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What is natural?

kaegriffykaegriffy England New

I always thought of anything that is a product of life is natural. I would consider an iPhone natural in the sense that us humans have grown in intelligence to be able to create what ever we can understand, the idea of the iPhone was naturally stemmed from our thoughts. Everything to me was natural, i think of everything that happens part of the Way. But the philosopher Xunzi changed my mind. He proposed that most of our surroundings and methods of livelihood are a product of artifice. We have morphed, refined, pressed, altered the world around us. The fruits and berries we eat now grow so prosperously now because we cultivated them to grow within the seasons. We started agriculture and infrastructure. He suggested that natural isn't always a 'good' thing. The idea of being 'true to yourselves' is an escape or excuse from the discipline it takes to control ones self. To even act in accordance with Buddhas teachings could be considered artificial, but it is this artifice that helps us create a world that can hold both humans and all other natural phenomena. The balance between intelligence and spirituality.

What are your thoughts on this philosophy?

personKeromeJeffreyShoshinDavidRowan1980

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I don't worry too much about outside factors unless I know for sure that ultimately they have a negative impact.
    Then, in my own small way (some might say insignificant, but every little bit helps) I try to reverse the process, or at least, minister an antidote....

    I concern myself more with abandoning harsh or solid-rock opinion, and count each day I am upright, breathing and above ground, a blessing.

    Alex
  • kaegriffykaegriffy England New

    There is no worry to be administered on philosophy, of course you can live your life ritually with peace and all the 'small' everyday acts that are aligned with the Way. But to disregard knowledge as 'meaningless' or 'pointless' is one sure way to leave yourself proudly iced in your own ways, ultimately hindering your progress in this life.

    To speculate whether something is natural or not goes a long way into helping create an environment for others as well as your self to live in beneficially. Its just another perspective that can help broaden our vision on the world, whilst accepting all that comes.> @federica said:

    I don't worry too much about outside factors unless I know for sure that ultimately they have a negative impact.
    Then, in my own small way (some might say insignificant, but every little bit helps) I try to reverse the process, or at least, minister an antidote....

    I concern myself more with abandoning harsh or solid-rock opinion, and count each day I am upright, breathing and above ground, a blessing.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I suppose to some extent the distinction between natural and not is somewhat arbitrary. Though I agree it is more useful to think of it as natural being something that occurs without intentional direction or interference and artificial as something that results from some sort of intentional action.

    Though, now that I think of it that definition isn't so clear either. Is a bee's nest or a beaver dam intentional or could it be said to be purely instinctual and natural?

    Relating it to the Buddhadharma and being true to yourself. I think, yes, the teachings are an intentional and thus an artificial act. On the other hand I think it is important to be authentic and genuine about one's mental world and spiritual attainments rather than putting on a show of spirituality, not only for others but fooling yourself. Sort of like the difference between character and personality.

    KeromeDavid
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited May 16

    I tend to define natural as anything untouched by the human mind. I think we humans have a particular problem in that our natural state gets polluted quite quickly by the ideas passed down by others from different points in our history. We come into this world as natural beings, but we quickly start imitating facial expressions and sounds, and we often talk before we are a year old. Yet babies are some of the most happy people on the planet, if their needs are met.

    The question then becomes, how can we return to the state of original happiness? Can we become aware of all the things that have been poured into our minds and avoid the pitfalls? I think a certain degree of artifice in our lives is unavoidable, but allowing the natural world to coexist with the human world is an important goal.

    Buddhadhamma is one of a number of competing memetic streams which make up our mental environment. That mental environment births our physical environment. It contains the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years. But I wouldn’t call it “natural” largely because we have acquired this convention of human world and natural world.

    It’s a tricky point of language because of the different meanings of the word ‘natural’. On the one hand being natural is doing anything that flows from ones nature, on the other hand the ‘natural world’ is held to be distinct from what we humans do.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @kaegriffy said:... But to disregard knowledge as 'meaningless' or 'pointless' is one sure way to leave yourself proudly iced in your own ways, ultimately hindering your progress in this life.

    I'm not sure how you might have gathered the impression that I consider knowledge meaningless or pointless, if that is your inference. I have neither used the terms, nor implied such a thing... I trust you're not making some kind of presumption, and ending up with 2 + 2 = 7...?

    To speculate whether something is natural or not goes a long way into helping create an environment for others as well as your self to live in beneficially. Its just another perspective that can help broaden our vision on the world, whilst accepting all that comes.

    There is a point where such speculation transforms into papanca, and we can be distracted excessively to the point of becoming stuck within opinions that may be better left aside. There are two sides to everything.
    The trick is to not succumb to either one or the other extreme but to find The Middle Way.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 16

    I also usually take 'natural' to mean relatively less affected by humans. So a tree growing in a city street is relatively more natural than a fire hydrant. And a state forest an area of more nature.

