The Humble Effect: The upwelling of energy from within us, often referred to as emotion. It is brought about through feeling connected to our natural world and instinctively ‘knowing’ our inter connectivity to the cosmos. It may be expressed as joy, inspiration, awe, and gratitude. It is a knowing beyond the ‘rational’ mind, a mind that seeks to create artificial order of a universe beyond our comprehension.
Instead it is a heart felt-knowing, and an energy that feeds us. Experiencing the glow of a sunrise over mountains, looking up at giant rainforest trees who’s lofty canopy seem to hold up the sky, discovering beautiful fungus on a rotten log like fine coral, listening to a lyre bird in the forest, appreciating flowers in a vase, gardening – emotions beyond expression. The Humble Effect is the inspiration we feel being touched by the beauty of nature. It humbles us and ‘puts us in place’. It removes our ego, and our misplaced entitlement that humans are the masters of the Earth. It dispels our misguided thoughts that we are above nature. It reminds us that beyond our narrow scientific or religious view of the world that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.
When the Humble Effect takes hold it opens our heart and fills us with deep reverence and intuitively we realise the sacredness of every square inch of this planet and all its life forms – the birds, animals, plants, mountains, rivers, oceans, sky, even microbes we cannot see with our naked eye.
Making and Breaking Connections
Humans have an innate need to create order out of chaos, and yet this instinct, ironically, can have a destructive effect on our relationship with our planet.
The way Western civilisation has gone about creating this order is to try understand the fundamental ways in which the universe works. It looks for connections, patterns, tests hypothesis.
Science is about finding immutable ‘facts’. It’s goal is to reduce everything to ‘black and white’. Yet life is filled with shades of grey. It is these grey areas that science deletes, destroys, conceals. Science is a cerebral objective exercise to find the ‘truth’. In this search it destroys connections that don’t fit in.
The universe and all life is so infinite and beyond total human comprehension. For all our human understanding of the workings of the universe it still only operates in a narrow myopic channel, and no matter how much we may evolve we will only ever see, perceive, understand a tiny crumb of the big picture.
The cerebral field of science will always see humans experiencing the world in a microchasm. A microchasm is a tiny narrow chasm or canyon of perception and understanding.
It is likened to an explorer traversing through a narrow canyon. It is dark and the explorer receives a blinkered view of reality surrounded by towering canyon walls that reveal a blinding light. The explorer looks up but has little perception or understanding what is beyond the canyon walls or even around the next bend.
Some turn to religion to make sense of their world. They turn to their God or Gods for answers. They turn to religious traditions and doctrine which had been developed, evolved, altered, often adulterated, corrupted over often long periods of time.
Yet again, religion can provide a microchasmic experience of truth, a narrow band in which to see and experience life and to try to understand it.
The Power of the Small
Yet the power to experience and come closer to the ‘truth’ can be reached through the small.
The small is not just about studying what we can’t see with our naked eye, the micro and nano worlds, but also worlds beyond our physical faculties of sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.
A portal to understanding is opened when we realise just how small we are, that we are not the centre of the universe, instead we are just one small piece of a much bigger immense multidimensional picture. Connecting to our smallness has a humbling effect upon us.
Our ancient ancestors and indigenous tribal cultures often accessed this knowledge through connecting with nature. It was more about experiencial than experimental, intuitive rather than institutionalised learning. It was heart not head.
Alexander von Humboldt was a geographer, explorer, naturalist and influential proponent of Romantic science and philosophy. He is famous for his multi-volume treatise entitled Cosmos. In this work Humboldt aimed to unify diverse branches of science and culture to create a holistic perception of the universe as one complex, interacting and orderly system.
The Greek word cosmos is used to describe the universe as this complex orderly system or entity. The opposite to this harmonious or orderly system is chaos.
Cosmology is the study of the cosmos from scientific, religious or philosophical perspectives.
Cosmology, is an ‘ology’, like biology, zoology, ecology. It seeks to understand through destruction, the breaking down of the infinite to bite sized ‘facts’. By creating ‘facts’ cosmologists then use logic to speak their story, or version of the truth. Logic comes from the Greek logos – word, speech, discourse. Using logic one is able to speak one’s truth. Ologies in their very existence destroy the ‘evidence’ they seek to discover, providing a narrow channel, a grave, to bury the truth.
Ologies are about eulogising the death of the truth.
Romancing The Stone
As a Romanticist, Humboldt was in his treatise able to combine the scientific with the philosophical, the cerebral with spiritual, the objective with the subjective to make some kind of sense or order out of the infinite.
