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Re/turning to soil: becoming one-bodied with the Earth

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This paper curates four experiential narratives and poetry by the five co-authors that illustrate epistemic and ontic shift from the Modern Western (ModWest) mindset to a holistic, embodied and animistic mindset. Coming from different cultural backgrounds, yet having been systemically influenced by the dominant ModWest views and values, each author has initiated an ongoing shift in consciousness, demonstrating how such transformations are possible. Affirming that a shift in consciousness is not simply a matter of cognitive change but is a thoroughly holistic process, the authors write in autobiographical narratives and poetry to capture and convey embodied and emplaced, experiential understanding and feelings, or ‘felt sense.’ Deep changes in the consciousness, such as these epistemic shifts, take the whole ensemble of “body + mind + heart + soul + spirit + the world” as the unit of change for learning. Through these writings, they sensuously and feelingly, existentially-and-spiritually and discursively explore possibilities of becoming one-bodied with the animate Earth. They call this the re-bonding project through which they address humanity’s first-order bonding rupture between Humans and the Earth community.
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Cultural Studies of Science Education (2021) 16:707–726
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Re/turning tosoil: becoming one‑bodied withtheEarth
CharlesScott1· TanyaBehrisch1· MonicaBhattacharjee1· StarleighGrass1·
Received: 22 December 2020 / Accepted: 15 January 2021 / Published online: 29 July 2021
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2021
This paper curates four experiential narratives and poetry by the five co-authors that illus-
trate epistemic and ontic shift from the Modern Western (ModWest) mindset to a holistic,
embodied and animistic mindset. Coming from different cultural backgrounds, yet having
been systemically influenced by the dominant ModWest views and values, each author has
initiated an ongoing shift in consciousness, demonstrating how such transformations are
possible. Affirming that a shift in consciousness is not simply a matter of cognitive change
but is a thoroughly holistic process, the authors write in autobiographical narratives and
poetry to capture and convey embodied and emplaced, experiential understanding and feel-
ings, or ‘felt sense.’ Deep changes in the consciousness, such as these epistemic shifts,
take the whole ensemble of “body + mind + heart + soul + spir it + the world” as the unit of
change for learning. Through these writings, they sensuously and feelingly, existentially-
and-spiritually and discursively explore possibilities of becoming one-bodied with the ani-
mate Earth. They call this the re-bonding project through which they address humanity’s
first-order bonding rupture between Humans and the Earth community.
Keywords Modern western worldview· ModWest· Holism· Embodiment·
Autobiographical narratives· Animism
यह शोध अध्ययन पाँच सह-लेखकों के चार अनुभतवमक कहानियाँ एवं कविताओं के चुनिंदा
संग्रहण को पेश करती है जो आधुनिक पाश्चात्य मानसिकता से हटकर एक पूर्णतवादी,
सन्निहित, और आध्यात्मिक सोच अपनाती है। सभी लेखक विविध सांस्कृतिक पृष्ठभूमि से होते
हुएँ भी प्रमुख पाश्चात्य विचारों से प्रभावित हैं। यह कहानियाँ हैं उनकी जारी उपक्रमों के जो
दिखलाते हैं की वास्तविक परिवर्तन सम्भव हैं। लेखक दृता के साथ कहना चाहते हैं कि यह
अंदरूनी चेतना में बदलाव केवल एक ज्ञान-सम्बंधी प्रक्रिया नहीं हैं बल्कि एक पूर्ण समग्र
परिवर्तन हैं जिसे लेखकों ने आत्मकथात्मक, अनुभव-सम्बंधी कथाओं के प्रणाली से पेश किए
हैं। गहरे जागरुकता के लिए एक सम्पूर्ण संयोजन की रूरत हैं जिस विद्या में तन, मन, हृदय,
This manuscript is part of the special issue Contemplative Inquiry, Wellbeing and Science Education,
guest edited by Kenneth Tobin.
* Charles Scott
1 Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Dr, Burnaby, BCV5A1S6, Canada
C.Scott et al.
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आत्मा, भावना, और संसार का मिश्रण होता हैं। अपने लेख के माध्यम से यह लेखक अनुभूति-
जनक, भावमय, आध्यात्मिक एवं अस्तित्ववान चर्चा करने का प्रयास करते हैं ताकी वह इस
सजीव पृथ्वी के संग नितांत रूप से एक हो जाए। वह इस परियोजना को re-bonding अर्थात
नवीकृत मिलन की पहचान देते हैं जिसके माध्यम से वे मानवता और धरती की सम्बंध-विच्छेद
को सम्बोधित करना चाहेंगे।
The mainstream North American culture is by and large behaving as though we humans are
either at war against the planet earth or indifferent to ‘it.’ Here, as our reader can see, the
usual practice is to refer to the earth by the pronoun ‘it,’ revealing a common attitude and
perception: that the Earth is an object, mostly an inanimate one. But why should we take
this alienated way of seeing, thinking about and feeling towards the planet? Treating ‘it
like an inanimate thing, when ‘she,’ like Mother, holds us, nourishes us and keeps us alive?
And some traditional cultures and individuals do see the Earth that way. Consider the work
of Sam Gill (1991) on the evolution of the ‘Mother Earth’ figure among Native Americans,
Elizabeth Kempf’s (1993) collection of essays on the reference to ‘laws of Mother Earth’
by Indigenous peoples to call for protected areas, Joanna Hubbs’ (2017) research on the
worship of ‘Mother Earth’ in Russian culture; and Nadia Majid (2010) regarding the con-
ceptualizing of Earth as ‘Mother by the Maori.’ Different ways of seeing and construing
the world do exist, as cross-cultural studies reveal a whole variety, some of which may be
more life-giving and life-sustaining than the contemporary North American culture satu-
rated with consumerism, capitalism, industrialism and militarism. These “isms,”or ideo-
logical commitments are part and parcel of the human history that is known by its periodi-
zation descriptor, Modern Western (henceforth ModWest, in short). To note, “ModWest”
as a worldview, mindset and attitude is not confined to the geographical boundaries of the
historical West in today’s globalized world. The ModWest has spread, under colonialism,
throughout the world and the so-called developed and developing countries all over the
planet that came to be committed to consumerism, capitalism, industrialism and militarism
are saturated with the ModWest.
The ethical significance of how we come to see the world is absolutely enormous: it can
be and it is now, a matter of life and death. Gerardo Ceballos etal. (2015) and William Rip-
ple etal. (2017) stand as classic, highly-cited warnings from the Earth sciences commu-
nity. The realization of ethical consequences of worldviews and values we hold is growing,
although not fast enough against the speed of destruction, as the global scale of climate
crisis increases and attendant human suffering deepens by the hour. One would have to be
blind not to see, but such blinding is also a consequence of certain epistemic constructs we
have. Our constructs are the particular lenses through which we perceive, feel and think
about the world. The objectification lens that we have inherited from our modernist techno-
scientific-capitalistic-industrial-consumeristic period in history has blinded us so that we
don’t see the Earth as a living, breathing being whose ecosystems are being significantly
destabilized as a result of damaging human presence and thus losing their equilibria. From
this Gaian perspective (James Lovelock 2000), the Earth suffers from harm and her suf-
fering and attempts to heal and regain self-regulation or equilibrium are manifest in large-
scale storms and tornados, floods and forest fires, melting ice caps, drying up aquafers, soil
erosion and so on.