    I am interested in mathametics and science relation to nature. So math is a way of thinking. But is it a natural realm we discover? Science is cultivated by man from inductive reasoning out laws and then deductively applying to situations. But Science can tell you more about how that tree lives and how that forest functions.

    personDavid
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    There is a point where such speculation transforms into papanca,

    Welcome to New Buddhist. <3
    Thinking about thinking.
    Words about words.
    Naturally enough ...
    https://www.lionsroar.com/what-is-papanca/

    Posted by unnatural or natural means? Does not matter. Why would it?

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited May 17

    @kaegriffy said:
    I always thought of anything that is a product of life is natural. I would consider an iPhone natural in the sense that us humans have grown in intelligence to be able to create what ever we can understand, the idea of the iPhone was naturally stemmed from our thoughts. Everything to me was natural, i think of everything that happens part of the Way.

    I am inclined to agree with this point of view. In my way of thinking everything that can exist is natural. Fundamentally and absolutely, there is cooperation without opposition.

    But the philosopher Xunzi changed my mind. He proposed that most of our surroundings and methods of livelihood are a product of artifice. We have morphed, refined, pressed, altered the world around us. The fruits and berries we eat now grow so prosperously now because we cultivated them to grow within the seasons. We started agriculture and infrastructure. He suggested that natural isn't always a 'good' thing.

    What is called artificial I would call engineered. We manipulate the environment but we are the environment. I agree that what we do is not always beneficial but we are natural born explorers and anything that helps us share information is beneficial. That includes extending our life span and passing knowledge down through the ages. It really saddens me how much pain and senseless violence we have caused but this sadness gives me hope because it is a shared sadness that we as a world are becoming to address through the manipulation of the environment.

    The idea of being 'true to yourselves' is an escape or excuse from the discipline it takes to control ones self.

    Unless developing skillful awareness is being true to ones self.

    To even act in accordance with Buddhas teachings could be considered artificial, but it is this artifice that helps us create a world that can hold both humans and all other natural phenomena. The balance between intelligence and spirituality.

    I'm not so sure I can agree there. To act in accordance with Buddhas dharma is to strip away our conditioning so our true nature is no longer obscured.

    What are your thoughts on this philosophy?

    It has its merit however I think it fails to recognize non-seperation and seems to label human innovation as bad when we still have a ways to go.

    federicakaegriffy
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @person said:
    I suppose to some extent the distinction between natural and not is somewhat arbitrary. Though I agree it is more useful to think of it as natural being something that occurs without intentional direction or interference and artificial as something that results from some sort of intentional action.

    Though, now that I think of it that definition isn't so clear either. Is a bee's nest or a beaver dam intentional or could it be said to be purely instinctual and natural?

    I had this conversation just the other day. My position was that if plastic is unnatural then a bees honey is also unnatural. My friends line was that bees don't make honey in laboratories to which I responded "they would if they could".

    lobsterkaegriffy
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @David said:
    What is called artificial I would call engineered. We manipulate the environment but we are the environment. I agree that what we do is not always beneficial but we are natural born explorers and anything that helps us share information is beneficial.

    I do like the use of the word engineered as a distinction between man made and not rather than natural. Natural is an accurate description but it also contains the implication that humans are apart from nature rather than a part of nature. I'll probably try to use engineered rather than natural when appropriate.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @person said:

    @David said:
    What is called artificial I would call engineered. We manipulate the environment but we are the environment. I agree that what we do is not always beneficial but we are natural born explorers and anything that helps us share information is beneficial.

    I do like the use of the word engineered as a distinction between man made and not rather than natural. Natural is an accurate description but it also contains the implication that humans are apart from nature rather than a part of nature. I'll probably try to use engineered rather than natural when appropriate.

    Well I mean, we didn't make the materials, we just put them together in such and such a way.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I concern myself more with abandoning harsh or solid-rock opinion, and count each day I am upright, breathing and above ground, a blessing.

    I knew there was a plan ...

    How can we be a blessing? Tips to the usual addressing ...

    OM MANI FESTI ACT ONS

    KeromeKundo
  • LionduckLionduck Veteran

    "What is natural?" I assume you are asking regarding us human types.
    I'll let you know when I find out.

    lobsterKundo
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It is interesting to think about what is natural... I do agree with Xunzi that a lot of our environment and thought is born of artifice. But I do think that there are some pretty primal responses still within us, for example sex or fight-or-flight.

    @lobster’s question “how can we be a blessing?” is a good one, many people are still busy competing and taking care of the base needs for themselves and their families. I think as a society we need to create the space which allows people to become a blessing...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Lionduck said:
    "What is natural?" I assume you are asking regarding us human types.
    I'll let you know when I find out.

    Tee Hee <3

    Be at peace in your skin/being/mind/shell ... iz plan.
    We don't have to be the Buddha's buddha (despite what you hear from the baby bhumis). We have to become our unfolding/moulting/natural woman o:)

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