Once upon a time, in a rural Southern part of Japan called Fukuoka, there was a girl named Sakura. She had caring parents and an older brother. As a child, she was blessed with nature and spent time in the mountains near by her house. She could hear the voice of the wind and could converse with the stirring of the trees. For her, nature was her home. Nevertheless, she felt awkward with the scenery of the Japanese landscape and its people, as if she did not remember who she truly was … in a sort of amnesia.
In every mountain, and all the rivers and trees in Japan, there lived a God named Shizen, 自然. Shizen was the Goddess of nature. She dwelled everywhere and was to be found changing her appearance from one thing to the other, first becoming a rock, then disguising herself as a mountain, all the while watching us;
The word “Nature” was translated into Japanese as Shizen, 自然. Prior to this we did not have a concept of Nature. When we Japanese wish to talk about “Nature”, we use such expressions as sansen-somoku, 山川草木which literally means “the mountains, rivers, grasses, and trees, …it might be said that 自然 expresses a state in which everything flows spontaneously. There is something like an ever-changing flow in which everything -sky, earth, and man- is contained. Because it is like a continual process it can never be grasped spatio-temporally, and strictly speaking, cannot be named. (Kawai, 1995, pp.26-27)
No one has seen this Goddess of nature. The presence of Shizen is felt, not caught by our eyes. Shizen had a son, named Kagaku, 科学. He learned to disguise himself in various shapes in nature as his mother did. His mother, Shizen told him that he needed to learn to take care of all creatures, plants, animals and man. He used to hear a lot about man, how he needs to be watched and reminded of our presence, and that mankind is the only creature in her kingdom that was given a choice to shun nature. She told him that man has an important task with nature, which he did not understand at that time. Kagaku became very curious about man and this freedom, this choice that man seemed to have. He wanted to know this special task that man has…
One day when Kagaku was practicing entering into the consciousness of trees, spreading his body into the branches with his mother, there came a new idea to his mind. He said to himself “I would like to have my own choice, my own will to do whatever I want. Why do I have to listen to my mother, and do what she tells me?” His idea was to create his own world, his own kingdom on the earth. The sun began to set and the forest was getting dark. As soon as his mother Shizen gave him a good night kiss, Kagaku snuck out of his bed, going away from his mother. The trees and wind were wondering what was happening, and witnessing his escape, whispered to each other. Blowing wind entangled him and asked where he was going. He said to the wind, “Don’t tell my mother. I am going to be away from all of you in order to create my own world.” Wind was surprised and said “Oh dear, you cannot …you cannot be away from us. You are a son of Shizen, and everywhere you go, we are all around you.” Kagaku shouted, “I will go far away to the place you cannot find me, there I will create my own world.” and ran away.
No matter how far he went, he found himself surrounded by nature; he was still in the kingdom of Shizen. He sat down trying to find a way to be completely away from her protection. In a while, he found men beside a bonfire in the forest, and he walked toward the firelight. Looking at the fire with its glaring flame, soon he found himself becoming a flame of fire, his body getting hot and growing larger. He told himself “Let the flames of the fire get bigger, let the light of the fire burn my mother’s world, eliminate it from my eyes!” The fire got bigger and hotter, spreading into the trees, burning the forests. The wind who witnessed this moment cried out, telling him “You, up to now a Son of God, from this moment you are mortal, you will share your destiny with man.” He was no longer a God.
At the moment of this burning, he felt his body melting, being hurt… but soon this pain went away and he found glaring excitement, and the fire changed into passion for the emerging vision of his kingdom. The reflection of forests shouted for help…. as the flame grew bigger and bigger. Eventually the forest disappeared in his eyes. Kagaku was alone, he no longer possessed the power to change his appearance in nature, to expand his consciousness in which he became everything… trees, flowers and squirrels. He no longer heard the voice of wind. Now he lived among man; he could find his existence in man’s individual thoughts. He whispered in their dreams, in the lullabies of children… telling them there is something more, success, fame and wealth, enticing them to join in his kingdom. He lived by being fed with man’s ambition and greed, the desire to gain more. One by one, men joined in his world and worked for him to build a kingdom of man. At last he succeeded in eliminating from man the memory of his mother, Shizen.
