Mindful Musings

“Nature’s Inspiring Qualities”

The Smoky Mountains vs. the "Smokey Mountains”: Who's Right?It would be an understatement to say that the natural world humbles our very being. For example, how many people have climbed to the top of a mountain and experienced the sentiment of feeling inconsequential? It’s impossible not to.

Anyone who has made the pilgrimage up a summit reports feeling profoundly humbled. For on the majestic peaks, our souls are moved by the sheer majesty of views that await us: a gorgeous colossus of trees, the mesmerizing stature of nearby mountaintops, the noble presence of soaring eagles and those subtle but dazzling flashes of white light that sparkle against the backdrop of a midday Sun.

As we inhale a slow, deep breath of the crisp mountain air, we become instantly aware of our own insignificance in relationship to the Cosmos. In so doing, we come to embrace the notion that humanity is but one tiny wave in a vast sea of oneness.

It’s from Mother Nature’s power to humble that we uncover the source of pure inspiration. We tap into this coveted but sacred energy through the Earth’s reservoirs of natural beauty. When we decide to descend back down the same mountaintop, we carry this feeling of renewal back with us, injecting it into our day-to-day lives.

For some people, this newfound inspiration finds its light through their commitment to previously neglected aspects of their being, such as their family and friends, their life’s work and especially their own spiritual growth. Yet, for others, transcendental experiences in nature will produce sudden and profound personal epiphanies.

In these moments of heightened clarity, we feel as though we’re viewing life through a new pair of eyes. In these moments, the art of existing finally starts to make sense, as one begins to live their life with a greater sense of purpose and awareness. In these instances, it’s not uncommon to make major life changes like leaving a longtime job or long-term relationship to devote oneself to a higher calling.

For others, nature so inspires them, that they’re moved to express these emotions of divine love through creative outlets like poetry, painting, photography and music. For example, well-known writers and poets like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman were all so moved by nature that each felt compelled to share the wonder of it with others.

Further, entire forms of written expression such as Haiku (a unique form of poetry that emerged long ago in Japan) also remain popular and finds their medium through the observation of nature. And much of the remarkable art crafted by Indigenous peoples from around the world depicts various divine aspects of the Earth.

In fact, in my own dwelling, I have a beloved piece of artwork that was made by a Native American artist from the Hopi tribe in Arizona. This work of art is a mosaic of sacred images drawn from nature and painted on a smooth, rectangular slab of clay. This remarkable piece of work reminds me that the natural world is the purest source of creative inspiration.

Finally, cultural anthropologists have long accepted the notion that music—that most profound mode of universal expression—had its genesis long before the development of formal language in the earliest tribes. Today, still, the Indigenous peoples of the world reflect their love for the Earth in song and dance. It’s telling that more traditional music pays homage to Mother Nature. Listen to roots reggae, folk or bluegrass songs for confirmation!

(Excerpt from my essay: “Nature as Divine Love”)

 

“Merging into Oneness”

True Oneness - N-lightenment -By: Forrest Rivers

Though I never met him in person (I do feel I know him in the spirit), Baba Ram Dass, the inspiring hippie (in the truest sense) pioneer of consciousness has been among my greatest and most inspiring teachers. Unlike many self-described “gurus”, Ram Dass truly “walked the walk”. Without the slightest hint of putting on a show, his actions were a genuine reflection of all the inspiring themes he lectured and wrote about: love, compassion, humility, peace, suffering, the pitfalls on the spiritual path and Karma Yoga(the spirit of service). The following is one of my favorite quotes from him:

“As we grow in our consciousness, there will be more compassion and more love, and then the barriers between people, between religions, between nations will begin to fall. Yes, we have to beat down the separateness.”

