What is our relationship with nature?
If you lose relationship with nature, you lose relationship with humanity.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1983, Talk 1
If you hurt nature, you are hurting yourself
What is nature? There is a great deal of talk and endeavour to protect nature, the animals, the birds, the whales and dolphins, to clean the polluted rivers, lakes, fields and so on. Nature is not put together by thought, as religion and belief are. Nature is the tiger, that extraordinary animal with its energy, its great sense of power. Nature is the solitary tree in the field, the meadows and the grove; it is that squirrel shyly hiding behind a bough. Nature is the ant, the bee and all the living things of the earth. Nature is the river, not a particular river, whether the Ganga, the Thames or the Mississippi. Nature is those mountains, snow-clad, with dark blue valleys and range of hills meeting the sea. The universe is part of nature. One must have a feeling for all this, not destroy it, not kill for one’s pleasure or one’s table. We do kill cabbages, the vegetables we eat, but one must draw the line somewhere. If you do not eat vegetables, how will you live? So one must intelligently discern.
See for the first time that tree, bush or blade of grass.
Nature is part of our life. We grew out of the seed, the earth, and we are part of all that, but we are rapidly losing the sense that we are animals like the others. Can you have a feeling for a tree, look at it, see the beauty of it, listen to the sound it makes? Can you be sensitive to the little plant, a little weed, to that creeper growing up the wall, to the light on the leaves and the many shadows? One must be aware of all this and have that sense of communion with nature around you. You may live in a town, but you do have trees here and there. A flower in the next garden may be ill-kept, crowded with weeds, but look at it, feel that you are part of all that, part of all living things. If you hurt nature, you are hurting yourself.
One knows all this has been said before in different ways, but we don’t seem to pay much attention. Is it that we are so caught up in our own network of problems, our desires, our urges of pleasure and pain that we never look around, never watch the moon? Watch it. Watch with all your eyes and ears, your sense of smell. Watch. Look as though you are looking for the first time. If you can do that, you see for the first time that tree, bush or blade of grass. Then you can see your teacher, your mother or father, your brother or sister, for the first time. There is an extraordinary feeling about that: the wonder, the strangeness, the miracle of a fresh morning that has never been before and never will be.
Be in communion with nature, not verbally caught in the description of it, but be a part of it, be aware, feel that you belong to all that, be able to have love for all that, to admire a deer, the lizard on the wall, that broken branch lying on the ground. Look at the evening star or the new moon without the word, without merely saying how beautiful it is and turning your back on it, attracted by something else, but watch that single star and new delicate moon as though for the first time. If there is such communion between you and nature, you can commune with man, with the boy sitting next to you, with your educator or with your parents. We have lost all sense of relationship in which there is not only a verbal statement of affection and concern but also this sense of communion, which is not verbal. It is a sense that we are all together, that we are all human beings, not divided, not broken up, not belonging to any group or race or some idealistic concepts, but that we are all human beings, living on this extraordinary, beautiful earth.
To live in harmony with nature brings about a different world.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and looked out of the window, or gone out on the terrace and looked at the trees and the spring dawn? Live with it. Listen to all the sounds, to the whisper, the slight breeze among the leaves. See the light on that leaf and watch the sun coming over the hill, over the meadow. And the dry river, or that animal grazing and those sheep across the hill, watch them. Look at them with a sense of affection and care, that you do not want to hurt a thing. When you have such communion with nature, your relationship with another becomes simple, clear, without conflict.
This is one of the responsibilities of the educator, not merely to teach mathematics or how to run a computer. Far more important is to have communion with other human beings who suffer, struggle, and have great pain and the sorrow of poverty, and with those people who go by in an expensive car. If the educator is concerned with this, he is helping the student to become sensitive, sensitive to other people’s sorrows, struggles, anxieties and worries, and the rows that one has in the family. It should be the responsibility of the teacher to educate others to have such communion with the world. The world may be too large, but the world is where he is; that is his world. And this brings about a natural consideration, affection for others, courtesy and behaviour that is not rough, cruel or vulgar.
The educator should talk about all these things, not just verbally, but he must feel the world of nature and the world of man. They are interrelated. Man cannot escape from that. When he destroys nature, he is destroying himself. When he kills another, he is killing himself. The enemy is not the other but you. To live in such harmony with nature, with the world, naturally brings about a different world.
From the book The Whole Movement of Life is Learning by J. Krishnamurti — Purchase here
VIDEO: How is one to live on earth without destructing its beauty?
What is the meaning of right relationship with nature?
Krishnamurti: I do not know if you have discovered your relationship with nature. There is no ‘right’ relationship, only the understanding of relationship. Right relationship implies the acceptance of a formula, as does right thought. Right thought and right thinking are two different things. Right thought is merely conforming to what is respectable, whereas right thinking is movement, it is the product of understanding, and understanding is constantly undergoing modification and change.