He continues to suggest that as one contemplates the beauty of the cosmos, one can obtain personal inspiration and a beneficial, if subjective, awareness about life. 
Humboldt was able to bring together in Cosmos an understanding of the universe from many different perspectives both cerebral and spiritual. His treatise was a reminder that to understand the reality we live in one need not look just at the objective, analytical destructive approach but to also take a subjective, connective, heart opening experiencial intuitive approach.
Thus, when one holds a seemingly lifeless stone in their hand, through different perspectives it can miraculously ‘come to life’. All of a sudden, from a physics point of view, a stone isn’t stationary. The atoms that make it up are in constant motion – this brings new meaning to a rolling stone gathers no moss. From a religious point of view a stone is part of creation. From a geological point of view it may have been formed through volcanic activity or maybe from the compressed bodies of dead animals, and so on and so on…
The Vedas are the most ancient Hindu and yogic texts. Veda is a Sanskrit word coming from the root, vid, ‘to know’, and so Veda means “knowledge” or “wisdom”.
The ancient Vedic texts are said to have been revealed to ancient sages who were passed down orally until they were written down over 2000 years ago. They provide a perspective on how the universe works.
The Vedas connect us to the ‘knowing’, one not revealed through logic and activity but through stillness and silence. Through stillness, through subtleties, through smallness immensity was revealed. Stillness and meditation can provide access to knowledge beyond physical perception. It is an inner knowing.
Sublime Through The Subtle
Nature can provide a portal to this knowledge. It can be accessed through stillness and communion with nature. It can be revealed through holding a flower in your hand, looking intently at a patch of lichen on a weathered rock, standing on the precipice overlooking a forested valley, marvelling at the tiny hands of a newborn child. Access to the infinite is through the minute moments. Accessing the big comes from the small.
As a child I remember listening to the song from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, Thumblelina. Here are some of the the words:
Thumbelina, Thumbelina tiny little thing
Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing
Thumbelina what’s the difference if you’re very small?
When your heart is full of love you’re nine feet tall
In these words I see the secrets to accessing the infinite that the sages who revealed the Vedas knew.
That the infinite is accessed through the infinitesimal. Through turning the tiny keyhole can we open the big heavy door to the universe. Through subtlety, stillness, humility can we know.
Nature can provide the key to open this door. Being in nature, experiencing a sense of awe surrounded by the roar of a powerful waterfall after heavy rains, or the thrill of a raging storm, the wind on your face, the crashing of lightning and boom of thunder – can humble us and ‘put as back into our place’.
For me, standing still and contemplating the incredible beauty of nature is when my “heart is full of love” and I’m “nine feet tall”. This sense of wonder mixed with appreciation inspires me and fills me with an energy, a life force, the humble effect.
The song continues:
Though you’re no bigger than my toe
Than my toe, than my toe
Sweet Thumbelina keep that glow
And you’ll grow and you’ll grow and you’ll grow
That glow, which is an inner glow, an energy, is the humble effect. To keep that glow is not easy and I find I need constant and regular immersion in nature or the very least, a lot of space for reflection.
Even on super crazy busy days, moments where I catch a glimpse of the infinite are those when I notice something, it may sometimes only be a brief moment, like the other morning, looking outside the window towards the distant forested hills. They were covered in a thick blanket of mist cascading in slow motion. It took my breath away and filled me with deep gratitude and made me smile. I heard my inner voice utter ‘wow!’ And in that moment I was experiencing the humble effect.
In the story of Thumblelina, this tiny girl eventually falls in love with a flower-fairy prince who is her size. They wed and she receives a pair of wings to accompany her new husband from flower to flower. She also receives a new name, Maia.
To me there are a few morals that I take from the story.
Firstly, Thumbelina discovers that size does matter. Being thumble, I mean, thumb size, is a humble size.
Humility is the gateway to experience the humble effect. Through accepting the minuscule she discovers her soulmate.
Magic of the Minuscule
Secondly, her soulmate she discovers, is ‘just her size’. He is a flower-fairy, the stuff of fairy tales! Seriously, only the ignorant and superstitious believe in fairies you may think? Yet, this ‘heart-knowing’ is what I think the Vedas are about.
Thumbelina teaches us to go with our inner feeling so we too can discover the magic in the minuscule. The story teaches us to look within, to follow our heart not logic and to find magic in the little things and we too may be given wings.
