Sorry to be
abrupt but as you will see, this message is urgent.
As a contemporary
person, you are no doubt aware of what an informal poll has disclosed.
People have an increasing fear and sadness due to their pervasive
mistrust of our society's crime, social injustice, abuse, deceit,
violence, war, pollution, stress, addiction, arrogance, desensitization,
loneliness, environmental deterioration, work demands, ad nauseum.
We are not on a hopeful course for the future. People don't feel
process by which you, I and our society thinks and relates has
dug us into a hole, today's polluted, aggravating hole that we
call "real life." You are no doubt aware that with
respect to being fair and caring, our thinking is too often bogus.
It irresponsibly pits people against each other and the environment
on local and international levels. Life increasingly becomes
more like an injurious football game than a joy.
life is corrupt, few of us fully trust it or each other. The
more adept we become at contemporary thinking, the deeper becomes
the hole we are in.
today demands that we embrace the message in the short article
below. It shows we can improve our situation by adding a sane
component to how we have learned to think, reason, and relate,
a component that has been researched and is time tested. It helps
you improve your every relationship and professional standing.
It is available. Are you?
Systems Thinking Process: attraction energies in Nature are intelligent
and healing; they help us sustain and enjoy responsible personal,
social and environmental relationships.
"Nurture your felt love for nature;
never deny it for you are part of Nature. In our Nature separated
and conquering society that love is what remains of your inherent
connection with nature's wise, unifying, essence. Throughout
the eons that love has peacefully organized, preserved and regenerated
Nature's billions of beautiful, diverse ways of life in a supportive
balance. Today its loss destructively stresses us, our relationships,
our thinking. We must now learn to help that love restore itself
Consider the intelligence test question below regarding mathematical
aptitude. It is a type of question that helps determine who is
successful, who gets the greatest economic and social rewards
in contemporary society:
QUESTION: "If you count
a dog's tail as one of its legs, how many legs does a dog have?"
"Five," of course,
is the answer. Intelligent people say "five" because
it is valid in mathematical systems and thinking and we are rewarded
accordingly (1). However, our sense of reason only recognizes
five as correct until we additionally validate what we know from
our, or other people's, contact with a real dog (2). Then, many
of our multitude of inborn natural senses come into play: senses
of sight, touch, motion, color, texture, language, sound, smell,
consciousness, community, trust, contrast, and love. Each of
these senses helps our sense of reason make more sense. We sensibly
recognize that a tail looks, feels and acts differently than
a leg; a normal dog has four legs, not five.
OUR CHALLENGE: In contemporary
society, on average, over 95% of our time and 99.9% of our thinking
is sensuously disconnected from authentic nature.
Consider this historical 5-leg
"Aristotle thought there
were eight legs on a fly and wrote it down. For centuries scholars
were content to quote his authority. Apparently, not one of them
was curious enough to impale a fly and count its six legs."
- Stuart Chase
The examples above suggest
that we are often rewarded for thinking incorrectly. The rewards
bond and attach us to inappropriate relationships so that we
can't easily change. For this reason, if we want to change, to
think clearly and resolve our most challenging personal or global
problems, we must thoughtfully address our attachment bonds.
This short article helps you do that.
Most people recognize that our arm "loves" to be attached
to our body. If you don't believe that, just try to detach it.
Similarly all people are biologically, psychologically and spiritually
part of, and thereby attached to Nature for survival. We hold
strong, inborn love bonds to nature's gifts, to sunshine, food,
water, soil, air and community, in common with each other and
all of nature. As it says in the article "Who
is the Boss of You? " (suggested reading for applicants):
self-evidence, and by definition, from sub-atomic particles to
solar systems, all intact relationships, physical or otherwise,
are held together by unifying natural attraction energies.
energy is a unifying force, a major healing, recycling and regenerative
power that pervades and purifies Nature, including people. When
intact, this power reconnects detached attractions, dissolves
destructive associations, transforms garbage and pollution, and
enables Nature to sustain the perfection of its wellness, balance
biologically and psychologically part of Nature. When attractions
within our mentality are consciously connected to their attraction
origins in Nature, our thinking benefits from the full healing
power of natural attraction energies."
