Since the beginning of time, all societies have had proverbs that disseminated important ecological wisdom and gave us insight into who we are, why we are alive and where we come from.

Human beings are storytelling animals and our ability to communicate with oral storytelling and written languages is something special that makes us unique in nature.

But in modern times, people have been taught to see themselves and the world outside themselves in abstract, reductionist and mechanistic ways. The modern dogmas of reductionist science consistently reinforce a value system that says our Universe and life itself is likely meaningless and purposeless.

It is no wonder that so many people feel anxiety and depression living in modern societies. This way of strictly rational thinking, often without any connection to empathic and intuitive intelligence of the heart, creates a sense of alienation and soullessness that is evident in much of the modern world’s art, architecture and ideologies.

Fortunately, as human beings we have the power to change our story and live a new story that offers us a richer sense of meaning and gives us a higher purpose with which we can better serve others and live responsibly on this Planet.

Nature Quotes and Eco Proverbs:

One of the best ways we can inspire new ways of thinking and develop a deeper understanding of this mysterious world we call home is through the contemplation of nature quotes and proverbs.

Here are some of the best unconventional nature quotes and ecology-oriented proverbs that I’ve collected in my Evernote over the years.

Awe and Wonder:

“If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. If we never wonder, knowledge will never find us.”

― Arapaho Proverb

“Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source. Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don’t realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow. When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king.

Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready.”

― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.

― Albert Einstein

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.

― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.

― Carl Sagan, Cosmos

 

Character:

Chinese Proverb

One’s true nature is revealed in time of difficulty.

― Chinese Proverb

It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.

― Apache Proverb

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

― Cherokee Proverb

We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.

― Dakota Proverb

You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.

― Navajo Proverb

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

― Minquass Proverb

It is easy to be brave from a distance.

― Omaha Proverb

A good chief gives, he does not take.

― Mohawk Proverb

An inflexible tree breaks in a storm.

― Matshona Dhliwayo

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.

― Roger Miller

Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.

― Hopi Proverb

Before eating, always take time to thank the food.

― Arapaho

Poverty is a noose that strangles humility and breeds disrespect for God and man.

― Sioux Proverb

It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace.

― Shenandoah

Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something.

― Maricopa

 

Heart:

“The elders were wise. They know that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to a lack of respect for humans too.

― Chief Luther Standing Bear from the Lakota Sioux

Our first teacher is our own heart.

― Cheyenne Proverb

They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.

― Tuscarora Proverb

It is less of a problem to be poor, than to be dishonest.

― Anishinabe Proverb

Ask questions from you heart and you will be answered from the heart.

― Omaha

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

― Lao Tzu

The sun shines not on us but in us.

― John Muir

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”

― Terence Mckenna

“Does anything in nature despair except man? An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive. It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting. Is this a key? Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.”

― May Sarton

Adapt or perish, now as never, is nature’s inexorable imperative.

― H.G. Wells

Ecological Awareness:

“Ecology is often confused with environmentalism, while in fact, environmentalism often leaves out the fact that people, too, can be a legitimate part of an ecosystem.”

― Frank Herbert

“What you intend when you approach something in the world determines, to varying extents, the degree of sensory gating that occurs as you perceive that phenomenon. Intent, task demands, cognitive template, and gating defaults all affect what you sensorally perceive when a part of the exterior world and you meet. More colloquially, all of us see what we expect to see.”

― Stephen Harrod Buhner

“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.”

― Gregory Bateson

“My profession is always to be alert, to find God in nature, to know God’s lurking places, to attend to all the oratorios and the operas in nature.”

― Henry David Thoreau

“Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.”

― Louie Schwartzberg

“Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes — every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.”

― Orison Swett Marden

“We create the world that we perceive, not because there is no reality outside our heads, but because we select and edit the reality we see to conform to our beliefs about what sort of world we live in. The man who believes that the resources of the world are infinite, for example, or that if something is good for you then the more of it the better, will not be able to see his errors, because he will not look for evidence of them. For a man to change the basic beliefs that determine his perception – his epistemological premises – he must first become aware that reality is not necessarily as he believes it to be. Sometimes the dissonance between reality and false beliefs reaches a point when it becomes impossible to avoid the awareness that the world no longer makes sense. Only then is it possible for the mind to consider radically different ideas and perceptions.”

― Gregory Bateson

“Sometimes Mother Nature has the answers when you do not even know the questions.”

― Keith Wynn

“It’s very, very dangerous to lose contact with living nature.”

― Albert Hofmann

“The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful it would not be worth knowing, and life would not be worth living.”

― Henri Poincaré

“Believe one who knows: you will find something greater in woods than in books.  Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”

― Saint Bernard de Clairvaux

“There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness.  This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom, the mother of us all, “natura naturans.”  There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fountain of action and joy.  It rises up in wordless gentleness, and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.”

― Thomas Merton

“Look!  Look!  Look deep into nature and you will understand everything.”

― Albert Einstein

“Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher.”

― William Wordsworth

“All creatures are merely veils under which God hides Himself and deals with us.”

