The Tao of Etna

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“Magical places are always beautiful

and deserve to be contemplated,

they represent a the bridge between the invisible and the visible.”

Paulo Coelho


The Tao 道

In chinese philosophy, the Tao  is a metaphysical concept that refers to the primordial, dynamic and undefinable power of the universe that originates, pervades and unifies everything and which weaves a dense and infinite cosmic network of relationships. Therefore it is also considered to be the generating energy and the evolutionary driving force of all natural processes and expresses itself through the interaction of two opposed and complementary forces, the female and the male principle, in chinese respectively  Yin and Yang. The symbol of the Tao, originally inspired by the sunny and shady side of a mountain, is represented as a circle divided into two embryonic forms, one white and the other black.The two polarities are embracing each other in an ever-changing and dynamic balance, each containing in it the seed of the opposite principle.

Tao nature and ecology

The western vision of nature differs sharply from the eastern one. The latter, in fact, considers, for example, an electron or a human being, a flower or a galaxy, a volcano or a butterfly, as different expressions of the same energy, the Tao,belonging to the same harmonious, undivided and indivisible cosmic web of relationships. If we get to see reality from this perspective, we can realize that duality and separation are really only illusory and we can thus perceive a subtle unified field of energy that permeates and shapes the cosmos, the same energy that we are intimately part of and that guides us in our personal growth. Coming to the awareness of this impalpable dimension, nature reveals itself as an extraordinary teacher who shows us an ancient path of harmony that can teach us how to face and be in tune with the incessant cycles of change, helping us to achieve balance with ourselves and as a consequence, with the universe. This also emphasizes the reasons of ecology, because if we alter the natural balance, we inevitably generate disharmony and suffering in the world that surrounds us and automatically in ourselves.

Tao of Etna

Today we have easy access to numerous information in the context of traditions belonging to very different backgrounds. This offers us new and excellent tools that have the potential to enrich and accelerate our personal growth. I am at the same time the geologist who sees and interprets scientifically nature and the individual fascinated by the mystery that surrounds us and draws on the wisdom of ancient oriental philosophy. Etnatao, the name I chose for this project, combines these two polarities. However, it is worth to be remembered that,  only in the modern era has there been a progressive and excessive fragmentation of human knowledge and because of this philosophy and science have ended up being considered as two separate and antithetical disciplines of human knowledge. Isaac Newton instead, for example, defined philosophiae naturalis precisely the compendium between philosophical reflection and observation and study of nature. On the surface of our planet the dynamics of nature manifests itself, along with countless other processes, with the constant growth of mountain ranges and in the geological time scale, inevitably every mountain will suffer the erosion attack and will eventually be demolished and disappear. In the meantime, others will gradually begin to form and grow, continuing this endless cycle of transformation, the “dance” of planet Earth. We can see all this because the aforementioned processes take place over millions of years, a time dimension very different from ours. On the contrary on Mt. Etna area, these evolutionary events take place in a very different way. Even in our time scale, due to its continuous and powerful eruptive activity, its landscape, which is called the “dynamic landscape”, changes so rapidly and significantly, to constantly change the architecture and the morphology of this volcano. Here, for example, a new crater can be formed, on the summit or on the slopes of the volcano and  grow tens or hundreds of meters within a few weeks or a few months, while an old crater can disappear quickly due to structural collapse. For these reasons Etna is one of the few places on earth, as we said before, where the energy of the planetary evolutionary process manifests itself in such an amplified way and therefore represents a splendid natural laboratory, a gigantic, complex living organism in incessant development and a powerful engine of change.


The Tao of trekking

The naturalistic excursions proposed here therefore give the opportunity to get to know a very special volcano, to visit its most peaceful and primordial places far from those reached by mass tourism, to follow its paths, to appreciate the contrast and variety of its landscapes, to know its history and its evolution. During the time that I share with those who participate in these activities, I also have the pleasure to talk about the multiplicity and the richness of the naturalistic details of this unique and fascinating ecosystem, the need to protect its fragile ecological balance, the strong influence of the volcano community on the evolutionary process of the earth together with some simple and personal philosophical reflections, to be able to offer the possibility of a wider and more intense experience of this place. Thanks to the magnetic presence of this volcano, the visitor could be inspired to perceive in a more profound way the natural dynamics of the Earth and the peculiarities of the Etnean ones, thus offering the possibility of experiencing the opportunity to catch a glimpse of that network of relationships that includes and transcends us and that can help us live a  better quality of life and reach a higher level of awareness.

Tat Tvam Asi

तत् त्वम् असि

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This post is also available in: Italiano Español

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