The Functional Mind and Nature

Sea 6.1-17

Who of us can deny the immense achievements of the functional and rational mind in its enhancing of life in so many ways. Its capacity to see, utilize and use whatever is around it has been a human feat of remarkable proportion.

But here’s the tragedy. When it exceeds its boundaries, and especially when it is fueled by greed, it becomes one of the most devastating forces against nature. Why? Because the functional mind tends to think only in terms of usefulness and serviceableness. It has very little consciousness of essence and life. In Martin Buber‘s words, it relates to everything as an “it” and you can do whatever you like with a depersonalized “it.”  Many have come to know this in relationships where they have simply been looked upon as being useful and serviceable, looked upon as being an “it.”

I watched a program the other night where they described how hundreds of Greyhound dogs are bred every year knowing that only a few will make it to the race-tracks, and even then, when those few are no longer useful. they, like all the others, are simply tossed out to die.

Again in Buber’s words, until the human functional mind turns nature from an “it” in to a “thou”  it will continue to do its work of devastation.

Advertisements

About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Beauty, Beyond the Rational, inspiration, Life, Nature, Photography, Spirituality, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to The Functional Mind and Nature

  1. Oh, I used to read a lot of Martin Buber… Wonderful writing.

    Like

    • Don says:

      That’s wonderful. One of the most worthwhile authors I’ve read. I’m sure you’ve gathered, not always easy reading, but so rewarding. Thank you for your comment. Much appreciated.

      Like

  2. darrelhoff says:

    that is warner beach right? baggies 🙂

    Like

  3. katy says:

    I recognise Baggies, our favourite beach. When we were there 2 weeks ago the parks board arrested two fishermen for taking undersize fish and more mussels than they were licensed for. A perfect example of the greed you mentioned. We all enjoy a good mussel pot but why strip the rocks of everything in sight? So shortsighted and sad..

    Like

    • Don says:

      Glad to hear that Katy because the law enforcement hasn’t been what it should be. I’ve seen too many undersized fish being taken by fishermen. You’d think they would be more conservation conscious. Sadly not.

      Like

  4. Kathy Snay says:

    Don, This is a very deep entry. You used the word ‘useful’ related to the poor dogs. That view of what is useful is so key to a throw away culture. Thankful that our nature-blogger colleagues are championing the new awareness. Nice…..work.

    Like

    • Don says:

      Thank you Kathy. I love your note on the word “useful” being so intricately related to a throw away culture. So true. Your affirmation urges one along. Again’ thank you so much for your comment.

      Like

  5. Don, yet again you have given us food for thought. I think about this often and sadly we all witness this mentality on a daily basis by others and although no one wants to admit it, probably we all do it as well. We think of things such as our food as merely a thing without thought as to what happened before it landed on our plate. I know, I know, a whole other can of worms so to speak yet really one in the same. Don’t even get me started on the greed and mentality of the oil industry! Everything is connected. We all pay the price. Greed and using nature for our own purposes above all else is detrimental to us all in the long run. We need to learn give and take and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

    Like

    • Don says:

      What can I say Melissa. You’ve said it so well, especially the issue of our food. We do simply see it as an it to be eaten. No real reverence for the whole process of life that lies behind it. That’s consumerism and in my opinion consumerism does much to deny the very essence and life of things. Thanks again Melissa for such a thoughtful comment.

      Like

  6. Hudson Howl says:

    The few things I’ve been working on of late, which are yet to be posted, might just be at odds with your caption for the photo. I think we do depersonalize scenes such as this. We often over romanticize that which is grandeur. We lose our heads in it. And seldom is the true essence ever fully understood or resolved. But here is where we come together in our thoughts. To truly understand the ‘consciousness of essence and life’ am thinking we need to take it on ourselves to change, to reinvent from the inside out. I don’t me humankind in general, I mean ourselves literally. The true ‘it’, one and only ‘it’ needs to look closely at it’s self

    Like

    • Don says:

      I also believe we can depersonalize scenes like this, i e we can simply look at that sea and see only the oil that lies beneath it, nothing else, but what intrigues me about what you are saying Hudson, and correct me if I’m wrong, is the fact that we can depersonalize nature by romanticizing it, or as you say, over romanticizing it. Now that’s challenging and you’ve got me thinking. Thank you for that. Would love to hear about some of those things you’ve been working on of late. Hope you’ll post them. Thank you for such a challenging comment.

      Like

      • Hudson Howl says:

        What keeps popping up as I tinker, is ‘aesthetics’.

        Like

      • Don says:

        I like that Hudson. I don’t know if you have noticed the little quote that I have put under my Gravatar image (the boots) by Jean Bolen. She speaks of the aesthetic eye being able to take us in to soul. I believe soul is that inner reality that you seem to be speaking about where you describe the work of change as coming from the inside and then out.Soul which is essentially mystery is found within and then expressed outwardly. It’s being able to see deep within, into the very heart of creation and then to express what is experienced within, outwardly. Would that be what you are saying?