Re/turning tosoil: becoming one-bodied withtheEarth
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The lens of objectification comes out of a particular set of worldviews that are currently
globally dominating the world. Whether we use terms, such as ‘ModWest’ (Modern West-
ern), ‘colonialism,’’Neoliberalism,’ ‘late capitalism,’ they all refer to different but interre-
lated aspects of the same phenomenon wherein we humans do not perceive, feel and think
about the world as a living being, worthy of our deepest respect or reverence, of care and of
communion. The world, seen through the objectifying set of lenses, is a mere collection of
objects. In his analysis of the dominant views of the Modern West (ModWest), the late eco-
theologian Thomas Berry (2006) believes that we see the earth as a “collection of objects,”
not “a communion of subjects” (p. 149). At best, we of the ModWest mindset or worldview
may pleasure ourselves with the things of Nature, which is ultimately instrumentalist; at
worst, we consume, exploit, trash and destroy them as we please and desire. Such is the
predominant attitude and relationship that the ModWest human inhabitants of this planet
hold towards ‘whatever’ is ‘out there.’ Things and objects are simply at our disposal, and
we humans of the ModWest mindset can do whatever we want to them for profit, ben-
efit and pleasure. But what ‘profit’? What benefit? And what pleasure? When humankind,
along with all our Earth relations on this planet, end up losing our only Home, what profit,
benefit and pleasure is there? What possible justifications could there be for this destructive
attitude, relationship and treatment that we wreak upon the planet?
Whatever justification we who are still committed to the ModWest may come up with
for our destructive form of life, it is also part and parcel of the objectifying worldview,
comprised of the belief that humans are the superior beings on this planet (e.g., we can
spilt atoms, slice genes, surgically implant an artificial heart, send astronauts into outer
space, etc.), uniquely alone as a species (e.g., we are at the top of hierarchy, unchallenged
by any other creatures), having the ‘right’ to rule over the planet and being ‘entitled’ to
possess, make use of and even destroy, any objects or ‘things,’ including other beings.
Whether these rights and entitlements are ‘divinely’ given and mandated, or self-pre-
scribed and appointed, the end results are basically the same: the destruction of the planet.
And this process has been accelerating via rapid developments in science and technology.
In the end, what good is advanced science and technology when these are used to destroy
the world?
There are overwhelmingly complex details to the above picture, which we are not pro-
viding here. Our point is that all the rationale and stories that are used to ‘justify’ our
destruction of the planet come from a certain kind of worldview and attendant conscious-
ness that sees the earth and all her inhabitants as objects at our disposal. However, let us
remind ourselves that worldviews are just that: views, however persistent they may be. As
such, they are contingent, not necessary. Therefore, they can be changed—however difficult
such changes may be. And, at this point in human history, we must change our world-view-
ing lens if we want the biosphere that we call the earth to survive, not just barely, but with
possibilities of sustainable flourishing.
Yet, changing one’s world-viewing is not like taking off one pair of glasses and
putting on a new pair. A lot more is involved: Unless and until humans perceive, feel,
that is, experience Nature as one-bodied with us, precious and worthy of our reverence
and devoted care, that we are Nature and that destruction of Nature is self-destruc-
tion for humans as well, we will continue on the path of ecocide and humanity’s sui-
cide, as Ronald Wright (2004) clearly illustrates in his influential Massey Lectures.
Here, we emphasize the role of human perception and affection in the way we regard
and treat other beings; for we need to have an immediate and visceral sense of our
attachment and care with respect to the Earth. Thinking unaccompanied by feelings
and sensations do not have the same transformative impact on the person as when
C.Scott et al.
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all three—perception, thinking and feeling—work together. Moreover, while reason-
ing and justification have an important role to play, it turns out that they really serve
emotionality, perception and values, as the work of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt
(2012) shows with respect to values and perceptions and the work of neuroscientist
Iain McGilchrist (2012), in relation to emotions and perception. As such, to educate
ourselves, that is, to learn to become one-bodied with the earth, we need to re-educate
the citizens’ emotions and perceptions to be aligned with respect, reverence, care and
empathy with the earth. This is the major educational challenge we face today, as mul-
tiple global-scale crises loom, including the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently put-
ting us through a second wave of infections.
To reiterate, we need to see and experience the earth as our own body and develop
intimate and sacred relationships with her. As philosopher and theologian Raimundo
Panikkar (1990) compellingly puts it, “[n]o ecological renewal of the world will ever
succeed until and unless we consider the Earth as our own Body and the body as our
own Self” (p. 244). As long as we continue to see the world “out there” as separate
from us and consisting of ‘things’ and ‘objects’ that we can use however we please,
we will not cease from exploiting them and discarding the earth-beings. Even when
we like them, love them and want to protect them, that will be out of possessive love,
motivated by our wants, not out of respect for the other, valuing the other intrinsically,
for their sake, not just for our sake (Bai 2001, 2003). Possessive love does not recog-
nize and honor the sanctity of the beloved.
What does it take for us to learn to intrinsically value the other/more-than-human
beings? How do we need to see them and what feelings and attitude do we need to have
for us to experience them as intrinsic beings, exciting in their own right and existing
for themselves? And how do we come to see them and relate to them as such? How
would these changes affect the way we do science? The questions asked here are edu-
cational as well as epistemic in nature: ‘Coming to see’ is part of the process of com-
ing to know, which involves rearrangement of a complex set of embodied and embed-
ded sociocultural influences and conditioning called learning.
We call for an epistemic shift away from the currently dominant way of seeing
human beings as deserving to be prioritized over and above other beings, exercising
death-dealing power over them and harming them with impunity. The epistemic shift
will bring an ontic shift in the way that we come to see, feel, relate to and differently
embody an alternate sense of reality.
In this polyphonic paper, we curate four experiential narratives and poetry by the
co-authors, each in their different voices that illustrate abovementioned epistemic
shifts. Coming from different cultural backgrounds, nonetheless having been systemi-
cally influenced by the dominant modernist worldviews and values, the authors each
managed to initiate an ongoing shift, demonstrating how such transformations are pos-
sible. Because we suggest that shifts in consciousness are not simply a matter of cog-
nitive change in the ‘rational circuitry in the brain,’ as it were, such as deployment
of reasoning, rhetoric, calculation and behavioral prescriptions, we write in autobio-
graphical narratives and poetry to capture and convey embodied and emplaced, expe-
riential understanding and feelings, or ‘felt sense.’ The latter is a central psychothera-
peutic concept elaborted by the philosopher Eugene T. Gendlin (1978) who developed
a therapeutic modality named, ‘focusing.’ Deep changes in the consciousness, such as
these epistemic shifts, take the whole ensemble of “body + mind + hear t + soul + spirit
+ the world” as the unit of change for learning. Through these writings, we will sensu-
ously and feelingly, existentially-and-spiritually and discursively explore possibilities
Re/turning tosoil: becoming one-bodied withtheEarth
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of becoming one-bodied with the animate Earth. We call this the re-bonding project
through which we address first-order bonding rupture, namely, between Humans and
the Earth community.
