by d00g on March 27, 2016
I was reading a short essay by Brian Doyle in the Sun magazine in which he described language as something wild, made of the natural world, something living, and with an awareness of its own. It lead me to thinking about the wild and its relationship with me - with us humans. The Wild. The wild within us humans. The idea of the wild part of ourselves - the animal, the natural, the other - made me consider where that wild is within me, and how it's so easy to be lost in the day to day of our lives that we allow ourselves to overlook that integral part of ourselves. The wild...
In fact, it is our very existence as humans that allows us (?), perhaps forces us, to exist beyond the wild in ourselves. This, perhaps and often in neglect of our wild selves. Our turn away is made possible through discipline. Many (most?) religions and spiritual traditions refer to the practice of said religion as practicing the discipline, or simply as the discipline. It is no coincidence that the concept of discipline exists as two sides of a coin. In one sense, discipline can be defined as simply a field of study or training. However, the concept also carries with it the connotations of control, morality, obedience, and punishment. Ouch.
But the identification of this fractured nature of religion and spirituality is not meant as a disparagement. Religion and spirituality are one of the very few human universals, they are found in some form in culture as it exists in its myriad forms around globe. Religion and spirituality are one of the earliest markers of the unique existence of us humans. By being human, we are religious or spiritual. By paying attention to spirit, by disciplining ourselves to spirit, we became and become human. At least partially.
Religion, of course, does not act alone as the sole creator of us humans. The start of our existence within families, communities, and environments is the most immediate form of discipline we experience as wild creatures. We don't often refer to this experience as a form of discipline. Instead, we call it socialization or enculturation - the learning or our culture. Really though, these concepts carry very similar notions of control (social), morality (norms and values), obedience and punishment (right and wrong).
And so... for us humans to exist, we are immediately turned away from our wild. Or perhaps, turned (pushed) towards a more patterned version of our wild. Then I asked myself, "Is a patterned wild the same as a tamed wild?" It is this essence of our patterned selves that we ignore with the most vigor. If not, I would posit that we would have been hard pressed as humans to have created the material culture that we have built up around us. It is through discipline that we have created the world around us. Yet, we hold dear the ethos of our freedom and personal freedoms above mush else - perhaps as a shield against the ultimate reality about ourselves. We are tamed.
Humans are tamed.
But do we ever fully lose that wild part of ourselves?