The force of Shizen’s son was growing day by day. Now, at the time Sakura was born, Japan was going through a rapid economical development and changes coming from the West. In Sakura’s youth, she was protected from the influence of Kagaku; it was like that she was hovering, held in a mother’s ocean-like womb. The world she knew was at one with this mother’s oceanic love. The time had come for Sakura to step into the outer world, and here she beheld the island of Japanese society. Sakura sat down in the neatly organized rows of uniformed rosy cheeks of the classroom. There came a shaking in water and the peaceful ocean started to have waves. The peace was disturbed by noises from outside, by the chatter of students and honking sounds of the city. She found the water streaming in a certain direction, not knowing where it was going. The noise was getting louder and louder.
She covered her ears with her hands. This force became a wave to take her friends away from this oneness. One by one, her friends started to ride on this wave and disappeared from the ocean of the world. Where did they go? They no longer played with her in the forests, no longer visited the mountains. They were gone and Sakura started to look around for those who remained. While these friends were afraid of this change, not knowing what was happening, Sakura was curious to know where the others went and what is guiding the stream of the river… she stepped into the rapid stream and in that moment she heard a voice from somewhere telling her, “Behold this world, everything can be yours and in that you can find who you are, your true name.” Sakura’s eyes shined at the thought, “My true name?” She loosened her resistance against the stream, and let herself be pulled. She was out of the ocean, entering the narrow stream guiding her to one direction. The familiar world she knew was going away. The familiar voice of her brother said, “Oh Sakura, where were you? You are so late getting here and there is a lot that you need to do to catch up.” She started to panic. She looked at her other friends who remained where they were, not having known this other world. She was trying to tell them what she saw, but eventually they were getting farther and farther away… eventually disappearing from her world. She never talked to them again. She started ahead, never looking back.
It was a new world, in which everything operated logically. She needed to relearn how the ‘real’ world worked. She was thrown into the linear time of past, present and future. Every week, she was examined to measure what she acquired as productivity. Her teacher told her “From now on, you live for the future and you join the competition for the prize of names.” The voice spoke to her, instilling in her fear of the future and worry. Her brother, Takashi whispered, “The only way you can succeed in this world is to follow their instructions.” Sakura acquired modern Japanese customs, absorbing knowledge from outside, and learned how to get on in this new world. The Western influenced society awakened the sense of individuality, causing separation from her fellows and her origin. “The rise of the Ego through Western history has accordingly been paralleled by a shift in a way the natural world displayed itself to us, becoming increasingly distant, hard, literal, mute, static, passive: Unmysterious” (Fisher, 2002, p.100).
The wind no longer spoke to her and bird’s songs became merely a noise. The mystery of life was gone. The moment Kagaku enflamed the forests, he set man onto a journey toward individuation. It was a separation from oneness and the group consciousness of the East to establish individuality, and a new consciousness symbolized in the West. The stream that Kagaku, son of Shizen created finally trapped her. Kagaku could talk to her through her dream, and eventually through her ambition. She not only rode on the wave, she became one who helped the waves to move. The computer announced who got the highest scores in a weekly evaluation. The screen showed her name every week. She became a favorite pupil, a daughter of Kagaku. Sakura felt that Kagaku loved her and that she was special.