I think of Steve Job’s famous quote, ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’, and I can’t help but want too change it to, ‘Stay humble, stay foolish.’ In other words, to see the infinite in the infinitesimal and to believe in the magic of the universe. The magic being what we don’t understand and is beyond our comprehension and feeling awed by not knowing, and by awed, I don’t mean fearful, but inspired.
Thirdly, when she weds the flower-fairy prince, when she connects with her smallness, when she lets go of ego, to connect with another, to the universe, she is given a new name. That new name is Maia.
In Sanskrit, the word maya means illusion. By letting go of ego she lifts the veil of illusion that outer knowledge creates and inner knowledge removes, she climbs out of the narrow chasm of the mind, to again be humbled by just a glimpse of the infinite.
The Infinite Into The Infinitesimal
So how do you experience the infinite on a regular basis? In a nutshell, be open to experiencing the infinitesimal in your daily life. As I have discussed, for me, nature opens up this door. I am humbled by nature – I experience awe, I am inspired by her beauty, I am moved to tears when I intimately get to know her and see the destruction we have inflicted upon her.
I think about the last 9 months since coming back from the long walk. I am astounded when I look at the photos I have taken in my iPhone in that time that remind me of the moments I have experienced and the heart openings I have had, most have happened through connecting with nature.
I have looked into the eyes of an orphaned possum joey and melted. I have come to realise that each animal has their own personality. That they feel, that they have a soul, that they are sentient beings. Not too long ago, I would have understood the importance to preserve our natural heritage, the environment, the habitats of animals and plants, and the animals and plants themselves.
Yet since my wife Heidi has been caring for wildlife I have gained a deeper more heart felt understanding of living beings, and the sacredness of every creature from a tiny ant to a huge blue whale.
When you begin to see all living creatures as individuals, you can no longer ‘see’ them as ‘animals’ or ‘plants’. This lumping or categorising rips them of their significance and our connection to them. When this door was opened it has begun to change the way I saw the world. Looking into the little removes the veil of illusion, of logic, language, words, categories, systems. It opens us up to the inner knowing, the heart, the unseen, the unsaid, the feeling, Veda.
Jainism and Vegeterianism
Jainism is an ancient Indian religion practiced by four to five million followers. The Jain have a reverence for all living things and avoid harm to animals and their life cycles. They lead a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle and even though I am not a vegetarian I am beginning to understand on a deeper heart-felt level the draw to vegetarianism to end suffering to other living beings.
’Heart’ and ‘Earth’ are an anagram of each other and I don’t see this as a mere coincidence. When we ‘earth’ ourselves we bring ourselves back to our centre, our ‘heart’.
In a world dominated by logic and reason, by rationality and the need to ‘rationalise’ or speak our logic, spending time in nature can quieten us down, to experience silence, and be receptive to Earth’s energy and wisdom.
Making Us Human
I believe that it is nature that can make us ‘human’. I also think that we need to regularly connect to the earth to connect with our centre, our heart. We often forget that we are earthly beings, like the animals and plants around us.
We are humus ‘earth’ beings, as opposed to gods. We are part of the earth, and from the Judaic, Christian and Islamic faiths, we came from Adam which in Hebrew means ‘man’ which in turns comes from adamah which meant ‘ground’.
So to have human or earthly experiences it is in our DNA to want to feel connected in some way to nature.
Some ways in which many of us connect to nature on a regular basis includes:
• walking in nature
.• having flowers in the house. Even people in high rise apartments enjoy having potted plants on their balconies.
• going to the local park, being surrounded by green spaces.
• having pets.
• planting trees with your local community.
• watching wildlife documentaries.
I see our need to connect with nature even when I look at my cappuccino and the beautiful organic leaf design on the frothy milk!
Need For Green
At the start of the year we went to Singapore, an island that is just under double the size of the Gold Coast. This tiny island state with no natural resources has become an economic powerhouse.
With a population estimated in 2017 as being 5,612,300, Singapore is densely built up yet still manages to have green areas for citizens to enjoy. With a density of 7,796 people per square kilometre , it is the third most dense country on earth, and green space becomes even more of an importance for the physical and mental health of the population.
In fact, Singapore was not that long ago completely covered in tropical forest and swamps where tigers roamed freely.
During the mid-18th to early 19th century tigers were intensively hunted, increasingly so as a bounty for their capture or killing was put on their heads. The government at the time gave a reward of $20 for every tiger killed. The last wild tiger in Singapore was killed in the 1930s. 