― Martin Luther

“Every purely natural object is a conductor of divinity, and we have but to expose ourselves in a clean condition to any of these conductors, to be fed and nourished by them. Only in this way can we procure our daily spirit bread.”

― John Muir

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

― John Muir

“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

“Go out into nature. Nature is not our enemy, it is our home; in fact, it sustains us and is in every one of us. All living things are our relatives and belong with us in the biosphere. Out of doors we learn very quickly that there is another rhythm and a different agenda from the frenetic human pace and program. Feel the rain and wind on your face, smell the fragrance of soil and ocean, gaze at the spectacle of the myriad stars in clear air or countless animals making their annual migration. Doing so will rekindle that sense of wonder and excitement we all had as children discovering the world and will engender a feeling of peace and harmony at being in balance with the natural world that is our home.”

― David Suzuki

“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are our biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity—then we will treat each one with greater respect. That is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.”

― David Suzuki

“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let you awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.”

― Eckhardt Tolle

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”

―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

― Luther Burbank

“People think they understand things because they become familiar with them. This is only superficial knowledge. It is the knowledge of the astronomer who knows the names of the stars, the botanist who knows the classification of the leaves and flowers, the artist who knows the aesthetics of green and red. This is not to know nature itself- the earth and sky, green and red. Astronomer, botanist, and artist have done no more than grasp impressions and interpret them, each within the vault of his own mind. The more involved they become with the activity of the intellect, the more they set themselves apart and the more difficult it becomes to live naturally.”

― Masanobu Fukuoka

“Science is a dangerous gift unless it can be brought into contact with wisdom that resides in the sensual, intuitive and ethical aspects of our nature.

For most non-Western cultures, nature is truly alive, and every entity within it is endowed with agency, intelligence and wisdom. This animistic perception is archetypal, ancient and primordial.”

― Robert Riversong

“Caught up in a mass of abstractions, our attention hypnotized by a host of human-made technologies that only reflect us back to ourselves, it is all too easy for us to forget our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities. Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth – our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.”

― David Abram

“His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?”
Jesus said, “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here it is’ or ‘there it is.’ Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.”

― Jesus, Gospel of Thomas

Wisdom:

Hopi Proverb Storytelling

Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.

― Lumbee Proverb

One finger cannot lift a pebble.

― Hopi Proverb

A people without a history is like the wind over buffalo grass.

― Sioux Proverb

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.

― Robert Louis Stevenson

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

―Henry David Thoreau

Rivers and mountains may change; human nature, never.

― Chinese proverb

Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.

― Albert Einstein

There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments – there are consequences.

― Robert G. Ingersoll

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.

― Socrates

“Continually trying to look on the bright side interferes with our finding the wisdom that lies in the fruitful darkness. Continually striving upward toward the light means we never grow downward into our own feet, never become firmly rooted on the earth, never explore the darkness within and around us, a darkness without whose existence the light would have no meaning.”

― Stephen Harrod Buhner

The one who tells the stories rules the world.

― Hopi Proverb

 

The Anima Mundi:

“This world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence … a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.”

― Plato, Timaeus

“Along side the corpus mundi, or body, the aspect of material form, the physical world of matter we experience with our senses, traditional lore places the spiritual mundi (soul), the essential life-energy of the world, and the anima mundi, the soul of the world, its consciousness and innate intelligence.”

― Peter Abelard

“It is manifest… that every soul and spirit hath a certain continuity with the spirit of the universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity… The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the universe… Naught is mixed, yet is there some presence.

Anything we take in the universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.”

―  Giordano Bruno, in De la Causa, Principio e Uno

“There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe…. The soul of the world is nourished by people’s happiness.”

― Paulo Coelho

Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World. … It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.

― Paulo Coelho

“And when people think of reincarnation, they always come up against a very difficult question: if, in the beginning, there were so few people on the face of Earth, and now there are so many, where did all those new souls come from?

We form part of what the Alchemists call the Anima Mundi, the soul of the world; the truth is that if the Anima Mundi were merely to keep dividing, it would keep growing, but it would also become gradually weaker. That is why, as well as dividing into two, we also find ourselves. And the process of finding ourselves is called love. Because when a soul divides, it always divides into a male part and a female part.”

― Paulo Coelho

“The universe shows evidence of the operations of mind on three levels. The first level is elementary physical processes, as we see them when we study atoms in the laboratory. The second level is our direct human experience of our own consciousness. The third level is the universe as a whole. Atoms in the laboratory are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe as a whole is also weird, with laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension. God may be either a world-soul or a collection of world-souls. So I am thinking that atoms and humans and God may have minds that differ in degree but not in kind. We stand, in a manner of speaking, midway between the unpredictability of atoms and the unpredictability of God. Atoms are small pieces of our mental apparatus, and we are small pieces of God’s mental apparatus. Our minds may receive inputs equally from atoms and from God. This view of our place in the cosmos may not be true, but it is compatible with the active nature of atoms as revealed in the experiments of modern physics. I don’t say that this personal theology is supported or proved by scientific evidence. I only say that it is consistent with scientific evidence.”