This glorious time did not last, though as she began to be exhausted, and started to lose her enthusiasm. The testing of her progress became more frequent: once in 3 days, then every day… …it became a never-ending striving for perfection. She was on the journey to discover who she might be, and yet she began to lose herself even more. Her amnesia got deeper. The examiner was chasing after her 24 hours a day. She learned how to manipulate the environment around her, but eventually she targeted her control onto her own body. She began to starve herself, both body and soul, trying desperately to carve a new image. The speed and competition of the battle could not be sustained. One day, in her dream, Kagaku appeared as usual, partially obscured with his voice cold and distant. He said to her “Sakura, I am disappointed with you, you are no longer my favorite daughter.” She tried to shout, to tell him that she will do much better. Sakura woke up sweating. Beneath the suffering, there was a deep yearning for something more and a cry for help. She felt a sense of loss and defeat, seeing her friends still enthusiastically marching into that future. She felt like a failure…mumbling again and again, “I was his favorite… where did it go wrong?” She was alone.
Her mother watched her change and felt powerless, but then remembered the story about a Goddess named Shizen that she heard about a long time ago. She thought Shizen would cure her daughter. She brought Sakura to the mountain, to a place she had visited when she was young. The wind blew through the poor girl’s hair, as the trees whispered to her “Welcome back.” Suddenly Sakura’s mother started to feel something alive, the strength of Shizen trying to speak through her. She turned around, and surprising even herself said, “Sakura, you are my daughter, not Kagaku’s.” As she said this, tears ran down her cheek. And, when the tears fell onto Sakura’s hand, she felt something warm inside. Sakura then remembered her childhood, being embraced with nature, her fragile body was held. Sakura cried out to her mother “But you… you never went to the journey to find the world! You never left the mountain. I always felt that you and others who did not strive for this were less than me, this I could not understand.” Her mother just smiled, not saying a word, as if she knew this is the destiny that Sakura had to go through. Sakura had begun a journey …to become individual –and there was no turning back.
Sakura could not continue the life she had before, as she was tired and had lost hope in it. She started to look for something, for someone to show her a way. It was one spring, sunny day, at the beginning of college, a man from an unknown world called America came to her life. His name was Andrew and he had a presence that was so different, and she was strongly drawn to him. He shook her hand and looked at her as if he had known her for a long time. Through his caring eyes, she started to remember something about herself and the long ago memory of the world in which she lived as a child. She had craved for human contact so long, with his warm handshake, her numbed sense started to awake. “An experience begins as a feeling or meaningful sensation (e.g., hunger) arising out of the relationship between body and world (the organism/environment field), the ground of our experience” (Fisher, 2002, p.68). Her contact with Andrew awoke her feeling and brought connection to the world. With love, the feeling that she had abandoned along the way was pouring into her. Here was a teacher that showed the possibility of a new world. Sakura did not have a way to explain what she was feeling. Andrew said to her “Go West. Follow the wind, someone is waiting for you.”
The wind took her and she found a marvelous canyon. At the Grand Canyon, elders of the Native American beheld her arrival and welcomed her. Here, surrounded and embraced by this magical nature, a sense of awe and wonder started to awaken in her. It was as if she had come home. She saw an elder was looking at her. He approached her and said, “Welcome back, dear daughter, I have been waiting for you to come for a long time.” The elder brought her to the edge of the valley where she could see the kingdom of Kagaku, of modern Japanese society below, from where she came. The elder said to her, “Remember this: you belong to our land, and not to his kingdom. You were living in his fantasy; many of you have forgotten the world of Shizen. Sakura, our daughter, will you go back and help your brothers and sisters to wake up?” Sakura could not believe what she saw there, her friends were losing their vision, losing their voices, and forgetting who they were. They were walking with all eyes closed walking in Kagaku’s dream, his scripted fantasy of becoming modern Japanese. Sakura asked “How can I awaken them from fantasy?” The elder said:
“(Imagination) is the means by which we reach out and connect with otherness,” whereas fantasy “ignores actuality in creating images of pleasure or pain.” The way to dissolve fantasy projections is thus not to eliminate projection, but to make better contact with the world, thereby converting “fantasy” into “imagination” and owning our repressed feelings. (as cited in Fisher, 2002, p.135)
He gave her a pendant and said “Place this near your heart, so to be true to the experience of your heart.” As soon as she put the pendant around her neck, the elder smiled and placed her hands on the ground and said “Can you feel her heartbeat? The spirit of this country, America, has in it the spirit of Shizen. She is still alive and she is waiting for people to discover her.” He continued, “Settled by the people of all nations, all nations may claim her for their own. You cannot spill a drop of American blood, without spilling the blood of the whole world. We are not a narrow tribe”(Melville, 2002, p.195).
