Lesson 11: Nature
Ecological awareness is a prominent theme in modern culture. We are all aware of issues related to environmental pollution, waste and misuse of natural resources, extinction of species, etc.
With regard to the search for God, the question of stewardship of nature takes on added layers of personal responsibility. If God is in nature, how we treat nature is how we treat God. Energy and food production and consumption are particularly crucial areas of concern in terms of stewarship of the Earth's resources and environment.
Application: Examine your ideals, particularly your physical ideals, with special attention regarding your role as steward of the planet earth. Is ecological awareness, the consciousness of being part of the whole of creation, part of your ideal life? Is stewardship of the environment part of your search for God. Are there specific activities and behaviors in your lifestyle that can be adjusted as part of your ideals-based life?
Immanent And Transcendent
Having a concept of God that is both immanent and transcendent requires some intellectual flexibility. This is the same sort of puzzle confronting anyone who attempts to understand God – the God within and without, the God that is both personal and impersonal.
Dualistic thinking does seem to be a part of the human experience while in a physical body on this planet. As one possible solution to dualism, the Taoist idea of the complimentary opposites of Ying and Yang embrace the whole. A concept of God that is both immanent and transcendent need not be confusing if you recognize the oneness of the whole.
Application: Probably the most important thing is to avoid feeling trapped by concepts about God. God exceeds human understanding. So if you find yourself pondering ideas such a pantheism, deism, and panentheism, don’t allow confusion to get in your way of experiencing the divine wherever that may be – within nature or beyond nature.
Expectancy Of God
One that fills the mind, the very being, with an expectancy of God will see His movement, His manifestation, in the wind, the sun, the earth, the flowers, the inhabitants of the earth … (341-31)
This exercise can be thought of as an extension of revelation – the revealing of God in nature. For some natural revelation comes easy. The wonder and awe that enters the mind while interacting with nature is a testament to Creative Forces that move and manifest within the universe.
For others, natural revelation is more difficult. Nature can be taken for granted. The mystery of movement of spirit as a natural force can be virtually invisible to the consciousness dulled by material involvement. If this is your experience of nature, you may find it helpful to review the lesson on spirit.
Application: Make the effort to go out into nature with the expectation to see God’s movement and manifestation in nature.