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WHICH NATURAL AND CULTURAL GRAMMAR DO WE FOLLOW?

AN ABERRANT WORLD-VIEW

The more Prince Charles has learned about it, during the course of his life and work, the more he has become aware, as we have seen, that there was a similarity between the way ancient civilizations built their sacred cultures and the way the natural world itself is structured and behaves. The ratios and proportions that define the way natural organisms grow and unfold are the same as those that underpin the structures of the most famous ancient buildings. Seeing this, he began to realize that the great juggernaut of industrialization relies upon a somewhat aberrant kind of language – a man-made one – which articulates a view that ignores nature's grammar.

He found, by contrast, that if people are encouraged to immerse themselves in Nature's grammar and geometry – discovering how it works, how it controls life on Earth, and how humanity has expressed it in so many great works of art and architecture – they are often led to acquire some remarkably deep philosophical insights into the meaning and purpose of nature and into what it means to be aware and alive in this extraordinary universe.

The dominant world-view, in contrast, only accepts as fact what it sees in material terms and this opens us up to a very dangerous state of affairs, not least because the more extreme this approach becomes, the more extreme the reaction tends to be at the other end of the scale. So we end up with two fundamentalist camps that oppose each other, the secular and the religious. Empiricism now assumes authority beyond the area it is capable of addressing and, consequently, it excludes the voices of those other levels of language that once played their rightful part in giving humanity a comprehensive view of reality – that is the philosophical and spiritual levels of language. This is why it conveniently elbows the soul out of the picture. We are no longer, therefore, able to view the world much beyond its surface and appearance. We are persuaded, instead, to follow a way of being that denies the non-material side to our humanity even though, contrary to what is supposed to be a growing popular belief, this other half of ourselves is actually just as important as our rational side, even more so. It is our means of relating to the rest of the natural world and this is why Prince Charles has long felt so alarmed that our collective thinking and predominant way of doing things are so dangerously out of balance with nature.

Our intuition is deeply rooted in the natural order. It is the “sacred gift", as Einstein called it. Many sacred traditions refer to it as the voice of the soul: the link between the body and the mind and therefore the link between the particular and the universal. A much more integrated view of the world and our relationship with it existed throughout ancient history and right up to that critical period in 17th-century Europe when Western thinking began to take a more fragmented view of things. Prince Charles' concern from the very start was that Western culture was accelerating away from values and perspectives that had, up until then, been embedded in traditional roots. The industrialization of life was becoming comprehensive and nature had become "secularized".

In the West the sense of the sacred had been a value that had stood the test of time and helped to guide countless generations to understand the significance of nature's processes and to live by her cyclical economy. But, like the children who followed the Pied Piper, it was as if our beguiling machines, not to say four centuries of being increasingly dependent upon a very narrow form of scientific rationalism, has led us along a new but dangerously unknown road – and a dance that has been so merry that we failed to see how far we were being taken from our rightful home. The net result was that our culture seemed to be paying less and less heed to what had always been understood about the way nature worked and the limits of her benevolence, and to how, as a consequence, the subtle balance in many areas of human endeavour was destroyed. What he could see then was that without those traditional "anchors" our civilization would find itself in an increasingly difficult and exposed position. And regrettably this is what has happened. So what is to be done?

 
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