The root of our unsolvable
problems and discontents is that we live extremely Nature disconnected
lives. This is clearly demonstrated as these problems "magically"
subside when people genuinely reconnect their thinking with Nature,
and because we find these problems absent in Nature connected
Contemporary society is like
a cluster of frog eggs that were washed into a deep well where
they hatched. A small, isolated frog colony was born and survived
in its isolation. Because it was disconnected from the whole
of Nature, things could not normally recycle and it became became
a stressed, polluted hole that provided the rewards of survival
and was therefore loved and called "homeland." To each
of its members, the sky looked like a plate, a small, round,
circle above them. That reality made perfect sense from their
point of view. If we in contemporary society were similarly confined
in a well, we, too, would believe the sky is a plate and this
would corrupt much of our thinking and relationships. For example:
- The real sky would be an
- Our explanation for how water
and air were produced would be incorrect.
- The value of the wind, land
and ocean would be foreign to us.
- Thoughts or dreams of the
Sun, Earth and Nature's balance and beauty might be considered
a form of insanity.
- The goal of our society might
be to train slaves to be strong enough to throw enough garbage
out of the well so the slave owners could own more toys.
- A frog that escaped from
the well and returned to tell of the "heaven" that
existed in Nature above was considered psychotic and treated
accordingly. Some wanted to jail or crucify her.
This analogy is scientifically
valid with respect to ourselves and Nature's true nature. There
are often profound effects upon organisms that live in nature-separated
places. Limited sensory stimulation there de-energizes many natural
growth and relationship sensitivities. For example: animals in
caves lose the ability to produce eyes or pigment in their skin.
Children brought up in a closet often die when removed from it.
Healthy young people subjected to sensory deprivation develop
hallucinations and delusions and lose their sense of who they
are after a few hours. People living in canyons have distorted
long distance perception. How Patty Hearst changed from a normal
student to active militant within two months after being kidnapped
further exemplifies the impact of an isolating environment.
Be concerned. We seldom realize that, like the frogs, most of
us live out our lives in an isolated, desensitizing psychological
and spiritual hole that corrupts us. Our hole consists of ways
of thinking and relating that injuriously condition and separate
our thinking from the natural world. On average, over 95% of
our time and 99.9% of our thinking is sensuously disconnected
from authentic Nature. This profound biological disconnection
distorts our psyche, reasoning and soul. Bewildered (meaning
separated from wilderness, 4-leg, intelligence) we destructively
think our way into our most difficult problems including the
insanity of knowledgeably destroying our own life support system
unthoughtful moment by moment, purchase by purchase, win after
The sickness of the well
Because our hole provides us with the powerful, immediate rewards
of survival from water, food, air and money, we addictively call
our sensory dismemberment from Nature along with its problems
and suffering "normal," "progress," and "excellence
in education" rather than "desensitizing psychological
and spiritual dismemberment." Similar to the "Truman
few of us believe we are in the hole we are in. From the warped,
bonded, viewpoint of the hole, we think we are God's gift to
Earth and are in denial about what we know to be true with respect
to our destructive impact on people, Earth and our long term
effects. As Upton Sinclair
observed "It is difficult to
get people to understand something when their salary depends
upon them not understanding it."
and globally, our unsolvable problems persist because our thinking
is disconnected from and unaware of what causes them. We are
so disconnected that we seldom recognize or acknowledge things
or processes that have shown to resolve these problems. We call
them alternatives or hippie and they have lain idle for half
As may be seen
by the absence of our major problems in natural systems and nature
connected cultures, our additive disconnection from our sensory
origins in Nature is our major trouble. Genuine reconnection
is its solution, not the suggestions from people who are as,
or more, disconnected, than us. No matter what nature-disconnected
people say, the solution we seek is readily available and has
proven itself. It is only our false, bonded, belief that we must
stay disconnected to survive that impedes us from improving our
The proof in the pudding.
Our destructive disconnection from Nature subsides when we choose
to use a unique nature reconnecting tool. The tool enables us
to to raise our awareness and thinking out of the hole we are
in. It lets us take a breath of pure, fresh air in the colorful
brilliance of the sun upon the vibrant, green landscape. The
tool helps us consciously make thoughtful, sensory contact with
Nature's attraction essence. We genuinely experience register
and enjoy the peace and balanced attraction energies of Nature's
eons that operate the same today as forever. As the diverse love
and integrity of attraction energies in the wind, hills and stars
touch us, Nature's unique ability to recycle and nurture our
disconnected psyche and inner nature comes into play. We become
stronger, less vulnerable to the polluted hole we have dug ourselves
into, more capable of helping others use the tool and thereby
get out of the hole we are in.
