The Beauty of Spacious in Nature
Meditation Lesson 6.
Beauty of Nature.
In this meditation, we put our all our attention on image, or sound or touch. Usually a combination. Giving sense impression more attention than usual. Taking more interest in it.
To help us, we can focus on the beautiful in image and sound. The beauty of the trees, towering above us, with strong graceful trunks and limbs, with such interesting colour to their bark. With such abundant foliage, dozens of small bunches of leaves. Providing shade and shelter for us underneath, and home for numerous insects, food for so many birds.
The colour and perfection of the small birds, with such astonishing aerial acrobatics and energy. Their song filling the air. They’re so cute.
All these things can help us develop more respect for Mother Nature. This is the name I like to use for : the Source of all life and the Source of all healing. This can help us give more attention to sound and sights of Nature.
We can choose to see how pretty Mother Nature and all these life forms can be. This beauty is really in the eye of the beholder, and is easily overlooked if the attention is elsewhere, busy thinking about something else.
So the first step in Nature meditation is to bring the attention back to image and sound. Create some space in the mind for image and sound. Clear away the clutter, turn down the volume of the chatter. Then we can enjoy the attractive undisturbed.
Then we look for this beauty in Nature. Open our mind and heart to the beautiful. We can perceive Mother Nature as being attractive, we can adopt this posture of seeing attractiveness. And not entertain boredom, disinterest, derision or dismissiveness.
This beauty in Mother Nature extends beyond mere prettiness. It also includes the quiet, calming and stilling Quality of (relatively) unspoiled Nature, that helps us quieten and still our own mind. When we are receptive to this stillness and quiet of Nature, then we can receive and draw in the external Quiet to feed the internal Quiet within our heart and mind.
Indeed, as we become more accomplished in meditating on the beauty of Nature, we begin to recognise, identify, understand and ultimately realise the inherent healing Qualities of Mother Nature. Eventually we can realise how Mother Nature supports, nurtures and feeds the healing powers within us. In this respect, Mother Nature is the ultimate Source of healing. Not just from Her foods and Her herbs, but also from her inherent healing Qualities that we can open out to, and connect with.
So let us value and appreciate beauty in all its manifestations. Put priority on it. Rank it above busy-ness. Elevate it above things that we really don’t have to think about, in this moment.
This is cultivating appreciation. Appreciation is a most powerful healing Quality, and very effective at dispelling defilement. Or at least weakening the destructive power of defilement. And very good for restoring happiness and enjoyment into our experience and our life. It could be described as the number one spiritual Quality. More on spiritual Qualities later.
Being appreciative is worthy of respect. Something to value, and care for. Something we can honour. In the western tradition, it’s usually called “thanksgiving”. They used to have a public holiday called “Thanksgiving Day”.
So appreciation helps us to open to beautiful. Allow us to be drawn and attracted to the delightful. We can see everyday things as being pretty and charming.
As we allow ourselves to be drawn and attracted to prettiness, so do we approach meditative stillness and silence. This is most healing and beneficial. To be able to use our non work time each day in Peace, which restores and rejuvenates our vital energy, our happiness and clarity of mind.
In a sense, honouring the beautiful is the key that opens the door to Liberation, Awakening and healing. More on this later.
So let’s look for the beautiful, and cultivate appreciation, so we can focus on the attractive.
When Westerners get hold of Buddhism, they often focus a lot on suffering. They perceive the First Sermon and the Four Noble Truths in terms of suffering and the end of suffering. The austerity of monastic rule and life, the emphasis on emptiness or no-self, these get priority. And beauty is easily overlooked.
So Ajahn Brahm the Abbot often talked about “the Beautiful”. He tried to get us to see the beauty in ordinary everyday things and tasks. Like a tree, or the bowl washing area, or the sweeping of the monastery paths. A section of the perimeter fire break was concreted for vehicle access, and this was hard and stark. So Ajahn Brahm would say; “Not the ugly concrete path, but the beautiful path,” in his own light hearted way.
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