In this article, I’m going to make the assertion that there are many practices of naturism which deserve the equal protections of any religion, or spiritual pursuit. I think that we all need to be protecting each others rights, no matter what our religion is. I’ll be attempting to demonstrate this opinion, to create a better understanding. It needs to be put out there, somewhere.
Warning: This article is very serious. It may not be what you are looking for. I hope that you read it and give it some thought. Otherwise, there is plenty of fun to be had elsewhere in this website.
Not much different than many of those that you know, maybe yourself.
I remember my neighbor, Louie, standing on the granite rock slab by my front door, looking up at the grand vista of the Catalina Mountains. He said to me, “You know Jon, if I can’t look up at those mountains and get It, I know that I am lost.” By “get It” he was referring to his belief in God, the sense of awe. He would look at those mountains often, be reminded and he would find peace when life was difficult. How many of us have had moments like this when the grandeur of nature has presented itself to us? For Louie a great soul, and friend, this was religion. This sustained him through the ordeal of liver cancer before his death.
Out my front door, there is that granite rock slab, but also there is the most biologically diverse environment in the state of Arizona. Amazing little wonders flourish there. Be it a strangely behaving colorful bug, the erosion of that rock slab as I watch over time, the multitudes of vegetation that spring seemingly out of nowhere, from season to season, rain to rain, and then those who feed on it. How many of us have had a moment in amazement with a flower and its scent?
Likewise, I wander in the nude, my natural state. I am fascinated with the awareness of my barefeet on that rock surface. Two hundred and forty bones and the muscles, all connected, all working together with all of the rest of the human body’s system. Just to watch it, I sense the miraculous. It isn’t a visual perception of a mountain, the visual and scented perception of a flower. It is a more tactile experience. It is a use of all of the senses and discovery of even more. There is a connection with all. It is a profound connection when nude. The mountain, the flower, the miraculous being that it all is, we are of the oneness of it all. Well, that is how many know it, and I’m included in that group.
So, there’s the law and tolerance:
The above, as best as I can understand, is spirituality. It is a meaningful connection to a concept of God. It is the stuff protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights.
They warn to stay away from politics and religion, but this is important to naturism and it needs to be said. Again, if you aren’t looking for a serious discourse here, then please, this article isn’t for you. I just would like to inform, support and be supported.
Here, I’m speaking of myself. I’ll also mention the venerable religions of others. I’m doing my best to follow the very definition of comity: mutual civility; amity, an atmosphere of social harmony, the policy whereby one religious sect refrains from proselytizing the members of another sect. If we are divergent on our personal religion, I can only tell you that we all need to stand up for each other, no matter how much we disagree. I’m just saying that my concepts, and some of others, deserve what the others get, equally. When I look around the world, there are always people of good fortune in a practice of all kinds of religious pursuit. If your God, or Gods, work well for you, if you have something deeply held, I’m not going to tell you it isn’t your Right, or that it is wrong. Instead, I’ll encourage you to go for it.
This works for me. This is not unusual:
With this relationship in mind, with what often would be understood as God, my naturism is not supposed to be something to be limited. In this context, there should be no limitation of my awareness of the world around me, of myself, or these two things in relationship, which are experienced as a sense of oneness. For some it may be getting jerked at the sight of the Grand Canyon and holding on to the experience. I frequently have moments with the monumental, too. But, for me, it too has been a long bare walk, a continuing bare lifestyle. For me, God is found in every step, there whenever I need support, direction and comfort. For me, naturism is a valuable key to self-realization and God realization.
That’s saying a lot. I’ll need to attempt to briefly outline how that works for me personally. There are also eastern concepts in my eclectic spiritual practice. Simply explained, getting closer to this thing, this God or God’s with evolving consciousness is the purposeful action. Awareness is the key. Going about naturally is integral practice of this. The evolution into higher states is achieved in the awareness of the moment, until a state of pretty much just “being” is achieved.
This is not unusual to other religions and spirituality, in other places and other times. Jung wrote of divination and Eckhart Tolle writes of the power of now. We have Buddha teachings and Hindu attainment of Mukti. It is all there, I’m just naming a few. This basis is valid for billions. To walk naked, sharing a natural state in a natural environment is a profound meditation, an effective practice towards this state of being. This is my spiritual practice. This is my eclectic own. It would follow that it is a person’s right.
There are in other countries, very conservative countries, highly regarded naked monks, who have taken a renounciate tact to achieving their religious consciousness. In this country, their multi-millennia old religious devotion would be a criminal offense. These holy people would be judged as eccentric in the least.
A dab of History:
In the 1870’s in a culture of manifest destiny, much Christian dominance in government, ignorance and limited avenues of communication, the Supreme Court declared that if the government has “a compelling state interest,” then it may outlaw certain religious practices. For example, now, animal cruelty and arranged marriages to minor children are restricted. The issue of that ruling, at that time, was polygamy and the desire of Utah to become a state. This was a time that the country was just out of slavery. Hanging and institutional bigotry was a popular norm. Native Americans were being subjected to genocide as their children were kidnaped and forcefully assimilated into the dominant culture. Manifest destiny was destroying western lands wholesale, racism was rampant and Queen Victoria was the dominant social influence. I’ve got to ask, “Would I trust that group of politicians in robes to direct American legal interpretation of the separation of church and state for the next 140 years, from when hysteria over the practice of polygamy was sweeping the nation?” That was the environment and out of it came this ruling. It is now broadened from the singular issue and very much still in effect today.
But, if the court’s rulings are okay, then let’s look at it this way:
Putting the above questioning of the government’s validity aside, and accepting that the state might have a compelling state interest to restrict religious practice; can we actually apply it to a natural human nude body? I can effectively argue that there is no compelling governmental interest in suppressing my naturism. It can also be argued that these anti-nudity/anti-body laws have actually been harmful to people.
There is no harm in a nude body. There is good about a nude human body. There is no health issue that a sit-down towel can’t cure. There is no violation of another’s rights. There is no danger to the public from any naturist activity, or simple nudity. Science and studies have overwhelmingly shut down the common argument, “But what about the kids” (See below* 1*). There is only a disappearing social more that is based on some older western religious doctrines. Ignorance, social insecurity and laws continue to foster these mores. The dominant culture, parts of the western religious establishments and politicians actually leave me, personally, feeling persecuted and ripped off. It is not just having freedom stolen, but something particularly sacred stolen.
There are others:
I should mention the many earth based religions, which have suffered a centuries old persecution and misunderstandings. These are much about being of the earth and associated universes. It should not be difficult for anyone to understand that the insulation of clothing would interfere and the skyclad body, which augments a natural sense. For some, there is much more to that. It is not the legitimate position of anyone, to deny this of anyone, nor to judge.
So, for some of us, the practice of naturism is religion. It is rightfully supposed to be protected from the interference of the state and those who believe differently.
What about the kids?
“What about the children?” I researched children and nudity extensively as a possibility for my Master’s thesis. Everywhere that I explored, I found that the following definitive source had already covered it. There was not much for me to add. If you have any concerns about children and nudity, or need a responsible information source for argument, or defense, I recommend this book. It is a comfortable read. If you look further into the peer reviewed literature, you will be finding redundancy, so I’m recommending starting here.
“Growing Up Without Shame: Social Nudity: Its Effect on Children”
By Dennis Craig Smith with Dr. William Sparks
Elysium Growth Press, Topanga, California
Copyright 1986, 1996. ISBN # 1-55599-001-0