Friday, March 25, 2011

A New Spiritual Community

I have decided to found a new spiritual community and spiritual movement, which I am calling Nature's Temple. I call the belief system Nature Mysticism. I have included the principles (there are quite a few) below. I hope you enjoy reading them.

The core beliefs of Nature’s Temple:

1) The human being is an animal. We are no more different from other animals than they are from each other. We are not a race apart. All the creatures of the earth are our sisters and brothers.
2) We gather to express and share our love of life and our deep pleasure in the beauty of the world in which we live.
3) We pursue an ever deeper and more ecstatic experience of life.
4) The pursuit of ecstasy is inseparable from the pursuit of love. We strive to make our hearts ever more open to the giving and receiving of love.
5) Ecstasy is about communion. The greatest ecstasy involves a euphoric and mystical sense of connection to all that is.
6) And, since the human race is part of all that is, communion with all human beings is part of the ecstatic experience. This understanding leads, in turn, to the inevitable awareness that justice, respect, equality, and freedom must be brought to all individuals, to all communities, and to all tribes.
7) Nature’s Temple strives to help each participant rediscover and deepen access to joy that does not come from possessing things. We pursue joy from love, from physical pleasure, from experiences of nature, from healthful food that is lovingly prepared, from music and theater and all of the arts, from dance, from touch.
8) We pursue equality and mutual respect, not just as words but as a deeply committed way of life. We renounce the outlook that some people are more valuable than others, that some people’s opinions should be taken seriously while others should not, that some people are worthy of having say and others are not. We will lovingly call each other on elitism and superiority where they creep into our own attitudes and communications.
9) Our gatherings are devoted to the pursuit of love, justice, and ecstasy.
10) Toward this end, we explore rituals, writings, music, and other forms that draw us upward toward elevated awareness, and downward toward rootedness, toward communion with the earth. Candles and other forms of fire, shared dances, songs, and prayers: these are examples of myriad avenues that we pursue and myriad aids to spiritual joy that we use.
11) We refuse the view that the attachment to the human body is the source of human suffering, or that dwelling in this physical and finite world brings pain that must be escaped. There is no need to transcend our animal nature; in fact, to do so is to reject who we are, to create alienation from ourselves and our surroundings, the world we were born of an into. Our joy and our meaning are right here.
12) The highest form of human life happens when we love each other and find ecstasy in our lives on this earth.
13) We proudly proclaim the beauty, sanctity, and purity of the human being and the human body, and of our inherent purpose, which is to be loving and joyful upon this earth.
14) We proudly proclaim the beauty, sanctity, and purity of the other animals on this earth, and of all forms of life with which we share our home.
15) We believe in the beauty, sanctity, and purity of body-based sensory pleasure, whether it be the feeling of the wind on our skin, the smell of an aromatic meal, the pleasure of a massage, the squish of mud between toes, the ecstatic sounds of music, the songs of birds, the warmth of the sun on our backs, the pleasures of lovemaking, dipping into cold water, sitting under a waterfall, rolling down a hill…
16) Moreover, if we lived reveling in these pleasures, there would be no need or desire to pollute and choke the earth, no need to accumulate objects, no need to enslave people and animals.
17) Work is inherently a joyful activity. It does not need to be avoided except when it takes up too much of our lives. Work only becomes drudgery under hierarchy: when it is controlled by others (bosses) and we lose our say, when we are isolated (having to work far away from the people we love, without community), or when it is unnatural (having to work indoors under artificial light, having to do work that harms the earth or its denizens, having to do work that does not enhance life).
18) Therefore, Nature’s Temple gatherings sometimes involve joyfully working together on projects that benefit particular people or that benefit us all, or that are good for the earth and its inhabitants.
19) We are eager to cooperate with other spiritual and religious groups on social action and resistance, community development and assistance projects, and sharing of ecumenical ceremonies / gatherings.
20) We do not believe that the naming of a belief as “religious” or “spiritual” makes that belief above moral and ethical examination and above criticism. We will not hesitate to speak out respectfully but forcefully against religious tenets that spread hatred, that demonize any form of non-exploitative love, that bring shame or rejection to the human body, or that propound the inferiority of any group, be it by race, gender, sexual orientation, age, tribe, or class. We also reject any form of torture or mutilation of children or adults, regardless of its claimed religious or spiritual significance.
21) The raising or hunting of animals to provide food for us must be carried out with the most kindness possible, and the decision to confine an animal or take its life must never lack seriousness or gratitude on our part.
22) The raising or capturing of animals to make them work for us is questionable ethically, and should be constantly reexamined.
23) The destruction of any animal’s habitat is only ethically defensible where it is essential to our survival or well-being. Such excuses as luxury, “progress,” technological advancement, “protecting our modern lifestyle,” “national security,” or the furthering of interests of investors, do not justify the killing of animals or the destruction of their habitat.
24) We have reason to believe that there is still time to save the earth’s people, animals, and other forms of life, if we move quickly into a loving, non-materialistic relationship to the earth, put our best thinking into finding solutions to the environmental crisis, and work from a basis of love and cooperation. Tremendous and rapid change will be required, however, both in how we live externally and in how we think and believe.
25) It is our inherent nature to live in a tribe or clan. Most human suffering can be traced to the destruction of the tribes. It is urgent that we respect and preserve existing tribes, and that we find ways to return to the tribal basis of life.
26) Deep spirituality is not just about pursuing true joy, but also about looking squarely at exploitation and atrocity. Spirituality is often not pretty. It involves gazing deeply into the harsh reality of the cruelty that has been done to individuals, communities, and peoples. It involves grasping and rejecting the excuses and justifications that have been made for those thefts of land, of ways of life, and of lives themselves. Spirituality is about deep connection to beauty; however, when one connects fully to beauty, one also finds the need to connect to what is destroying that beauty, and to stop it.
27) The basis of modern oppression (and perhaps of ancient oppression as well) is materialism, the belief that satisfaction comes from possession and control of things. The desire for possession is interwoven with the desire for power and status, and the desire to avoid doing one’s share of the work, especially the more difficult and unpleasant work. (An irony here is that materialism causes an inconceivably vast increase in the amount of miserable work that has to be done.)
28) Interacting with unnatural machines, including tiny ones, is an impediment to joyful and deep awareness. By unnatural we mean machines that contain unnatural or polluting materials, that pollute during their use, that pollute when they are disposed of, or that required pollution in their construction, which applies to all but a tiny portion of machines that we use in the modernized world. We strive to reduce to an absolute minimum the amount of our lives that we spend in such engagement.
29) Other animals do not spend the bulk of their lives suffering. In fact, suffering is much more the exception than the rule in the animal world. It is precisely in our decision to attempt to stop being animals that we have created lives of loneliness, starvation, violence, and oppression. Our joy can be found by returning to what we were born to be: physical creatures in a beautiful and pleasurable physical world.

If you find that you agree with most or all of what I've written here, please contact me about joining my Nature's Temple group (Western Mass.) or starting your own near where you live. Write to