Freya Mathews has written that every aspect of a culture takes on the colour of its basic attitude to reality.

So what is “our basic attitude to reality”? And is it time we brought our attitudes fully into our awareness so we can consider whether they remain appropriate to the current world situation? Are there alternatives that would assist us in the task of building a more life-enhancing and life-sustaining culture?

Our modern world-view draws a distinct boundary between humans (as subject or master) and world (as object or slave), and treats the world as non-living matter ready to be exploited for the sole benefit of humans. As a result we have created a lonely, meaningless world devoid of spirit and living presences. How we all long for a world of meaning and connection!

Earth wisdom teachers such as indigenous elders, eco-philosophers, eco-psychologists and holistic scientists, can provide us with an array of considered alternatives. They show us how we can tune into our own inner nature, as well as outer nature, and by doing so reveal to us deeper, richer and more varied ways of experiencing our selves and our world. It is a radical re-orientation to reality.

A day I spent with Uncle Max Harrison (Dulumunm), a Yuin Elder and teacher, revealed a radically different attitude to the world, one that is both respectful and very, very, slow. To walk a few hundred metres with Uncle Max can take hours as he teaches the way of nature, seeking out signs and listening for the voice of nature and/or spirits. He said that we need an attitude that allows nature to re-arrange us, in radical contrast to the modern way of re-arranging nature without listening to place, or respecting the voice of non-human others.

The alternative attitude being proposed by all these earth wisdom teachers is a world that is animated (all things are alive), radically ensouled, communicative and purposeful.

What a radically different world we would live in if our attitude to reality changed like this. It would challenge many foundational aspects of our culture, including the scientific interrogation of our world, our exploitative economics, our consumer lifestyle, our religions, our politics, and even the way we relate to others.

So, if you want to be truly radical, try going outside and really be in the world, just as it is. Imagine for a moment that the world is alive, and speaks, and all we need to do is stop, be quiet, listen and wait. and feel what comes. See the clouds, the sky, a tree, not as a spectator, but a participant. Feel the wind on your body. Take off your shoes and feel your feet connected with earth. Quietly sense and feel into your body (not your head). There might be a message in there. It might surprise you.