― Freeman Dyson

I feel bound to say that religious experience, as we have studied it, cannot be cited as unequivocally supporting the infinitist belief. The only thing that it unequivocally testifies to is that we can experience union with something larger than ourselves and in that union find our greatest peace. Philosophy, with its passion for unity, and mysticism with its monoideistic bent, both “pass to the limit” and identify the something with a unique God who is the all-inclusive soul of the world. Popular opinion, respectful to their authority, follows the example which they set.

― William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

“The crisis is at root one of perception; we no longer see the cosmos as alive, nor do we any longer recognize that we are inseparable from the whole of nature, and from our earth as a living being. But there is hope, for as the crisis deepens, the call of anima mundi intensifies.”

― Stephan Harding, Animate Earth

 

Eastern Vedic Knowledge:

Compulsion is not indeed the final appeal to man, but joy is. And joy is everywhere; it is in the earth’s green covering of grass; in the blue serenity of the sky; in the reckless exuberance of spring; in the severe abstinence of grey winter; in the living flesh that animates our bodily frame; in the perfect poise of the human figure, noble and upright; in living; in the exercise of all our powers; in the acquisition of knowledge; in fighting evils; in dying for gains we never can share. Joy is there everywhere; it is superfluous, unnecessary; nay, it very often contradicts the most peremptory behests of necessity. It exists to show that the bonds of law can only be explained by love; they are like body and soul. Joy is the realisation of the truth of oneness, the oneness of our soul with the world and of the world-soul with the supreme lover.

―Rabindranath Tagore, Sādhanā : The Realisation of Life

“At the center of time and space is the World Soul. All things that exists are reflections of the Brahman’s perfection. Every living creature has its own soul, known as atman. However, the material world is an illusion (maya). It causes suffering and prevents the individual soul from perceiving or being connected with the World Soul. The goal of existence is to rejoin one’s atman with the Brahman, allowing oneself to be absorbed into perfection.

― John McCannon, Hinduism AP World History

Although Hinduism has no official symbol, the religious symbol most sacred to most Hindus is the mythical syllable Om [also spelled aum]…the symbol is composed of equivalent of our letter a, u, and m. Although as a syllable it has no literal meaning, Om symbolizes the fundamental hidden reality of the universe and is the basic spiritual sound the universe makes, particularly the sound of World Soul.

― John McCannon, Hinduism AP World History

Earth, upon which this moving, breathing life exists,
May she bestow on us the finest of her harvests!
Earth, the all-sustaining,
treasure-bearing, resting place
Golden-breasted Earth, home of all life,
Who bears the sacred fire.
Pleasant be your hills, O Earth,
Your snow-clad mountains and your forests.
I stand on this Earth,
unvanquished, unslain, unhurt.
Set me, O Earth
amidst the nourishing strength
that emanates from your body.
The Earth is my mother,
I am her son or daughter,
Infinite Space is my father,
may he fill us with plenty.
Peaceful, sweet-smelling, gracious Earth,
Whatever I dig from you, O Earth,
May that have quick growth again,
May we not injure
your vitals or your heart.
Full of sweetness are the plants,
And full of sweetness these my words
And with things that are full of sweetness,
I prosper in a thousand ways.

― Atharva Veda, Earth Invocation

“No religion, perhaps, lays as much emphasis on environmental ethics as does Hinduism. It believes in ecological responsibility and says like Native Americans that the Earth is our mother. It champions protection of animals, which it considers also have souls, and promotes vegetarianism. It has a strong tradition of non-violence or ahimsa. It believes that God is present in all nature, in all creatures, and in every human being regardless of their faith or lack of it.”

― Dr. David Frawley

“The Vedas recognizes that the human body is composed of and related to these five elements, and connects each of the elements to one of the five senses. The human nose is related to earth, tongue to water, eyes to fire, skin to air, and ears to space. This bond between our senses and the elements is the foundation of our human relationship with the natural world. For the Vedas, nature and the environment are not outside us, not alien or hostile to us. They are an inseparable part of our existence, and they constitute our very bodies.”

― Dr. Pankaj Jain

“Earth, in which lie the sea, the river and other waters,
in which food and cornfields have come to be,
in which lives all that breathes and that moves,
may she confer on us the finest of her yield.
Earth, in which the waters, common to all,
moving on all sides, flow unfailingly, day and night,
may she pour on us milk in many streams,
and endow us with luster,
May those born of thee, O Earth,
be of our welfare, free from sickness and waste,
wakeful through a long life, we shall become bearers of tribute to thee.
Earth, my mother, set me securely with bliss in full accord with heaven,
O wise one, uphold me in grace and splendor.”

― Artha-Veda, Hymn to the Earth

Not only in the Vedas, but in later scriptures, such as the Upanishads, the Puranas and subsequent texts, the Hindu viewpoint on nature has been clearly enunciated. It is permeated by a reverence for all life, and an awareness that the great forces of nature – the earth, the sky, the air, the water and fire – as well as various orders of life including plants, trees, forests and animals, are all bound to each other within the great rhythms of nature. The divine is not exterior to creation, but expresses itself through natural phenomena.

