“The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.” -Chief Seattle
As I continue living in the woods in a hut here in Costa Rica, I’m reminded of what life is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a simple life as a brief gift from God to spend in this garden of Eden that’s been created for us.
Living in a 10’ x 10’ three-walled wooden hut with no hot water, yet surrounded by unimaginable amounts of teeming life, I feel the intense connection with the planet. The reverence and gratitude I have for being in this simple but wonderful place is indescribable. I’m beginning to remember what I’ve always known: the more we’re separated from nature the more we grow ill. The earth is our mother and our health is immeasurably dependent on our connection with her.
Think about it for a minute, the cycle of healthy human life that exists at this point has been built on thousands of generations of our forefathers, and it continues to flow and provide the essential attributes for human beings to thrive. The complexity of how God put this system together to create bountiful life on our planet is beyond our ability to even begin to understand.
We all know that the fate of our health is linked to the fate of the earth that surrounds and embraces us. We are currently witnessing the fact that the further we damage and change our environment and disconnect from the earth, the more we damage ourselves. Many of us somehow forget that the earth is above us, below us, surrounding us and within us, and that the health of the human spirit, the health of the body and the health of the earth’s fates are all connected.
Our special star, which we refer to as the sun, at this minute plows through space at thousands of miles per hour, and along with it our planet earth is being pulled, traveling about a total of a billion miles per year in a linear motion, heading to a point unknown, like our own huge bio-domed spaceship. Simultaneously, we are revolving at a perfect distance, spinning and tilting, giving us day/night and seasons. We take for granted that the sun happens to be, in essence, a mega-giant nuclear reactor burning hydrogen and creating unbelievable amounts of energy in the form of radioactive heat that arrives as light and warmth to our planet’s surface. This light arrives penetrating earth’s atmosphere, warming our oceans and our air, and giving the plants sunlight for energy.
In a book I read recently called The Lives of a Cell, biologist Lewis Thomas described the concept that the planet is almost identical to the human body, and is in essence one giant living cellular organism whose components are all linked in a symbiotic relationship. The atmosphere is the membrane that protects the cell, and inside the membrane it operates very similarly to our own bodies.
The forests are the lungs of the organism, the soil and swamps are the gut, the rivers, streams and lakes are the vascular system, the continents its organs, the ocean its giant lymphatic system. The humans and animals that habitate the earth are the immune system. All life is linked and dependent on the health of the cell.
But lets take a slight step back even further to how all life began.
How It All Began
Mycelium, and later, bacteria and soil, were created over a course of billions of years. In this rich soil, everything needed to grow life thrives, including essential trace minerals and living microbes. It has been said that a bucket of soil contains more life forms than all the stars in the universe. The plants growing in it convert the sun’s energy through photosynthesis. The byproduct of this process just happens to be nutrients in the form of food, and oxygen in the air we breathe, making life on this planet possible.
Because of these organisms we have a mutually beneficial form of life in animals and billions upon billions of insects. These insects co-evolved with plants as pollinators, which is key for producing an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Animals, including humans, eat these plants’ offerings, benefiting from the nutrition. Some of these animals eat only vegetation. Others only eat other animals, namely those that feed on the vegetation.
Our oceans are teeming with plant and animal life, covering about 70% of our globe, and we humans eat the plants and animals that both the land and sea provide. The nutrients and calories provided by this bounty come in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat—the three macro-nutrients absolutely essential for perfect human health. Our digestion, which also co-evolved over thousands of years with this teeming life, breaks down calories and absorbs the nutrients and minerals.
This digestion process powers the 30 billion energy reactors throughout our bodies that we call cells. Our various cells constitute our organs (liver, heart, brain, etc), blood, skin, bones, muscles, hormones, a nervous system and sensory preceptors (eyes, ears, touch, taste), and all convert these calories into energy with the help of enzymes, nutrients and minerals. Our body then operates in congruence with the trillions of bacteria that also compose our body (interestingly enough, bacteria outnumber our cells ten to one).
A healthy body with all the right building blocks functions in perfect harmony within itself and within its terrain, becoming fertile. Fertility leads to a healthy child. New life is reared and instilled with a reverence for the cycle. The child grows to adulthood, finds another compatible and fertile human, and continues the chain.
With each generation of humans, the cycle continues and societies are built. Human intelligence observes and enhances this cycle, ensuring it continues. Thus have we been given the duty to be good stewards of this planet. Eventually, for each us and all living organisms, our cells wear out and scheduled death (apoptosis) occurs. We die.
We came from the earth and are returned to it, and this perfectly beautiful process starts again. As the Bible says, from dust we come, and to dust we shall return.
All is in balance, all is connected, all is perfect.
The Buddha has said, “As a net is made up by a series of ties, so everything in this world is connected by a series of ties. If anyone thinks that the mesh of a net is an independent, isolated thing, he is mistaken.”
So it begs the primary question: If this system is perfectly designed for humans to thrive, why are so many of us sick?
The other main question: Where does health come from and how do we get it back?
The answer I realized to both is this: Live as God has designed us to live.
Live a simple life with nature and not in competition with, breathe clean air free from pollutants, drink pure water with no chemicals, eat nutritionally dense foods and feed the spirit.
The more we destroy the earth, the more we destroy ourselves. The more we nurture the earth, the healthier we become.
It really is that simple.
Dr. Timothy Weeks