Sakura asked “even me? I am from Japan?” Elder nodded, “we are all tribes that belongs to her as brothers and sisters. Come, join this circle.” Suddenly she heard a singing voice, she found many diverse people with different skin colors singing a song. She began to hear the voice of the wind and the song of trees again. It was Shizen’s voice, her love for her son. She joined the circle and danced with the music. Something in her began to awaken -a memory of a long time ago. These people that she was meeting here for the first time became familiar faces with familiar voices. She realized that they were long separated brothers and sisters; everyone had disguised their faces and appearances in different races, skin colors. It was truly a reunion. There, she found that truly they were all children of Shizen.
The wind brought Sakura back to her childhood home in Fukuoka. She waited for night to enter into the dream world of Kagaku. While everyone slept into the dream of Kagaku, she closed her eyes and a stream appeared. It was a dim consciousness, day in the night, as everything looked like a continuation of daily life. She followed the stream and found her friends working hard, reciting mantras, and stepping along the stream. She followed them and saw where it was heading. She arrived at huge dark building with a dark chimney that was emitting toxin. Here her friends played their part in Kagaku’s script, producing energy to feed his kingdom. It was the energy of fear, competition and greed. The large belt conveyor was moved by the ambition that changed energy from children’s dreams: trees turning into pencils, whales chased after for food, metal from the earth into towers and guns… Few knew that this was the dream world that Kagaku created. Sakura found a room and looked through a peephole to see if someone was there. She saw Japanese businessmen bowing down to pale looking guys wearing suits. “Who are they? “Sakura whispered. Japanese men were handing lists to those pale people telling which ones were not productive this week. Pale guys were trying to shred the people sending them into the garbage. Sakura was about to shout, “Stop!” Pale men noticed her eyes in peephole and moved to catch her. Sakura started to shiver and tried to escape. She looked around. She was at the end of the hall. No place to go… she had delved deeper into the place where his fantasy began. The lights in the hall started to go on and off and eventually the ceiling was gone, the floor was swept from under her feet.
The next moment, she found herself in America. Wind blew through her, quietly whispering “Here, America, this is the land where man created a first stream modern separate current.” Sakura looked at the broad horizon ahead of her and heard the cry of horses from somewhere. She saw armed white men approaching… and there were people who were escaping on the other side… they were like the elders she met… at the canyon. All of sudden a peaceful landscape changed into an ocean of fire. She witnessed the moment where man chose the separate path from Shizen, inflicting genocide on his brothers. This was when man fell into a long sleep, forgetting who we are as one tribe. She recognized that:
Americans who, even until quite recently, regarded the Indian as a mere ‘savage’ or ‘child’ did not see or could not bear to see the depth of refinement of the culture they were destroying. And perhaps even today it is hard for us to grasp that their legends, symbols and ritual practices and much of their customs and ways of life originated in minds of the same order as the minds through whom the Judaic and Christian religious were revealed. (Needleman, 2002, pp.212-213)
Kagaku had found a way to work into Western civilization, creating a world driven by science and technology and put the rest of the world into sleep. It was his nightmare – the division between nature and ourselves; a split between body and spirit, and East and West. When long ago he lit the fire in the forests it was a kind of awakening, yet it was at the same time a fall. He fell into the deep sleep in forgetfulness of who he was. Sakura exclaimed “Oh, He is a god who forgot the way home, caught by his own fantasy!”
