Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Our Teachers in Nature

--by Elisabet Sahtouris (Jun 21, 2010)

Looking at living systems over time, I came to understand that they all go through a cycle that's very like our psychological maturation cycles. We start with a unity, we're undifferentiated, we come into the world new. And then individuation happens. We have many experiences. We branch out in many directions. And humanity, as it diversified and had more and more people, created more and more conflict. Exactly as the early Earth differentiated into bacteria and then they developed different lifestyles and they became competitive. They invented technologies in order to carry out their hostilities. They created enormous problems including global hunger and global pollution. And they had to solve those eventually by negotiating differences, moving on around the cycle, and working out cooperative schemes that ultimately led the ancient bacteria that ruled for the first half of Earth's life to form a new kind of cell as a community of different lifestyle bacteria working together. That's the nucleated cell that we're made of, that all these trees are made of, that all the beings in the waters are made of. Everything we see around us is made of this wonderful big cooperative cell.

Now humanity is going through the biggest event since the time that bacteria formed the nucleated cell because we're now trying to form the body of humanity around the globe. Seeing that other species matured out of a youthful competitive phase into a mature cooperative phase means everything to us now. The Darwinian story only goes to the adolescent part where there's hostile competition. You take all you can get. You fight your enemy. You try to out-do him or try to bump him off and that's what makes you survive.

But that's not what sustainability is all about. Sustainability happens when species learn to feed each other instead of fight each other. You get mature ecosystems such as rainforests and prairies where you have far more cooperation than you have hostile competition. You can still have friendly competition, but that's very different. So I see humanity doing exactly this right now. We of the western culture who divorced ourselves from nature saying “We're separate. That's nature out there. Let's see how we can exploit it to our purposes.” Interestingly, we're the species who invented the concept of entropy and we're the one who creates it, who deteriorates eco-systems while the other species are building them up. So we have a great deal to learn from nature and by recognizing that our conscious experience is of other beings, is of teachers in nature that we can learn from and gain hope from. If bacteria could do it without benefit of brain, can't we [do it] as humans with big brains?

--Elisabet Sahtouris, in After Darwin

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Previous Reflections:

On Jun 22, 2010 vijay wrote:

sustainable living

On Jun 25, 2010 ankita wrote:



Once a man was travelling in a hilly area.The hill to b crossed was  risked with unexpected turns so every one was warning one another to be careful what was ahead.As the man moved further a truck driver coming from d opposite direction  called him and shouted"wild pig"and moved ahead ...........The man was in a confusion y he called him dat? But he replied to the man"u a dog", he moved on ,on d very first turn his car came across a wild pig!!!!! Now he understood what the man wanted to tell him........dere he realized his mistake........



On Jun 27, 2010 Ripa wrote:

This passage was very beautiful - really nicely articulated the interconnectedness of life. How important it is to live in harmony with nature, knowing, as Ganobaji wisely pointed out, how nature is not something separate from us as individuals - we all, after all, have our own 'natures.'  On how I was reminded of karma through this passage, I have written a poem:

What Goes Around

What goes around,

Comes around

and around

and a round.

Life moves thus

in circle motion.

Time flows,




and turns.

Time is Shiva: the cosmic dancer.

Time waits for no one.

As Shiva dances on.

And on. 

And on.

What appears at once 

as a beginning

become soon

an End.

And begins again.

And again.

And again.


And around.

And a


On Jun 28, 2010 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all.

It's been a month since I've been out of the Bay Area, and every Wednesday at 8PM Arizona time, I sit and synchronize with the Kindness Temple in Santa Clara, California.

This is a fascinating piece that reminded me my early days in Natural Philosophy. The bottom line is that life has learned over billions of years the advantages of cooperative, locally rooted self-organizing enterprise in which each individual organism is continually balancing individual and group interests. Many ideas came to mind. I will share 3.

1. Love and Life: The Quintessential Symbiosis
2. Something Revolutionary... what about Life?
3. Principles of Life & Biomimicry

1. Love and Life: The Quintessential Symbiosis
[Here is where the weaving of ijourneys will be magic... ;-)] It is a poem I shared in the second point of this Wednesday.

