June 9, 2016

Accepting the Dark Side of Nature: The Ethical Concerns of a Moth & a Spider.

Zac Cannon/Flickr

Nature has her dark side.

Unlike us crafty humans, she doesn’t need to hide all of the terror and death that is. And that, in itself, is pure beauty.

A few months ago, I found myself in an odd situation. A moth had flown in to a spiderweb and gotten himself pretty tangled. I looked, and saw him being pursued by an aggressive arachnid.

The thought popped in my head: “I have to play God.”

It was up to me to decide the fate of these two creatures. Do I allow the moth to escape, leaving the spider hungry? Or do I let this moth be consumed? I felt a choice needed to be made, but after a moment of contemplation I decided to step back and accept.

It was not my place to interfere in their interactions. This was a moment to allow Mother Nature to guide her creations into abundance or death. While it was mildly difficult to allow something to die, I felt this was exactly how the life-cycle was meant to play out. In that death, there was no less beauty than in the survival of the creature.

Now, this story brought to my mind our ideas of acceptance and rejection of life and its many facets.

So, I started breaking down the difference between accepting and rejecting reality, as well as the idea that morality plays a role in this split.

I see these differences as fitting into the simple idea of “this is okay” versus “this is not okay.”

In the former, there is a sense of acceptance, of fully perceiving reality as it is, unhindered by belief, ideas or desires for what we want reality to be.

In the latter, there is a sense of denial, rejection of what we see. This category is not just a feeling of discontent toward the object of focus, but a serious core belief that this object that fits into the “not okay” section deserve to be exiled, was a mistake, and goes against the very laws of reality.

The latter category is, in my opinion, a form of deep repression and aggression toward the universe itself.

What happens here is that we’re claiming that something is worse than evil. It is so vile, so disgusting, so nauseating that we can’t even stand to have the idea of it float into our stream of thought. So we banish it into the dark recesses of our subconscious. We try to forget it even exists, and this creates a psychic block of anxiety within ourselves.

Why does this happen?


We believe life should be a certain way, should have certain rules, follow our own guidelines and not stray from them even by a millimeter. When this happens, we are constructing a reality that is different than what is, and that is the most dangerous game to play when we are seeking happiness and truth.

The cure for this?


We must come to see that all the horror, all the terror and death and sadness that fills our reality is supposed to be here. I am not sure if God created it or if it’s a part of the divine unfolding of reality, but I know for certain it is a truth that there are parts of life that are so dark they make me shiver just to imagine them. But they are perfect. They are wholesome. They are exactly what they are, and that is beautiful.

Now, this may be misconstrued, so I want to clarify. I do not condone any acts of evil, anything that creates suffering or removes love from life. To say that someone who murders another human being is a beautiful person is a very tricky idea to wrap our head around, but I believe it can be done. The way to do so is to take a multidimensional view of life.

We must see that life, in and of itself, is perfect, created as it is supposed to be created simply because it is exactly how it is. This is a level of acceptance that comes from the consciousness or the objective observer.

Ram Dass has a great quote about this that I will paraphrase. He mentions how when you go to a forest and look at trees, you never say, “Oh that maple is a little too bright, and the oak is too gnarled for my taste, if only it were taller, then I would love it.” The reason we don’t do that is because trees grow exactly how they are supposed to based on the sunlight, nutrients and conditions of weather that affect it.

This is different than how we look at human beings, because we instantly begin to judge.

But from this perspective, we can see the perfection. We can see the beauty of everyone growing as they are based on their conditions for growth!

Now, the second perspective we must look at is a moral gaze, a subjective lens. How do we orient our lives and move ourselves more in a direction of peace, love and unity? This seems to directly contradict our belief that life is perfect, because if it was perfect, why would we need to work toward anything at all?

My answer is simple: because that is what human beings do. We work toward unity and connection, peace and joy, harmony and contentment. We exist in a reality of dualism, and it is our desire to move toward more light and love.

Now one might say, “But consciousness is a human trait! We must protect it and defend it from evil, therefore there is something we must fix.”

I do not agree. Consciousness is untouchable and unattached to the phenomenon that is happening in life.

Consciousness is a glass that holds the waters of chaos and calamity. While those factors are present in the water, they never affect the glass. It is perfectly safe holding the entire experience. Every time anything traumatic happens and I begin to believe that my observer is damaged, I simply ask myself, “Okay, if you believe you are damaged, who is viewing the belief and feelings of damage?” The answer is always consciousness! As the Bhagavad Gita says:

“The Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it…It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity.” (Chapter 2 verses 23-24)

In this context, the Self can be seen as consciousness. And consciousness is undamaged. Our experience of how large, visible, congruent or clear it is changes—but it, in and of itself, is untouchable.

To live life fully, to see the depth and breath of all that is here with an open heart and clear mind, we must accept that everything in life is simply okay, and that it deserves to be here. With that, we can take two unique perspectives on how to view and move with life—one of complete objective agreement, and the other of subjective movement toward love and peace. With this combination, we will be able to move in the direction we want smoothly, with no beliefs or ideas about how life should be to trip us up!

This acceptance of all that life is takes some time and practice. If you are interested in practicing, one good way to start is to begin visualizing all of your fears, worries and doubts about life. Be warned, this will bring up some terrifying experiences, which are likely to rattle the cages of our mind. But with this rattling comes the chance for acceptance, which helps us live more freely and consciously in the ways we choose to live.

My hope is that we may see that, although we sometimes feel like a moth wrapped in a spider’s death grip, that two things are present: One, try your best to escape and move to a place of freedom—and two, if you get eaten, it is okay.

That is the way Mother Nature is, and once we can fully accept that, nothing will be our enemy.

Not even death itself.


Author: Nicholas Goodman

Image: Zak Cannon/Flickr 

Editors: Emily Bartran; Yoli Ramazzina

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