If the eye of the heart is open, in each atom there will be one hundred secrets. -- Attar
Helena Blavatsky's writings open our hearts and minds to the wonders of life within and about us. Particularly intriguing is her translation of selections from the "Book of the Golden Precepts," which she entitled The Voice of the Silence. In it we are invited to
Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.
And she will open wide before thee the portals of her secret chambers, lay bare before thy gaze the treasures hidden in the very depths of her pure virgin bosom. Unsullied by the hand of matter she shows her treasures only to the eye of Spirit -- the eye which never closes, the eye for which there is no veil in all her kingdoms. -- p. 14
This makes us wonder what nature is, and what are her hidden treasures? To most people nature is the great outdoors: the quiet places where our souls exalt, where body and mind grow calm and spirit gives us strength and inspiration. To others, nature is Gaia, the living, conscious, and caring Mother within which we, along with the animals, plants, and minerals, live and interact. A realization of this oneness, an experiencing of nature's beauty and wonder, comes when we are in touch with our inner nature -- for we are one with all. Tat tvam asi the Upanishads declare: THAT thou art!
Derived from nascor, "to be born, to come into existence," nature refers to the inherent character or dharma (role) of each individual and thing. It is the nature of the wind to blow, of a bird to fly, a tiger to hunt, and it is the nature of humans to seek to know more about themselves and the cosmos. The Sanskrit word svabhava implies more: derived from sva, "self," and bhu, "to become, to grow into," it means to know and become one's self, the divine self which is the source, essential nature, and potential of every being.
Dictionaries also inform us that nature is "the creative, driving, and controlling force or forces in individuals and the universe." These forces include those of life, movement, will, and intelligence as well as the primordial forces of fire, air, water, and earth. At one time these were revered and identified with the gods by people who believed that only divine beings would be able to receive, control, and direct such tremendous energies to benefit human and planetary life. Among the Greeks, for example, all-mighty, all-wise Zeus ruled his domain by binding all the gods, goddesses, beings, and forces of the earth and seas to heaven with a rope of gold -- i.e., spiritually. Poseidon controlled the forces within ocean waves, tides, and storms at sea. Aeolus directed the four winds; and Apollo, the god of light and truth, used nature's beneficent powers to promote healing, music, poetry, and spiritual development. In the past people were aware of the presence of the gods, and even now sensitive souls often feel a living intelligence within and behind the beauty and power of nature. As Katherine Tingley observed:
Every time the wind blows it is singing you a song of the gods. Every time a flower blossoms it is bringing you a message from the higher law. Every time you hear the ocean as it beats against the shore and recedes in musical rhythm, it is speaking to your soul -- a voice from nature, verily a voice from God. The magnitude, the grandeur of these things, the possibilities folded within them -- these can truly be sensed only in the silence. -- Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic, p. 56
It is during quiet times of reflection that we intuitively know that our spirit is part of the divine spirit; that all above, below, and around us are part of one life: connected, composed of the same elements, and following the same immutable laws. What are these natural laws? G. de Purucker explained in Man in Evolution that they are the habits or patterns created by the repetitive actions of beings whose intelligence and range of activity far excel ours -- patterns established by greater beings and followed by lesser. This process, duplicated everywhere, applies to the physical, moral, and spiritual lives of all beings. As our lives are conditioned and controlled -- far more than we realize -- by the movements and seasonal cycles of the earth, planets, and sun, so the automatic functions of our bodies are controlled and conditioned by the movements of our thoughts and behavior. In other words, the beauty of sunset and flower, the order of cyclic recurrences, the dependable precision of natural laws are expressions of the automatic, vehicular side of lofty beings, and these expressions were and are being established by their conscious, creative, and purposive wills.
One of the most basic natural laws is that of motion. Its divine nature is recognized by Native Americans who consider motion to be the "breath" of the Divine, the breathing forth of manifested life; and by the Greeks whose word for god, theos, means "to move," and whose word for spirit, pneuma, means "breath" or "wind." Hindu philosophers describe motion as the universal, eternal, and ceaseless flow of divine life, an onward movement of living beings which continues throughout the life of Brahma. During the Days of Brahma -- each day consisting of 4,320,000,000 human years -- Brahma "breathes" forth multitudes of beings which acquire, during this vast length of time, increased development and individualization as they move through spiraling cycles of birth, activity, death, and rebirth. During the equally long Nights of Brahma manifestation is withdrawn for a period of rest and renewal -- an idea emphasized by one of Blavatsky's teachers, the Master KH:
We say and affirm that that motion -- the universal perpetual motion which never ceases never slackens nor increases its speed not even during the interludes between the pralayas, or "nights of Brahma" but goes on like a mill set in motion, whether it has anything to grind or not (for the pralaya means the temporary loss of every form, but by no means the destruction of cosmic matter which is eternal) -- we say this perpetual motion is the only eternal and uncreated Deity we are able to recognise. -- The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letter 22, p. 138
Recently physicists Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok "put forward the idea that the universe exists in an infinite cycle of expansion and contraction," holding that "the key events that occur in one cycle play a role in setting up the next cycle and determining the features of the universe in that cycle." (HighLights, May 2003, p. 9) This accords with the theosophical idea that the karma generated during one cycle determines the circumstances that will exist during a succeeding cycle. Derived from kri, "to do, to act," karma implies that actions and reactions are the causes and effects by which equilibrium is maintained, balance restored, consciousness expanded, and progress effected throughout the cosmos. Karma also implies that action -- movement -- of whatever type or level, brings about effects appropriate to itself and to the motive involved. And whatever the resulting conditions, painful or pleasurable, there is benefit for those going through them. During times of difficulty and pain our understanding expands, patience and responsibility can be developed, as can an appreciation of the benefits and necessity of nature's bipolar activities. We can discover also that during each phase the opposite exists in potential. During death life continues, during war there is hope for peace, during times of suffering, ignorance, and corruption, a ray of light exists and reminds us that the new is waiting to be born, that truth and happiness can be attained. Likewise, during times of abundance, shadows lurk nearby and whisper, "Be aware, this too shall pass."
