The Perspective of ‘Interaction First’

Sometime I wonder at humans: We say we love nature, and yet we destroy our living, breathing, miraculous planet. What’s the basis of our estrangement from nature?

It wasn’t that it was a miracle turnaround for me, discovering that I could trust my body had some sense of how I, the whole individual, was situated. The gap between words and reality was so great for me, then, that it took several years of patient work – meditation, yoga, gardening, and artistic  activities (mainly, in those days, haiku and photography) – to ground myself, and to retrieve my social body. This body is organic, it is nature. Nature has its timely processes of unfolding, processes which this body knows because it is such processes. From that time, it took me twenty years, at least, to truly grasp how to be in the world – and they were all years of unlearning the false views, of learning that combodiment is our natural condition (Ikemi, 2014).

It does seem to me that, from the perspective of living as an individual, the body is primary. There’s been a great deal of confusion in English-speaking culture about this. The individual mind is regularly separated from a so-called physical body. The usual medical model body is definitely  not what gave me the support to emerge from my distress in that period. It was this sentient body – a sensitive, knowing body, living forward from its inherence (indwelling) in nature. And, by ‘nature’ I mean Being, not just – though I bow to them – not just rocks and trees. Even to say ‘rock’ is to take on the scientist’s ‘over there’ third-person kind of orientation to knowing. That we do this in respect of our bodies is quite useful in certain contexts, such as when in medical situations. However, that it is our dominant mode of thinking about our bodies is tragic. We lose so much genius, which is right here; and, we separate from nature.

Indeed, Gendlin places this interaction with the universe, the big whatever-this-is,  first. He speaks of ‘interaction first’ as an important principle of his philosophy.