The tool is real.
It is a stairway out of our rut and into authentic Nature's sanity.
Anyone can learn how to climb the stairway and reap the benefits.
However, no surprise, our nature-disconnected thinking and denial
prevents most of us from believing that the the tool or stairway
exist or are accessible. The validation of personal reconnecting
experiences becomes the best teacher to dispel this false belief.
For the past 32 years at the Institute of Global Education and
his similar programs, Dr. Michael J. Cohen and his students have
discovered and used the tool and stairway. They have lived, taught
and researched in natural areas, sleeping outdoors year round.
From this 4-leg contact with nature, unlike the norm, they have
not learned to know nature as something
fearful to be conquered in the name of civilization, safety and
economic growth. Instead, as they learn to treat Nature's peace
with respect, they enjoy Nature as a powerful friend, teacher
and therapist. It helps them increase their thoughtfulness and
intelligence. This is quite different that the "normal"
contemporary person. To our loss, we normal people seldom honor,
no less celebrate, that even a short walk in Nature has the "secret
power of attraction energies" to clear our head. Often we
think the power is us, that we got away from our problems for
a few moments. Seldom do we understand or respect the Nature
of what we have moved into.
It is significant and worth
repeating that the major problems we face seldom exist in intact
natural systems or genuinely nature connected people. As a twig
is bent, so grows the tree.
Dr, Cohen's years in natural
systems show, and additional research agrees, that we inherit
and contain not just five, as Aristotle said, but at least 53
inborn natural senses, 53 self-balancing natural attraction-energy
loves we inherently register. Through these attractions the tool
helps us help ourselves relate sensibly to the environment and
each other. Since 1952 Cohen has researched, applied, and taught
people how to bring the stairway tool, a Natural Systems Thinking
Process (NSTP), into their personal and professional lives.
NSTP enables people to rejuvenate
their 53 natural senses and restore them in their thinking and
relationships. As they use and teach this skill it empowers people
to make more sense of their lives. The documented results of
each of several thousand attraction connections with Nature made
by IGE participants shows a consistent increase in feelings of
wellness, resiliency and belonging accompanied by a decrease
in stress, conflict and depression. Their relationships improve
in most areas of endeavor.
NSTP is part of several advanced,
accredited, University training courses and degree programs.
It has been researched by doctoral students and reviewed and
published in professional science and technology, psychological
and environmental education journals. NSTP is a social technology
that helps us reattach our dismembered psyche to its origins
in Nature in exactly the same way that a surgeon reattaches a
dismembered arm to a person's body. The surgeon brings the arm
and body together. This allows Nature to regenerate itself, to
biologically heal the separation as only Nature can.
In 1959, Dr. Cohen founded a camp and school program based on
reconnecting with Nature. The National Audubon Society and many
others called it the most revolutionary school in America. They
said it was on the side of the angels. Participants traveled
and thrived by camping out in 83 different natural habitats throughout
the seasons. They learned to live out their commitment to have
open, honest relationships with the natural environment, each
other and with indigenous people(s), researchers, ecologists,
the Amish, organic farmers, anthropologists, folk musicians,
naturalists, shamans, administrators, historians and many others
close to the land. The experience deeply reconnected their 53
sense inner nature to its origins and self in the whole of nature.
As a result of the participants'
romance with educating themselves this way, in the school community:
Chemical dependencies, including
alcohol and tobacco, disappeared as did destructive social relationships.
Personality and eating disorders
Violence, crime and prejudice
were unknown in the group.
Academics improved because
they were applicable, hands-on and fun.
Loneliness, hostility and depression
subsided. Group interactions allowed for stress release and management;
each day was fulfilling and relatively peaceful.
Students using meditation found
they no longer needed to use it. They learned how to sustain
a nature-connected community that more effectively helped them
improve their resiliency to stress and disease.
Participants knew each other
better than they knew their families or best friends.
Participants felt safe. They
risked expressing and acting from their deeper thoughts and feelings.
