Art by Raven that can be purchased here on Etsy. I have been talking to her about how being nature can heal the body, mind, and spirit. Creating a renewed sense of clarity and peace, I envision the pilgrim in nature in this way.
Mind like sky,
Thoughts floating up,
Thunder and lightening,
Relaxing in the storm,
The sage meditates,
On inner peace,
Revealing a rainbow,
This is my spiritual artist side, going with intuition and the Spirit. However, I am also a scientist who loves hard data and facts. To this end I recently stormed into the the Emory University library on a ravenous hunt for scientific support for my intuition that Nature can heal the body, mind, and spirit.
Raven and I had talked about wilderness pilgrimage. We loved the idea of studying the pilgrimages of hajj, the El Camino trail in Spain, and the trail of Mount Kailash. I particularly love the idea of Kailash pilgrimages. Here you have a mountain that is unclimbed because it is holy to Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Bon people, etc. as the source of water in Asia (India and China). Shiva is said to live atop the mountain. Pilgrims prostrate around the mountain.
It just so happens that I ran into two Tibetan monks named Lobsang Gonpo and James Lama with the Emory University Emory-Tibet program at the library that day. I had tutored Gelek Gyatso during my time at Emory University Physics department as a postdoctoral fellow. In that experience, I enjoyed teaching monks about nature more than working as a researcher in the laboratory. Perhaps one day I will teach monks in Dharamsala?
I talked to James for a while, showing him Raven and my poem-drawing (here). I talked about the meaning of the poem, sharing that I had felt a deep sense of compassion to people suffering in war in the Middle East. I had talked to Kai Yantiri’s Turkish wife, about this poem and she psychoanalyzed the dream that led to this poem. I have a reoccurring vision of my family in Bursa, Turkey being nuked by Israel. Thus, the mental hospitalization described here.
Perhaps irrationally as part of a symptom of bipolar disorder I, I interpreted the War of Terror as growing into total war in the Middle East with biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Drawing on the Gaza Flotilla incident where Turkish ships tried to bring aid to the Gaza strip and Israeli commandos stormed the ship, I extrapolated the Israeli-Turkish rift to its logical extreme. Fortunately, rationality has taken over in the Turkish-Israeli relationship and the tempers between these two countries have cooled down. I shared my poem The Descent of Man (also further explaination here, here , and here) with Kai and his wife. She psychoanalyze me and said in her own handwriting in my Moleskin notebook:
You know, when I write about this dream and explain it it really helps. By writing poetry and having Raven draw the Lion and Phoenix I realize that war is part of humanity. As Hegel stated in Philosophy of Right, war is part of human evolution.
“War is the state of affairs which deals in earnest with the vanity of temporal goods and concerns … This is what makes it the moment in which the ideality [i.e. the ultimate irreality] of the particular attains its right [i.e. the right of its transitoriness] and is actualized. … the blowing of the wind that preserves the sea from the foulness which would be the result of a prolonged calm.”
I struggle with the idea that war is necessary. James said I have a heart of deep compassion. I understand that I need training for this heart to bring love to the world. I have learned that a super-religious cooperative theology is need. I wrote about this in Princeton in this paper in 2012. Meeting Raven and learning about her theology of Spirit has given me solace that there is a person who understands this paper. Spirit pervades all things and loves all equally. Spirit has a range of states. I now understand from studying this art from her that:
It is Spirit who shows you lightening,
[causing] fear and aspiration,
and generates heavy clouds,
I understand a wilderness pilgrimage to be a time to learn how this lightening helps in:
Directing the pilgrim’s heart,
Eyes gaze ahead,
In Nature, one learns to be at peace with Spirit’s Nature. Stepping away from the cage of urban life, one learns that the mountain thunderstorms always clear and the sky returns to pristine blue. So it is with human society, war and peace are an eternal cycle. In the modern world, machines and humans are in this struggle. I want to walk for peace, returning to the mountains for a time to rest and like Zarathustra, return with an antidote for suffering.
According to The Nature Principle by Louv:
“Nature’s Tonic for Mental Health
As with general health issues, the application of nature to mental health takes three basic forms: self-applied or professionally prescribed therapy; the impact of environmental degradation on human psyche and spirit; and the restoration of nature where we live, work and play.
“There is growing…empirical evidence to show that exposure to nature brings substantial mental health benefits,” according to “Green Exercise and Green Care,” a 2009 report by researchers at the Centre for Environment and Society at the University of Essex. “Our findings suggest that priority should be given to developing the use of green exercise as a therapeutic intervention (green care).” In a study of more than 1,850 participants, these researchers reported three broad health outcomes from green exercise: improvement of psychological well-being (by enhancing mood and self-esteem, while reducing feelings of anger, confusion, depression, and tension); generation of physical health benefits (by reducing blood pressure and burning calories); and (as we’ll discuss in later chapters) the building of social networks.”
pp.58-59, The Nature Principle
In regards to my work as a teacher, Louv also states:
“…So-called at-risk students who have not had much experience in nature show a marked improvement of 27 percent in test scores, related to mastery of science, when they learn in week long residential outdoor education programs. They also showed enhanced cooperation and conflict-resolution skills; gains in self-esteem; gains in positive environmental behavior; and improvements in problem solving, motivation to learn, and classroom behavior. Typically, these studies controlled for socio-economic status, racial/ethnic makeup, building age, and size of enrollment.”
p. 30, The Nature Principle
I am going on a journey into Nature to gain insight and serenity with Spirit so that true learning can take place.
InnerLight Enlightenment by Dr. William Kaya Erbil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.