Thursday, April 21, 2016

Quote of the Week 346 - Contrasting and Bridging the Scientific and the Indigenous

From as far back as I can remember, I had this notion of plants as companions and teachers, neighbors and friends. Then, when I went to college, a shift occurred for me. As an aspiring botany major, I was pressured to adopt the scientific worldview; to conceive of these living beings as mere objects; to ask not, “Who are you?” but, “How does it work?” This was a real challenge for me. But I was madly in love with plants, so I worked hard to accommodate myself to this new approach.

Later in my career, after I’d gotten my PHD and started teaching, I was invited to sit among indigenous knowledge holders who understood plants as beings with their own songs and sensibilities. In their presence, and in the presence of the plants themselves, I woke from the sleep I’d fallen into. I was reminded of what I’d always known in my core: that my primary relationship with plants was one of apprenticeship. I’m learning from plants, as opposed to only learning about them.

Let me add that my appreciation of plants has been greatly enriched by knowing the beauty of chlorophyll and photosynthesis, and hormones and cellular biology. Ideally the two ways of knowing can reinforce one another.

Both Western science and traditional ecological knowledge are methods of reading the land. That’s where they come together. But they’re reading the land in different ways. Scientists use the intellect and the senses, usually enhanced by technology. They set spirit and emotion off to the side, and bar them from participating. Often science dismisses indigenous knowledge as folklore – not objective or empirical, and thus not valid. But indigenous knowledge, too, is based on observation, on experiment. The difference is that it includes spiritual relationships and spiritual explanations. Traditional knowledge brings together the seen and the unseen, whereas Western science says that if we can’t measure something, it doesn’t exist.

Western science explicitly separates observer and observed. It’s rule number one: keep yourself out of the experiment. But to the indigenous way of thinking, the observer is always in relationship with the observed, and thus it’s important that she know herself: As I watch that bee and flower, as I study how water moves, as I observe the growth of the grass in this meadow, I understand that the kind of being I am colors how I see and feel and know. Furthermore, my presence might even be influencing how the world is working around me. It’s important to recognize the relationship that exists between the observer and the observed.


--Robin Wall Kimmerer, a native American with a PhD in botany, interviewed by Leath Tonino in The Sun magazine, April 2016

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Quote of the Week 381 - Heaven

Heaven is all round,

Translated to sound.

--Michael Hedges

CURRENT TEACHING SESSIONS

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Announcing Publication of New Book, DIMENSIONS: Navigation the Spiritual Spectrum


I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum, now available at Amazon, in paperback print and Kindle versions. It is easily found by searching my name, or by searching the full title and subtitle. You can also click on the image of the book in the right hand column of this blog.


What a great way to start the New Year, cozying up to a fire, real or imagined, and reading a new spiritually inspiring book, sure to become a classic!


DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum

Grounded in the traditions of Torah and Veda, Steven J. Gold takes us on an oceanic tour of the depth and breadth of spiritual consciousness. Sharing personal stories and insights into various traditional scriptures as examples, he urges us to adopt a spiritual worldview, to “ponder infinity, awake and arise,” to “find your inspiration and follow it.”


“The chapters…are records of what happens when Steve’s right mind, and heart, are given full freedom to wander where they wish. As discoveries and correlations are made, his well-trained left mind and sharp wit give his observations shape and form…” – Brother Shankara, Resident Minister, Vedanta Center of Atlanta


“Universal Ice Cream: Dive deep into Steve’s wonderful book to help find your favorite flavor on the Spiritual Spectrum.” – Rabbi Mitch Cohen, Spiritual Leader, Congregation Shalom B’Harim, Dahlonega, GA

“Steven J. Gold’s Dimensions is an exploration of spirituality from the inside out. If you are looking for a guide through the pathless land of truth, read this book.” – Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The World Wisdom Bible



Interfaith/Inter-Spiritual Contemplative Groups

Please check out the following, which is an ongoing activity that may be of interest:


http://www.interfaithci.org/contemplative.html


Or


http://www.neshamainterfaithcenter.org/specialevents/#contemplation