Institute of Global Education
Special NGO consultant to United Nations Economic and Social Council.
P.O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor WA 98250
(360) 378-6313




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Exploring Self-evidence

Nature builds 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 of nature 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.



Exploring Self-Evidence

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 it )

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 then closed.
( 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 knowledge?

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, non-verbal, self-evidence?


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.


An Objective

Discovering and 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, online Orientation Course:

Psychological Elements of Global Citizenship:
The Science of Connecting With the Web of Life;
The Art of Thinking With Nature.

For more information on self-evidence


read Nature 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
(360) 378-6313


  REMINDER: The best way to learn the nature-reconnecting process is to engage in it through our short, online Orientation Course. From seven sessions over 18 days you will know firsthand the benefits it holds for you and the world you love.