we don't need to change how we do conservation, we need to change why we do it

Young Buddha at Home, Part-1: Illusion is Our Birthright

A short selection from Essay Twenty in Darwin, Dogen, and the Extremophile Choice.

The man pulling radishes pointed the way with a radish —Haiku by Issa

The wolf is tied by subtle threads to the woods he moves through. —Barry Lopez [1]

Our inner cave-man can clearly see his world has changed, but despite the sermons he offers up to inspire ‘humane’ behaviour, he tends not to uncouple this verbiage from the undercurrent of Natural urgings that keeps him satisfied with preaching to the choir even though this instinct for parochial conformity undermines the technology-driven need for change on a species-wide scale. We live in a world without precedent, where our ‘parish’ is neither local, nor is it orchestrated by unique and unchanging biological instruments. In this world it’s not hide-bound moralizing, but critical thinking that sorts things out. Only scientific questioning can move us beyond the grip of Natural programs evolved to regulate a world of genetically ventured bodies contesting for known resources. That the human mind is altered by its changing instruments is a theme to be explored after my introduction to Zen, and a case will be made then for the kind of questioning that happens in meditation, and flows from poetry. For now, I’m concerned only with correcting a misunderstanding that comes from our not appreciating the central ecological requirement for genetic regulation. What we need to understand about human nature is it’s not just about ontogenic instinct recalibration, and certainly not about phylogenic co-adaptation; it’s about deliverance from inter-species regulation altogether.

Nature’s de-selection of body-insubordinate imagination, of inapposite curiosity (https://www.extremophilechoice.com/2022/06/21/old-buddha-meets-young-buddha-part-3-when-we-see-the-difference-our-world-changes/), should be considered very seriously before we claim to understand the full significance of cultural dream-sharing, of technology, and of Man’s ultimate relationship to other species—even if this means we must back away from our current well intentioned appeals to Man’s Symbiosis with Nature, or to a shared Council of All Beings, held out in the respective names of deep or depth ecology. Indeed, these a-priory assumptions of environmentalism might end up defeating its primary objectives, which are the conservation of Nature and the flourishing of Man.


1. Lopez, Barry. 1979 [1978]. Of Wolves and Men (With photographs by John Bauguess). New York: Scribner. p. 10.

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