― Sushama Londhe

“Our present environmental crisis is in essence a spiritual crisis. We need only to look back to medieval Europe and the psychic revolution that vaulted Christianity to victory over paganism to find the spirit of the environmental crisis. Inhibitions to the exploitation of nature vanished as the Church took the “spirits” out of the trees, mountains, and seas. Christianity’s ghost-busting theology made it possible for man to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects. It made nature man’s monopoly. This materialist paradigm has dominated the modern world for last few centuries.

The current deplorable environmental crisis demands a spiritual response. A fundamental reorientation of human consciousness, accompanied by action that is born out of inner commitment, is very much needed. One of the measures that could help a great deal to fulfill this need is to regenerate and rejuvenate basic values of Vedic culture and propagate them.”

― Swami B. V. Tripurari, Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance

“Nature’s beauty is an art of God. Let us feel the touch of God’s invisible hands in everything beautiful. By the first touch of His hand rivers throb and ripple. When He smiles the sun shines, the moon glimmers, the stars twinkle, the flowers bloom.
By the first rays of the rising sun, the universe is stirred; the shining gold is sprinkled on the smiling buds of rose; the fragrant air is filled with sweet melodies of singing birds, the dawn is the dream of God’s creative fancy.”

― Rig Veda

 

Natural Mystery:

“Listen patiently, quietly and reverently to the lessons, one by one, which Mother Nature has to teach, shedding light on that which was before a mystery, so that all who will, may see and know.”

― Luther Burbank

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

― John Muir

Nature is the art of God.

― Dante Alghieri

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

― Roald Dahl, The Minpins

The earth has music for those who listen.

― William Shakespeare

We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.

― Henry David Thoreau

“It’s a critical moment in the history of the world… We are the representatives of the cosmos; we are an example of what hydrogen atoms can do, given fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution. And we resonate to these questions. We start with the origin of every human being, and then the origin of our community, our nation, the human species, who our ancestors were and then the riddle of the origin of life. And the questions: where did the Earth and Solar System come from? Where did the galaxies come from?

Every one of those questions is deep and significant. They are the subject of folklore, myth, superstition, and religion in every human culture. But for the first time we are on the verge of answering many of them. I don’t mean to suggest that we have the final answers; we are bathing in mystery and confusion on many subjects, and I think that will always be our destiny. The universe will always be much richer than our ability to understand it.”

― Carl Sagan

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.

― Frank Lloyd Wright

Some of nature’s most exquisite handiwork is on a miniature scale, as anyone knows who has applied a magnifying glass to a snowflake.

― Rachel Carson

 

Adventure:

Vincent Van Gogh Flowers Quote

“You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.”

― Terence McKenna

Leave the road, take the trails.

― Pythagoras

Normality is a paved road; it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.

― Vincent van Gogh

The mountains are calling and I must go.

― John Muir

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.

― Jack Kerouac

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

― Edward Abbey

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.

― John Muir

Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street.

― William Blake

 

Evolution:

“Humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve or die. … If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.”

― Eckhart Tolle

It’s evolve or die, really, you have to evolve, you have to move on otherwise it just becomes stagnant.

― Craig Charles

“Those who would legislate against the teaching of evolution should also legislate against gravity, electricity and the unreasonable velocity of light, and also should introduce a clause to prevent the use of the telescope, the microscope and the spectroscope or any other instrument of precision which may in the future be invented, constructed or used for the discovery of truth.”

― Luther Burbank

Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.

― Hubert Reeves

“We’re not destroying the world because we’re clumsy. We’re destroying the world because are, in a very literal and deliberate way, at war with it.”

― Daniel Quinn

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.

― Charles Darwin

Every living organism is fulfilled when it follows the right path for its own nature.

― Marcus Aurelius

“Natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create… Neo-Darwinists say that new species emerge when mutations occur and modify an organism. I was taught over and over again that the accumulation of random mutations led to evolutionary change [which] led to new species. I believed it until I looked for evidence.”

― Lynn Margulis

“Modern man talks of the battle with nature, forgetting that if he ever won the battle he would find himself on the losing side.”

– E. F. Schumacher

 

Anthropocentrism:

Our downfall as a species is that we are arrogant enough to think that we can control Mother Nature and stupid enough to think it is our job.

― Greg Peterson

Man has demonstrated that he is master of everything – except his own nature.

― Henry Miller

“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.”

― Terence McKenna

Modern materialists and religious extremists alike lack the spiritual animistic reverence for non-human beings that every culture once understood as a given.

― Zeena Schreck

“The people of your culture cling with fanatical tenacity to the specialness of man. They want desperately to perceive a vast gulf between man and the rest of creation. This mythology of human superiority justifies their doing whatever they please with the world, just the way Hitler’s mythology of Aryan superiority justified his doing whatever he pleased with Europe. But in the end this mythology is not deeply satisfying. The Takers are a profoundly lonely people. The world for them is enemy territory, and they live in it like an army of occupation, alienated and isolated by their extraordinary specialness.”

