I was very lucky this summer to have the opportunity, not only have the time for my spiritual practice, but also to be able to spend time working in and enjoying nature. This combination of spiritual practice and nature helped me to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in more deeply than ever before.
Many spiritual teachers tell us that this world is an illusion, but the beauty of the world reminds us of a deeper quality. If this world is an illusion, then it is an exceptionally beautiful one. So beautiful that it is able to fill us with awe and at times it can take our breath away. The longer we are able to spend in nature, feeling it and experiencing it deeply within, then we are able to realise that the natural world is an expression of God and in this lies the illusion.When we are able to spend time being present and alert in nature we are always struck by how beautiful everything is. From the smallest detail to the greatest panorama the beauty of this world is apparent. It is a natural beauty, seemingly random but with an organisation and functional purpose. While spiritual teaching may tell us that this world is a illusion it seems very real to us. Not only does it seem real, but it is a very beautiful reality at that. The natural world would seem not to be an illusion but the manifestation of an underlying beauty and natural wisdom. If we go deeply into the multitudinous and multi-creational qualities of nature we see that far from being an illusion the natural world is an expression of God.
The illusion is not that this world is not real, but it is our perception of this world that is illusionary. We do not normally allow ourselves to come to the direct experience of something. The mind reduces direct experience by making assumptions and pre-conceptions. The world therefore seems to be separate. We see it separate from ourselves and also separate from God. It is as though this world is something from which we will escape to reach God rather than something in which God is already here and present.
If we can come to the experience of nature and accept that it is an expression of God, in form. Then there is another step to take. We, as part of nature, every one of us, are also an expression of God in form. Yet we know from our spiritual experience that we are able to touch God as non-form, through spirit. So we are in an incredible position of being able to know God, both as form and non-form. We are able to bring together form and non-form into a direct experience of God.
Man is the confluence of form and non-form. It is in man that God as form and God as non-form come together. This physical body comes from the earth, belongs to the earth and will return to the earth. The Spirit comes from the light, belongs to the light and will return to the light. For an instant, a short moment in time, the body and spirit merge together as an individual. The potential is always fulfilled, but the possibility is to perceive this congregation of Earth and light. The perception of light is only experienced through a physical body. The earth is God embodied, it is God represented as form. Spirit is God without form, it is formless. To bring the formless into the form is to merge the two. The merging of form and non-form is experienced through the heart as love.
Both form and non-form are natural expressions of God, so the merging of form and non-form is also natural. To merge form and non-form we are in a natural state, without perception, prejudice or tension and open to spirit.
While our practice may focus on reaching up to connect to the light, it is also valuable to become closer to the reality of nature. This world is the expression of God if we are only able to see it.