Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Nature, my school (written in 2000)
Long ago I was sitting on a bench at Nichols Park in South Chicago. On a sunny, breezy, flowery, green, spring afternoon, heart-melting spring wind touches on my winter soul, barren tiredness after a long snowy, chilly, desolate winter. I felt ineffably smug like a baby in a mother’s bosom. Green grass, different plants and trees blanket the whole park. My eyes conspicuously spotted yellow dandelion. Some trees wear white flowers; still others do not put on any green clothing and remain the same as winter. I see some trees tall and others small. Above me the sparse gray-white clouds hung in the sky and the pleasant sun throws its warming light upon nature. Birds are singing sweet songs of the spring. When I look at green leaves, I feel energized. Looking at winter trees that do not hold any leaves, I prepare for the spring through winter. It is a great reminder that how humans go through that kind of cycle, which is nothing negative but a necessary part of life rooted in divine, providential wisdom.
Oh! Nature is truly a learning school--the best school in the world. I can learn many things from great nature, which has multiple, divergent, different colors, shapes, and heights. No green or white is superior to black or brown or yellow. In nature many different things naturally inhabit. Each thing in nature does not seem strange to one another. Each thing is just there as part of the whole and also as a distinctive agent in nature. When each thing takes one’s own color, shape, and size, which means distinctiveness, then each thing in nature is beautiful on its own and is in harmony with other things. Heidegger’s philosophic idea dasein (being-there) is a great reminder that each being in nature is meaningful by being there. In other words, no one can control others' existence or impose a meaning on to the other. It is a joy to find a similar idea from the Chinese word for nature: cha-yun. Cha literally means "for oneself" or "self" and yun means "for granted" or "given."
In nature, there is no hierarchy but interdependent relation through which other things exist. On the other side of "being-there," interdependence or interconnected life in nature must be emphasized, as modern ecology or biology or any other science greatly reflects this interconnected life in the world and universe, which marks a great shift away from Newtonian idea of materialistic, atomic, mechanic worldview in which things are not connected with each other, often leading to lifeless study and to an exploitation of nature. Sheer realization is that no thing in the world or universe including humankind can exist without its connection (interdependence) to others.