Friday, August 19, 2016

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 1


Lesson 1:

We are connected to the world around us in ways we are only beginning to rediscover. Jill Bolte Taylor is a brian scientist and she discovered this when she was having a stroke. As her stroke occurred and the right hemisphere of her brain was put in charge of things, she discovered just how accessible 'oneness' is. She said, "I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there."

But we don't need our connection to come alive in such an intense and difficult way. We can re-learn how to open to the energies around us through trust and awareness and practice. Through joy.

When we start to look at the natural world in a new way, it opens us up. The ancient Chinese wise man, LaoTzu explained this sense of being connected this way:

"A superior person cares for the well-being of all things. She does this by accepting responsibility for the energy she manifests, both actively and in the subtle realm.

"Looking at a tree, she sees not an isolated event but root, leaves, trunk, water, soil and sun: each event related to the others, and "tree" arising out of their relatedness. Looking at herself or another, she sees the same thing.

"Trees and animals, humans and insects, flowers and birds: These are active images of the subtle energies that flow from the stars throughout the universe. Meeting and combining with each other and the elements of the earth, they give rise to all living things.

"The superior person understands this, and understands that her own energies play a part in it. Understanding these things, she respects the earth as her mother, the heavens as her father, and all living things as her brothers and sisters.

"Caring for them, she knows that she cares for herself. Giving to them, she knows that she gives to herself. At peace with them, she is always at peace with herself."

This isn't pie in the sky stuff. It's about everyday life. Take a carrot for example:

When you take a carrot from the fridge to eat, you are about to eat more than just a carrot. The carrot is a carrot, and it's more. All that it came from, all that it touched, everywhere it has been has affected what it is at an energy level: the soil out of which it grew, the weather that season, the activities of the farmer who tended it and the attitudes that the farmer held towards it while it grew, the energies of the people who harvested it, the transport, packaging and marketing and the people who took care of those things.

Carrot karma, if you like. We can't measure or judge each of these components, we're not qualified. But we can know that beyond them are conditions and influences we can not begin to imagine. A marvellous thing, a carrot.

We are like carrots. All we have connected with is a part of who we are. All we see around us mirrors our qualities and spiritual growth. What we see is what we experience. As we fall in love with the world around us, we are falling in love with ourselves.

And that's the door that opens our connection. Falling in love with the world around us.

Nature Spirits

I see devas and nature spirits and angels of nature as all the same thing - divine presence, born out of love. Over the centuries and in many different languages and in many different ways, these angels have been given different names. They have been classified and sorted according to the principles of the time.

But classifying and sorting are left-brain activities. In this course we are more interested in right-brain stuff.

Geoffrey Hodson was a clairvoyant who documented his visions of these devas and nature spirits. He saw them in specific ways and defined them according to old patterns. Yet even then, he found that many just didn't seem to fit any prescribed definition. Some seemed to hold their form more or less constantly. Others changed and were in motion constantly. He found that some have colours that are more or less constant, others have colours that are delicate and arranged in specific orders, frequently changed or added to with the changes in consciousness of the energy.

We all see these things differently, depending on many factors, customs and experience. For example, an angel may appear to anyone at any time, but it will only have an impact on that person if it appears in a way that strikes a chord within the person. If we do see an angel, we may need to see it the way we were taught as children. We may need it to have wings before we believe it's really an angel. To see a water sprite, it would need to look to us like a sprite. The way these energies seem to be depends upon who is looking.

I find the energy of nature spirits and angels and devas to be pure and joyous and loving, so I often interchange their definitions. For my purposes, it doesn't matter what they are called.

Devas seem to govern growth, creation and adaptation. Some appear to offer inspiration, some communication, some repair and healing. There seem to be over-riding devas of specific places in nature such as the deva of a waterfall. It's energies seem to be in charge of many of the other small angels of nature present in the area, such as ferns, water, rocks and trees. Another larger deva could appear to be in charge of a mountain or a grove of trees or even a larger district.

Some devas seem to be the spirit of a species. The maple tree deva appears to be in charge of the entire species of maple. When you tap into the energy of maple, this is often what you are connecting with, and not individual trees. This is not always the case, however. The nature spirit of a specific tree might be closely in tune with your energies.

As with maple, there seem to be devas that preside over animal species, like coyote or sparrow. There seem to be spirits of specific trees, rocks, flowers, animals or birds, a spirit of wind, of air of water.

What they look like or feel like depends on your individuality or culture. The essence of one spirit could look like a leprechaun in one culture and a Zulu warrior in another. This is because we seem to need to put the experience into some sort of framework that we can accept. We use our imagination as a necessary interpretative tool. Whether leprechaun or Zulu warrior, they both accurately express the core of truth - the essence of the spirit.