A profound sense of social and environmental responsibility guided
When vacation periods arrived,
neither staff nor student wanted to go home. Each person enjoyably
worked to build this supportive, balanced living and learning
utopia. They were home.
Students sought and entered
right livelihood professions.
All this occurred simply because
every community member made sense of their lives by sustaining
supportive, multisensory attraction relationships that helped
them restore contact with the natural world within and around
The 4-leg secret to each participant's
success was to learn how to learn through natural sensations
and feelings that arose from their newly regrown sensory roots
in ecosystems. This freed the participants' 53 senses from their
bonding to questionable 5-leg stories and re-bonded them to the
4-leg sense of reason in congress with 47 other rejuvenated natural
senses. Nine-leg critical thinking resulted.
From 30 years of travel and
study in over 260 national parks, forests and subcultures, Cohen developed a repeatable learning
process and psychology. It unleashes our 4-leg ability to grow
and survive responsibly with the natural world. By documenting
that it worked and could be taught, he earned his doctoral degree
and the school became a nationally recognized graduate and undergraduate
From 1985-92, Cohen translated
his nature-connected psychology program into the readily available
Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) for public use via the
internet or on site . Through NSTP, backyard or backcountry,
people climb the stairway out of disconnection. They recover
their natural senses from readings and sensory 4-leg reconnection
activities in local natural areas at home, work or school.
The value of NSTP is exemplified
by research regarding its application to a group of at-risk students
in an alternative school. Three years of testing before and after
NSTP application showed increases in environmental literacy,
academic and social skills, psychological improvement and the
lasting cessation of chemical dependencies (5). Research by other
NSTP workers reports similar results from its use in education,
mental health, healing, outdoor education and recreation. This
research shows that only our attachment bonds to our destructive
ways prevent us from taking a giant step into sanity at every
level. Some people are ready to use the tool, to take this step.
In them lies hope for they become part of our culture and help
others learn how to use the tool.
We can't resolve our unsolvable
problems using the same nature disconnected thinking that produces
them . The critical contribution of NSTP is that it empowers
individuals to create moments that let Earth teach. This helps
us responsibly unify 5-leg and 4-leg thinking.
* * *
"Oh, what a catastrophe,
what a maiming of love when it was
made personal, merely personal feeling. This is what is the matter
with us: we are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off
the earth and sun and stars. Love has become a grinning mockery
because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the
Tree of Life and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized
vase on the table."
- D. H. Lawrence
"We have repressed far
more than our sexuality: our very organic nature is now unconscious
to most of us, most of the time, and we have become shrunken
into two dimensional social or cultural beings, aware of only
five of the hundreds of senses that link us to the rich biological
nature that underlies and nourishes these more symbolic and recent
aspects of ourselves. "
- Norman 0. Brown
"To help restore the balanced
intelligence of the Garden of Eden within and around us, reconnect
with what remains of the Garden and let it help you learn how
to think with it."
- Michael J. Cohen
Material that appears on this
page and its links is drawn from articles by Dr. Cohen that have
been professionally reviewed and published in The Journal of
Humanistic Psychology, Journal of Environmental Education, Interpsych
Journal of Mental Health, Greenwich University Journal of Science
and Technology, Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Proceedings
of the North American Association for Environmental Education,
Journal of the Oregon Counseling Association, The Trumpeter,
U.S. Department of Education Educational Resources Information
Center, The Outdoor Communicator, Clearing Magazine, Nature Study,
Between the Species, Cooperative Learning, International Journal
of Humanities and Peace and others. For specifics, see MJCohen
and website references).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Recipient of the 1994 Distinguished
World Citizen Award, Michael J. Cohen is a director of the Institute
of Global Education -a special NGO consultant to the United Nations
Economic and Social Council- where he chairs the Integrated Ecology
Department and Project NatureConnect. He also serves on the faculty
of Greenwich University, Portland State University and the International
University of Professional Studies. Dr. Cohen is the prize winning
author of a number of books, including Reconnecting
With Nature (Ecopress, 1997), and Einstein's
World (Institute of Global Education Technical Bulletin,
2000). You are welcome to visit his personal
homepage. The heart of his contribution to individual and
global sanity is encapsulated in a short article on this website.