2. Something Revolutionary... what about Life?
This is an excerpt of an email I wrote some years ago:

Life exist only in relationship with other life, that is, COMMUNITY. And the organizing principle of life is partnership, it is its very essence. Life exists only in living communities of diverse and mutually interdependent species.

How do we free ourselves from the self-inflected alienation and oppression of the last Empire? We need to _create_ societies that support every person in connecting to life in ways that enhance the creative potential of both self and community so that all may enjoy the joys of the Earth Community.

Species that survive and prosper are ultimately those that find a niche in which they meet their own needs in ways that simultaneously serve others. Aggressive competition leads to the threat of extinction, which is then avoided by the formation of cooperative alliances.

[...] It is entirely possible to create societies that are at once human, rooted in their place, and modern in their global connections, understanding, and use of technology. How do we apply the organizing principles of partnership to the restructuring of human institutions?

Two key factors:

  • We need a turning from money to life as our defining value and
  • We need a turning from relations of domination to relations of partnership based on organizing principles discerned from the study of healthy living systems.

    Then with family life, work life, and community life more geographically proximate and people in more regular and natural contact, our lives would be less fragmented and more coherent, the bonds of community denser, stronger, and more trusting.

    Breaking up global corporations into human-scale, locally owned enterprises would free still more resources by eliminating the massive burden of inflated executive compensation packages and by removing bureaucratic barriers to innovation.

    We would be working less (on assignments/papers/midterms/finals) and living more. Our lives would be freer and richer. Our environment would be cleaner and healthier. A world no longer divided between the obscenely rich and the desperately poor would know more peace and less violence, more love and less fear, more hope and less hate. There would be little need for dominator structures to impose order. Earth could heal itself and provide a home for our children for generations to come.

    An we can do it because our community is about COOPERATION and  SHARING.

    The (r)evolutionary change is in our hands. It is about getting clear on our values, setting new priorities, redefining progress, and consuming less so that we become more human and in the process experience that abundance of authentic relationships (i.e. intellectual life and scientific inquiry are vibrant, open and dedicated to the development and sharing of knowledge and life-serving technologies that address society’s priority needs). As Lobo Corriendo [a Native American of the Black Foot Nation] said yesterday: "relationships, not money, are the true measure of the well-being." What matters most is our connection to and participation in the life of community.

3. Principles of Life & Biomimicry
The processes by which forests ecosystems evolve offer a potential model for our societal transformation: The earliest, colonizing, stage of forest-system development is dominated by fast growing, aggressively competitive, and transient species that are eventually displaced by the emergence of the more patient, cooperative, settled, energy-efficient species that define the mature phase.

If we were able to do true biomimicry–that is to mimic Nature's functions to solve many of the problems we are grappling with (i.e. clean water, energy, food production, climate change, non-toxic chemistry, transportation, etc.) as well as to mimic Mother Nature's principles– we were on our way to heal the entire Earth Community.

What principles? Mother Nature:
is organized bottom-up
rewards cooperation
promotes diversity
is about interdependence
is about resiliency

And there is a more important part, sister Janine Benyus says. We cannot forget this part. It is the part where we say thank you. It is the part in which we remember to be mannerly towards the rest of the natural world, to say thank you for the ideas that they gifted us with.

And not only that. It is the part where we are grateful to be alive and to be witnessing this ~14 billion year unfolding story of the Cosmic awe and wonder, the Universe' life and its expanding ever compassionate, courageous and wise consciousness.

May we all become proficient students of love and life.


On Sep 19, 2012 Jami2d wrote:
 You have me thinking now, really thinking. Thank you:)

On Sep 19, 2012 Bruce Elkin wrote:
 A wonderful, hopefully view of what's happening in the world. Embrace the natural world. Learn how it works. Design in harmony with the systems that sustain all life. Use only what is truly needed. Seek simplicity in material, abundance in relationship, job and creation. And maybe we'll make it through. Let's hope!

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