— Danial Quinn

We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.

― Wendell Berry

Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.

― Alan Watts

We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel with God, as the Catholic and Protestants do. We do not want to learn that.

― Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

“Life is a planetary level phenomenon and the Earth has been alive for at least 3000 million years. To me the human move to take responsibility for the living Earth is laughable – the rhetoric of the powerless. The planet takes care of us, not we of it. Our self inflated moral imperative to guide a wayward Earth or heal a sick planet is evidence of our immense capacity for self-delusion. Rather, we need to protect us from ourselves.”

― Lynn Margolis

“Christian morality contains the great and essential imperfection of taking into consideration only man, and leaving the entire animal world without rights.”

― Arthur Schopenhauer

 

Natural Intelligence:

All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.

― Arapaho Proverb

Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.

― Albert Einstein

“I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.”

― Paul Stamets

“I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.”

― Paul Stamets

God writes His Gospel not in the Bible alone, but in trees and flowers and clouds and stars.

― Martin Luther

“James Hillman so eloquently put it, “It was only when science convinced us that nature was dead that it could begin its autopsy in earnest.” A living, aware, and soul-filled world does not respond well to autopsy.”

― Stephen Harrod Buhner

“Jagadis Bose, who developed some of the earliest work on plant neurobiology in the early 1900s, treated plants with a wide variety of chemicals to see what would happen. In one instance, he covered large, mature trees with a tent then chloroformed them. (The plants breathed in the chloroform through their stomata, just as they would normally breathe in air.) Once anesthetized, the trees could be uprooted and moved without going into shock. He found that morphine had the same effects on plants as that of humans, reducing the plant pulse proportionally to the dose given. Too much took the plant to the point of death, but the administration of atropine, as it would in humans, revived it. Alcohol, he found, did indeed get a plant drunk. It, as in us, induced a state of high excitation early on but as intake progressed the plant began to get depressed, and with too much it passed out. and it had a hangover the next day Irrespective of the chemical he used, Bose found that the plant responded identically to the human; the chemicals had the same effect on the plants nervous systems as it did the human. This really should not be surprising. The neurochemicals in our bodies were used in every life-form on the planet long before we showed up. They predate the emergence of the human species by hundreds of millions of years. They must have been doing something all that time, you know, besides waiting for us to appear.”

― Stephen Harrod Buhner

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.

― George Washington Carver

“I was educated at Cambridge. How admirable is the Western method of submitting all theory to scrupulous experimental verification! That procedure has gone hand in hand with the gift for introspection which is my Eastern heritage. Together they have enabled me to sunder the silences of natural realms long uncommunicative. The telltale charts of my crescograph are evidence for the most skeptical that plants have a sensitive nervous system and a varied emotional life. Love, hate, joy, fear, pleasure, pain, excitability, and countless appropriate responses to stimuli are as universal in plants as in animals.”

― Jagadish Chandra Bose

“Reason flows from the blending of rational thought and feeling. If the two functions are torn apart, thinking deteriorates into schizoid intellectual activity and feeling deteriorates into neurotic life-damaging passions.”

― Erich Fromm

 

Death:

Greek Proverb Wisdom

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

― Greek Proverb

Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.

— Blackfoot Proverb

The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors.

― Chief Plenty Coups, Crow Nation

All who have died are equal.

― Comanche Proverb

There is no death, only a change of worlds.

― Duwamish Proverb

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

― Plato

To me, Mother Nature isn’t nearly as scary as human nature.

― Paula Stokes

Nature is not benevolent: with ruthless indifference she makes all things serve their purposes.

― Lao Tzu

 

Deep Ecology:

“There is no environment “out there” that is separate from us. We can’t manage our impact on the environment if we are our surroundings. Indigenous people are absolutely correct: we are born of the earth and constructed from the four sacred elements of earth, air, fire and water. (Hindus list these four and add a fifth element, space.)”

― David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

― Aldo Leopold

“The apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it’s only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.”

― Terence Mckenna

“If you lose touch with nature you lose touch with humanity.
If there’s no relationship with nature then you become a killer;
then you kill baby seals, whales, dolphins, and man
either for gain, for “sport,” for food, or for knowledge.
Then nature is frightened of you, withdrawing its beauty.
You may take long walks in the woods or camp in lovely places
but you are a killer and so lose their friendship.

― Jiddu Krishnamurti

As technological civilization diminishes the biotic diversity of the earth, language itself is diminished. As there are fewer and fewer songbirds in the air, due to the destruction of their forests and wetlands, human speech loses more and more of its evocative power. For when we no longer hear the voices of warbler and wren, our own speaking can no longer be nourished by their cadences. As the splashing speech of the rivers is silenced by more and more dams, as we drive more and more of the land’s wild voices into the oblivion of extinction, our own languages become increasingly impoverished and weightless, progressively emptied of their earthly resonance.

― David Abram

“An environment-based education movement–at all levels of education–will help students realize that school isn’t supposed to be a polite form of incarceration, but a portal to the wider world.”

