How does God speak to us through nature?

 

I love to think of nature as unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour.

— George Washington Carver, Tuskegee University, 1930

I love this quote and it fits my experience.

Although the quote speaks for itself, we can also explore it further.

First, what do we mean by nature?

We obviously mean nature in an ordinary sense, as ecosystems, landscapes, oceans, air, water, plants, animals, and so on. And we cannot exclude ourselves from it. We, as human beings, belong to nature. And even our culture belongs to nature. It has grown out of and is part of Earth as a living and evolving system, although I doubt that was what Carver had in mind.

And what do we mean by God?

For me, God is the word for all of existence and what existence happens within and as (awake emptiness). God speaks to us through nature as nature.

So the question is, how does God speak to us through nature?

Nature, through its existence and as it is, speaks to us. There is a huge amount of information there for us, which helps us understand nature, ourselves, and how to better live our lives. Most humans through history have learned from nature in this way. Sometimes, it’s just insights we pick up from living our daily lives. Other times, it’s information systematically sought out. I imagine people through all time and in all cultures have systematically learned from nature, and we do it today as well – including through formal science.

There is another way God speaks to us through nature.

If God is all there is, then we can also find God in nature. Some do it through nature mysticism. They may sense or perceive the divine in or as nature.

There is also a simpler way to find God as nature – as all there is, and there are two ways to talk about this.

We can notice ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We can find ourselves as that which all our experiences – of ourselves and the wider world – happen within and as, and we can call that capacity, awake nothing full of everything, awakeness or consciousness, or Big Mind.

We can also call this the divine. If this awake nothing full of everything is not only our own “true nature” but the true nature of existence itself, then this is the divine, it’s Allah or Brahman or God. God speaks to us through nature AS nature.

The true nature of nature, existence, others, and ourselves is right there on display and not hidden at all. It’s just up to us to notice it.

If the true nature of everything is on display, why don’t more people notice? And how can we find it for ourselves?

Why don’t more people notice? Mainly, because we identify with and as this human being, and we are fascinated with these stories of ourselves as this human being with all sorts of identities and roles and activities in the world. There is nothing wrong with this, although it’s inherently a bit uncomfortable since it’s not completely aligned with reality.

How can we find it for ourselves? The most effective approaches I have found are the Big Mind process, Headless experiments (Douglas Harding, Richard Lang), and Living Inquiries. Through these, we can relatively easily get a taste of what it’s about, learn how to re-notice in daily life, and – if we are interested – learn how to bring this noticing more regularly into daily life and explore how to live from it.

Wait a minute… if God is all there is, what does that make us?

Yes, good question. In this context, we are the divine locally and temporarily taking itself to be something physical and separate, and then –sometimes – (re)discovering its true nature. This is the play of the divine, lila. As Alan Watts said, it’s the divine, or nature, playing hide and seek with itself.

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