The Intrinsic Beauty of Nature
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The Intrinsic Beauty of Nature

There is an organic pattern, or we could say
order of the universe, that is a blueprint for nature to express its beauty. In Chinese this is called li (理). Li is usually translated as the markings in
jade, grain in wood, and fiber in muscle. It is supposed to signify a definite pattern
that originates within an organism as its nature and comes into existence when an organism
harmonizes with the Tao. This li principle is usually thought of as
Neo-Confucian rather than Taoist, because it differs from the Confucian virtue of li
(禮), which is based on correct understanding and practice of rites and ceremonies. The Confucian concept of li has no relevance
to the Way of Lao-tzu or to the harmony of nature. Nor is it relevant to wu-wei. Nature exhibits the Taoist li (理) always,
as the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms are not intelligences that could try to disrupt
its harmony. The human kingdom, on the other hand, being
the highest form of intelligence on this planet, constantly seeks to challenge nature’s laws
and rhythms. Humanity has a schizoid sense that we are
somehow alien to this planet. Yet we depend on nature for everything that
gives us life. Without the food that we eat or the air that
we breathe, we would not have evolved out of the lower kingdoms. We feel alienated from all other life because
we perceive only a linear world. From this convoluted view, we build our communities
on linear systems. The society is a construct of designed systems,
such as organized culture, government, politics, and religion, which all oppose natural laws
and swim against the current of Tao. We erroneously uphold these systems because
we feel that life would be nothing without them. Yet they are built on the notion that we can
control nature’s pattern, li. The destruction of nature for material gain
is a result of these systems’ effect on the human mind. We pay more attention to our own indoctrination
than to the actual world that gives us life. Nature, being nonlinear, cannot be understood
by a humanity shaped by a linear perspective. From this standpoint, we seek to lord it over
nature because we do not understand it. Yet according to Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, this
is the very problem that will lead us into complete and utter annihilation, because in
not understanding nature, we do not understand ourselves. The Tao that Chuang-tzu could perceive in
everything does not exclude human life. Human life is an intrinsic part of nature
because a human being is nature. The fight for control of nature stems from
humanity ignoring its own nature, which we do when we adopt external influences that
transform us into machines. Our psychology in turn resembles the repetition
of a machine rather than the spontaneity of nature. The mind of the average individual is solely
focused on the maintenance and upkeep of a linear system. Such a person is unlikely to allocate any
energy toward her own inner world, because that would conflict with her linear habits. But this orientation toward the outer world
is going to lead us into the arms of annihilation if we do not realize that all natural growth
comes from within the organism. And all of nature’s constituents, including
human beings, function according to this universal pattern. Nature’s harmony can be disturbed but never
eradicated, because the Tao courses through the patterns of li. Organisms that challenge this order do not
fare well. We generally ignore the fact that the organic
pattern and principle of li are within the human organism too. The organic pattern of li within the ecosystem
is the same intelligence that is found in our nerves, senses, and ultimately our cognitive
functions and psychology. This is why those who practice spiritual cultivation
usually have a harmonious biological and psychological disposition: they show respect to their bodies
and minds by refusing to overstimulate them with excessive consumption. The Taoist philosophy of li affirms that anyone
can attain a liberated state of harmony with the world, but only if we act in the same
way as nature. The ecosystem of nature is nothing like the
average modern life of a human being. What, then, would it take for a human to act
as nature intended? Nature’s Way is harmonious because each
of its components follows its own li, its way of harmonizing with other manifestations
of Tao. This mutual resonance and interdependence
is known as ying (應) in Chinese, and is another key aspect of Taoist philosophy. It is an essential principle for understanding
the effortless mind. The mutual resonance and harmony of nature
are only possible in the way they are as the Tao is. When we look into nature, we do not see the
busyness and complexity of, say, a city. On the contrary, we perceive a simple world
in harmony through the stillness of Tao. Chuang-tzu said that from the still point
of the Tao in the center of the circle, one can see the infinite in the world of forms. This means that the mind that is completely
empty and still can perceive reality as it truly is. The Tao liberates the mind from its linear
constraints by enabling it to follow the Way of nature. To act according to nature requires becoming
receptive to the forces of the cosmos, which can only be received in the complete stilling
of the mind. The process of settling the ripples of the
mind is known as nirodha in Sanskrit, which in Patanjali’s classical yoga means “restriction,”
the process of stopping the “whirls” (vritti in Sanskrit) of the mind. This stilling of the mind is the key objective
of many forms of meditative practices and Eastern wisdom. Yet, paradoxically, the objective can never
be attained if it is thought of as a goal to achieve. This is because the stillness of mind that
many people hope to attain is actually our natural state right here and now and not at
some future destination. But this realization is veiled by the hypnosis
that we have acquired from the external world. Enlightenment right here and now is the sage’s
axiom. A sage would ask us, how could we ever attain
or achieve something that is already our true nature? This may look simple for sages to realize,
but keep in mind that they were also once on a journey of self-discovery. They too had to undergo the process of thinning
out their conditioned personality so that they could ultimately recognize that consciousness
is naturally transparent and reflective like water. Water acts in the same way as mind. When water is disturbed, it is not transparent
or reflective, as the waves and ripples obscure its essence. But when water is completely still, it is
in its pure, true state of transparency and reflectivity. The nature of mind is stillness, which is
beyond effort. Yet the waves and ripples of conditioning
obscure this truth. Emptying your mind of these conditioned habits
and latent tendencies, you come face to face, so to speak, with the Tao. The Tao of the Absolute is within our natural
stillness, and this natural state is where spontaneity is effortlessly born. Stillness is where the virtue of wu-wei is
lived. If we come into contact with the still point
of the Tao, then we begin to nourish the rest of existence through the art of living wu-wei.

3 thoughts on “The Intrinsic Beauty of Nature

  1. Another good one Jas😚👌. I read somewhere long ago 'Beauty is that which passes itself unawares'.

    Hope you're doing alright mate and thanks for what you do, it's always insightful and refreshing. 👍

  2. The last closing video of the girl walking into the water was beautiful 😍 excellent video and excellent message! Thank you 🙏

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