2009-11-08

Nature’s Double Nature

Nature is the source of all the good things we find in this world, such as the myriad sources of natural beauty. All that is good in ourselves and other persons is also part of the natural world.
 
We human beings evolved from insensate matter and non-sapient beings, so everything we care about and value in ourselves and our lives and the world arises from our natural origin. It is in us that nature possesses mindfulness and the ability to have concern for ourselves and others. The natural world includes the ability to feel compassion, empathy, sympathy, and appreciation because we human beings have evolved to possess those characteristics.

Much of nature does not yet possess mind or the ability to understand or know or be concerned about humanity. Much of the natural world does not yet have the ability to feel compassion, empathy, sympathy, or appreciation for any thing. So it is very important that we human beings, who possess these abilities as potentials, work hard to fully realize those potentials.

Yet nature is also the source of all suffering of human beings - for example, dangerous predators, deadly diseases, lack of food or water, heat or cold, or destructive weather. Because these elements of nature are generally mindless and without the ability to be concerned for human beings, they cannot be propitiated or negotiated with or appeased. It is only we human beings, by exercising our powers, who can come to understand these things and find way to protect ourselves from them.

We can enjoy the beauties of nature best from the vantage point of safety and comfort. If we are immersed in the dangers and threats of nature, we cannot afford the luxury of admiring what is harming and killing us. We bring ourselves and the rest of nature into harmony when we find a way to be happy in the midst of the rest of nature, without danger and harm, and yet while continuing to appreciate the rest of nature in its distinctiveness. A greater harmony, yielding greater happiness, will require bringing full happiness and an end to suffering to all sentient beings on Earth, and uplifting all sapient beings on Earth to their fulfillment.

The good things in us are natural, but so also are the evil things. Human beings suffer from things such as defects of the body that cause congenital diseases, aging, and death; defects of the brain that cause mental illness, mental weakness and vulnerability; and defects of character and personality; as well as instincts and innate patterns of thinking and behaving which are not best suited for our own happiness in all circumstances.

Human nature as it exists now is thus deeply flawed in some ways, while at the same time being exemplary in other ways, and divine in its potential realization. Individual human nature is thus neither purely nor originally good or evil or neutral. Each one of us contains a diversity of propensities and each one of us projects a diversity of effects on ourselves and the world around us. These propensities and effects can be good, or evil, or neutral.

 

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