About The School of Nature

by Lars krüger (2004)

(translated by John Barnes)

 

I. Insight into Nature, and Artistic Activity

In earlier times Nature was conceived of as being animated with soul. Medievalphilosophers called this being “Natura.” When we observe Nature today we can still feel a call—as though from a mirror—to awaken the soul capacities within us.

 

Nevertheless, today our relationship with Nature is fundamentally passive. We conceiveof Nature as existing on its own, without any connection to our inner experience. In reality, however, our lives are deeply intertwined with Nature, but we are initiallyincapable of raising this connection into consciousness. Thus we are called upon to awaken. We are called upon to become inwardly active: rather than accepting Nature asgiven, we can create our own image of her. We are then inwardly fully present in such images. No longer passive onlookers, we begin to sense within our own formative activity the same forces that work creatively in Nature. Nature is in fact a great artist, and if we wish to experience how she creates, we need artistic sensitivity, formative will,and pictorial imagination.

 

II. Nature – the Human Being – Human Civilization

Alienation from Nature is perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of our times. Andit is inevitably linked to an alienation from ourselves. This estrangement from our own humanity is certainly one of the main reasons for the numerous social and politicalproblems besetting our society as it moves toward globalization. It is therefore essential that we develop a way of knowing Nature that can resolve this alienation and lead to newways of working with Nature, our environment, and each other.

 

As builders of civilization, we are continuously transforming Nature. In this sense,humanity can be seen as a natural force. For this reason alone, a way of knowing that seeks to resolve our alienation from Nature must also encompass the human being. Itmust in fact encompass Nature, the human being, and human civilization. This broad context calls for a radical departure from the conventional approach that divides ourinvolvement with Nature into many separate specialized disciplines and fields of study. The problem of alienation can be resolved only by connecting the various disciplines.

 

In order to achieve a transformation of our relationship to Nature, ourselves, and ourcivilization, The School of Nature will focus on three areas:

 

1. Scientific insight into Nature: In contrast to conventional science that seeks only

external knowledge, we will strive to become aware of what we ourselves experience

when we observe Nature. The fundamental question underlying our scientific

studies will be: to what extent does external Nature reveal its innernature through

our own inner experience? The exact observation of Nature will be enhanced by

aesthetic self-observationwhereby, for example, beauty becomes a criterion for the

health of the observed environment. Thus the ugliness of degraded landscapes, of

areas exploited byindustry or other commercial interests is an indicator that such

environments are inimical to life. Another central endeavor of The School of Nature is

to experience Nature as acreative agent, as natura naturans,1 and to discover how

Nature’s creativity corresponds to our own.

 

2. Art: Every productive act has its artistic aspect. In The School of Nature,therefore,

art is not a supplementary exercise but rather inherent in all activities. Thinking, the

production of meaningful thought-structures, can be experienced asan art. Becoming

aware of the creativity in our own thought processes is an important aspect of the

observation of Nature. Attending to the creative processesin our own artistic work can

become a key to understanding creative processes in Nature. In this sense, self-

knowledge becomes a tool for understanding Nature.In addition, artistic activity is a

preparation for working in larger social contexts, for example on a farm, or in a

business—in enterprises whose scope far exceedsthe life of one individual. What

we are actually doing when we are creatively active is a question of greatest

significance for the destiny of humanity and of theEarth because it determines how

we deal with ourselves and with Nature. As we know, this can either lead to the

beauty of a cathedral or to the drabness of urbansprawl, to a healing medicine or to

an atom bomb.

 

3. Agriculture: Agriculture is the archetype of all activities that have a lastingeffect on

Nature. In fact our whole concept of “culture” comes from the word “agri-culture.” By

cultivating Nature, we can raise it to a level where it nourishesand sustains us. Today

agriculture is still a field in which human beings can work in an intimate relationship

with Nature. But because this activity brings us intodirect contact with Nature, the

impact of misguided agricultural practices is particularly destructive. The School of

Nature offers its students farmingexperience that can become a meaningful dialog

between Nature and human creativity.

 

The three areas outlined above may at first appear to be unrelated. When we look at themmore closely, however, their interconnectedness becomes apparent. It becomes evident that creative capacities are the basis for science and agriculture or any other culturalactivity. Any scientific insight, any practical undertaking, especially one that has an enduring effect (a cultivated landscape, for example), is a productive activity, a creative act, and only possible because the human being is a creative being endowed with artisticcapacities. It should in fact be obvious that our creative artistic capacities form our most intimateconnection with Nature. For Nature herself is an all-encompassing matrix of productive relationships, and we as human beings follow Nature’s sublime example in our ownmodest ways. We are integral and active participants in Nature’s artistry.