Why do most of us find nature beautiful? Especially if it’s mostly natural and untouched by humans, or mimics a more natural state?
There are many answers to this question.
We have co-evolved with the rest of nature. We evolved as part of Earth’s living systems. So naturally, we’ll tend to experience an affiliation with the rest of nature.
We have evolved to find certain types of nature attractive. We tend to be attracted to landscapes that serve our survival needs. Landscapes with trees, sun, wind, water, lush vegetation, shelter, abundant life, and so on.
There is obviously a cultural component to this. We learn what’s beautiful in nature and what’s not, and this is often rooted in something that makes sense in a survival context. Sometimes, it made sense several generations back (for instance, wanting to get rid of competition in the form of large predators) and not so much anymore.
SEAMLESS LIVING SYSTEM
We are, in a very real sense, Earth taking the form of us. The living systems of Earth take all the forms we see around us. We are Earth locally seeing, feeling, and experiencing itself. When we experience a tree or a landscape, we are Earth experiencing these parts of itself through and as us. And conversely, when the rest of nature encounters us, it’s Earth experiencing that part of itself – us – through all these other parts of itself.
SEAMLESS EVOLVING UNIVERSE
More fundamentally, we are existence experiencing itself. In the words of Carl Sagan, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. No wonder we find a lot of the universe and existence beautiful.
OUR NATURE / WHAT WE ARE
There is yet another fundamental answer to the question.
And that is that, to us, all our experiences happen within and as what we are. Our nature is to be capacity for all our experiences, and any and all experiences happen within and as what we are. We are oneness, and we are the love that comes from this oneness recognizing itself. We may not notice, but that doesn’t change our nature.
We naturally have preferences, including from evolution, culture, and our own biology and experiences. And because of this and sometimes our beliefs, hangups, issues, and so on, we find certain things distasteful or even ugly.
And yet, we tend to find much of nature very beautiful.
Why? One answer is because it is already and inevitably happening within and as what we are.
WHY DON’T WE FIND EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL?
Looking at all of this, another version of the question comes up:
Why don’t we find everything – all of nature and all of existence – beautiful?
I have already hinted at this earlier.
The answer is partly in our evolution, culture, biology, and personal experiences. We have natural preferences and biases because of all of these influences.
And the answer is partly in our beliefs, identifications, hangups, issues, and so on. These cause us to find certain things repulsive and unattractive, or even just boring and neutral.
The two often overlap, and the second tends to build on the first.
So the more we heal our beliefs and issues, the more we heal our relationship with all of life, and the more we notice and live from our nature, the more we tend to find everything beautiful.
We’ll still have our preferences. We’ll still be a good steward of our life and choose some things and not others. And we’ll tend to find more and more – and perhaps even everything – inherently beautiful.
CHANGING DEFINITION OF NATURE
Through this, we see a changing definition of nature.
I started out by defining nature in a more conventional sense, as relatively untouched ecosystems.
We went through defining nature as us too. Everything we are, do, and experience is – in a very real sense – nature. All of what we are and experience is part of the living seamless systems of Earth and the universe.
And we end up defining nature as all of existence.
Each of these is accurate in its own way.
Image: Scott Kelly, ISS Read More