Another way to view this duality or pulse of motion is as the manifestation of the conscious and the unconscious, of the creative and the automatic, operations of nature. In our lives we marvel at the workings of our conscious, creative minds with their powers of memory, imagination, calculation, and judgment. We marvel, too, at the workings of our automatic systems -- the circulatory and digestive processes, the intricate operations of glands, organs, and our genetic and immune systems. Specialists stand in awe before the "intelligence" of these so-called involuntary processes that so efficiently maintain health and promote growth and healing. These bodily activities are as much a part of the habits or laws of nature as are the falling of rain, migration of birds, beauty of flowers, and formation of precious gem stones.
If we would understand motion more fully, we need to investigate not only the obvious but also the hidden aspects of these laws of karma, duality, and cycles, and their relation to love and morality as they are expressed by individuals of the various kingdoms who, each in its own way, aspire towards and are infilled with divine inspiration. We might also study maya, the illusions that limit understanding. From the root ma, "to measure," hence to limit, maya suggests that in order to know truth we must free ourselves from mental, psychological, and sensual limitations. Clearing away these veils we discover the hidden "treasures" of life and being and come to understand what St. Hildegard, 12th-century German abbess and mystic, felt and saw when Spirit exclaimed to her:
I am that supreme and fiery force that sends forth all the sparks of life. Death has no part in me, yet do I allot it, wherefore I am girt about with wisdom as with wings. I am that living and fiery essence of the divine substance that flows in the beauty of the fields. I shine in the water, I burn in the sun and the moon and the stars. Mine is that mysterious force of the invisible wind. I sustain the breath of all living. I breathe in the verdure, and in the flowers, and when the waters flow like living things, it is I. I found those columns that support the whole earth . . . I am the force that lies hid in the winds, from me they take their source, and as a man may move because he breathes, so doth a fire burn but by my blast. All these live because I am in them and am of their life. I am wisdom. Mine is the blast of the thundered word by which all things were made. I permeate all things that they may not die. I am life.
How can we attain such an exalted realization? H. P. Blavatsky gave us a clue in her Voice of the Silence: by helping and working with nature. But how exactly? Jain devotees seek to practice ahimsa: feeling such empathy, respect, and reverence for all that lives that they can no more injure a spider than injure themselves. Taoists seek to work with nature by "moving with the flow," so that, by living harmoniously with the rhythms of the seasons and processes of life and by accepting the inevitable, they enable the forces of truth, love, and beauty to flow through their being and touch with magic even the most mundane tasks.
Each of us needs to find our own way. It may be as simple as being aware of the wonders about us, as specific as participating in saving endangered species and their habitats, or as personal as controlling our own thoughts and feelings. By helping and working with nature, in whatever way, we become receptive to the influence of the eye of our spirit -- "the eye which never closes." Noticing, for example, a stunted tree clinging to life on a perpendicular cliff, we recognize the strength and persistence of life, and the miraculous powers of rain and sun. Our thoughts turn perhaps to the beneficence of trees whose life and nature are basically no different from that of great humanitarians who live to benefit the world. Coming upon a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, we pause, reflecting upon the source of its delicate beauty, and the benefits of the transformations we undergo as we pass through our cycles of life. Or, catching sight of a shooting star, we are moved by the magnificent mysteries of space which is our home.
Helping and working with nature applies especially to human nature where the need is so great. When we truly love our neighbors and forgive their transgressions, when we really understand and deal patiently with the needs, fears, and desires of others -- and with our own -- we will have allied ourselves with the forces that guide and protect life throughout the cosmos. And because nature is linked throughout by golden threads of compassion, opportunities will come by which we can help those in need. Our giving blesses their lives and brings us the gifts of happiness and hope. Such "treasures" are indeed hidden in the very depth of nature's pure virgin bosom, unsullied by the hand of matter, perceived only by the eye of spirit. Love, trust, justice, beneficence are treasures buried in the heart of every being. Finding them fills us with joy, enriches our lives, and best of all, gives us the key to nature's hidden chambers -- the realization that nature reveals her wonders, not to those who seek to receive, but to those who would share her treasures with others.
(From Sunrise magazine, February/March 2004; copyright © 2003 Theosophical University Press)