The Earthen Ways

In the way that cycle-centric cultures have followed the example of ancient masters of ecological integration, so too can we.

The Earthen Ways
A satellite image of the Sundarbans coastal delata and forest (Bangladesh) which is habitat of the endangered Bengal tiger. Photo: NASA


IN THE PAST WE HAVE USED THE EXAMPLE, ways and wisdom of great human teachers as a means of discerning good and bad, right and wrong. However practical this has been for making sense of human living, it is insufficient for the ecological discernment we need today.  This is particularly clear when we contrast the ecological desolation of our anthropo-centric era with the ecological enrichment of cycle-centric cultures.  When it comes to making sense of our place in the biosphere, human centered ethics, are de-facto, inadequate.

However, another great teacher awaits our attention.

In the way that cycle-centric cultures have followed the example of ancient masters of ecological integration, so too can we.

And we have no further to look than our feet.

For too long we have assumed the Earth beneath us to be a static and stable constant. In fact, it is anything but. The coalescence of cosmic matter and momentum into our planet has never stopped unfolding. The results of a vast cosmological confluence, the Earth’s array of elements, solar distance, spin, orbit, moon and magnetosphere compose a pattern of process utterly unique in our solar system .

Indeed, in our entire galaxy we know of no other entity that has been so successful in cultivating the very ecological enrichment to which we aspire. Truly, the Earth’s process of transforming our once barren planet into a thriving biosphere is the penultimate example of ecological contribution.

With our newly gained macro-vantage over the planet’s stellar story we can at last begin to grasp the cosmological character of our common home.   As our macro-observations of planet and primordial history ring resonant with those micro-observations of magnificent organisms and ecosystems by our ancestors, we can be buoyed into discerning a common pattern Earthen pattern.

In surveying the planet’s shift over the eons from grey to green and we can observe six principles that comprise the Earth’s processes:

  1. Observe how the Earth’s processes tend towards spiraling cycles.
  2. Observe how the Earth’s cycles tend towards the outwards dissipation of energy.
  3. Observe how the Earth’s cycles tend towards the inwards concentration of its matter.
  4. Observe how the Earth’s cycles tend toward net-subtraction of their principal elements.
  5. Observe how the Earth’s cycles tend toward diversification.
  6. Observe how the Earth’s systems tend towards ever greater interconnection and awareness.

From organism to ecosystem, from biome to biosphere, we are surrounded with the verdant consequences of these primordial principles applied. Whether the process is minute or massive, ancient or ongoing, in looking closely, we can see the same Earthen ways reflected and embodied— a microcosm of the macro within every organism and ecosystem.  Within the the life-cycles of everything from a forest to a tree, a bird to a flea, we can observe the tendencies of the Earth’s character expressed— a vast symphony of a trillion instruments all tending their tune towards a more resilient, livable and abundant biosphere for all.1

While there are hints of these tendencies upon other planets— upon ours, they definitively incline the cycles of matter and energy, setting the Earth apart in their clarity of expression and consequence.   Yet in this way, the Earth is not special.  Given the unique stellar confluence of every planet, each has it’s own cosmological character.  From  the endless storms of Jupiter to the endemic volcanoes of Venus, each planet’s character tends towards its own unique expressions of surface, ocean and atmosphere.

Images compiled of the Jupiter's Great Red Spot taken by Voyager 2 on July 8 1979. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Kevin M. Gill

But such tendencies are not hard and fast rules.  Not all storms on Jupiter turn to giant red spots, nor do all Venusian mountains erupt. Likewise, not all of the Earth’s cycles express Earthen tendencies with equal clarity and consequence2. In this way, over the eons, certain Earthen organism and ecosystems have come to embody the Earth’s tendencies more than others.

In the next six chapters, we shall examine systems that have come to embody a particular Earthen ethic with exceptional elegance.  Through the lens of cycle-centric traditions and  the guidance of physics, biology and astronomy we will examine the cycles of the Salmon, the manner of Mollusks, the age of the Carboniferous, the biodiversity of ancient oceans and the awareness of a mycorrhizal forest.  Each shall aid us in discerning the essence of a particular Earthen principle, and together reveal the full character of ecological contribution.

What I call an Earthen ethics.

Using Earthen ethics, we can then confidently discern and define what is green (what is an ecological contribution) and what is grey (what is not).   What is green is that which embodies the six Earthen principles and leads to a more livable, biodiverse, stable, resilient, cooperative, abundant and conscious biosphere.   What is grey is that which conflicts with any one of the Earthen principles, leading to the opposite— lowering consciousness, reducing biome stability, and livability, and decreasing biodiversity and resiliency.

With the correlation between Earthen principles and consequences clear, we are availed a new and commanding clarity. We are assured that by embodying the Earth’s ways in our own processes, they will have like greening consequences.  With a humility born of despair delved and pride shattered, we can at last align our longing to contribute to ecological enrichment with tried-and-tested parameters for its realization.

Then, with a renewed perspective of our planet, we can return to that matter we all love to hate.  

And know it for the first time.

Next we delve into the ecological ethos of the Igorots and the latest in thermodynamic physical theory:  Earthen Ethic No.1, Towards Cycles that Spiral

That was the fourth installment a series laying a theory of Green — what I am calling An Earthen Ethics.  Want to keep going? You can subscribe and get the free eBook with all the published chapters.  


Footnotes

1It is important to note that the Earthen principles do not lay any claim to why or how the Earth came to its cosmological character.  We are simply observing the net change of the planet from its barren state to its biosphere state.  Whether the principles themselves were laid by coincidence, a divine being, many beings, or a sentient planet is a separate matter entirely. Likewise, the great plunges in diversity, stability and consciousness (i.e mass extinctions) that seem at odds with our principles—  these are  separate from our observation of net consequence of the singular Earthen process.

2It is much the same way that a crystal grows.  The particular chemistry and conditions of a crystal tend it toward a particular expression of geometry, color and clarity.  In this way, most selenite crystals grow several centimeters in length.  However, given the right conditions they have been found at over 10 meters in length.  See: The Cave of Crystals in in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico.

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