Campania fastness, amighty intelligence (Tanya Behrisch)
As a living being, Campania Island exerted a magnetic tow on my body before I connected
with the island directly in July 2020. I cannot discern a gender with Campania, so speak
of Campania as ‘the island’ rather than call Campania ‘it,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ or ‘they.’ Like all
places and beings, Campania is singular. I first dreamt of visiting the island while skim-
ming John Kimantas’ (2011) kayak guide to B.C.’s north and central coast (p. 223). Kim-
antas’ single image of barren mountains looming above a creamy white beach and viridian
water started working on my imagination four years ago. The island’s draw on me ampli-
fied during a paddling trip in 2019 while wandering naked along a shell beach 35km south
of Bella Bella and Superstition Point where I met two elderly boaters, Loyd and Sandi, who
were exploring the bay where we were camped. After grabbing clothes, I learned they had
spent 40years exploring Xai/Xais territory in British Columbia’s Inside Passage (Kitasoo
/ Xai’xais Nation, n.d.) near the settlement of Klemtu on Swindle Island. They’d seen
eight Spirit Bears and other wild kin such as grizzly bears, humpback whales and wolves.
Invited for a glass of wine aboard their boat later that day, Loyd unfurled his marine chart
and pointed to Caamaño Sound where Campania Fig.1 resides with Aristazable, Princess
Royal and the Estevan islands. To reach Campania by kayak would require three weeks
and several significant crossings of exposed water, each three hours of paddling and poten-
tially exposed to 20–30 + knot winds flowing down the coast. My imagination fastened
upon this land and its visceral pull stirred within me. In the midst of worries such as my
father’s cancer and COVID19, I joined my husband and two kids, ages 14 and 16, on a
three-week kayak trip to Campania in Summer 2020. The Kitasoo/Xai’Xais band granted
Fig. 1 Campania fastness, a mighty intelligence
C.Scott et al.
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us permission to paddle through their territory, requesting we avoid their communities to
minimize the spread of COVID19. Social isolation fit with our plans.
From a distance, Campania appears blue, hazy, bulky and mountainous. We left Prin-
cess Royale Island at 6 a.m. on day seven of our 20-day trip, traveling through Caamaño,
Campania and Estevan Sounds. Our early start was intended to minimize exposure to
increasing winds which raise the danger of capsizing. Ocean swell rolled in from the
Pacific and crashed on Campania’s southern rocky coastline. Landing a brittle fiberglass
kayak was impossible. We paddled north a kilometer offshore to avoid shallow underwater
reefs, which amplify swell and induce nausea and fear in paddlers who have no protection
from waves and wind.
Gazing at Campania from offshore, the island appeared as a stronghold, a fastness. Now
in Campania’s water, I gazed directly at the land, heard Campania’s crashing coastline and
smelled Campania’s air. We were in contact. From a kilometer offshore, Campania smelled
bracing and alive. Pacific waves smashed into Campania’s body of rock and sand creating a
constant wall of sound from offshore. My painter’s eyes feasted on the island’s rich palette
of colors: sap green, Prussian blue, Payne’s and Portland gray, raw sienna, burnt umber,
titanium white. Campania emanated self-hood and dignity. At around noon, we landed.
Disembarking on Campania’s white sand was a revelation and a caution. We were stran-
gers, not necessarily expected or welcome. The first footsteps I saw were wolves.’ Hauling
my gear to dry sand above the high tide line, I saw wolf scat and prints amidst beach grass
and driftwood (Fig.2).
Fig. 2 Wolf scat on Campania; lots of it
Re/turning tosoil: becoming one-bodied withtheEarth
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Ravens cawed, announcing our arrival to Campania’s stronghold. I sensed a mighty intel-
ligence become alert to our arrival, as I become alert to a new person who enters a room. A
hundred meters upland from the waves, the island was quiet, sentient, alive and watchful.
Barren mountains loomed behind forest, the fastness seen from offshore. I was humbled to
be on Campania Fig.3 and spent 40h immersing my body in the island’s fresh water streams
and salty waves, listening to wolves howling behind a screen of trees and sleeping on its sand.
Two wolf pups wandered onto the southern beach, a yearling and a newborn, sniffing the
ground for food and stumbling into one another as puppies do. Their mother appeared, an
elegant beauty, growling and admonishing them to stay close to her while strangers were on
the beach. We kept our distance, awed by their relaxed playfulness in our midst. We later
hiked inland, climbing granite hills beneath Campania’s mountains in search of lakes. Cam-
pania regarded me as a source of food; insects feasted on me from the moment I landed. I
could not refuse the island this gift of myself, my tribute to the land. Hot and salty, I smeared
black flies’ corpses along my clammy skin. These were instantly replaced by swarms of new
eaters. Filled with my blood, they will die and join the island’s humus to nourish creatures
such as birds, fish, rodents and wolves. This was the most personal offering I could give to
this living sentient place and I did not begrudge giving this gift. I did however take refuge
from the island’s relentless feasting on my body in a chilly pond beneath sheer mountains.
Descending later to the ocean, I swam to rinse my bites and was surprised to see fresh
blood flowing from open sores. The insects’ anticoagulant prevented my blood from clot-
ting and I continued to feed the island with my gift of blood that streamed into the sea as
I swam. Later, amidst the sighs and groans of a humpback whale in Estevan Sound, I lay
down on the damp sand with my daughter and lapsed into dreaming.
Over a three-week kayak trip in July 2020, I stayed on Campania Island for two days.
Sleeping, eating, fishing, resting, swimming, exploring and hearing Campania’s many
creatures talking to each other gave me a glimpse of the island’s earthen body and saline
environment. Campania’s generativity flows into the ground, the air and water of Caamaño
Sound. The island’s generativity pulses through waves rolling inshore and back out again,
Fig. 3 Daughter and wind storm on Campania
C.Scott et al.
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through the diurnal cycles of light and dark, fresh water streams gushing down from the
mountain fastness, creatures cycling through stages of birth, growth, death and renewal.
What dies here is absorbed into Campania’s living body, re-emerging back into abundance.
This land senses and feels and by extension, I believe all land is sentient, whether battered
and mistreated or honored and respected as our kin. Land is alive.
I became conscious of Campania’s pull on me four years ago. Each intervening year that
I paddled for periods of 3weeks south of the island I was in Campania’s orbital pull and the
island pulled on my imagination. Returning to Vancouver after each three-week kayak trip, the
island talked to me in a register impossible to ignore or dismiss. Visiting Campania, immers-
ing myself in the island’s fresh water and ocean, dreaming on sand, riding offshore swells in
my kayak, hearing wolves’ howling, the island’s life force pulsed around, through and in me.
I felt a strange familiarity with Campania, born from thinking, dreaming and imagining the
land for four years and paddling south of the island for four consecutive summers, always aware
of the island looming north of us, breathing, dreaming, living a private life. To finally be with
Campania, to stand on Campania’s surface, was to arrive in a somewhat familiar place. I won-
dered if the island sensed what I felt. I felt I was in the presence of a mighty intelligence and that
my frailty and earthen composition was sensed by this magnificent land. Caked in salt, sand,
smoke and grime from the previous seven days’ paddling and camping, I was porous and open
to Campania, unseparated from the island’s saline earthen elements and its creatures.
Campania Island
White soft beach alive, awake
Mamma wolf and two pups
Feed on soft bodies
Washed up with the tide
Recline on my towel
Soak up the mystery
Of Campania my kin
Two motor boats arrive
Families and picnics appear
Where wolves were just scavenging
Less than one minute ago
Campania inhales
Holding breath tight within
Cheerful laughter shatters the silence
Anchor chain rumbles down
Oxygen vanishes, stillness is gone
Friendly but hated
I lie down
To wait newcomers out
Hours later, I’m dreaming
Anchor chain drills the air
Two motors roar
Shrieking cheerily “we were there!”
