How to Appreciate Nature
How few know how to appreciate a flower, a sunset, a flying bird mirrored in a lake, a hill in a rainstorm, a tree in its autumn tints.
Shri Dada was a great lover of nature, and his disciples loved to go out with him to the gardens in the moonlight, to the fields and rivers in the rainy days, each carrying a surprise sweet or a surprise samosa to share with all present. His Sat-Sangs (spiritual meetings) were held in the open air.
Nature and man have their roots in the same divide substance. Every plant, every bird, every fish, every animal, partakes of the life of Ishvara (the Lord) and is evolving under the divine gardener to the saintly state, nirvana—not asceticism or self-mortification, but joy and love of unity.
A conquest of nature as done by the West will not make human beings happy or peaceful. To appreciate nature you must pay it the highest respect it deserves. We must not violate nature. Then love nature as an objectification of the divine idea of beauty, which in your being assumes the form of a lover of it. If you want to live well, that is in a yogic way, live in simplicity, frugality and straight-forwardness, without trying to use nature, in man or otherwise, for your own selfish use.
To enjoy the beauty of an infant or a flower, you must merge your mind in the same mass consciousness which is common to both the subject and the object. Do not stand away from an object of nature, a flower or a man. Beauty is not in form, but in the meaning it expresses. Lift up yourself and the object of your love to a super-world and there enjoy it. Not in the ceaseless motion which is on the surface, but in the eternal tranquillity, which is its nature, abides the idea of beauty. The real enjoyment of a flower is in living with it, in it, with a sense of tranquil identity with its ultimate source. Nature (Maya) is the sport of the Atman, our true Self. Enjoy the restlessness of nature and also the hidden tranquillity.
Mental transparency is the essence of enjoyment of nature. It is expressed through beauty of conduct, which, like the pine trees, is ever green and lofty through a life of constant inner renewal and harmony with the highest ideals.
The moonlight that visits your room, stealing through your windows in the summer, is the same that falls on the Himalayan slopes and valleys, on the dwellings of holy sages, and which dances in a million waves on the sacred lake of Manasarovara amid the mountains of Tibet. It shines impartially on these sublime regions as well as on the mundane environments. It has no pretence and no preference. It is like the love of a holy saint of God.
To enjoy nature be a little fool. Give up your common sense. Make your heart sensitive to the vibrations from the spirit of the flowers and mountains. Love simplicity and be rich in sympathy. A poet monk of the Tang dynasty sings:
In tatters, in tatters, again in tatters,
This is my life.
For food I pick greens on the way.
My hut is made of bamboos and straws.
In the moonlight I sit meditating all night;
Looking at the flowers, I forget to return home.
This foolish life I love to lead
Ever since my contact with my Buddhist brotherhood.
The chief function of life is neither memory, nor intellect, nor the hoarding spirit, but sensitivity. The difference between you and Shakespeare is that his heart was most sensitive to the influence of beauty, and yours is to vanity, power, fame and wealth. This great virtue of sensitivity will, if developed, enable your heart to catch the vibrations of the beauty of the supreme Self. To be lost in the infinite love of beauty. ‘I love’ means ‘I am sensitive and responsive to the influence of beauty.’