― Richard Louv

The Web of Life:

Alan Watts Animistic Quote

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

― Chief Seattle

“Every breath is a sacrament, an affirmation of our connection with all other living things, a renewal of our link with our ancestors and a contribution to generations yet to come. Our breath is a part of life’s breath, the ocean of air that envelopes the earth.”

― David Suzuki

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.

― Albert Einstein

Remember that your tracks are one strand of the web woven endlessly in the hand of God. They’re tied to those of the mouse in the field, the eagle on the mountain, the crab in its hold, the lizard beneath its rock. The leaf that falls to the ground a thousand miles away touches your life. The impress of your foot in the soil is felt through a thousand generations.

― Daniel Quinn

We belong to the community of life on this planet — it doesn’t belong to us. We got confused about that, now it’s time to set the record straight.

― Daniel Quinn

I am going to venture that the man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization.”

― Chief Luther Standing Bear from the Lakota Sioux

Regard Heaven as your father, Earth as your Mother and all things as your Brothers and Sisters.

― Tribe Unknown

All dreams spin out from the same web.

― Hopi Proverb

Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same.

― Crow Proverb

Everything the power does, it does in a circle.

― Lakota Proverb

With all things and in all things, we are relatives.

― Sioux Proverb

Man has responsibility, not power.

― Tuscarora Proverb

When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.

― Arapaho Proverb

Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.

― Blaise Pascal

You didn’t come into this world.  You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.  You are not a stranger here.

― Alan Watts

All life is a circle. The atom is a circle, orbits are circles, the earth, moon, and sun are circles. The seasons are circles. The cycle of life is a circle: baby, youth, adult, elder. The sun gives life to the earth who feeds life to the trees whose seeds fall to the earth to grow new trees. We need to practice seeing the cycles that the Great Spirit gave us because this will help us more in our understanding of how things operate. We need to respect these cycles and live in harmony with them.

― Rolling Thunder

There are webs of complexity that tie everything together, and they are more numerous than the stars in the night sky. At the moment of self-organization of the bacterial membrane, complex feedback loops, both interoceptive and exteroceptive, immediately formed. Information from both locations began traveling in a huge, never-ending river composed of trillions upon trillions of bytes of data to the self-organized, more-than-the-sum-of-the-parts living system that had come into being. The system began, in that instant of self-organization, to modulate both its interior and exterior worlds in order to maintain its state. It began to modulate its environment.”

― Stephen Harrod Buhner

“The living world—this ambiguous realm that we experience in anger and joy, in grief and in love—is both the soil in which all our sciences are rooted and the rich humus into which their results ultimately return, whether as nutrients or as poisons. Our spontaneous experience of the world, charged with subjective, emotional, and intuitive content, remains the vital and dark ground of all our objectivity.”

― David Abram

 

Children:

Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator.

― Mohawk

A man or woman with many children has many homes.

― Lakota Sioux

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.

― Thomas Henry Huxley

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.

― Iroquois Proverb

“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”

― Richard Louv

“Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it. Nature offers healing for a child living in a destructive family or neighborhood.”

― Richard Louv

“Luther Burbank could directly work with plants to co-create most of the food plants we now take for granted is that he routinely accessed earlier developmental stages, in essence, taking them on as a lens through which to experience the world. This shifted his sensory gating dynamics, opening the doors of perception much wider, allowing a much richer sensory perception to occur. It allowed him to work with the metaphysical background directly. As Helen Keller once remarked of him . . . He has the rarest of gifts, the receptive spirit of a child. Only a wise child can understand the language of flowers and trees.”

― Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm

 

Native American Wisdom:

“The Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world; a world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations; a world longing for light again.

I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again.

In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.

I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.”

― Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux

When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

― Cree Prophecy

There is a mistaken belief that the word Indian refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492…. Columbus called the tribal people he met “Indio,” from the Italian in dio, meaning “in God.”

― Russel Means

We Indians do not teach that there is only one god. We know that everything has power, including the most inanimate, inconsequential things. Stones have power. A blade of grass has power. Trees and clouds and all our relatives in the insect and animal world have power. We believe we must respect that power by acknowledging its presence. By honoring the power of the spirits in that way, it becomes our power as well. It protects us.

― Russel Means

When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.

― Chief Seattle

Only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame, Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.

― Black Elk, Oglala Lakota Sioux

One thing to remember is to talk to the animals. If you do, they will talk back to you. But if you don’t talk to the animals, they won’t talk back to you, then you won’t understand, and when you don’t understand you will fear, and when you fear you will destroy the animals, and if you destroy the animals, you will destroy yourself.

― Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh

Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.

― Mourning Dove Salish

You have to look deeper, way below the anger, the hurt, the hate, the jealousy, the self-pity, way down deeper where the dreams lie, son. Find your dream. It’s the pursuit of the dream that heals you.

― Billy Mills

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.

― Native American Proverb

“We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights. We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights. We must step into the reality of natural rights because all of the natural world has a right to existence and we are only a small part of it. There can be no trade-off.”

