Online Activities, Courses, Ph.D., M.S., B.S.
its uncorrupted perfection non-verbally. It and Earth have been sustained in balance
by pure, wordless relationships throughout the eons.
As part of Nature, people
inherit nature's way of knowing. It provides us with sensory, non-verbal,
knowledge arising from self-evidence, from our senses and feelings
directly registering the world and our relationship to it.
In our conquest
we learn to think and communicate in nature disconnected, verbal
stories and labels 99.9% of the time. We lose the ability to
think with the profound self-evidence that produces things like
the Declaration of Independence's "We hold these truths
to be self-evident."
Below is an simple
activity that will help you experience self-evidence and its
value. It may also help you become aware of an additional way
to know yourself.
The Natural Systems
Thinking Process (NSTP)
helps people think and build reasonable relationships using self-evidence.
If you find the activity below presents conflicts or discomfort,
you should carefully evaluate whether NSTP will be of good service
to your education and goals.
1. Using your best
thinking and attention, have one finger touch a material object
and become aware of what sensation is consciously registering
in you by doing this. For example, touch a desk or a tree and
be aware of what you feel with eyes open and then closed.
SUGGESTION: Also touch a loose part of the clothing you are wearing
so that your body beneath it does not feel you touching
2. Repeat doing
this but this time touch some natural part of your body. Become
aware of what new sensations are consciously registering in you
by doing this. For example, touch your ankle and be aware of
what your finger and your ankle feel with eyes open and
SUGGESTION: Also touch the same, as in 1 above, loose part of
the clothing you are wearing hard enough so that your body beneath
it does feel you touching it )
3. Can you recognize
that a major difference exists between 1 and 2 above. You might
want to repeat them several times.
In 1 you felt something
in one way, via your finger.
In 2 you feelingly
sensed two things, what your finger sensed and also what the
part of you that you touched sensed when you touched it. For
example, your finger could feel your ankle while your ankle could
feel your finger.
4. Can you recognize
that even if you could not talk or think in verbal language,
you would still be able to register 1 and 2 in some distinct
way? That the sensations themselves communicated some sensible
5. Can you recognize
that the ability to apply the concept of "1" and "2"
to your experience further helps you register it? Numerical or
verbal abstracting adds to our our ability to register the environment.
It does not, however, accurately replace it. In people, math
and words can be part of, but not all of, the whole.
6. Can you conclude
from this sensory self-evidence activity that self- evidence
produces worthwhile knowledge? That one way to distinguish yourself
from your surroundings is that when you touch yourself, as 2
above, you sense two things and when you touch your surroundings
as 1 above, you sense one thing.
Can you distinguish
that there is a sensory difference between experience 1 and 2?
Does this bring to mind the value or significance of sensory,
NSTP and Self-Evidence
NSTP is based on
using the same kind of scientific process and critical thinking
that occurs in the self-evidence activity above. NSTP expands
this exploratory "touching" process by including an
additional 52 of our inherent natural senses as part of the process.
Touch is but one of them. Each of these additional 52 senses
is a fact as real and true as the sense of touch. In addition,
to help offset our psychological estrangement from nature, rather
than learning indoors, NSTP asks you to thoughtfully choose to
sense and explore the attractions that you discover while in
contact with a genuine natural area, backyard or back country.
By enabling you
to restore sensory nature connections in your awareness, NSTP
helps your introduce self-evidence from nature into your thinking,
relating, and community.
using self-evidence in our thinking and actions has value. It
enables us to consciously choose to relate through Earth-connected,
passionate, interpersonal and transpersonal reasoning. This locally
and globally unifies us rather than corrupting us by disconnecting us from ourselves,
each other and the purity of all of life from the beginning of time.
Because people are
part of nature, touching the natural world can, in time, be experienced
similarly to touching our ankle. For this reason, NSTP offers
an important contribution to producing and sustaining peace within
yourself and internationally. After all, our finger rarely conflicts,
exploits or is at war with our ankle.
The most efficient and effective
way to learn to use and teach the NSTP is by taking a short,
Elements of Global Citizenship:
of Connecting With the Web of Life;
The Art of Thinking With Nature.
For more information on self-evidence
Connected Psychology: creating moments that let Earth teach
A quote from a recent interview with
Dr. Michael J. Cohen:
"Here's an example, a question
that validates the importance of self-evidence. I ask it of people
anywhere and even conflicting parties, like in bar room fights
or Congress and the Supreme Court agree on the answer. Most of
us respond to it identically because culturally we are each programmed
to the same conscious way of thinking.
The question is:
"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. I seldom find a person that does not reply "five."
Five is how we are conditioned to think logically. Any other
answer displays an ignorance of logic and math accompanied by
self-depreciation that probably started in kindergarten.
"Five," however, is only correct
until you apply it to a real dog. Collect self-evidence. Let
genuine contact with a real dog register. Through senses of sight,
touch, motion, mathematics, and community, direct sensory contact
with the dog and its four legs helps you discover nature's non-abstract,
authentic reality. A normal dog has four legs. This self-evidence
draws its knowledge from the highest, pure authority, from nature itself,
not our corrupt, nature conquering story about reality.
Self-evidence also helps us become more
passionate about Earth and thereby be motivated to contribute
to the wellness of global life. It helps us overcome our consciousness
being distorted by hurtful stories and thereby becoming ecozombies"
Our challenge is to differentiate our
corrupted world of 5 leg stories that we beome attached to, with the sensory,
non-verbal, self-evidence, 4-leg world of nature that our senses and sensibilities register.
About the Author:
Applied Ecopsychologist Michael
J. Cohen, Ph.D. founded and coordinates Project NatureConnect
and the Natural Systems Thinking Process. They are continuing
education workshops, distance learning courses and degree programs
of Akamai University, Portland State University and the Institute
of Global Education.
Dr. Cohen chairs the Department of Applied Ecopsychology/Integrated
Ecology on San Juan Island, Washington and initiated the 1995
National Audubon conference "Is the Earth A Living Organism?"
For 40 years, he has founded and directed degree granting environmental
outdoor education programs for the Trailside Country School,
Lesley College, the National Audubon Society and the IGE Institute.
The many books and articles by Cohen include the award winning
"Connecting With Nature: Creating Moments that let Earth
Teach" which is included in his 1997 self-guiding book "Reconnecting
With Nature" (Ecopress) and "Well Mind, Well Earth:
97 Environmentally Sensitive Activities for Stress Management,
Spirit and Self-esteem." He is the recipient of the Distinguished
World Citizen Award.
Institute of Global Education
Special NGO consultant to United
Nations Economic and Social Council.
P.O. Box 1605
Friday Harbor WA 98250
way to learn the nature-reconnecting process is
to engage in it through our short, online Orientation
From seven sessions over 18 days you will know firsthand the
benefits it holds for you and the world you love.