spirituality [inspiration] are the same.
In Eastern teachings the over-riding  principle is “less is more.”
it’s really easy to misinterpret what is meant by less is more. For many people this is interpreted as less possessions, less work, less parties, less  red meat, less red wine means more spiritual. This is not so. The concept of less is more refers to evolution.
When nature evolves she creates new out of old, never separating the journey from the past to the future. The key in evolution is that the new is greater in consciousness [smarter] and less in number [get more done in less time]
So the evolution of animals is the inevitable reduction of population but an increase in the skill and the ability of those that remain to do what they were meant to do best. Human beings try to save the specie from evolution by protection. This is the difference between the engagement of the ego [wanting to do what’s right by self determined  criteria] and inspiration [seeking balance].
Human beings try very hard not to evolve and from this comes all human problems. Depression, violence, cancer, asthma, bankruptcy, divorce and stress are just a few of the human challenges we face when we individually elect to engage our ego rather than evolve.
It may seem harsh or unfathomable that such suffering could come from a human idiosyncrasy of choosing not to evolve but this is the consequence of the disharmony with nature that has come as a consequence of separation between what we think is right and natures law. It is almost as if those people who hold the power of education and social conditioning only sustain that power while they teach the separation from nature.

Evolution is not conservation although it can be. We evolve at the border of chaos and order and so the destruction of the rain forest at a rate that is too fast must be combated with a conservation to slow the rate down. This is the balance of nature working between the conservationist and the logging companies.
The human condition is a part of nature’s plan so there are those who would destroy the forests, the fish, the wildlife and the crops and there are those who would fight to conserve them and protect them. Between these 2 opposing ego engagements comes the balance that nature seeks in order to evolve. If you add more pressure on the conservation side there will be more pressure on the consumption side. This is evolution.
As a leader or business owner, an artist or an entrepreneur you will understand this balance that creates evolution as support and challenge. If in the development of your plan for the future you create an expectation of a challenge free environment for your career or business then you are engaging the ego to create false and unsustainable vision of the future. Everything, without exclusion on this planet evolves at the border of support and challenge, chaos and order.
The only choice we have in this evolution is whether we consciously embrace the need to be confronted in our beliefs and ideas on a daily basis [call this the evolution solution] or we establish an ambition to live without challenge and become fronted with change in a more lumpy irregular experience.
This is the grandest awakening. The classic Western eyes spiritual marketing program will advertise a non-confrontational, non-challenging, peaceful, harmonious future based on a particular practice such as yoga or meditation. The Buddha once said “teach them the illusion until they’re ready for the truth” and in this marketing of a non-confrontational future, the Western spiritual models have done well.
Nature-based spirituality is therefore not for the individual who wishes to be toward the illusion. It is therefore probably not for the younger individual who is just starting out on a spiritual journey hoping to find the peaceful path that is written about in so many books but has never been found by one individual on earth ever. Even the great masters experience challenge that they don’t write about in their books.
In contrast to evolutionary spirituality, the western yoga student or meditation student taught by the average western teacher, will be encouraged to strive for more. More advanced asana, more advanced meditation. Ambition creeps into Westernised forms of Eastern Teachings and corrupts it.
Being committed to nature does not have all the answers either. I have walked with people through the mountains of Nepal for 30 years, I know there can as much separation from nature walking the Himalayas as there is in the city. Ambition, disconnection and Egocentricity exists everywhere.
rather than a celebration of being in nature it is the connection to nature that makes the evolution solution viable.
One can sit and paint a tree, save a whale, conserve a rain forest and still be highly engaged in ego and therefore duality. So rather than define nature-based spirituality as the love of nature, I think it’s far better to define it as the connection to nature and therefore the understanding of nature’s law.
Everything in nature evolves. It evolves at the border of chaos and order. Therefore it evolves by seeking balance in all things. Because nature evolves each piece of nature’s puzzle plays a part in growth. There is no fragmentation or separation all things are connected. That nature is evolving toward the future reveals that there is a plan, a vision of some description of the future.
So in simple terms we can say that nature has 3 ingredients that come together to cause evolution:

  • Vision
  • Inspiration
  • Purpose
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