Natural History and Mindfulness

This Sunday, Mike B. led our discussion this past Sunday on the topic of Natural History and its intersection with Buddhist philosophy.

Mike played an excerpt from Gil Fronsdal’s talk here:

He also read a poignant selection from one of the essays in The Way of Natural History by Thomas Fleischner. Here are some quotes from that essay:

Natural history is the practice of intentional, focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-than-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy. Simply put, it is paying attention to the bigger world outside our own heads. As Zen Roshi (and contributor to this volume) Robert Aitken noted, attention is prerequisite to intimacy. Natural history, then, is a means of becoming intimate with the big, wild world…

Minfulness, a crucial element of manu spiritual lineages, is particularly closely allied with Buddhist traditions, which include it as one of the elements of the Noble Eightfold Path. RIght Mindfulness involves cultivating a state of increasing clarity and intensity of consciousness, one that filters out illusions and projections…

Natural history and mindfulness are two surfaces of the same leaf, a seamless merging of attentiveness outward and inward, toward the interwoven realms of nature an psyche. For some people the window is clearer looking outward; for others, it’s easier to look within. But regardless what is being attended, the practice of mindful attention is very much the same, and the two practices are fully complementary.