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I sink back into dreaming
Whale sighs in Estevan Sound
Retreating motor beats down
Other quiet north of here
Sun on my cheek, Campania exhales
Incoming tide
We’re together again
I became aware of Campania’s sentience as I do of person who quietly enters a room;
the peripheral awareness of each other, the nod of mutual recognition. After dumping my
gear, I grabbed my camera to walk along the white sand beach, stepping over piles of wolf
scat embedded with crab shells and small animals’ bones and noting circular grooves made
in the sand by beach grass blowing in the wind. Animal prints, both fresh and eroded,
covered the upper beach, revealing multiple stories and lives being lived in this remote fast-
ness. I climbed down into a stream bed and knelt to peer at rose-colored clam shells piled
in drifts, discarded by animals passing on and returning to the mineral world. I took photos
of granite boulders perched precariously amidst scrubby cedars lashed by wind. The south
end of the beach felt remote, silent, watchful and ominous and I soon retreated back to
where my family was setting up our tent. Shortly thereafter, three wolves appeared where
I’d knelt in the stream bed. I understood the feeling I’d had of being in another’s terri-
tory. This place was home to others, creatures who knew Campania intimately, more than
I could know the land in two days. I felt the island’s nod of recognition towards me as a
fellow creature but remained wary. Campania was not my home and nor was I Campania’s
daughter. I felt a kinship in the way two creatures regard one another’s presence.
Writing back in the city, it’s habit to imagine Campania “out there” in the wilderness.
But what is wilderness? Is it out there? What if this reference to “out there” is just a habit
and not grounded in what embodies true wilderness? Gary Snyder (2010) writes,
wilderness is a place where the wild potential is fully expressed, a diversity of […] beings
flourishing according to their own […] order. […] To speak of wilderness is to speak of
wholes. Human beings came out of that wholeness and to consider the possibility of reac-
tivating membership in the Assembly of All Beings is in no way regressive (p. 12).
When I consider Snyder’s concept of wilderness as wholeness and diversity, I know this
is what I feel rising up through the oak floorboards of my dining room, flowing through my
body and out through my nose and mouth. This awareness, this pull on my body that pre-
vents me from floating off my chair. This is the living, sentient, peerless Other that’s been
here all along, pulsing, generative and intelligent (Blenkinsop etal. 2010, Abram 2010).
Exploring theone inall andall inone throughchildhood ‘meetings’
withcritters (Monica Bhattacharjee)
Mid-July, 1988, Kalimpong, India.
It is a warm evening in the hilly town of Kalimpong (in the Eastern Himalayas about
50 km east of Darjeeling), famous for its aromatic tea, growing all over its chabagans
(tea-estates) and for being a summer retreat of the erstwhile East India Company, a six-
teenth century British trading company that managed to seize and colonize large parts of
C.Scott et al.
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South- and South East Asia. I am in my grandparents’ house and it’s what we call the mon-
soon season in India. The rains are furious and torrential. And accompanying this torrent is
a furious flurry of insects, some of which grow strange wings in this wet season but most
of which are generally harmless. I am 8-years-old and having lived in the capital city of
Delhi, I shriek and shrivel at the sight of these flying “pests”. Here are some snippets of a
(translated) conversation I recall having with my grandpa one evening.
Grandpa: (seeing me jump and skip to dodge little bugs) Why, you seem very unsettled?
Me: These bugs! How do you live with these?
Grandpa (laughs): It is their home too. And home is nowhere and everywhere.
Me: (My 8-year old brain bewildered): What??
Grandpa: Seems like you forgot that when you were little, you would be fascinated by
them. You even played with some! What’s wrong now? It seems the city changed you, little
Me: (Confused) … yeah cos they are all over your home… and you say this is their
home … and (catastrophizing) they might “kill” us!
Grandpa (cracking up with laughter): Oh my, you have grown up a lot (sarcasm
detected in hindsight). Yes, it is their home as much as it is ours. They were here on this
planet way before we even stepped foot. Some are harmful, but many aren’t. They do more
for you than you for them. Your karma is not just to yourself and to your kind, it extends to
every animal and plant alike, every six-legged creature too. Observe your own reactions ...
just observe ... and let that attention awaken your mind.
The last sentence did not really do much to my eight-year old mind then, but for some
strange reason, it has vividly latched on to my memory. This prompting to ‘awaken’ is what
I understood later on to be an extension of the notion of Boddhicitta which is the enlight-
ened mind borne out of compassion that is initiated when self-reflexive awareness helps
reroute the conditioned mind from the path of reactivity to attention. My grandpa passed
away long before I could clarify concepts like Boddhicitta with him. However, to put his
advice into context, his words fall along the lines of an ecospiritual pathway informed by
an understanding of pratitya samutpada (dependent origination) and the relationality of all
BEINGS in nature. Despite a typically common fear of or scorn for bugs and critters, they
are vital to our ecosystem, with National Geographic calling them the ‘lever-pullers’ of
the world and in true neoliberalist spirit, attributing them with contributing $75 billion to
the U.S. economy via pollination, some providing food for animals, controlling pests and
clearing up decomposing plants and animals.
Late October, 1990, New Delhi.
Two years later, back at home. It is the season of Deepawali, the Hindu festival of lights.
And the lights are equally attractive to humans and bugs alike. These bugs are referred to
as “Kali poka” and are drawn to light sources. They are harmless to humans, although in
some instances, they are known to infect paddy fields. They are seasonal and an exception
in the otherwise arid climes of Delhi. Most live for less than a day, attaining maximum
activity in the vicinity of artificial sources of light and dying out the same night as the
lights go out. Here is a brief translated excerpt from my conversation with some neighbors.
Neighbor 1: Yikes! These bugs… Diwali pey maze kare ya makkhi maare! (Should we
spend the festive season celebrating or chasing bugs?).
Me: (Having grown up somewhat after the summer exchange with my grandpa two
years ago and not too perturbed by the fewer number of critters in comparison to that
episode): It’s not too bad, Uncle. They’re just thronging around the light. They don’t really
sting or bite.
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Neighbor 1 (Staring at me in disbelief): Beta (Hindi word of endearment used for a
child), what’s up with you? These are dangerous!
Me: How?
Neighbor 1: Well, okay … not dangerous. But annoying for sure …
Neighbor 2: I’ll call the pest control guys today. This is a nuisance.
Me: But uncle, they don’t live beyond the night. What do you want to call pest control
Neighbor 2: To prevent these from entering our spaces in the first place.
Me: Uncle, my grandpa said that we can learn to live with them …
Neighbor 2 (Expression turns from exasperation to amusement. Laughs incredulously):
This is your house, Beta. Not theirs. And old people sometimes cannot think straight.
