August 22, 2017

Putting The Sacred Back Into Nature

Experiencing the sacredness of nature can cause feelings of blessedness, joy, ecstasy, and serenity.

Humans have not always seen the natural world as a soul-less void passively existing to serve our needs and wants. At one time we knew that everything was alive, and crackled with life, magic, and soul. Trees, rocks, mountains, birds - every thing was sacred.

One of the beautiful things about believing in the sacredness of the Earth is that you don't see yourself as separate from it, and therefore hesitate to harm any part of it. The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth.

In the 1800s, Chief Seattle explained his peoples' take on this. He said, "Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people". That is certainly my personal experience when I interact with natural surroundings.

"How can other people not see this, feel this?" I wonder to myself. For me it is powerful and unmistakable.

Being in touch with the power of nature can awaken us to the spiritual dimensions of our existence.
Take the "sacred" designation away and distinctly un-natural things happen. We think we can own it. We think it is all inferior, dead, and put there for the sole use of humans. Where did the sacredness go? How did we lose such an important part of ourselves?

In the book, Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance, Swami B. V. Tripurari gives one possible explanation of how we arrived at seeing an essentially dead environment made for our own benefit.

"Our present environmental crisis is in essence a spiritual crisis", he says. "We need only to look back to medieval Europe and the psychic revolution that vaulted Christianity to victory over paganism to find the spirit of the environmental crisis. 
Inhibitions to the exploitation of nature vanished as the Church took the "spirits" out of the trees, mountains, and seas. Christianity's ghost-busting theology made it possible for man to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects. 
It made nature man's monopoly. This materialist paradigm has dominated the modern world for last few centuries."

His solution? Put the sacred back into Nature. Give it the reverence it deserves, and see our selves as an integral part of the whole. Kind of like Chief Seattle was saying.

"The current deplorable environmental crisis demands a spiritual response", says Tripurari. "A fundamental reorientation of human consciousness, accompanied by action that is born out of inner commitment, is very much needed.”

Another special spot in my backyard woods. I look at the trees -  they look back at me. We are one.

Would you like to experience the sacred in nature more often and more powerfully? It is possible to learn to cultivate a relationship with nature that enhances our experiencing of the sacred. Such spiritual growth leads to positive change in our relationship with Earth. We feel powerful, connected, at peace.

Putting The Sacred Back Into Nature

1. Find a special place in nature. How? Usually, such locations are not simply chosen, and rather, are revealed to us after a bit of a search. You will feel drawn to such a place. Allow yourself to listen to the call. Let it lead you. You will know, you will feel, when you have arrived.

2. If you are fortunate enough to find such a place, go there regularly, when called, or when the occasion requires it. In any case, go to the places that call you, and be open to their influence.

3. Repeated visits to special places help develop your sense of connection to nature. A special place could be in your backyard, your garden, a nearby park, a special tree, stream, hill or mountaintop. Visit at all times of the day, and in all seasons.

4. Meditating on the ceaseless rhythms and cycles of nature opens the gateway to sacred time vs clock time. Nature meditations allow one to touch eternity, and feel touched by it in turn.

5. The sacred is most powerfully available to us during times of transition -- sunrise, sunset, midday, phases of the moon, equinoxes and solstices. Take advantage of these moments, whether through cultural celebrations, or immersing yourself in a special spot.

6. Be alone, and silent. Silence is the key to opening a gateway into solitude and communion with the divine. Psychologist Clark Moustakas studied loneliness, and found that, “In absolute solitary moments, humans experience truth, beauty, nature, reverence, and humanity.”

7. Don't rush, be calm. These things take time. Insights will come when one is ready.

When we are in intimate dialogue with nature, we can have powerful moments of insight and illumination. These moments are powerful confirmations of our faith in the possibility of integration and wholeness, a confirmation of the healing process by which one can restore one’s relation to the world. 

When we feel the sacredness in nature, the meaning of human existence is revealed, even if it’s only for a moment. In these glimpses, we are put in profound contact with our own basic humanity and the nature of Being. We experience being part of the whole of nature. Our individual being merges with the being of Earth. 

That will change everything. Our actions become ones which honour nature, rather than exploit it and use it to satisfy our own greedy desires. This is the change in human consciousness that needs to happen in order for us to save the environment, and ourselves.

August 17, 2017

Rumi In The Woods

There is an old cabin in the woods in my back yard. I have hiked, or snowshoed, to it many times, but on my last walk in the woods I looked at it differently. Is it possible it looked more tranquil and appealing than ever before? 

Who doesn't want to run away to a cabin in the woods? Maybe its me and my love of the simple life, but a cabin next to a small brook and surrounded by a vast forest sounds pretty good right now. 

I imagine myself living here from day to day, hauling water, cooking over a fire, tending a small garden. Meditating. Sleeping. Blissing out on Nature. And reading. 

I would definitely have some Jalalud’din Rumi in my sanctuary in the woods. This is a prefect setting for contemplating the deep insight of this 13th Century Persian Poet, better known simply as "Rumi". 

"My soul is from elsewhere - I’m sure of that. And I intend to end up there.”

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world… today I am wise so I am changing Myself."

"When you feel a peaceful joy, that’s when you are near the truth."

"What you seek is seeking you."

Away from the madness of material culture, and surrounded by Nature, I deepen my own insight, and tap into a peaceful joy. 

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