        Like

      • Hudson Howl says:

        No I missed the quote or read over it (is that the same quote that has always been there, if so, don’t I feel embarrassed).

        I can see how aesthetics can be the vessel to ones soul, but what if the aesthetic is skewed? Soul, oh man, I probably have one…. I think mine is a first cousin to Sasquatch at times.

        Do you remember Maude Lewis? She simply did what she did for one reason only -fulfillment. Her art was the essence of life -her life. She had no theory, so no aesthetic,

        Like

      • Don says:

        No, the quote is recent – no need to feel bad. How can I ever forget Maud. You gave me such a gift in that Video. I watch it often. I believe she did have an aesthetic, the most congruent and beautiful one I’ve ever seen. It was the innocence of her aesthetic that gave it such deep credibility. She experienced soul and was soul.

        Like

  7. Kathy Marsden says:

    I read all the comments and felt like I was sitting in on a discussion! Wonderful! Thank you for another thought provoking blog. When I look at your stunning picture and the relation of little match stick figures to such immense glory, I am again an observer in awe, and those words written centuries ago come to mind: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?….You have given them dominion over the works of your hands….” But I can’t remain an observer because I’m part of the created world. I live in a kind of tension between the awareness of both, and the only way I can survive, and also thrive, is to accept both the connectedness and the responsibility, my smallness and my greatness, the wonder and the joy, and hold it all with open hands. Don’t really know how to express the awareness!

    Like

    • Don says:

      Connectedness and responsibility. As you say Kathy, isn’t that what it’s all about? I think it certainly is. Beautiful words by the Psalmist, but I have to confess that I have become decidedly uncomfortable with words like “Dominion” and then a word like “subdue” in the creation stories. The way they have been interpreted I think has done a lot to add to our problem. It’s the interpretation of words like this that I have struggled with and I honestly believe that there is a form of Christianity that has encouraged a destructive lording it over nature. Not sure how you feel about this? Thank you for your deeply thoughtful comment.

      Like

      • Kathy Marsden says:

        Yes, I agree. More and more I realize that some Christian ‘formation’ cannot just be accepted and that the teaching of the Church is flawed. I prefer Jesus before Christianity and I still have a lot of unlearning to do. But I do think once we can see the loaded words there’s some hope that we won’t be taken in that easily again. Then I get fed up with all the words and I just have to tell myself, ‘Keep it simple, Stupid!’

        Like

      • Don says:

        Unlearning – one of the bravest things we can do. Admire you for that, Kathy.

        Like

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s very deep and philosophical. I like to run these things through my head and see what I can come up with. Of course, I haven’t had much “depersonalizing” going on in my head, but it’s still an interesting subject altogether.

    Like

  9. terrytrekker says:

    Let’s make life simple. Enjoy it !:)

    Like

    • Don says:

      I agree. At the heart of all life, even in its complexity, there is a simplicity. To be able to see it is a gift. Thank you for your comment.

      Like

  10. Don, it is my belief that this applies to everything. Until man has the ability to empathise with his surroundings, he will use his surroundings to their detriment. Alas, the mind of man has a good deal of humane progress to be made before he can truly enjoy and interact in a kind and thoughtful way with all life forms.

    Like

  11. josna says:

    Don, an old family friend, a philosophy professor, has loved Martin Buber for years, and throughout my teenage years I nodded off on weekend nights to the sounds of his and my father’s interminable philosophical and political discussions. One Christmas he gave each of us a copy of _I and Thou_. But, perversely, I didn’t read it, and despite the fact that since then I have come to learn a little more about Buber’s philosophy, it has remained second-hand knowledge, and the book is still sitting unread somewhere on one of my bookcases after all these years. It may now be the time to take it down, dust it off, and actually read it! Thank you for your post.

    Like

    • Don says:

      How I would have loved to have been part of those discussions Josna. They must have been quite something. Pity you were so young at the time. It is a marvellous book, one of those seminal books for me. Not easy reading but full of profound insight. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I’ve always marveled at how we can buy a book and then keep it for ages and then suddenly one day we read it and it speaks in to that place where we precisely find ourselves at that moment. Thanks for your comment Josna.

      Like

  12. munchow says:

    I think you are spot on with this comment. Greed and rationality can destroy a world – our world. Great post with a great message!

    Like

  13. elspethc says:

    So what is it that turns anyone, I mean anyone, into the functional greedy kind of mind? And, more important, what is it that helps us resist this thing which too much evidence shows is also part of our human (natural?) heritage? I am enjoying reading your posts here

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s