Looking back on these childhood memories, I see many polarities on many different lev-
els, human–non–human, insider–outsider, urban–rural, acceptance-resistance, dual-nondual,
inclusive-exclusive, possession-dispossession and most lucidly, the objectified otherness of the
bugs, which in our objectified consciousness does not allow us to know by participation but by
abstraction and conceptualization (Bai, Scott etal. 2009). By acknowledging the significance
of shared space with our critter community, my grandpa taught me a vital lesson early on—
that our motivations and intentions shape our perceptions and allow us to experience the world
the way we do. Through my years of growing up, frequent moves and changes in location
and my own situatedness as an immigrant first in Singapore and then in Canada, I have often
witnessed profound inner conflict as I struggled to reconcile my deep seated spiritual quest to
realize the unified consciousness that binds us all with the pragmatic vantage points of living
the first-world life, of staying on-task, setting and meeting specific goals, and most notice-
ably, of drawing and defining boundaries shaped by the dominant narratives of growth and
advancement in the homo economicus worldview. The “enlightenment mentality” that Weim-
ing Tu (1996) believes to be the “most dynamic and transformative ideology in human his-
tory” which to most people represents all things modern and progressive needs to however be
understood in greater entirety, specifically through the historical context of western expansion,
colonization, imperial subjugation, and their connections to the current world order. Speaking
from an alternative standpoint/ Confucian perspective, Tu lets out a cautionary tale about the
dark underside of the “unbound Prometheus” of this unchecked growth, development, exploi-
tation, use and abuse of resources— natural, environmental and human—in the capitalist nar-
rative of ‘advancing’ civilizations dictated by the market value of all things.
The more recent concepts of Buddhist ecodharma (Loy 2019) aiming to counter our wide-
spread ecological crisis brought forth by industrial greed and indiscretion around unchecked
production and consumption is not merely about climate change and global warming but on
a much larger scale, a social and spiritual crisis that cannot be fixed by just switching to alter-
native energy resources. It requires a radical restructuring of our ways of being in this world
and one of the ways to enable such conditions rests in Jiddu Krishnamurti’s advice on con-
sciously moving from an organized to an organic society (De Sousa 2012), which works on
an attunement principle where the needs of the individual and society are the same and the
integral connection and one-ness in living is recognized and prioritized. This is easier said
than done in a world within a dominant worldview of philosophical materialism driven by
the need to constantly strengthen and maintain the sense of the separate I-entity in hedonic,
desire-driven conditions and instrumental motivations. Critics may opine that a stable I-entity
is a necessary pre-requisite for other-related ethics but the inherent problem and solution here
lies in how we identify with that I-entity. Are we identifying ourselves with our projected per-
sona andmoment-to-moment sensations, perceptions, emotions and desires within our limited
material apparatus or are we identifying ourselves with a deeper awareness of the formless,
C.Scott et al.
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undividedself that is not limited to the body and mind it is only partially contained within, but
is one with our fellow-human and more-than-human entities, with the earth and sky and all
living, breathing beings in between? That is my key question in our re-bonding project with an
intention to not elicit an answer per se but a deeper self-inquiry and explorationof our inner
A blade ofgrass (Starleigh Grass)
I am a Tsilhqot’in educator who has done most of my formal education in Okanagan terri-
tory. I taught in public secondary schools in the traditional territories of the Nlaka’pamux
and St’at’imc people. When I moved to North Vancouver, I was already well grounded
in Indigenous theory. Scholars such as Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Margaret Kovach,
Shawn Wilson, James Youngblood Henderson, Jeannette Armstrong, Sandy Grande,
Bill (William) Cohen, Marie Battiste informed my graduate research (Grass 2014). I felt
grounded in my communities of origin and my teaching communities. When I moved to the
lower-mainland I was challenged to put into daily practice the teachings that I had obtained
from community and Indigenous scholars. When I did acknowledgement of territory, I felt
disconnected and hollow. Even with a strong cognitive foundation, I was disoriented in my
new home.
However, a moment shared with my niece on my own territory shifted my perspective
and helped me to better understand and practice meaningful acknowledgement of territory.
The embodied experience of being on the land with family helped me make meaning of
my home away from my traditional territory. This experience also helped me find a way
to practice integrity as an Indigenous person living in someone else’s territory. I offer this
moment in a poem in hopes that it will enrich the reader’s own ability to meaningfully
acknowledge territory. I dedicate this poem to Indigenous scholars trying to find their intel-
lectual, emotional and spiritual footing while working and studying away from their tradi-
tional territories.
Acknowledgement ofterritory
Family fishing camp on the banks of the Chilco River,
Last day,
Jay and Candice are packing the truck,
I follow Mel while she runs around.
Clouds of fine dust rise after every step,
Grass as high as her head,
So much motion,
Exuberant joy.
She stops,
Transfixed by a blade of grass,
Slowly her little hand reaches out,
Softly holds it between forefinger and thumb,
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1 3
Eyes transfixed,
She gently moves her way up to the top,
Time stops.
I love her so much right now.
Here is my niece,
In the place where my ancestors have fished since time immemorial,
Respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility means to be a trusted adult who
creates safe space for this moment to happen.
I feel a fifth R,
For the relationship between our people, and this land,
In perpetuity.
She explodes into action again,
Weaving back and forth along little trails through the grass,
Little trails that little children have been making all summer.
There are hugs,
Long goodbyes,
Half smoked salmon in my trunk,
I start the long drive,
Back to the city.
It was my first season living on the west coast,
I routinely cried when I drove westbound on the Port Mann,
Lonely for the culture, people and land of the interior.
During this return, I felt only guilt for crying those tears.
The responsibility I feel towards exercising Tsilhqot’in rights on the land,
The reciprocity I feel towards ancestors and future generations,
The respect that I have for what it means to survive in our unique climate,
The reverence for the beauty of place,
These are things I had not taken the time to cultivate in my new home.
No wonder I felt so lonely.
I knew the path to living a meaningful life in my new home,
Was to learn about the history of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh nations,
Contribute to Indigenous communities,
And above all,
To love Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh Territory the same way I love my own
To me acknowledgement of territory meanscelebrating cedar,
Donating to the legal battle to fight Trans Mountain,
Appreciating salmon berry,
Showing up to demonstrations,
Understanding that when the tide is low the table is set,
Understanding the impact of industrialization on that table,
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Supporting language revitalization,
Listening carefully to personal histories and community stories,
Seeking out work by Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh academics,
Loving the land in its present state,
Unequivocally supporting Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh visions for the future
of the land,
Chipping in gas money to go to cultural events,
Voting for candidates who advocate for accessible housing,
And cultivating awe.
Connected (Charles Scott)
I can so well remember the freedom of my childhood when my mother would just tell
me to go out and play and just come back for supper; it was my invitation get lost in
the nearby fields. There were no concerns about safety nor was I given a list of prohib-
ited activities or locations. I would spend day after delightful day exploring the fields.
Inspecting. Watching. Prospecting. Sifting. Probing. Burrowing. Delving. Reconnoiter-
ing and orienting. Touring and traversing. Turning things and myself inside out. Being
still. Leaving no stone unturned, no plant untouched. I discovered and was befriended
by birds, insects, mice, frogs and tadpoles, minerals and fossils, plants of every kind and
leaves of grass—and in the midst of all this getting delightfully and deliciously dirty.
Those connections gave me both a sense of place and a community whose comings
and goings, dancings and weavings, made sense to me.
Later, when I spent a couple of years in contemplative solitude in the east Kootenay
woods of British Columbia, I once knelt down by a patch of ground in a grassy opening
in the forest. Looking intently, I could see, beneath the leaves of grass, clover and other
growing plants, the decaying, old grass, the leaf and twig litter and beneath this, the
duff and the forming, topmost humus layer that was crumbly and dark brown in color.
I could see ants, beetles nibbling—a grasshopper leapt in and then, just as quickly, was
gone. I could smell that slightly sweet, earthy, forest compost smell as I bowed down to
sniff. I became literally entranced by this experience, realizing that in this small patch
of ground, that I would barely glance at when walking by, was an immense ecosystem
whose many players were interacting in a thousand ways, nonstop. And as this realiza-
tion deepened, a felt a sense of immersion in this system stole over me; I felt deeply
connected to these few square centimeters.
