- Sacred Nature -
What perception do we have of Nature? Nourishing nature? Fragile or powerful nature? Sacred nature?
From this perception irremediably flows the relationship we have with it; exploit it, borrow it, protect it, fight it, worship it.
During our journey, we had the chance to observe and discuss the sacred nature of Nature.
She is a source of inspiration for arabesques and figurative patterns in the arts of Islam in Central Asia. She is both feared and venerated in the hilltop villages of the Himalayas in Nepal where the giants of rock, snow and ice frequently recall their totipotence to the men who venture there. She is aestheticized in the holistic thoughts of Buddhism advocating the fusion of Man and the Cosmos. In India, she is still sometimes sacrificed on the altar of Hindu temples, but it is because she is perceived as a real gift, an offering up to the requirements of the gods and, in this sense, she is respected. She is illustrated and glorified through the monkey and elephant gods and many others. And then, she is even sacred when it comes to not exploiting or killing an animal, like cows for example.
But it was here in Japan, while walking around a temple, that we felt the need to reflect on the sanctity of Nature.
Although Buddhist, the Eihei-ji temple reveals Shinto elements. It is not uncommon for Japanese people to mix these beliefs in their daily lives. Shintoism is an animist religion whose major concept gives nature a divine character. Thus, a stone, a constellation, the wind or even Mount Fuji are sacred and believers advocate a feeling of communion with the forces of nature.
The serenity that emanated from this place, literally translated as "Temple of peace", is indescribable as Nature seemed to envelop this human construction of a soothing softness.
We found this serenity in several places of worship in Japanese land. In the middle of the rice fields, in the middle of the city of Kyoto, where the hand of man has transformed everything, there is suddenly an island of centuries-old cedars spared because in this place it is the place of the sacred.
This preserved nucleus around Nature eaten away by Man gives us a feeling of perplexity. Because the palpable hope of a Nature protected by ancestral beliefs that will certainly last over time is confronted with the anger of a massive destruction of Nature reduced to its economic value.
At a time when experts indicate that half of living species could disappear within a century and the entirety of tropical forests within 50 to 70 years at the current rate of deforestation , it is urgent to change our perception of Nature and give it back its sacred character. In this way, it is not a question of instilling animist beliefs where they have disappeared, but of re-enchanting Nature, restoring its splendor to perhaps restore the respect that we owe to it. Let's reinvent a representation of Nature making room for the sacred, a Nature whose intrinsic values exceed its monetary values. A complex but beautiful Nature, sometimes destructive but always vital, respected for what she is.