The pool of red blood and fire went away and soon a dark shadow appeared, getting bigger and bigger as it tried to swallow Sakura. As it was getting darker; she almost lost her sight. She grabbed her pendant and tried to tune into her feelings. At that moment, she vividly started to experience Kagaku’s dream. She saw Kagaku’s true face for the first time. He was surprised to see Sakura there and said. “How did you get here?” Underneath his strong voice, there was fear… Sakura replied, “Kagaku, I feel you, your pain, your aloneness.” Kagaku changed his tone of voice immediately said, “What? You little girl, you live because of my dream; without me, you cannot exist ….go away…away from me.” Sakura said “I cannot, because you are the son of Shizen, she is waiting for you to come home, we are all her children, a part of her. We can go home together.”
His voice started to shake, while he tried to push her out of his world. He said, “You are not supposed to be here.” Sakura said, “Can you see that the sun rising on the horizon? Imagine a new America, feel the other America emerging. It is the world where we live with Shizen. We are all equal in her eyes, no relative value. No price can be put on the world.” She continued “ This new world belongs to everyone and we must become a new tribe that goes beyond race and differences.” Kagaku raised his voice and said “this is my kingdom, there is no such world like that -we are separate, and we always will be!” Sakura said, “Since there is only one earth and one mankind, East and West cannot rend humanity into two different halves”(as cited in Sabini, 2002, p.197). In the new kingdom of America the division between East and West is to be reconciled, nature and reason to be reconciled.” In a moment he realized a loss of control and from somewhere there came voice, “Kagaku, I am here, you are my story and I am your story, remember who you are.” It was the voice of spirit America, a familiar voice. Kagaku could not believe what he was hearing, and he started to remember his mother, Shizen. Kagaku started to feel something “I feel, I feel the pain, my pain… my mother’s pain and it is the world’s pain…” Sakura took his hands and said “Shizen is waiting for us to be part of her story, part of nature, which is at the same time our story. This is a new story, “one in which we might recognize the natural world as a community of fellow subjects rather than a collection of meaningless objects to be humanly exploited”(Fisher, 2002, p.52). The voice of true America was voice of Shizen. She appeared before him, and said “You gave man a possibility for freedom, freedom from nature, to be individual. You had to rebel from me to gain independence. Your journey to individuality continues. It goes beyond one’s individual self and extends into nature, and even the planets. What I told you about man’s task, it is to live in service to the others, as “Naturalistic psychology advocates fidelity to nature, being in service of nature, and seeing the human as part of a larger natural order” (Fisher, 2002, p.25).
This task needs to be taken up by each individual free will.” As soon as she said the last sentence, she disappeared into nature. Kagaku started to cry… He realized that she was always with him, watching him through his journey. His tears went down through his heart, dripped down on the ground. The light shined through his heart, penetrating the world -his separate dream vanished. Sakura saw her fellow men that were waking up from Kagaku’s dream, from a long sleep. They were filled with joy and excitement, feeling alive! Sakura was happy to see her friends waking up, said to them,
It is not too late, we need to regain the relationship with Shizen, live with the process, in her ever changing spontaneous flow of everything. “The successful graduation into ever more subtle and complex realms of relationship occurs only under conditions in which we are able to maintain a differentiated rather than a split relation to others. (Fisher, 2002, p.123)
With the gift Kagaku brought to us of our individual names and independent thought, we can be different, unique individuals, we can extend our hands to all others. Instead of being separated, even cut off, we can consciously live in touch with Shizen, and reform our relationship. The task lies ahead of man to construct a new world in which we are all part of the larger whole, the spirit of Shizen.
Fisher, A (2002). Radical ecopsychology: Psychology in the service of life. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Kawai, H.(1995). Dreams, myths and fairy tales in Japan. Einsiedeln: Daimon
Melville, H.(2002). Redburn: His first voyage: Being the sailor-boy confessions and reminiscences of the son-of a gentleman, in the merchant service. New York: The Modern Library.
Needleman, J. (2002). The American Soul: Rediscovering the wisdom of the founders. New York: Penguin Group.
Sabini, A, M. (Eds.).(2002). The earth has a soul: The nature writing of C.G.Jung. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.