Welcome to The Natural Contemplative
Based in a small area of rural land in southern Vermont, we offer workshops, retreats, conversations and musical programs and share writing devoted to the interconnection of all of life. This valley of forest, pasture and streams is home to a small but diverse community of animals and plants. Our hope is that we in the industrialized world can reconnect with wild nature wherever we are, encounter the transformative power of silence, and change the way we live for the benefit of the whole community of life. We seek to foster a way of living in vital relationship with our wild kin, the non-human intelligences with whom we share this precious world.
Despite all we have learned and all we have done, humanity and Earth are facing an ecological crisis. We have put at risk the systems that all of life depends on for survival: the air, the soil, the oceans, the diversity of plants and animals.
Global warming gets most of the attention, but the ecological crisis also involves species extinction; the destruction of habitat, especially for large-scale agriculture; the direct exploitation of plants and animals; the spread of invasive plants and animals and deadly viral and fungal organisms; and material, chemical, noise and light pollution. These forces are deeply intertwined with global, industrial civilization and an economy that demands infinite growth of material and monetary wealth and the perpetual exploitation of the land, the ocean, the plants and animals, and people.
Contemplative ecology is our attempt to get to the root of the ecological crisis. Because the crisis involves the entire sweep of the human presence on the planet, the resolution of the crisis must be equally comprehensive. Our understanding of the crisis and its resolution are based in ecology and contemplation: encountering our essential emptiness, having an attentive relationship with the natural world, listening in and recording natural soundscapes and radically reorienting our lives. We try to honor the world with undivided attention. Something as simple as listening to a bird singing can reorient us, can spark affection, can help us recognize our essential interconnection with other beings and inspire us to care for what we love.
Contemplative ecology invites us into two related realms: the realm of the other animals: their music, their beauty, their intelligence, their creativity, how we can live in relationship with them, how little we understand them; and the realm of silence, emptiness, deep listening, unfathomable reality, contemplation. These realms matter. They deserve our attention, even while their essence remains elusive. Contemplative ecology makes possible the kind of change that is required of us now. It might even be the only thing that makes it possible.
On this site you will find descriptions of educational programs devoted to contemplation and the natural world, Celtic and original music that draws inspiration from land and sea and reflects our relationship with other living creatures, a few soundscape recordings, the essays through which we attempt to communicate what we have learned from observing the natural world and dwelling in the great mystery of silence, and a blog where we share our thoughts and reflections. Our YouTube channel has also been getting more active this year.
Featured Blog Post
Contemplation Is an Unmediated Encounter with Reality