Come Close To Nature

Leo Lionni writes, “In our everyday garden grow the rosemary, juniper, ferns and plane trees, perfectly tangible and visible. For these plants that have an illusory relationship with us, which in no way alters their existentiality, we are merely an event, an accident, and our presence, which seems so solid, laden with gravity, is to them no more than a momentary void in motion through the air. Reality is a quality that belongs to them, and we can exercise no rights over it.” Wendell Berry advises us, “A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us…. What I am saying is that if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of the earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce. For ages, we have been drawing spiritual inspiration from nature. Our response to nature’s beauty is not merely aesthetic but reflects also the ability to discern a deeper meaning and interconnectedness in things. The photographer of nature’s beauty serves as a bridge connecting the hearts of people everywhere with a language that is universal.

Thomas Moore mentions in The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, “The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot
thrive in the absence of a garden.If you don’t want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don’t have a soul.” Louise Dickenson Rich asserts the importance of nature, “We belong to no cult. We are not Nature Lovers. We don’t love nature any more than we love breathing. Nature is simply something indispensable, like air and light and water that we accept as necessary to living and the nearer we can get to it the happier we are.” Geoffrey B. Charlesworth opines that it is only when you start a garden – probably after age fifty – that you realize something important happens every day.

Wallace Stevens mentions in Sunday Morning, 1915, “What is divinity if it can come only in silent shadows and in dreams? Shall she not find in comforts of the sun, in pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else in any balm or beauty of the earth, things to be cherished like the thought of heaven? Divinity must live within herself: Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow; grieving in loneliness, or un-subdued elations when the forest blooms; gusty emotions on wet roads on autumn nights; all pleasures and all pains, remembering the bough of summer and the winter branch, these are the measures destined for her soul”. Keats said that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” In the haiku of Basho, the beauty of nature has been depicted very naturally like “when I look carefully/ I see nazunia blooming/ by the hedge!” The deep meaning of it cannot be understood intellectually but only intuitively. The idea is that one can draw deep spiritual inspiration even from a simple message. By observing an ordinary flower and pondering over its beauty, one could feel inspired to try and unravel the mystery of creation.

When we go out hiking in the woods, we are surrounded by all of God’s creations: the trees, the animals, rocks, birds, deer, water, etc. There is a sense of holiness about it. If you just stop and listen and close your eyes, you can almost feel a part of everything that is going on around you. There are so many lessons that can be learned from nature. There is such diversity of trees, flowers, plants, animals etc. Many people have such tunnel vision and never notice what beauty is around them or even take the time to look. For example, one quotes her experience in her own words, “One time I was driving through a state park. A deer crossed the road right in front of my car and stood right next to my passenger door to look at me. I rolled down my window to speak softly to her for about five minutes. We just stared at each other contently. While we were doing this, a bicycler came up fast behind me shaking his fist angrily at me (as it seemed to say no parking on the side of the road). He passed quickly by me…not even noticing the deer I was communing with. He continued to shake his fist and shout obscenities at me. I couldn’t believe that he did not notice the beauty of the deer, right in front of him! I believe we are all that way today in society. We all have narrow vision to some extent. Going out into the woods, or even in your own back yard is a wonderful way to relax, quiet your soul, and take in the wonder of God’s creations. If you go on the same path every week for an entire year, so many things will change due to the natural order of things in nature. It really puts life into perspective. God cares for his animals, but He loves people far more than anything! We are all part of the same universe. The universe is so incredibly humongous and it can make your problems seem so small.”

To feel love and compassion for all, we need to observe nature with totality of mind without getting affected by our pre-biased images, opinions or past knowledge. We must look around to observe things as if we are seeing them for the first time. For having intrinsic feelings, we should become one with the object of observation. The sun provides light and warmth irrespective of who benefits from it. Clouds, rivers, mountains and jungles follow the same example of universal love. Trees provide the shade, fruits and flowers with the same unattached benevolence for all. They do not demand favors in return. The earth matures seeds into plants irrespective of who planted the seeds or who will benefit from them. This truly is like a mother’s love for her children. A mother loves all her children and is forgiving even when some are the cause of hurt. They don’t exercise any discrimination on the basis of our race, religion, creed, color or our financial position. Why do we do it?

It is true that if we learn to appreciate nature, the world will be a much better place to live in. because through such appreciation, destructive tendencies like jealousy, envy, hatred and selfishness will not be there. A new era of mutual love and trust will descend on earth. All differences will melt away. All political boundaries and religious divisions will disappear. The whole world will become a single family. ready to provide solace to each member living on the earth. Most of our problems have arisen because we have stopped learning from nature.

You can imagine the blissful feeling one gets when listening to the chirping of birds at dawn, observing the river flowing placidly in its course, looking at the snow-clad peaks of mountains, taking a stroll in a forest with majestically standing tall trees and looking at the moon on a full-moon night or a star-studded sky on new moon night. If we go through deeper in our feelings by looking at the nature working, we are sure that divine feelings generated by experiences close to nature compel us to ponder over the meaning of life and our place in the universe. This creates in us the urge to become one with the Divine to experience eternal bliss. We may start to live with nature, love nature, protect nature, learn from nature. We will soon rise above all our narrow parochial tendencies to become a votary of universal love.

The main cause of discontent is because we spend too much time indoors and away from the nurturing restorative powers of nature. We must try to get back to nature in some way and give ourselves some time in the woods, mountains, open meadows or walk barefoot on the beach. We will enjoy the beauty of nature. Even if we live in the city, we can go and walk along the grass in a park. We will feel more complete, rejuvenated and blissful.

Be Happy – Come Close To Nature