If one really loved the earth, there would be frugality in using the things of the earth.
Similarly, there is a difference between right relationship and understanding our relationship with nature. What is your relationship with nature? Nature is the rivers, the trees, the swift-flying birds, the fish, the minerals under the earth, the waterfalls and the shallow pools. What is your relationship with them? Most of us are not aware of that relationship. We never look at a tree, or if we do it is with a view of using that tree, either to sit in its shade or to cut it down for lumber. In other words, we look at trees with utilitarian purpose; we don’t look at a tree without projecting ourselves and utilising it for our convenience. We treat the earth and its products in the same way. There is no love of the earth; there is only usage of the earth. If one really loved the earth, there would be frugality in using the things of the earth.
That is, if we were to understand our relationship with the earth, we should be very careful in the use we made of the things of the earth. The understanding of one’s relationship with nature is as difficult as understanding one’s relationship with one’s neighbour, wife, husband, or children. But we have not given a thought to it; we have not sat down to look at the stars, the moon or the trees. We are too busy with social or political activities. These activities are escapes from ourselves, and to worship nature is also an escape from ourselves. We are always using nature, either as an escape or for utilitarian ends—we don’t actually stop and love the earth or the things of the earth. We don’t enjoy the rich fields, though we utilise them to feed and clothe ourselves. We don’t like to till the earth with our hands—we are ashamed to work with our hands. There is an extraordinary thing that takes place when you work the earth with your hands. But this work is done only by others; we think we are much too important to use our own hands!
Since we do not love nature, we do not know how to love human beings.
So we have lost our relationship with nature. If once we understood that relationship, its real significance then we would not divide property into yours and mine; though one might own a piece of land and build a house on it, it would not be ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ in the exclusive sense; it would be more a means of taking shelter.
Because we do not love the earth and the things of the earth but merely utilise them, we are insensitive to the beauty of a waterfall and have lost the touch of life. We don’t sit with our backs against the trunk of a tree. And since we do not love nature, we do not know how to love human beings. We have lost the sense of tenderness, that sensitivity, that response to things of beauty. It is only in the renewal of that sensitivity that we can have understanding of what is true relationship. That sensitivity does not come in the mere hanging of a few pictures, or in painting a tree, or putting flowers in your hair; sensitivity comes only when this utilitarian outlook is put aside. It does not mean that you cannot use the earth; but you must use the earth as it is to be used. The earth is there to be loved, to be cared for, not to be divided as yours and mine. It is foolish to plant a tree and call it ‘mine’. Only when one is free of exclusiveness is there a possibility of having sensitivity, not only to nature but to human beings and to the ceaseless challenges of life.
Krishnamurti in Poona 1948, Talk 8
What we have created between human beings is also a reality but a reality in which there are conflict and struggle. Everyone is trying to become something, both physically and inwardly. Spiritually, if I may use the word, we are all struggling to become something. When one is trying to become—ambition, competition, trying to achieve status politically or religiously—then you have no relationship with another, nor with nature. I doubt many of you who live in cities with all the crowds, noise and dirt, have come across nature often. You have this marvellous sea, but you have no relationship to it. You look at it; perhaps you swim there; but the feeling of the sea with its enormous vitality and energy, the beauty of a wave, its crashing upon the shore, there is no communication between that marvellous movement and yourself. If you have no relationship with that, how can you have relationship with another human being? If you don’t perceive the sea, the quality of the water, the waves, the enormous vitality of the tide going out and coming in, if you are not aware of that, how can one be aware or be sensitive to human relationship? Please, it is very important to understand this, because beauty, if one may talk about it, is not merely in the physical form, but beauty, in essence, is that quality of sensitivity, the quality of observation of nature.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1982, Talk 2
VIDEO: How am I to live in this world without becoming part of its cruelty?
If you are not in communion with anything, you are a dead human being. You have to be in communion with the river, with the birds, with the trees, with the extraordinary light of the evening, the light of the morning on the water; you have to be in communion with your neighbour, with your wife or husband, with your children. I mean by communion non-interference of the past, so that you look at everything afresh, anew. That is the only way to be in communion with something, so that you die to everything of yesterday. And is it possible? One has to find this out, not ask how to do it—that is such an idiotic question and shows a mentality not of understanding but of wanting to achieve a result.
So I am asking if you are ever in contact with anything, or with yourself—not with your higher self and lower self and all the innumerable divisions that we have created to escape from the fact. You have to find out, not be told how to come to this total action. There is no ‘how’; there is no method; there is no system; you cannot be told. You have to work for it. I’m sorry, l don’t mean that word work—people love to work; it is one of our fantasies that we must work to achieve something. You can’t work; when you are in a state of communion, there is no working, it is there; the perfume is there, you don’t have to work.