But that wasn’t the end of it. That sense of immersion now expanded up and out-
ward, rising, spreading so that I now was connecting, not only with this small, grassy
patch, but with widening, expanding spheres: the larger meadow, the forest, the air just
above with its buzzing and flittering insects, human communities and settlements, larger
and larger atmospheres. Whereas I first felt connected to an ecosystem that was beneath
me, now I felt immersed as part of something surrounding, engulfing, incredibly vast,
a rather global, even cosmic ecosystem that contained, well, everything. There were no
distinctions of what belonged or did not; everything was seamlessly connected. It truly
was a “spell of the sensuous” (Abram 1996).
I am certain my contemplative practices contributed to my ability to perceive these
ecological webs of relationships and my connections to and immersion in them. To this
day, some 45years later, that felt sense of being part of something enormous, cosmic in
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1 3
scope, is still palpable. When Whitman (1933) writes in “Song of Myself” “I am large, I
contain multitudes,” I understand.
What I learned from these experiences is twofold. First, that when natural surround-
ings are apprehended by a child as inviting, welcoming, safe locations, there are innu-
merable opportunities for the child’s native curiosity to be set free and for the child
to feel at home in natural surroundings. Second, these profound senses of connection
occur, if you will, through body, mind and spirit. Yes, contemplative practices and
orientations appear to increase the possibilities of realizing a deeper, more mind-and-
heart-felt, intimate connection to and immersion in our surrounding environments.
The knowing is very much an embodied knowing but it also involves the capacities for
awareness through the sense of esthetics, the emotions, the intellect and the intuition.
We can develop these various capacities for awareness and intelligence (Cavas et al.
2020; Wilber 2017, pp. 575–579).
Golden soil (Heesoon Bai)
I would like to share a story of my own healing and awakening. Light rain was sprinkling
that afternoon: the day we were digging up my father’s decomposed body from the grave
on a mountainside cemetery outside Seoul, Korea. I traveled to Korea that fall to fulfill
two missions: to give an invited talk at an academic conference and also to cremate what
remained of my father’s body after 40years in the ground. There was no one left back in
Korea from my family of origin: all my siblings had immigrated to North America, leav-
ing my father’s grave unattended by his family. This posed practical problems at that point
in time as the cemetery by-law dictated that we would have to either vacate the grave or
repurchase it for the next installment of time. My siblings and I decided that it was time to
terminate the tenure of the grave and cremate my father’s remains.
The workmen who were opening up of the grave were all ready to commence on their
work when my husband and I arrived at the gravesite. They used manual tools only in dig-
ging down a domed mound of a grave—the traditional shape of Korean graves. The super-
visor who was overseeing the crew, instructed me to come close to the edge where they
were digging and ceremonially witness the operation. In fact, prior to their digging, it was
my assigned duty as the child of my father to conduct a small ceremony of pouring alco-
holic beverage and offering some traditionally prepared food items in honor of my father
and my ancestors. After offering the food and drink and making a series of prostration-
bows, I stood by the grave and watched the men open up the grave, dig down deep and
after a while pick out and bring up the bones, placing them in a cardboard box next to me.
After all the bones, including the cranium, were picked out from the soil, I was instructed
to carry the box of bones myself, as this honor and duty belonged to me, to the waiting car
that would be driven to the crematorium some distance away.
What most astonished me in this entire process were the appearance and the fragrance
of the soil. It was deep, dark golden colored brown soil: what we called in Korean, Hwang-
toh (literally, yellow earth). There was complete absence of any foul smell from decaying
corpse but only pleasant, sweet smell of moist fertile earth. The same good earth scent
wafted from the box of my father’s bones that was held against my bosom when I carried it
and then rested on my lap in the car.
Since my father’s corpse was wrapped in yards of hemp cloth, rather than put into a
coffin and was buried directly into the earth, the decomposition process must have gone
C.Scott et al.
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smoothly and speedily. All the creatures of the soil went to work and worked hard on
returning the bio-matter that composed the body to the soil. I was witnessing the great
cycle of earthly life at work. Human animals are really creatures of the soil. It’s really soil
that is responsible for sustaining creaturely lives on this planet. No soil, no humans, no
With water and sunlight added to soil, the phenomenal world of life in all its glory and
gory is born and sustained, until creatures have to die and their bodies received back into
the soil. Hallelujah to its power of transformation and regeneration!
Was there also a sense that the soil absorbed the soul, too? Looking at the golden soil
and smelling the good earth scent, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of release and even
cleansing of the ‘soul’ that, in my father’s case, was very tormented in the course of his
life’s tragic and traumatic events: early abandonment, Japanese colonialism, Korean War,
unending survival struggles. All the suffering that my father endured in his very difficult
life and the wounds that his suffering inflicted on himself and on others close to him,
looked as if completely cleansed by the Great Decomposition.
My father returned to the soil, made this rich golden humus that I was touching and
smelling. All once-lived bodies return to soil and become humus. Soil is the body.
Witnessing, with astonished and humbling awe and gratitude, the fragrant deep golden
soil side by side with the bones of my late father was a moment of deep awakening for me.
I no longer feared death. I fully accepted the great cycle of creaturely life and death. I felt
my existence as being an integral part of this earthly drama of coming from the soil and
returning to soil. My earthly being and soil are one. Such is another lesson that my father
imparted, even in death, from the depths of the soil.
Speaking from within the North American context, although we have reasons to believe
that what we have to say applies to the whole world, the global consumerist culture stands
solidly upon instrumentalist values that treat the earth as an object to be exploited for
notions of human progress. Historically speaking, for instance, early settlers arriving from
post-Reformation Europe on the North American east coast were heavily influenced by
Protestantism and the drive towards technical advancement. While religious scholars such
as Peter Harrison (1999) have argued that Genesis did not advocate for a ‘domination’ over
or ‘subduing’ of nature, Harrison, among others, goes on to argue that the texts from Gene-
sis were interpreted by religious followers in ways that justified environmental degradation.
In writing about how the teachings of Genesis were applied from the seventeenth century
onward, Harrison states “There are numerous examples that serve to show how this new
impulse of dominion was incorporated into the rhetoric of scientific progress in the sev-
enteenth century” (p. 98). He goes on to cite the words of Francis Bacon and his thesis of
dominion, which was then adopted by the Royal Society.
These influences comingled to forge a colonial attitude which reduced land and indig-
enous people to objects to acquire, ‘savages’ to subjugate and gain mastery over, all justi-
fied by a supposedly superior ‘scientific’ intelligence. George Grant (1969) describes set-
tlers’ first encounters with the continent’s “almost indomitable” land 400years ago, ‘the
primal’ (p. 13). This primal encounter four centuries later endures, perpetuating in the
instrumentalist drive for mastery over the earth today. The ethos of domination and con-
trol has spread, from England, the epicenter of modernization and industrialization, to all
Re/turning tosoil: becoming one-bodied withtheEarth
1 3
corners of the globe in the last few centuries. As a global phenomenon, left behind are
blood-stained and tear-saturated fields of sentient suffering and an increasingly polluted
and eroded planet whose vitality is waning.