It is sad and quite ironic that Singapore’s iconic Tiger Beer is all that is left to remind us of these magnificent animals.
Kill Kill Kill
Singapore is a good example of how humans behave.
We have a need to create order out of apparent chaos, to quell our fear through death and destruction of what we don’t understand, to control our environment.
Singapore is a very orderly island state, just like its people, its rules and regulations, its clean streets and MRT stations and trains, so too are its green spaces. The trees are perfectly manicured, and there is a sense of order that even the plants need to conform to!
While in Singapore we visited the Singapore’s ArtScience Museum and the world-class Singapore Zoo. It is only now, after many months do I see the big picture of how we humans destroy what we don’t fully understand. It came about as I looked through a series of photographs of tigers I had taken in Singapore.
Museum in Latin were places sacred to the Muses. They were buildings devoted to learning or the arts. We often walk around quietly to not disturb others.
Looking at images of a stuffed lifeless tiger next to an extinct Tasmanian Tiger I couldn’t help but feel deep sadness. I understood intuitively how we ‘silence’ that what we don’t understand. That what we don’t understand we often try to mute or muzzle, sometimes as in the case of the Singapore tiger…. permanently.
Museums are necropolises to our penchant for destruction. Destruction in our feeble attempt to create order out of chaos, to understand the unknowable, to through knowledge take control.
We couldn’t visit Singapore without visiting its incredible zoo. I always have had a mixed feeling about zoos. They are important as they can provide valuable awareness of our natural world and the challenges that it faces, often brought about by human activities.
It is here that I saw a majestic white tiger in a simulated environment. The animal sat and then paced around its enclosure, round and round the same routine, over and over again.
This is how humans feel safe to see tigers – behind barriers, controlled, safe.
Zoos may be the only and last place the majority of humans will ever have to come close to connecting with many incredible animal species before their inevitable slide to extinction and who’s only other connection may one day be with a lifeless stuffed animal in a museum.
As pathetic and sad it was to see this incredible creature reduced to spending life in a prison, seeing it move and hearing the deep rumble and energy of its voice was a humbling experience.
Custodians Not Controllers
Humans have incredibly destructive power as well as creative genius. In 2017 one football pitch of forest was lost every second worldwide. Yet, we can create we works of art, that connect us to our inner muse, to the earth, in a simple coffee cup.
Again, I think about all the diverse experiences I have had in the past 9 months, even a painting in a local gallery can connect us to nature, to experience the humble effect.
This close-up image of a painting, entitled ‘Rainforest Dreaming’ is by a local Australian indigenous artist, Goompi Ugerabah. The shapes, patterns and intensity of colour, illicit in me a deep sense of appreciation for the beauty of our natural world.
Indigenous cultures have a deep connection to nature that is intuitive and instinctive. They relied on their environment for the survival and developed a deep intimate connection with nature. They understood that they were part of a bigger picture, they experienced the humble effect on a daily basis.
One way to help bring about a change in the way we connect with nature is through cultural awareness. Where museums often catalogue and compartmentalise our world that is and what was, culture can be a living thing.
We can look into different cultures that lived in harmony with nature and see what we can learn from them. Indigenous cultures are often seen as ‘other’. We often trivialise their importance, and because their knowledge and beliefs are not based on accepted science or religion we often dismiss what they have to give us.
A more profound and immersive way is to simply spend time in or with nature. Hearing all that we have destroyed is not what I am talking about but simply walking through a rainforest, smelling the damp earth air, looking up at gigantic trees, hearing a bird call echo through the forest. These experiences can ground us back to nature, can ‘humanise’ and connect us back to our hearts.
A few months ago I took some friends from Sydney on a walk through a rainforest on Mt Tamborine. Their 4 year old son, Alexander, was screaming and carrying on as 4 year olds can do. I felt that at such a young age he was walking through this incredibly beautiful and biodiverse forest with his eyes closed, or the very least, walking through a chasm with 100 foot walls.
I held his hand and started to show him things that were right in front of him. I pointed to a log that was covered in the most intricate fungi. I explained to his parents how fungi are the great recyclers of the forest. Next I showed Alexander how intricate pattern the roots of the bungalow palm along the trail made. I got him to walk silently and listen to the sounds of the forest.
In that moment I knew that Alexander was experiencing the humble effect. He had quitened right down and was starting to explore with wonder what our heart sees.