The mind can be silently in communion with itself about everything.
So ask yourself, if I may request, find out for yourself whether you are in communion with anything—whether you are in communion with a tree. Have you ever been in communion with a tree? Do you know what it means to look at a tree, to have no thought, no memory interfering with your observation, with your feeling, with your sensibility, with your state of attention, so that there is only the tree, not you who are looking at the tree? Probably you have not done this, because for you a tree has no meaning. The beauty of a tree has no significance at all; for to you, beauty means sexuality. So you have shut out the tree, nature, the river, the people. You are not in contact with anything, even with yourself. You are in contact with your own ideas, your own words, like a human being in contact with ashes. Do you know what happens when you are in contact with ashes? You are dead; you are burnt out.
So there must be a total action that will not create contradiction at any level of your existence; be in communion, communion with yourself, not with the higher self, not with the Atman, God, and all that, but to be actually in contact with yourself, with your greed, envy, ambition, brutality, deception, and then from there move. Then you will find out for yourself—find out, not be told, which has no meaning—that there is a total action only when there is complete silence of the mind from which there is action.
For most of us, the mind is noisy, everlastingly chattering to itself, soliloquising or chattering about something, or trying to talk to itself, to convince itself of something; it is always moving, noisy. And from that noise, we act. Any action born of noise produces more noise, more confusion. But if you have observed and learned what it means to communicate, the difficulty of communication, the non-verbalisation of the mind—that it is that which communicates and receives communication—then, as life is a movement, you will, in your action, move on naturally, freely, easily, without any effort, to that state of communion. And in that state of communion—if you inquire more deeply—you will find that you are not only in communion with nature, with the world, with everything about you, but also in communion with yourself.
To be in communion with yourself means complete silence so that the mind can be silently in communion with itself about everything. And from there, there is total action. It is only out of emptiness that there is an action that is total and creative.
From the book On Nature and the Environment by J. Krishnamurti — Purchase here
There is a tree by the river…
There is a tree by the river, and we have been watching it day after day for several weeks when the sun is about to rise. As the sun rises slowly over the horizon, over the trees, this particular tree becomes all of a sudden golden. All the leaves are bright with life, and as you watch it as the hours pass by, that tree whose name does not matter—what matters is that beautiful tree—an extraordinary quality seems to spread all over the land, over the river. As the sun rises a little higher, the leaves begin to flutter, to dance. And each hour seems to give to that tree a different quality. Before the sun rises, it has a sombre feeling, quiet, far away, full of dignity. As the day begins, the leaves with the light on them dance and give it that peculiar feeling one has of great beauty. By midday, its shadow has deepened and you can sit there protected from the sun, never feeling lonely, with the tree as your companion. As you sit, there is a relationship of deep abiding security and a freedom that only trees can know. Towards the evening, when the western skies are lit up by the setting sun, the tree gradually becomes sombre, dark, closing in on itself. The sky has become red, yellow, green, but the tree remains quiet, hidden, and is resting for the night.
If you establish a relationship with it, you have relationship with mankind. You are responsible then for that tree and for the trees of the world. But if you have no relationship with the living things on this earth, you may lose whatever relationship you have with humanity, with human beings. We don’t look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree—not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots. You must be extraordinarily sensitive to hear the sound. This sound is not the noise of the world, not the noise of the chattering of the mind, not the vulgarity of human quarrels and warfare, but sound as part of the universe.
Healing gradually takes place if you are with nature.
It is odd that we have so little relationship with nature, with the insects and the leaping frog and the owl that hoots among the hills, calling for its mate. We never seem to have a feeling for all living things on the earth. If we could establish a deep abiding relationship with nature, we would never kill an animal for our appetite; we would never harm, vivisect, a monkey, a dog, a guinea pig for our benefit. We would find other ways to heal our wounds and our bodies. But the healing of the mind is something totally different. That healing gradually takes place if you are with nature, with that orange on the tree and the blade of grass that pushes through the cement, and the hills covered, hidden, by the clouds.
This is not sentiment or romantic imagination but a reality of a relationship with everything that lives and moves on the earth. Man has killed millions of whales and is still killing them. All that we derive from their slaughter can be had through other means. But apparently man loves to kill things, the fleeting deer, the marvellous gazelle and the great elephant. We love to kill each other. This killing of other human beings has never stopped throughout the history of man’s life on this earth. If we could, and we must, establish a deep long abiding relationship with nature, with the actual trees, the bushes, the flowers, the grass and the fast-moving clouds, then we would never slaughter another human being for any reason whatsoever. Organised murder is war, and though we demonstrate against a particular war, the nuclear or any other kind of war, we have never demonstrated against war itself. We have never said that to kill another human being is the greatest sin on earth.
From the book Krishnamurti to Himself by J. Krishnamurti — Purchase here
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