What is Nature?

According to Pattiann Rogers, “Nature is what is, everything that is, everything that has been, and everything that is possible, including human actions, inventions, creations and imaginations.(This Nature, 1999). Rogers’ definition dismisses value judgements about events. All are part of nature; nature is cruel and kind. This includes war, poverty, murder, addiction, slavery, destruction of habitat, extinction of species. It also includes giving birth, protecting natural resources, building an aquaduct, planting trees, raising chickens in the backyard, giving up the car to use public transportation, equal employment opportunities, gender equality and same sex marriage.

Guilt is a part of human moral development. How people choose to act in a given situation determines if he or she will feel good about the decision or somehow wrong. The feeling that someone was hurt by an action creates guilt. This is the basis of moral development. An individual’s upbringing, culture our personal experiences affect it. If someone was abused or was denied basic needs, that person will bear the scars of suffering. Can this suffering be overcome so he or she will feel happy and complete? Because nature is all encompassing, nature embodies these questions.

It is expansive and liberating to know that all life is connected. It suggests that all experience is known in some vast way; even the unknown is simply waiting to unfold. One thing spins off of another or affects the development of another. As history unfolds, nature opens up to encompass more change. Change is constant, and everything is new. We humans have the opportunity to learn and evolve by feeding ourselves on the best of human accomplishments and nature’s beauty.

Henry David Thoreau and the Transcendentalism spoke of the “Oversoul.” There is a “spark” that is shared with others. This spark connects us to others. People can develop an awareness of it through meditation, a quieting of the mind. By quieting the mind, humans can listen to their bodies and nourish their connection to other animals. These acts develop intuition and a deeper understanding of the self and the self’s place in the world. If we have this soul connection, then we have the proclivity to nourish the good in ourselves and the world, to heal and to offer a healing hand to others, in short to love. Love brings joy, and love and joy are what keeps the soul in connection with the divine and with the divine in others.