August 22, 2017

Putting The Sacred Back Into Nature

Experiencing the sacredness of nature can cause feelings of blessedness, joy, ecstasy, and serenity.

Humans have not always seen the natural world as a soul-less void passively existing to serve our needs and wants. At one time we knew that everything was alive, and crackled with life, magic, and soul. Trees, rocks, mountains, birds - every thing was sacred.

One of the beautiful things about believing in the sacredness of the Earth is that you don't see yourself as separate from it, and therefore hesitate to harm any part of it. The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth.

In the 1800s, Chief Seattle explained his peoples' take on this. He said, "Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people". That is certainly my personal experience when I interact with natural surroundings.

"How can other people not see this, feel this?" I wonder to myself. For me it is powerful and unmistakable. Everything, in my perception, is crackling with energy, magic, and life.

Being in touch with the power of nature can awaken us to the spiritual dimensions of our existence.

Take the "sacred" designation away and distinctly un-natural things happen. We think we can "own" nature. We think it is all inferior, dead, and put there for the sole use of humans. Where did the sacredness go? How did we lose such an important part of ourselves?

In the book, Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance, Swami B. V. Tripurari gives one possible explanation of how we arrived at seeing an essentially dead environment made for our own benefit.

"Our present environmental crisis is in essence a spiritual crisis", he says. "We need only to look back to medieval Europe and the psychic revolution that vaulted Christianity to victory over paganism to find the spirit of the environmental crisis. 
Inhibitions to the exploitation of nature vanished as the Church took the "spirits" out of the trees, mountains, and seas. Christianity's ghost-busting theology made it possible for man to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects. 
It made nature man's monopoly. This materialist paradigm has dominated the modern world for last few centuries."

His solution? Put the sacred back into Nature. Give it the reverence it deserves, and see our selves as an integral part of the whole. Kind of like Chief Seattle was saying.

"The current deplorable environmental crisis demands a spiritual response", says Tripurari. "A fundamental reorientation of human consciousness, accompanied by action that is born out of inner commitment, is very much needed.”

Another special spot in my backyard woods. I look at the trees -  they look back at me. We are one.

Would you like to experience the sacred in nature more often and more powerfully? It is possible to learn to cultivate a relationship with nature that enhances our experiencing of the sacred. Such spiritual growth leads to positive change in our relationship with the Earth. We feel powerful, connected, at peace, and unafraid.

Putting The Sacred Back Into Nature

1. Find a special place in nature. How? Usually, such locations are not simply chosen, and rather, are revealed to us after a bit of a search. You will feel drawn to such a place. Allow yourself to listen to the call. Let it lead you. You will know, you will feel, when you have arrived.

2. If you are fortunate enough to find such a place, go there regularly, when called, or when the occasion requires it. In any case, go to the places that call you, and be open to their influence.

3. Repeated visits to special places help develop your sense of connection to nature. A special place could be in your backyard, your garden, a nearby park, a special tree, stream, hill or mountaintop. Visit at all times of the day, and in all seasons. Let yourself merge with it.

4. Meditating on the ceaseless rhythms and cycles of nature opens the gateway to sacred time vs clock time. Nature meditations allow one to touch eternity, and feel touched by it in turn.

5. The sacred is most powerfully available to us during times of transition -- sunrise, sunset, midday, phases of the moon, equinoxes and solstices. Take advantage of these moments, whether through cultural celebrations, or immersing yourself in a special spot.

6. Be alone, be still and silent. Silence is the key to opening a gateway into solitude and communion with the divine. Psychologist Clark Moustakas studied loneliness, and found that, “In absolute solitary moments, humans experience truth, beauty, nature, reverence, and humanity.”

7. Don't rush, be calm. These things take time. Insights will come when one is ready. But they will come, be assured.

When we are in intimate dialogue with nature, we can have powerful moments of insight and illumination. These moments are confirmations of our faith in the possibility of re-integration and wholeness, a confirmation of the healing process by which one can restore one’s relation to the world. 

When we feel the sacredness in nature, the meaning of human existence is revealed, even if it’s only for a moment. In these glimpses, we are put in profound contact with our own basic humanity and the nature of Being. We experience being part of the whole of nature.

Our individual being merges with the being of Earth. We are one.

It is this state that will change everything. Our actions become ones which honour nature, rather than exploit it and use it to satisfy our own greedy desires. We become sympathetic to the rocks and trees and air and water, because we see that they are us, and we are them.

This is the change in human consciousness that needs to happen in order for us to save the planet, and ourselves.


  1. Anonymous8/23/2017

    Thank you for this post and I enjoyed reading it. It looks like you have some nice woods near by. I don't have a lot of spare time so often add in trails to my running schedule so I can enjoy the environment and also feel good from the run at the same time. Research has shown that meditation can help with loneliness. I think it's difficult to slow down for people and takes practice. The parasympathetic nervous will then start work more effectively. There is a lot in the parasympathetic nervous system and through mediation and relaxation insights into a lot of things can be found. My current routine looks like this: morning meditation, work, evening run, blueberry smoothie, cold shower or hot bath with autogenic sounds. Weekends include 5k community runs in the morning.

  2. Anonymous8/23/2017

    Lovely photos, and I couldn't agree more with the quote from Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance. Thank you! -Erin

  3. This list reminds of Jon Young's sit spot ritual. For me it is important to simply be nature, merged with it instead of view nature, think about nature or analyze what I'm looking at. There is a very big difference in being in nature and merging and being one with. I started doing a sit spot routine a couple of months ago. I had two places I went to in the same park. If one was occupied I went to the other. It was transforming. Amazing how many creatures showed up as I sat quietly just being. One day I was sitting on a log that grew out over the lake. I looked down to see a small water snake looking straight up at me. It was the coolest things! Unpleasant emotions softened or vanished as I sat while peace flowed in like a gentle breeze. I felt drawn, compelled to be there even when I wasn't there.

    I've let some things distract me lately and change my routines. I'm anxious to get back to walking and sitting in my sit spots.

    For me, sitting and merging are very different than being in motion. I usually walk for a half hour or so before going to my special spots. I love walking and experiencing nature, but I don't merge the same unless I am still in a spot. I like to go to the same spots and experience the changes each day. Different wildlife.

    I think you and Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance are exactly right. Returning to the sacredness or reverence for nature and emergence into it in mass will go a long way in reducing the damage mankind is doing to the earth.

    The solar eclipse here in the U.S. brought millions of people outside, sitting still for the eclipse. It seems to be unifying in a way. People seemed to rise above all the fighting and political chaos we're experiencing. I hope it will continue and more people will simply 'be' with nature as a result of this.

  4. Forgot to mention that lovely flower...beautiful photo that allowed you to share with us. Won't be long seeds will be ready and creatures from the air will discover a few meals! Keep us up to date on who shows up!

  5. Beautiful and timely post!

  6. The Japanese have a custom of taking a break for a walk in the woods. Called Shinrin-yoku – or forest bathing – the practice is proven to have a positive effect on health. Saffron


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