― John Trudell, Santee Dakota

“Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist.”

― Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe

Native American Ten Commandments

1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect
2. Remain close to the Great Spirit
3. Show great respect for your fellow beings
4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind
5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed
6. Do what you know to be right
7. Look after the well-being of Mind and Body
8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good
9. Be truthful and honest at all times
10. Take full responsibility for your actions

“Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the earth is not bereft of four-footed life – that to the white man is an ‘unbroken wilderness.’

But for us there was no wilderness, nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly. Our faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings.

For us, the world was full of beauty; for the other, it was a place to be endured until he went to another world.

But we were wise. We knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”

― Chief Luther Standing Bear

“Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept us safe among them… The animals had rights – the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness. This concept of life and its relations filled us with the joy and mystery of living; it gave us reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.”

― Chief Luther Standing Bear

White men have too many chiefs.

― Nez Perce Proverb

“The love of possessions is a disease with them (Americans). They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence the neighbors away.

If America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough.”

― Sitting Bull

 

Love For Nature:

I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. Look at the sun: If there is no sun, then we cannot exist. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred; trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals.

― Mikhail Gorbachev

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

― Rachel Carson

“The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.”

― Richard Louv

The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.

― Edward Abbey

This curious world we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.

― Henry David Thoreau

If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see.

― Charlotte Eriksson

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.

― Iris Murdoch

A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.

― Edward Abbey

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.

― John Muir

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.

― Mahatma Gandhi

I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.

― Jack Kerouac

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.

― George Washington Carver

 

Natural Health:

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

― Henry David Thoreau

Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy.

― Charlotte Eriksson

“Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.”

― Hippocrates

Living in such a world, is it any wonder that we turn to drugs, to ever more sensational means of stimulation; to entertainment that renders us a catatonic? Insulated from nature, ungrounded, why should we be surprised at our own brutality? Where, in such a world, is there room for gratitude, and what should we be grateful?

― Arthur Versluis

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.

― John Burroughs

Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.

― Amit Ray

If you wish to know the divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand.

― Buddha

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

―Henry David Thoreau

This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.

― Susan Polis Schutz

All good things are wild and free.

― Henry David Thoreau

 

Animistic Poetry:

Not just beautiful, though—the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.

― Haruki Murakami

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'”

― Lewis Carroll

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

― Walt Whitman

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

― Kahlil Gibran

Colors are the smiles of nature.

― Leigh Hunt

The poetry of the earth is never dead.

― John Keats

Butterflies are self-propelled flowers.

― Robert A. Heinlein

Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.

― Antoni Gaudi

The earth laughs in flowers.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The stars are like letters that inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky. Everything in the world is full of signs.
All events are coordinated.
All things depend on each other.
Everything breathes together.

― Plotinus

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”

― Rumi

 

Animism:

“In the oldest religion, everything was alive, not supernaturally but naturally alive. There were only deeper and deeper streams of life, vibrations of life more and more vast. So rocks were alive, but a mountain had a deeper, vaster life than a rock, and it was much harder for a man to bring his spirit, or his energy, into contact with the life of a mountain, and so he drew strength from the mountain, as from a great standing well of life, than it was to come into contact with the rock. And he had to put forth a great religious effort. For the whole life-effort of man was to get his life into contact with the elemental life of the cosmos. mountain-life, cloud-life, thunder-life, air-life, earth-life, sun-life. To come into the immediate felt contact, and so derive energy, power, and a dark sort of joy. This effort into sheer naked contact, without an intermediary or mediator, is the root meaning of religion …”

― D.H. Lawrence, New Mexico

Animism is not a belief but a worldview: The world is a sacred place and we are part of it. The factuality of this statement is not the issue. To say that the world is a sacred place is to make a statement about values, not facts. It’s a statement about what you mean by “sacred,” just as “money can’t buy happiness” is a statement about what you mean by “happiness.” To put it all very simply, Animism isn’t a belief system, it’s a value system.

― Daniel Quinn, Ishmael

“The animistic perspective has a long and distinguished philosophical pedigree. For some eminent philosophers such as Spinoza and Leibniz, and more recently Alfred North Whitehead, it was inconceivable that sentience (subjective consciousness) could ever emerge or evolve from wholly insentient (objective, physical) matter, for to propose this would be to believe in a fundamental division or inconsistency within the very fabric of reality itself.

Therefore each of these philosophers considered matter to be intrinsically sentient. The new animism that they espoused simply recognizes that the material world around us has always been a dimension of sensation and feelings–albeit sensations that may be very different from our own–and that each entity must be treated with respect for its own kind of experience.”

― Stephan Harding

Animism is worth considering (a) because it exists, (b) because it addresses contemporary issues and debates, and (c) because it clarifies, in various ways, the argument that the project of modernity is ill-conceived and dangerously performed.

― Graham Harvey

Twentieth-century developments in science support a new animism. Developments in physics have led to a world of energetic events which seem to be self-moving and to behave in unpredictable ways. And recent studies in biology seem to demonstrate that bacteria and macromolecules have elemental forms of perception, memory, choice, and self-motion.

