Springtime, and Nature, set me thinking once again about our environment and how we relate to it. Take a look at any open space – birds, trees, flowers. It all looks rather idyllic.

Yet we also know that birds eat small insects and worms, and are in turn eaten by predators. We know that trees will choke each other out of the sunlight if they need to.

This should remind us of a basic truth: we live in a world that depends upon some degree of exploitation. We eat plants, and animals, and so to some extent that means we prey on them. The point here is not that we should all declare veganism to be the answer but that we should be aware that we live in a world that has always depended on living beings eating, destroying and exploiting other organisms.

The important thing is that we should accept this, and recognize that we live in two realms. We live in a realm of spirit, which is what we actually are, and we live in a material world that feeds the body in which that spirit resides. We are both. We are crassly, messily human and we are also spirits.

Our task in life is to navigate between these two.

Can we live by cooperating with Nature? Can we take what we need without trashing the place in the interests of money? Can we stay on that knife edge?  

We can, if we decided to. Otherwise we’ll face a world of climate catastrophe, horrendous pollution, and real misery.

Which realm you decide to live in most is up to you. The material realm of physical comforts says grab all you can. The spiritual world says be in harmony.

The sacred Hindu text of the Rig Veda has a section in which it describes the tree of life. In it sit two birds. One is quiet and thoughtful. The other is ravaging the fruits. The tree is us and we are both birds, but we get to decide which aspect of life is more important to us.