If we attend to the essence, and not the form, we will then be wide open to whatever way the connections appear uniquely to each of us.

To make this more clear: Think of the tree as living energy, not in any form at all. Some energy we perceive as sound, some as a visual appearance, some as thoughts, some as feelings and so on. If we were to perceive that essential energy of tree it might come in any one of a myriad of ways. By predetermining how we *expect* it to be we may miss out on how it is.

Some devas seem to pay attention to us and some do not. There are areas that seem to be almost totally devoid of life energy. This can mean that there is not much activity there for whatever reason or it can mean that the spirit of the area is far-removed at an energy level to our own capacity to see or understand it.


We will begin by having you make friends with a specific plant or tree in your neighbourhood, yard or a nearby natural area.

Choose this particular specimen for your affinity to it. If a certain tree has caught your eye, appeals to you for any reason or for no special reason, then this is a good place to start, for you have already begun to develop a relationship with it.

When you approach the tree you have chosen, you might want to take special care. Say "Hello" as though greeting a loved pet, or an old friend. If you have spent time with this tree before, this tree might actually be an old friend. If this were a beloved pet, you would take care in the greeting, you would praise it for its existence and you would demonstrate happiness in your greeting. A dog person will not hesitate to tell a favourite dog how delighted they are to see the dog, or how beautiful the dog, to stroke and croon and laugh and play with this dog. This is the feeling you want to evoke in this greeting with the tree you chose. Remember to maintain a sense of play about this experience. This is a friend whose company you enjoy. If you can not honestly come up with this sort of feeling for this tree, choose another one that resonates more closely with you.

Note: In some cultures, an open expression of affection may be difficult - you can't just go around hugging trees. But don't worry, you do not have to *show* any demonstrative behaviour. It's enough to feel it.

It is important that you greet this tree without any expectation of any result at all. The moment you expect something, you may close the door to the possibilities that this relationship can hold. Just make it an enthusiastic greeting - or caress - or kind word - along with a genuine delight in meeting up with this old friend again. And then spend some time enjoying the company of this friend. That's all.


In your notebook, make note of what tree (or other specimen) have you chosen and why you chose it. The object here is not to do anything more today than to choose and greet your tree.

What this was like for me:

When I was first trying to develop a relationship with nature, I chose an old apple tree by a spring, near my home. There was something in the shape of the tree, the location and the way it branched out over my head that appealed to me. I walked every morning and said "Hello" to the tree every day as I passed it by, feeling a growing affection for it, mixed with a wonder if I could really do this. I wondered if it had a spirit, really. I wondered if the spirit would have anything to do with a human after the way we have treated trees. And I wondered if I was capable of tapping into that energy in a meaningful way. Although I was full of doubts, I knew that the simple expression of love and acknowledgement of the tree could do nothing but good.

More recently, as I stepped into the wooded area near my home to do my prayers, I found the energy there seemed to be quite still, almost abandoned. I remembered Jane Goodall's experience with the angels of nature. “And now, if I am sad, or filled with sudden rage, I find some quiet place with grass and leaves and earth, and sit there silently, and hope that they will come and call me with their silvery voices, and make me clean again, those little angels of the trees and flowers.” So I asked if any of the little silvery voices were there and found myself surrounded by dozens/hundreds of tiny little twinklings/voices of light. Was it my imagination? I didn't feel like I was manufacturing the experience. It happened too quickly and joyfully. I felt immediately changed and blessed by their presence.

Questions others have asked:

Q. When I am in a state of turmoil, is it better not to try an exercise? Should I have waited until I was relatively calmer?

A. You may not be satisfied with an exercise if you do it while under stress. But there is no perfect time. You will discover that there is a perfection in making the time to be with nature and with your tree. Be with the tree whenever you want. If you'd like to repeat the lesson before moving on, to get a feel for how it might be different after a good night's sleep, then that's fine. If not, that's fine, too.

Just to be in the company of the tree as a friend is healing and is developing the relationship.

And if you can not make room for this, that is all right, too. Everything in this course is optional to be taken in your own way and at your own time.

References and further reading:

My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, ISBN: 9780670020744
Hua Hu Ching - The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu, translated by Brian Walker, ISBN: 9780060692452
Reason for Hope, by Jane Goodall, ISBN: 9780446676137
Fairies At Work and At Play by Geoffrey Hodson, ISBN: 9780835605533

Back to Introduction

Lesson 2 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature

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