Jessie Arms Botke

“I am accused of mysticism. I do not, however, hold myself responsible for the fact that man has, everywhere and always, spontaneously developed religious forms of expression, and that the human psyche from time immemorial has been shot through with religious feelings and ideas. Whoever cannot see this aspect of the human psyche is blind, and whoever chooses to explain it away, or to “enlighten” it away, has no sense of reality.”
― C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

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“The body does not require the intercession of some conscious intellect to make it breathe, to keep the heart beating. It is to a great extent self-regulating, it is a life of its own.

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“Sensation and perception do not exactly come from outside, and unremitting thought and image-flow are not exactly outside. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us. There are more things in the mind, in the imagination, than ‘you’ can keep track of — thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden.

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“The depths of the mind, the unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches — the bobcat that roams from dream to dream.

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“The conscious agenda-planning ego occupies a very tiny territory, a little cubicle somewhere near the gate, keeping track of some of what goes in and out (and sometimes making expansionist plots), and the rest takes care of itself. The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild.”

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— Gary Snyder, “The Practice of the Wild”

The exquisite balance of natural systems in the world is upset by the stumbles of humans who are severed from their innate body wisdom by their own cultures. The currently dominant cultures that overwhelmed societies living in balance with nature are out of touch with both internal and external nature. Our culture could be called anti-natural. That is unsustainable.

Who is going to lead us back from the abyss? Will it be our politicians, our business leaders like Bill Gates, our religion or education?

I look to people who have more questions than quick-and-easy solutions, people who watch and listen and create beauty and insights out of delight and a desire to understand at depth. The benighted souls who live on the surface, who accept all the norms, are pretty useless as far as offering any real understanding of our situation.

The sensitivity and strength to penetrate below the surface of ourselves is rare, it seems. Those people who can’t help loving nature and pursuing beauty and meaning live in a different world than those who are focused only on getting and spending. We are all obliged to attend to our physical survival but if we mindlessly follow the crowd our life quickly loses meaning. We live in a culture that discourages depth in living. You have to find and create your own path with the hints you’re given by accident and synchronicity.

You will get help but you have to recognize it as help. Sometimes it just looks like misfortune or even catastrophe. We fear the wildness of life and in trying to stay safe, we have created chaos in the world.

In our personal depths there are conflicts, wars, and fragmentation, which are projected into the world. Nature is assaulted by human blindness. Nature needs humans with depth and a sense of connection to everything in and beyond themselves. Those humans are here but they are far from numerous. The fact that they exist, though, is a reason to hope.

Restoring our natural world is a mission that calls to the creators, artists, thinkers and lovers of all stripes. They are the only ones open to the new path we must find if we are to keep living in this miraculous world.

Jessie Arms Botke

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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