The current humanity is indeed facing a crisis, as the Earth scientists cited in our pre-
amble have noted: a critical turning point at which we can continue to walk down the path
of destruction to demise or we can turn around to undo the harm we have been perpetrating
and repair the damage. We have outlined in this paper, albeit in quick sketches, the instru-
mentalist mindset based in an objectifying worldview as a source of problems and sug-
gested a shift of ontic and epistemic paradigm away from control, mastery and domination
towards one that recognizes participation of the earth and the more-than-human world and
their active and shared agency in co-creating and evolving Earth community.
Thus, we have Tanya’s intimate connection to place through many lines of cognition;
she notes her “imagination fastened upon this land; I felt its visceral pull stir within me.”
She notes a fusion, adding she is “one-bodied with Campania and all land, what I feel is an
extension of what Campania feels, what all land feels.” She is knowing through what she
refers to as “being-one-bodied mode.” Monica writes of how a self-reflexive awareness fos-
ters the compassion that leads to enlightenment; it is an attentive consciousness that makes
this movement possible. That attentive consciousness, and not any purely rational thought
process, reveals relationality among all beings. It is a consciousness developed through an
embodied participation with others.
Starleigh shares the embodied experience of her niece being ‘transfixed’ by the encoun-
ter with a blade of grass, an encounter made possible first by close viewing and then when
she “Softly holds it between forefinger and thumb” and time stops. Charles points to the
sensuous encounter with a small patch of meadow and its many inhabitants. He acknowl-
edges this as a holistic form of knowing that includes “body, mind and spirit,” as a way of
knowing that integrates several epistemologies and transcends a solely intellectual aware-
ness. And Heesoon writes of her fully accepting the great cycle of creaturely life and death
in witnessing her late father’s body having been reintegrated into the soil. She affirms that
her “earthly being and soil are one.”
Our paper here thus joins others’ efforts in recent years to shift the dominant epistemol-
ogy and ontology. For example, adopting a posthumanist perspective, Jeong, Sherman and
Tippins (this issue), offer an “alternative onto-epistemological stance,” a transformation
grounded in what they refer to as the “intra-active nature of the world” and the deep aware-
ness of not only ecological situatedness but also ecological being, a profoundly “relational
ontology.” They envision a new scientific literacy that “… will enable us to re-vision our
understanding of ourselves, coming to know we are woven as part of something bigger …”,
as part of “the entangled processes of planetary ecology,” as “interwoven” beings.
And when Roth (this issue) posits a relational ontology that is dynamically grounded
in “flux and becoming,” we can relate! Although the essay here is focused on learning
and development in the contexts of science education, the fundamentals still apply to our
work. In Roth’s vision, material things are seen as animated, alive; process predominates.
“Instead, in an eventual ontology grounded in the primacy of flux, where the whole world
and all of its parts are events, the focus is on joint becoming of events that are already
related.” Later in the same essay, Roth re-emphasizes that “there is no stable subject but a
line of becoming”; there is “continued becoming” among beings who are not merely sub-
jects or objects.
Such views have been part of the world’s many wisdom traditions, including the con-
temporary Indigenous works, as we alluded earlier in this paper. Emerging theories of
agential realism (Barad 2007), affect theory (Massumi 2015, Hardt 2015) and philosophical
C.Scott et al.
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animism (Plumwood 2002) all echo uncannily the central precept found in the writings by
Indigenous thinkers. Many indigenous world views hold that all things are spirit and are
gifts from the creator (Hill 2008, Kimmerer 2013). In a similar way, world wisdom tradi-
tions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Daoism, Sufism and so on) also uphold the sacred-
ness of the earth while offering practices of reverence and compassion. While diverse in
origin, these ontologies share the notion that all beings are connected and have the power
to affect and be affected. This understanding underlies the foundational concept of, for
example, the karmic continuum (Yung-Jong Shiah 2016; Sharma 1990; Rankin 2009) that
serves as a cornerstone in the Eastern practices, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
The karmic continuum concept relates to the co-arising of events, simple or complex
and the links that sustain this chain of mutual causality. Each link is significant, but none
can be perceived as a distinct unit on its own. In a chapter on Buddhist Environmental
Activism from the book The Sacred Earth (Gottlieb 2003), Stephanie Kaza (2003) explains
its connections with the mutual interdependence angle by means of an interesting metaphor
from the Hua-Yen school of Buddhism in seventh century China featuring the cosmic jewel
net of Indra that holds a multifaceted jewel placed at each of its nodes. When the jew-
els are clear and in place, each reflects the other and magnifies the beauty of the arrange-
ment. However, when any of the jewels are clouded (toxic or polluted), the mirroring is
disrupted. Likewise, if one of the strings on the net is tugged at, it affects all of the others
and thus the overall equilibrium. Our delicate ecosystem that is bearing the brunt of our
industrialized greed and overconsumption needs more than just research around climate
justice or policies pertaining to carbon taxes. It needs a revolution of the human psyche
which cannot be externally imposed by political, social, scientific, technological or even
environmental groups but can only emerge from within oneself and be sustained through
deeper self-inquiry accompanied by a radical shift in our everyday consciousness. We hope
that our present paper offered our reader some sparks of inspiration and impetus for trans-
formational change.
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Publisher’s Note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and
institutional affiliations.
Charles Scott is an adjunct professor in the faculty of education at Simon Fraser University. Along with
Heesoon Bai, he coordinates a Master of Education program in Contemplative Inquiry and Approaches in
Education. His research interests are contemplative inquiry, dialogue in education, spirituality in education,
holistic education, and curriculum development, along with skiing and hiking.
Tanya Behrisch spends summers kayaking B.C.’s west coast with her family and walking barefoot on remote
beaches, crisscrossing the prints of wolves, black bears, otters, weasels, mice, mink, martens, and crabs.
She manages the Applied Science Co-operative Education Program at Simon Fraser University when not
immersed in sea water or back-country skiing in the Coast Mountain Range. As a doctoral student, she’s
reading and writing about learning and living through risk. Porosity and gentleness are emerging tracks in
the sand she’s currently exploring.
Monica Bhattacharjee is a K-12 educator with teaching experiences in Canada, Singapore, and India. She
is currently working on her PhD in Education at Simon Fraser University. She is passionate about cultural
cognition, social justice, practical wisdom, epistemic humility,and contemplative approaches in educational
philosophy and practice.
Starleigh Grass is a member of the Tsilhqot’in Nation. Starleigh is a certified K-12 teacher with experience
in rural public schools in BC. She has been involved in the development and implementation of English
First Peoples, a secondary language arts curriculum which uses Indigenous texts and pedagogy. Starleigh is
currently in the Education Theory and Practice Program, Philosophy of Education stream, at Simon Fraser
Heesoon Bai is professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Heesoon is an
educational philosopher and a psychotherapist with deepening interest in holistic-contemplative-transform-
ative education. She has co-edited three volumes on contemplative education (State University of New York
Press). A Book Ecological Virtues: Living Well in the Anthropocene is published (2020) by University of
Regina Press. Many of her academic publications can be downloaded from her SFU web depository here: Bai’s Website:
Full-text available
This paper traces Heesoon Bai’s contributions to science education. Over the course of her career, Heesoon has written many scholarly articles that explore the foundational theories relevant to the culture of science education. Drawing from Eastern contemplative traditions, Heesoon aims to repair the separation between subject and object, a dualism that often operates in Western Science. She enjoins an animistic view of the world, where all things are alive and imbued with intrinsic value, and presents a view of education characterized by relational warmth and care. The essay is a compilation of testimonies from students who have worked with Heesoon Bai in the past. We present these accounts as a tribute to an outstanding educator who has made a positive contribution both in the field of science education and to the lives of many students.
