I have come to know Bud Wilson through his passionate writing and love for beauty and nature. His credentials are many and impressive, but what truly stands out about Bud is his warmth, friendliness, and inspiring leadership. He is down to earth and magnetic, and his big love for our planet makes him enormously attractive. He is a rare human being and hugely inspiring. This is someone you will want to pay attention to. I am grateful for his time and honored to share with you his voice with respect to reverence.
Briefly, what are your thoughts on reverence as it pertains to the world today?
With such an important topic, it’s not easy to be brief. Reverence is at risk of being dismissed as irrelevant and overly sentimental by skeptics and the mundane routine of our daily life circumstances. There is a precious quality within reverence—it invites us to open our hearts and minds to the great mystery of life. Today, the hardening of our sensibilities lies at the root of conflict and mistrust throughout the world. I must also remind myself that reverence mustn’t be an entirely heavy or serious affair. Not always an easy assignment for yours truly.
Have you noticed, how the frantic velocity of modernity is filled with deafening noise? What if we were to push pause on the swiftness of our lives and notice the silence where reverence dwells?
Are we not dithering in an ocean of desensitizing entertainment, titillating distractions and indifference to suffering? I admit there are days when I fear the mighty machines of our extractive industries are going to grind up and swallow the Earth whole—like some gluttonous giant beyond our control—a vile untreatable psychopath. Suddenly, in brief moments of resignation, I ponder the question, “What if nothing is wrong?” What if there was nothing to fix, nothing to prove, no one to change? This is precisely when reverence arises in my awareness.
Too often, I find myself flirting with despair that economic growth and the senseless accumulation of wealth represents the dominant ambition of my fellow humans. Driven by a merciless marketplace where profits and progress become virtues above all else we lose reverence for the sacred. The cultural imperative demanding more of everything reduces humans to nameless automatons stuck on a meaningless treadmill. We’re caught in gridlock, wearing down our batteries while honking at our own taillights.
Reverence for the sacred gift of life and the well being of all is the fundamental foundation of a healthy society. Reverence represents an antidote to all the imbalances of our modern world. To live in harmony with the natural world creates joyful communities and contributes to cultures that honor creativity and human dignity.
I trust that authentic respect for the sacred elements of Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and the Space that contains all phenomena (seen and unseen), is the key to humanity’s survival.
What are one or two ways that you practice reverence regularly?
By slowing down, I discover nature is filled with art, poetry and music. I take myself into the Wilderness and stand still as often as I can. I do my best to look, listen, taste, smell and touch all that is in my immediate surroundings with acceptance and gratitude. I offer my love and appreciation for great Nature. Reverence for all things natural evokes an open, radiant heart.
What advice can you give my humble readers for becoming more reverent?
Everyday we hear talk of the need for more jobs with little conversation about what constitutes a life worth living. We rarely ask: what contributes to human fulfillment and a purposeful life with dignity and happiness? In my opinion it is time to ask ourselves what we care about, what we love, what warms our hearts, what inspires a pervasive mood of possibility and a disposition to coordinate action with others.
I hesitate to give advice, since cultivating reverence is a personal journey.
Your request reminds me of a Judy Collins tune I listened to as a teenager: “What I’ll Give You Since You’ve Asked”—so, here goes, a few observations that have come to me from my experience and various teachers along my path:
Take a Stand to be Reverent—The first step is to make a 100% commitment to live in a pervasive mood of reverence.
Cultivate Tenderness—True reverence requires tenderness tempered by an extraordinary appreciation for beauty, kindness and compassion.
Deep Relaxation Combined with Presence—Sensitivity and sensuality arise from being exquisitely present and completely surrendered to this moment and this place—time stops and awe fills the human heart.
Annihilate Your Identity—Reverence liberates all of us from suffocating self-indulgence. The energetic resonance of reverence, appreciation, wonder and awe moves us beyond two common afflictions of the human personality and our internal dialogue…“poor me—I’m not enough”, and conversely, “I’m the greatest”, the easily recognized arrogance of the triumphant individual and the myth of the super successful entrepreneur.
If we drop our identity, what do we become, you might ask. Empty and open to embrace what is naturally arising moment by moment is my reply. Embodying genuine reverence shifts all of us toward a joyful, meaningful existence guided by healthy humility.
Copyright © Bud Wilson (2014). May copy and distribute freely if unchanged and with attribution given to Bud Wilson.
Bud Wilson is an educator, writer, editor and change agent. His insights and vision of a healthy future for humanity and the Earth have been featured on WGBH in Boston, CBS Evening News, USA Today, and The New York Times. He has designed and implemented service learning programs for inner city youth and convened professional development programs for Rotary International. He has convened international symposia for John Denver’s Windstar Foundation and participated in the Earth Summit in Rio. Most recently he coordinated the First World Nature Quest engaging 35 groups in 17 countries. He writes for the Elephant Journal and offers nature centered learning programs for The Way of Nature and Newfield Network. His services are available as a coach, consultant, tutor and wilderness guide and adaptive generalist change agent provocateur.