Awareness Brings Change
I think we are beginning to see the humble effect take hold as more and more people realise the importance of connecting with nature. On the same hand, I see how legislation and environmental laws still seem to favour those intent on destroying the very things we rely on for our physical and psychological nourishment.
I think there will come a time when humans remember as did our ancestors, that we are earthly and earthy beings, we come from the humus, the earth that we destroy, the earth that feeds us, that sustains us.
I think the time will come that those that wantonly destroy our shared natural environment will be brought to justice. There will be a time when we will be brought to task to shift the way we see our natural world, where earth law will make us accountable for our actions. Where ecocide will be a common word, where environmental legislation will be strong and enforced, where we respect all living beings.
Every square inch of this finite planet is sacred.
There will come a time when we will experience a mass paradigm shift where we understand just how finite this planet is and how interconnected everything is. We will learn that just because we don’t fully understand how the universe and everything in it works that we can’t continue on our crime spree. It will be a heart felt response, beyond logic, but one that comes from deep within our earth-heart connection.
Sacred Not Scared
Another image I took in Singapore was of a subway mural. It depicted an idyllic island scene pre-Singapore’s existence. There were naked indigenous people, surrounded by nature, hibiscus flowers, butterflies – humans in harmony with nature.
The mural continues and there is a ferocious tiger -his eyes narrowed, his gnarling mouth revealing sharp teeth. In this moment one can see Why tigers were hunted into oblivion – fear was perpetuated by culture, and it will take this same cultural awareness to transform our fear of the unknown, of nature, of the other, from scared to sacred.
Scarred For Life
Just like the environmental destruction humans have ravaged upon the earth, the scars can heal. Scars are the body’s way of healing trauma. Scars close cuts, fill chasms, and give opportunity for new life. Scars are a sign that we have healed.
Just like the images in the subway of islanders in harmony with nature, we too can rediscover our Paradise Lost, re-enter our earthly paradise simply by remembering who we really are. We are humans. We are of the earth. We have nothing to fear. We need not analyse, dissect, destroy. We need simply to reconnect to our hearts through the earth.
Beyond Rhyme or Reason
Rhymes are patterns. They are the repetition of similar sounding words. We find comfort in the familiar.
Reason is logic. It is also about finding patterns. It is about making sense out of apparent chaos and speaking this apparent ‘truth’. It is about building walls to keep away all that does not fit into our logic, yet strangely feels comforting to live with lies.
Beyond rhyme and reason there is the sublime.
It is through the sublime that we can become human again. The sublime lifts us up beyond the dark chasm walls of our limited ‘truths’. Sublime comes from – sublimis – high + limen – lintel, threshold. Effectively, beyond the threshold or lintel that holds up our limited knowledge.
The sublime can be reached through standing on a high cliff and witnessing the movement of clouds across a sweeping vista. It can be experienced through watching plants in your garden grow and blossom, or from leaf blossoming in your coffee cup!
It is the slowing down to witness the small, or our smallness and all the universe’s connections, not on a cerebral but a heart-felt level.
The small takes us to the subjective.
So Below As Above
Subjective comes from subjectivus which in Latin means placed beneath and Middle English suget which means as above.
Through subjective connection reached through stillness when connecting to nature, as did the Vedic sages living in forests, we can go beyond. Through connecting with our heart we can go both above and below our narrow understanding of the Universe and touch the divine.
The Humboldt Current
I conclude these words to where we started talking about Humboldt. Through his various studies of the cosmos, seeing beyond a microchasmic view of the universe, he was one of the first to connect human activities with climate change.
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt also lent his name to the Humboldt Current, a cold, low salinity current that flows north along the western coast of South America. He reported measurements of the current in his book Cosmos.The current brings an upwelling of nutrients creating the richest fishing grounds in the world.
Humboldt was a Romantic, he combine scientific and philosophical views of the universe. He suggest that when one contemplates the beauty of the cosmos, one can obtain personal inspiration and a beneficial, if subjective, awareness about life.
The Humble Effect
You too can discover a deep upwelling when you connect with the sublime. The sublime can leave us in awe or fear, in appreciation, or inspired. It can fill our hearts with the energy of the earth and establish our connection to our universe.
The Humble Effect will show you that deep within you lies knowledge beyond your external learning. The Vedic sages taught us to stay humble and to stay foolish to discover the magic of existence.
The Humble Effect teaches you to follow your heart not your head, after all, your heart is the centre of your true intelligence and the intelligence of the universe. Coronary after all comes from the word ‘crown’. Follow your heart because it is the true source of ‘truth’.