Spirituality of NatureThu, June 26, 2008 - 12:52 PM
'Any definition of meditation, any spiritual perspective, that does not hold within it the importance of communion, attunuement, and learning from nature seriously lacks perspective. Nature is the ultimate healer and the powerful balancer of energy. Communion with nature is a key part of enlightened living-the essence of the wholeness of living. Sitting by a waterfall, by a river or the sea, by a tree, under the stars or the moon, facing the sunrise and sunset-all these are as much a part of meditation as anything else. A solitary walk in a beautiful, natural place ( an opportunity becoming tragically more limited) is the perfect ingredient for wellness, joy, and insight. We cannot say where or how deep insights or revelations might occur. They are as likely to take place in nature as on the meditation cushion.
Practitioners who spend far too many hours in temples and darkened rooms practicing control or mental repetition frequently neglect nature meditation. This is not meant to demean the inner journey and experience. Inner visionary experience can be divinely magical, immeasurably beautiful, enrapturing and mystical. The inner visionary experience allows us to see into many dimensions, through biochemical and mysical doorways penetrating into the many layers of concsiousness. These perceptions can take us to the place where the line between physical and nonphysical, even between this dimension and another, between life and death, cannot be drawn with certainty. But the outer world of nature and the cosmos are of the same inifinite, intricate order and offer the same level of perceptual experience.
We too often move through life without tuning into the world of natural beauty an power all around us. Are we in tune with the cycles of the moon, tides, wind, and weather? We spend so much time in environments where we control the temperature, the light, the sounds, even thought. Nature is too easily framed as another source of entertainment. People often go to forests and rivers in the same way they go to amusement parks. They look at the trees, have some fun, take a few photos- but have they learned how to commune deeply?
We cannot exist without nature-in fact, we are nature. We breathe in the oxygen that the trees and plants exhale. We exhale carbon dioxide and the world of plants breathes it in. We eat the gifts of the plant kingdom and give back fertilizer. In fact, the magic of photosynthesis from matter, light, and cosmic energy is the source of all life. The light of the sun feeds and illuminates the earth, and helps form the clouds that travel the planet brining the rains, creating the lakes and rivers. The water we drink is made of cloud and sun. Therefore, the body is made up of earth, sun, clouds, and rivers. In our solar system, the Sun and planet Earth are smoldering stardust, still hot at the core. So it is not only poetic to say we are the stars, we are the rivers, we are the sun, we are the earth. We have the opportunity to see and live in this harmonious perception. Seeing this is meditation, and not just a meditation. We need not sit in our rooms and mentally repeat "Tat Twan Asi. I am the earth. I am the stars. I am the trees." That is only thought and thinking. We can see this circle of life, this living organism of which we are part, through communion with nature. We learn the nature of balance by going into the balance of nature.
The wonderful book Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, illustrates the power of nature to heal and enlighten. Siddhartha spends his life in search of spirituality and self-knowledge. He becomes a menicant wanderer, studies with every manner of teacher, does extreme ascetic practices, fast till near death, and becomes a yogi. Finally, he quits the ascetic life and becomes a wealthy businessman. In his old age he goes to live with a boatman with whom he crossed a river many times. In the end he finds self-realization and enlightenment by giving up the search, communing with the river of life, and watching the river flow.
We spend most of our time living in worlds of our own thought and creation-cities, houses, cars, ideas, conversations, thinking are all our own creations. But nature. But nature is not our creation-it is creation. When in nature, we are in creation itself. Even a short time by rivers or tress, or spending time in a park, or sitting in the light of the moon, leaves one more whole and recharged. The wind is our breath, the water our circulation, the mountains and stones our bones, and the plants our skin. We can often learn more from a tree, the wind, or the sea that from authorities or volumes on meditation. The earth is an organism. Every plant, person, animal, and river is part of the balance. We are not here to renounce the earth but to learn from it and take care of it. And we much remember, in all of our arrogance about taking care of the earth, that actually it is the earth that is taking care of us. The only compassionate, intelligent, and loving response is to do the same in turn. This is the vision we need to operate from. When more of us have this understanding, we will stop destroying our home.
Another of the great lessons we can learn from nature is that change, growth, and evolution occur through error and mistakes. When we are not afraid of error, we are more open to growth and our past mistakes transform into the stepping stones of future success and deeper understanding.
The inward journey seeks the god, within; the outward journey finds god and goddess, without. Divinity exists in the outer world; it is all around us. Divine energy flows in the ever blossoming, eternal present of nature. Every corner of nature emanates that sacredness we seek in our rituals, beliefs, and practices. Nature's teaching is immediate, ever present, and infinite. We are totally immersed in the infinity of nature, the nature of the earth, and of the cosmos. It is beginningless and endless. The one and the many, unity and diversity, reflect and create each other in the same way matter and energy are one and the same. Entering into deep communion and connection with nature, which is not of human creation but is creation, is one of the integral parts of whole living, meditation, and spirituality.'
Yoga Beyond Belief, Ganga White
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