 

In the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak it appeared that Ram Dass’s words were becoming a reality. War between nations seemed to no longer matter anymore as the virus, itself, became the common enemy of mankind. And, for a hopeful moment it appeared like division along the lines of sex, class, race, religion and politics would dissolve over night as the pandemic did not discriminate in choosing its victims. For the first time in our lives, the attainment of a collective higher consciousness was a real possibility. Of course, one of the chief aims of all spiritual traditions is to directly experience this connection that all beings share. Call this mystical life force energy that connects all things God. Call it the TAO. Call it the One. Or, call it the Great Mystery. In the end, whatever name you call IT doesn’t matter. What matters is the knowledge that such a state of divine unity is possible for humanity to achieve. The early days of the pandemic brought us infinitely closer to recognizing the heavenly state of such oneness.

Everywhere, people began to acknowledge their universal humanity. The ranks of volunteers grew to serve at food banks, younger people came to the aid of their elderly neighbors, groups organized to provide shelter to the homeless and many began honoring over-looked “essential workers” like grocery store clerks and food delivery drivers. However, as the period of social distancing wore on, the world gradually fell back into the old programmed patterns of fear and separation along lines of associations…. especially in America. Barely three months into the pandemic the following events took place:  armed protests against the shutdowns emerged, massive urban demonstrations and riots broke out in response to the latest police killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota; military rule at home supplanted any notions of democracy and the very rich continued to peddle their political influence to extract what little wealth remained among the very desperate poor and working classes coping with unprecedented unemployment

. How could the achievement of world peace feel so close yet also so far away? After all, for many, COVID-19 was perceived as a watershed event that revealed mankind’s potential to transcend the illusion of separateness. But, as they say, old habits die hard. The oneness that we all know is possible deep within our souls is still unfulfilled. However, this pandemic has already had the effect of helping us grow in our consciousness…. just as Ram Dass said. Just weeks before the outbreak of the virus, little on the surface appeared to unite us. But following its emergence, we have begun to awaken to see our common humanity.

No matter our differences on the surface, we have all gone through this period of hardship and suffering together. And, because of that we will grow stronger together.  In this moment, most of us know someone who has been severely impacted. Some of us have a friend or loved one who has fallen ill to the virus. Others of us know someone who has lost their job during the pandemic. Whether we want to admit it or not, all of our politicians and news medias’ attention to our supposed lines of divisions are intended to deliberately stoke fear of each other.  Why? So, we turn a blind eye to the very serious abuses of power that are taking place. What’s more, if we can still our minds and go beyond the egoistic mindset of our own leaders we will see that we are not all that different anyways.

Such demarcations like the color of our skin, the region of the world we happened to be born in and the religious traditions we were exposed to growing up were all out of our control. They were left up to fate and destiny. When we meet a cat or dog do we discriminate against it based on the color of its fur? Do we decide whether to pet it or not based on the location where it was born and in what manner it connects to living spirit? Of course, we don’t! So, why do we do so with humans? In the end, it is my hope that this experience we have all shared with COVID-19 will allow us to see past all the divisions and acknowledge the inherent soul connection we all have as beings of loving awareness. Maybe, once we recognize this connection with each other we will also see it reflected in humanity’s most important and sacred relationship of all: the Earth.

Mindful Musings

“Earth viewed from Space”

By: Forrest Rivers

If only we could all view the Earth from the perspective of an astronaut in outer space. Then, we might finally marvel in wonder at this vast blue sphere of awe that we inhabit. Among the first things to be noticed from space would be the miraculous interrelation of all Earth’s land masses and oceans.  We would profoundly see that both expressions of creation form a mosaic of incomprehensible unity and perfection. As we continued to stare off in admiration of our Divine Mother, indescribable waves of love and compassion would fill our souls with faith and understanding. We would instantly recognize that all the wars and greed; and all the famines and disease are products of the illusion of separation. We would then feel this burning love and compassion grow into a space of wisdom as vast as the Universe itself. We would come to know that all forms are projections of One Consciousness.

The View from Space - Earth's Countries and Coastlines - YouTube