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Chapter 54 - If you hurt nature you are hurting yourself
Surely educators are aware of what is actually happening in the world. People are divided racially, religiously, politically, economically, and this division is fragmentation. It is bringing about great chaos in the world-wars, every kind of deception politically, and so on. There is the spreading violence of man against man. This is the actual state of confusion in the world, in the society in which we live; and this society is created by all human beings with their culture, their linguistic divisions, their regional separations. All this is breeding not only confusion but hatred, a great deal of antagonism and further linguistic differences.
This is what is happening; and the responsibility of the educator is really very great. He is concerned in all these schools to bring about a good human being who has a feeling of global relationship, who is not nationalistic, regional, separate, religiously clinging to the old dead traditions, which really have no value at all. The responsibility of the educator becomes more and more serious, more and more committed, more and more concerned with the education of his students.
What is education doing actually? Is it really helping mankind, our children, to become more concerned, more gentle, generous, not to go back to the old pattern, the old ugliness and naughtiness of this world? If the educator is really concerned, as he must be, then he has to help the student to find out his relationship to the world, not to the world of imagination or romantic sentimentality, but to the actual world in which all things are taking place; and also to the world of nature, to the desert, the jungle or the few trees that surround him, and to the animals of the world. (Animals, fortunately, are not nationalistic; they hunt only to survive.) If the educator and the student lose their relationship to nature, to the trees, to the rolling sea, each will certainly lose his relationship with humanity.
What is nature? There is a great deal of talk about and endeavour to protect nature, the animals, the birds, the whales and dolphins, to clean the polluted rivers, the lakes, the green fields and so on. Nature is not put together by thought, as religion is, as belief is. 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 and the bee and all the living things of the earth. Nature is the river, not a particular river, whether the Ganges, the Thames or the Mississippi. Nature is all those mountains, snow-clad, with dark blue valleys and ranges of hills meeting the seas. The universe is part of this world. One must have a feeling for all this, not destroy it, not kill for one's pleasure, not kill animals for food. We do kill the vegetables that we eat, but one must draw the line somewhere. If you do not eat vegetables, then how will you live? So one must intelligently discern.
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; be sensitive to the little plant, to the little weed, to the creeper that is growing up the wall, to the light on the leaves and the many shadows? You 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. The next-door garden may be ill-kept, crowded with weeds, but look at the flower in it, and feel that you are part of all that, part of all living things. If you hurt nature you are hurting yourself.
One knows that 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 own desires, our own 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 are seeing the tree, the bush, the blade of grass for the first time. Then you can see your teacher, your mother and father, your brother and sister, for the first time. There is an extraordinary feeling about that, like the wonder, the strangeness, the miracle of a fresh morning that has never been before, never will be again.
Be really 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, a 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.
Watch that single star and new delicate moon as though for the first time. If there is such communion between you and nature, then you can commune with man, with the student 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 particular group or race, or to some idealistic concepts, but that we are all human beings and we are all living on this extraordinary, beautiful earth.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and looked out of the window, or gone out 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 a leaf and watch the sun coming over the hill, over the meadow; and the dry river, or sheep grazing across the hill. Watch them; look at them with a sense of affection, care that you do not want to hurt a thing. When you have such communion with nature, then your relationship with another person becomes simple, clear, without conflict.
This is one of the responsibilities of the educator, not merely to teach mathematics or how to use a computer. It is far more important to have communion with other human beings who suffer, struggle and have great pain and the sorrow of poverty-and also with the people who go by in a rich car. If the educator is concerned with this, he is helping the student to become sensitive to other people's sorrows, other people's struggles, anxieties and worries, and the rows that one has in the family. It should be the responsibility of the teacher to educate the children, the students, 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, vulgar.
The educator should talk about all these things-not just verbally, he must feel the world, 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.