Live The Tao – A Tribute to Rachel Carson, Environmentalist
Live The Tao
A guiding principle at Alchemy is this idea of “Live The Tao.” In a nutshell, this means to live a balanced life in harmony with the Laws of Nature. The Tao is also known as the Way. Some of the earliest doctors in China were known as Taoist Sages. Everything the Taoist sage doctors knew about medicine came from observing the Laws of Nature. They aimed to live in harmony with the Tao, the mysterious source from which life is manifested. Their ultimate goal was to become immortal, where they reached a state of union with the Tao.
The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
Perhaps the Tao is similar to the “scientific” discoveries of dark matter and dark energy.
Dark matter was first discovered in the 1930s by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky who found that “dark matter is present in the universe in far greater density than visible matter.” More recent investigations have shown that galaxies would never have formed without the gravity generated by dark matter when the universe was young. In short, neither the universe or life itself would exist without dark matter – and yet science can’t explain what it is.
Scientists have concluded that all the stars and galaxies they see make up only 5 percent of the observable universe. The invisible majority consists of 27 percent dark matter and 68 percent dark “energy”. Unusual as dark matter may be, it pales in comparison with the mysterious phenomenon of dark “energy”, which astrophysicists have described as the “most profound mystery in all of science.”
In 1998, two teams of astronomers studying distant supernovae made the incredible discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. Yet, according to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, gravity should lead to a slowing of the expansion. To explain cosmic acceleration, cosmologists have settled on the idea that the majority of the universe exists in an exotic form called dark energy that exhibits a gravitational force opposite to that of ordinary matter.
Are dark matter and dark energy science’s way of describing “the eternal Tao”?
In “The Natural Taoist”, Michael J. Trout prophesizes, “The reason that we can’t detect the (dark) energy could be that it is existing on the parallel universe and what we are detecting is its echo. The day we can detect the multi-verse is the day we will finally detect dark energy and matter that is resonating from The Totality.” The universe we seeing playing out in space and time may be just the surface level, where we float like little boats on the surface of “the eternal Tao”!
We Are All One
The Taoists also believed that we are all connected. In modern science it is believed that the universe sprang into existence from a singularity (a single point) otherwise known as the Big Bang. The singularity expanded to become the universe, so everything still remains a part of that singularity – i.e. everything is connected and we are all one. Each individual is a Spark of the Divine, connected through the Singularity, born of this Universe. We are not strangers in a strange land, waiting to return home to our place in the far distant heavens.
The Taoists understood this in a very profound way. For them, the body and the Spirit were not separated but worked together as a vehicle for learning about their true nature and to live in harmony with all life. Disharmony in the emotions or a knot in the heart led to blockages in the flow of energy and blood throughout the body, ensuing in pain and illness. Treat the emotions to heal the body and treat the body to release the emotions. Two sides of the same coin.
The ancient Taoists were also environmentalists. Everything they knew about medicine they learned from studying the Laws of Nature. Instead of seeing the world outside themselves as hostile, forever needing to conquer nature, to climb the sacred mountains, to lose the war on cancer or drugs, they learned to cooperate with nature, treating all ground as Holy Ground. They understood that we are all connected. If we poison our oceans and rivers, then those poisons enter the rivers and tributaries of our bodies via our veins and arteries and lymph channels. As above, so below.
Rachel Carson Was an Early Champion for The Environment
Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
Rachel Carson was born into a working class family in 1907 and grew up in the rural town of Springdale, about 18 miles up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. At the height of the Industrial Revolution she could see and smell smoke billowing from the stacks of the American Glue Factory out her bedroom window. Rachel was quiet child who spent long hours learning to love and appreciate nature through her mother, a schoolteacher and musician. Her mother also inspired her daughter’s interest in literature, and at the age of ten, she published her first piece in a national children’s magazine. Rachel was the only member of her family to go to university on a scholarship, where she completed a diverse range of studies in english, biology, and marine biology. As a result of her life’s work, she is considered a pioneer in the modern environmental movement.
For an excellent article about how Rachel Carson ignited the environmental movement, read the New York Times article here:
Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” which has sold more than two million copies, made a powerful case for the idea that if humankind poisoned nature, nature would in turn poison humankind. In “Silent Spring” Rachel wrote about the dangerous effects of pesticides in a way that regular folks and housewives could champion. She clearly outlined the interdependence of humans and nature and the dangers of unregulated pesticides spreading through the food chain in unforeseen ways. Up until this point, the American public had no idea of the dangers of pesticides.
The chemical industry lost no time in attacking her ferociously. The president of the Montrose Chemical Corporation (a manufacturer of of DDT) said that Carson wrote not “as a scientist but rather as a fanatic defender of the cult of the balance of nature.” It took a lot of courage for Rachel to speak out as she understood well the forces at work in government and industry that promoted and defended the use of chemical poisons. She protected herself with meticulous research and checking of her facts.
Today we can see the effects of the poisoning of the environment with the demise of bee colonies. In recent years the die off has been so bad that a new term has been coined : “Colony Collapse Disorder”. Beekeepers are losing half or more of their bees each year. The cause? A deadly pesticide known as a neonicotinoids or “neonics” for short. Neonics make plants poisonous to insects, including bees.
Recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected U.S. EPA’s approval of the neonicotinoid insecticide “sulfoxaflor.” The Court concluded that EPA violated federal law when it approved sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide would have on honey bee colonies. Indeed, initial studies have showed that sulfoxaflor is highly toxic to honey bees.
Rachel herself best said it: “Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature.”
In understanding and defending nature against the onslaught of man’s short-sightedness, Rachel Carson was a beautiful example of “Living the Tao”. Her innate understanding of the billions of years of wisdom embodied in Mother Nature and her awareness that all life is irrevocably connected are concepts that we at Alchemy hold to be truths of the highest order. We honor Rachel and her work.
About Josse Ford
Josse Ford. L.Ac. Wellness Director