Working on with Nature
“Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.“—H.P. Blavatsky, Voice of the Silence
What does it mean to “work on with Nature”, to be a co-worker with the vast ecosystem in which we, as all life, are integral parts? Certainly human beings are in a unique position to play an active role in the continued evolution and development of Nature. Our access to higher cognitive functions—in theosophical terminology: our use of the “higher manas”—give us the ability to both create and destroy the natural environment around and within us. Our choices, even those that may seem insignificant, can lead us forwards and upward, or headlong into catastrophe.
The attempt to live theosophical lives requires us to look deeply and critically at ourselves and our actions, to ask ourselves the tough questions: are we doing the best we can? are we living in tune with our deepest held morals, our most cherished spiritual values? are we engaged in “right living”, in each moment and each act?
To become a co-worker with Nature we must come to understand our relationship with her. To do this we must look at each of our actions and determine whether or not it is in tune with her ecosystem. Are our thoughts and actions in tune with the natural symphony of life? Or are we off key?
It may be that the most common actions of our daily lives hold the greatest power to be either destructive or creative. Our “life’s meditation“—the train of thought and ideation of our daily lives—will largely determine the relationship we have with our surroundings. This meditation fosters repetitive actions, in individuals and society at large, that tend to become so common-place that we cease to even question whether or not they are productive of good or “evil”. One such field of action is our relationship with food, perhaps our most intimate connection with the material world in which we live. Every day we sit down to eat, and the choices we make in that moment have tremendous effects on the entire ecosystem of our little blue globe. We choose whether we are going to eat food sourced from animals or food sourced from plants, and this everyday action, this little choice of ours, impacts Nature more drastically than perhaps any other of our common daily actions. So how do we know which choices are best, which choices lead us forwards and upwards versus those that tend towards destruction?
In the early days of the Theosophical Society, much was written on our relationship with food and with animals. Damodar K. Mavalankar wrote a pointed article titled “The Best Food for Man“; H. P. Blavatsky wrote against vivisection, against the slaughter of animals, and covered various other subjects of “animal rights” and “flesh-eating” (see “Blavatsky on Animal Rights“); Anna Kingsford wrote her popular book The Perfect Way in Diet; and many others shared in the wide discussion. However, these discussions largely revolved around the way in which our choices to exploit and use animals affect ourselves, the environment within us, but little was said about the way in which these choices may affect the environment around us.
Today, a discussion of our choice to use animals for products and food cannot be had without discussing the environmental damage caused by meat, dairy and animal products. There have been numerous studies and publications that will help us understand the effect our use of animals has on the environment, from United Nations studies to studies on water conservation, etc., but nowhere else are these facts and figures made more relatable and understandable than in the documentary Cowspiracy:
Another documentary that bids us to ask the tough questions about our most common daily actions is Global Warming: MEAT THE TRUTH. It’s available on YouTube, here:
As we learn about the way in which our daily thoughts and actions cause ripples that effect all life around us, we become empowered to take up our position as Nature’s co-workers. Let each of us do what we can to “work on with Nature” and be worthy stewards of this beautiful world!