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Are green goals and eco-sensitivity manifestations of delusional human exceptionalism? In this paper I grapple with the question of why/if humans should/must address environmental issues (both local and global) created or exacerbated by human activity. This question can be framed in terms of (a) whether human activity is as natural as that of other organisms and carries with it similar responsibilities, and (b) whether our activity, natural or not, matters in the very long term. It is a consideration of our responsibilities to ourselves, future generations, other organisms, and the earth itself. The recently published A Book of Ecological Virtues: Living Well in the Anthropocene is explored as it challenges the author of this article to confront these issues and their bearing on his and others’ behaviors and actions vis à vis the earth and its inhabitants. (Inuktitut translation generously provided by Brenda Amakłak Putulik)
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Modern lifestyle that is based on ideologies such as consumerism, individualism and materialism has led to overconsumption, mass extinction and climate change in the world and threatens the wellbeing of every member on this planet. An increasing number of studies indicate that mindfulness practice may address the socio-ecological challenges of sustainability through nurturing a non-dualistic worldview, empathy and compassion. This study adopts a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to explore how the philosophy and practice of mindful consumption and the insight of interbeing might contribute to a more connected and conscious community. We include the first-person narratives from a female British teacher-researcher, who used what she had learned from the Plum Village monastery to develop a mindfulness program for elementary school students, parents and teachers in a Thai public school for the past 11 years. Her story unveils the issues regarding different perspectives of mindfulness among various wisdom traditions, and the challenges in teaching and researching mindfulness practice as a foreign lay practitioner in Thailand. We concluded that embracing polysemia and respecting the existence of every human being, animal, plant and mineral of the whole ecosystem is vital for meaningful transformations at individual and societal level.
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The core epistemologies underlying science education have changed little over the past 40 years: whereas science educators tend to take constructivist stances, many or most teachers tend to be concerned with the appropriation and transfer of facts and theories mandated as outcomes in the curriculum guidelines of the relevant authorities (e.g., school boards, provinces, or nations). All of the going epistemologies, in and despite their diversities, have in common that they oppose the learner (subject, with identity) and the thing learned (object) and these are linked by the doings of the former (agency). The underlying master ontology is a Platonic one, in which entitative, self-identical things act upon other entities that are external to them. But is this the best way of thinking about how we know and learn? A radical (because incommensurable) alternative is a relational ontology of an organic type. Such an ontology has flux and becoming (as opposed to being) as its basic figures of thought, a way of thinking initially proposed by Heraclitus and later advocated by philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, and (more recently) Gilles Deleuze. As a result, our educative and investigative concerns no longer are entitative things (students, teachers, identities, curricula, activities, conceptions) but interrelated lines of becoming. This is a view in which stable things are but abstractions from a world-as-event that is forever becoming. In this study, using material aspects of gardening, I articulate and explain a different way of theorizing and understanding the world. I use growing (vegetables, trees) as a metaphor because of its capacity to express the proposed organic ontology. In this case, the lines of becoming (or lines of flight) include gardener-becoming-tree and tree-becoming-gardener: the gardener grows as he grows plants. The metaphor of growing in the modality of growing-together troubles present discourses in the field of science education, which fail to acknowledge that flux of life comes with intransitive qualities and the quality of becoming is affected by all the other events that are cogredient with human lives.
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As products of the Anthropocene, the epoch of human ecological impact, models of environmental and social sustainability have been rooted in humanism, centering human agency and taking humanity as the prime reference point in understanding the world. Discourses around sustainability pose questions of how we are trying to sustain our world and our central place in it. With these questions in mind, we examine the role of science education for sustainability and as a tool for enacting societal change and interacting with the world responsibly. Science education is particularly concerned with helping learners cultivate tools and develop scientific literacy for understanding and interacting with the world. This is key to the ability of current and future generations to meet the challenge of building and maintaining a sustainable world. Yet, these tools are rooted in anthropocentric and Western ways of understanding our relationships with and in the world, which maintains myths such as the neutrality of digital technology or linear forms of progress. We turn to posthuman perspectives to consider an alternative onto-epistemological stance that decenters human agency and foregrounds the co-constitutive and intra-active nature of the world. We argue that scientific literacy and science education for sustainability can act as channels for our species to move beyond ecological sustainability to an understanding of humanity’s entanglement with the world. Life in all its forms, from micro to macro is about relationships with cultural and natural ecologies. Any changes in these relationships can lead to the sustaining, altering, or threatening of these ecologies. In light of this recognition, we explore the implications of posthumanist thought for science education and literacy as learners seek a more sustainable world and a more harmonious place for humanity within it.
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This study addresses the need for innovative research approaches in science education for understanding better the inter-relationships between emotion and cognition in learning, using a sociological perspective. Our perspective draws upon the concept of emotional energy that is described as an outcome from successful social interactions during micro-social situations. We apply an intensity model of emotional energy to school science contexts to explore the heterogeneity of emotional energy in terms of its dramatic features, evident through emphatic verbal and non-verbal actions. We also explore undramatic features evident in less obtrusive actions such as silences involving shared observation and glances, and evidence of fluctuations in intensity of emotional energy, and the interplay of emotional energy with discrete emotions over time. Drawing on empirical data from video recordings of classroom interactions in 9th and 10th grade science classes, we adopt an ethnomethodological orientation to develop a fine-grained description of classroom situations involving emotional energy. Subsequent application of the intensity model enables description of intensity variations in emotional energy across time, as a biological-social experience evident through feelings, ideas, and bodily movements. By emphasizing taken-for-granted undramatic emotional energy, the study contributes to science education by extending previous research on emotions from socio-cultural perspectives. The present study finds co-relatedness between intensity fluctuations in emotional energy and students achieving understanding of scientific ideas. Future research may focus on the refinement of the intensity model, with its evaluation and application in different science learning environments.
Multiple intelligences theory (MI) developed by Howard Gardner, an American psychologist, in late 1970s and early 1980s, asserts that each individual has different learning areas. In his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences published in 1983, Gardner argued that individuals have eight different intelligence areas and added one more intelligence area in the later years. Howard Gardner named these nine intelligence areas as “musical–rhythmic”, “visual–spatial”, “verbal–linguistic”, “logical–mathematical”, “bodily–kinesthetic”, “interpersonal”, “intrapersonal”, “naturalistic”, and “existential intelligence. Gardner indicates that these intelligences are constructed through the participation of individuals in culturally valued activities, and these activities help individuals to develop unique patterns in their mind. Multiple intelligences theory states that there are many ways to be intelligent not only just two ways measured by IQ tests. Appearance of multiple intelligences theory has provided significant practices and studies particularly in the field of education to be carried out and has changed educators’ views toward the concepts of learning and intelligence. This chapter discusses the historical and theoretical dimensions of multiple intelligences as well as the research conducted on the theory. We have also provided the advantages and disadvantages of MI implementation in science education.
The widespread insect pests of teak, pine, mahogany and Albizia falcataria in Southeast Asia are discussed in relation to the damage caused. Some localized pests are also mentioned. Current and past progress (in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia) in forest pest management research is reviewed. The current development of industrial monoculture plantations in SE Asia is likely to cause greater pest problems, and increases the need for improved forest pest management activity in the region.-from Author