― David Ray Griffin

Animists are not so much people with a religion as people with a fundamentally religious way of looking at things.

― Daniel Quinn

Animism is a monist metaphysical stance, based upon the idea that mind and matter are not distinct and separate substances but an integrated reality, rooted in nature.

― Emma Restall Orr

Children arrive animists. They learn about life, themselves, and empathy by imagining the liveliness of everything they come into contact with.

― S. Kelley Harrell

It is a well known fact that even among highly cultured peoples the belief in animism prevails generally. Even the scholar may kick the chair against which he accidentally stumbles, and derive great satisfaction from thus “getting even” with the perverse chair.

― Holly Estil Cunningham

Animists are people who recognize that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human.

― Graham Harvey

“These people have learned not from books, but in the fields, in the wood, on the river bank. Their teachers have been the birds themselves, when they sang to them, the sun when it left a glow of crimson behind it at setting, the very trees, and wild herbs.”

― Anton Chekhov

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”

― Joseph Campbell

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.”

― John Muir

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

― John Muir

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.”

—Jack Kerouac

Equally confused is the common lay definition that the animist believes there is “spirit” in everything. On that basis, animism is often deposited into the box of dualistic faiths without further consideration. For such spirits are not thought of as breath; here spirit and soul are conflated and the spirit of a mountain, a waterfall, a tree, is imagined to be a discarnate soul, resident in — but separable from — the physical form. While the dualist of a monotheistic tradition may consider the immaterial soul to be found only in human beings, and occasionally more recently in other mammals, the animist is assumed to believe that same concept of soul present in a much wider selection of bodies within nature, perhaps every body. To someone looking at animist ideas from outside, such beliefs may seem close to the immature response of a little child still wondering at how the world around him might respond. Yet such a view of animism is childish; it equates to the notion of Yahweh as an old man on a cloud. It is religious metaphysics drawn with fat, colourful crayons. Such a cartoon begins with an entirely erroneous understanding of spirit.

― Emma Restall Orr

Animism is by many regarded as the earliest form which religion took, and as the root from which was derived all religious beliefs which the world has known, and was also the earliest basis of all that is dignified by the name of culture.

― George William Gilmore

Once the idea of a supernaturalistic creation is fully overcome, the idea returns that the universe must be self-organizing and therefore composed of self-moving parts. Also, insofar as dualistic assumptions are fully overcome and human experience is accepted as fully natural, it begins to seem probable that something analogous to our experience and self-movement is a feature of every level of nature.

― David Ray Griffin

Part of our peacemaking was the realization that life is essentially no different in a man than it is in a paramecium, a fly, a salamander, or a deer. All share the same spark of life and spirit. All are part of the same superconsciousness, living in one place under the sun, connected by a frail umbilical cord to the nourishing Earth Mother.

― Tom Brown Jr.

All living things are individual instruments through which the Mind of the Universe thinks, speaks and acts. We are all interrelated in a common accord, a common purpose, and a common good. We are members of a vast cosmic orchestra, in which each living instrument is essential to the complementary and harmonious playing of the whole.

― J. Allen Boone

The distinction between life and lifeless is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks? Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are an immortal part of us.

― John Seed, Thinking Like a Mountain

The nomadic gatherer-hunters live in an entirely sacred world. Their spirituality reaches as far as all of their relations. They know the animals and plants that surround them and not only the ones of immediate importance. They speak with what we would call “inanimate objects,” but they can speak the same language. They know how to see beyond themselves and are not limited to the human languages that we hold so dearly. Their existence is grounded in place, they wander freely, but they are always home, welcome and fearless.

― Kevin Tucker, Against Civilization

There is no transcendent creator in animism, no god who set the clocks ticking and decides which ones to fix when they falter; nothing exists outside of nature. In other words, the philosophy does not require that I believe in something I cannot experience directly.

― Emma Restall Orr

We are spiritual beings, and we need spirit more than ever. We need to understand that nature gave us birth and is our home and source of wellbeing, and that when we die, we will return to it. We needn’t be saddled with the impossible weight of managing the entire biosphere, but we must meet the challenge of living in balance with the sacred elements. We are part of a community of beings that are related to us.

― David Suzuki

If we are to survive, we must learn a new way to live, or relearn an old way. There have existed, and for the time being still exist, many cultures whose members refuse to cut the vocal cords of the planet, and refuse to enter into the deadening deal which we daily accept as part of living. It is perhaps significant that prior to contact with Western Civilization many of these cultures did not have rape, nor did they have child abuse…. Wish that we could say the same. It is perhaps significant that members of these cultures listen attentively (as though their lives depend on it, which of course they do) to what plants, animals, rocks, rivers, and stars have to say, and that these cultures have been able to do what we can only dream of, which is to live in dynamic equilibrium with the rest of the world.

― Derrick Jenson, A Language Older Than Words

What Your Favorite Nature Quote?

Which ones are your favorite?  Or do you have a personal favorite quote to add to the list? Please mention it in the comments.