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An Experience of Nature is an Experience of Space and Energy

By Andrew Furst @a_furst

4 min read

An Experience of Nature is an Experience of Space and Energy
I'm pleased to share with you this guest post by Jake Karlins, a fellow Buddhist and Northeast Massachusetts resident. I encourage you to visit and follow his blog Selfless Self Help. He has written a companion piece to this article there.

An Experience of Nature is an Experience of Space and Energy

Any experience of nature, as it's called, is an experience of energy and space. A Buddhist might call this an experience of emptiness and form, same kind of idea.

One of the most powerful experiences of nature I can remember is from my time in the southwest, on a family vacation with my parents and sister. We were in the badlands, somewhere, I think, and after a hike, we reached a high point, overlooking a stretch of land. I was standing, alone, on a rock outcropping that was sort of flat, looking down on other similar slabs of reddish, yellow and brown rock. I realized that, if I fell, I would be a small splotch on those rocks. Soon enough, that would be gone. Then there would be no trace of me. The land would remain. Those rocks would remain for thousands of years.

I am so small, I thought.

Was this an experience of space or an experience of energy?

That moment shaped me and I came back to it on many occasions over the years. Nature has a terrifyingly powerful side. This terrifying power is only one of nature's faces, just as the world's religious traditions show us forms of gods and spirits that can be pleasant and peaceful, or ugly and frightening. There are Asian lineages in which yogis spend time in graveyards meditating, among wild animals, and, it is said, dangerous spirits, the dakinis. Through such courageous practices, meditators can gain insight and spiritual power. Through facing their own minds, and going into the "places that scare them," they progress along the path. I've wondered many times how contemporary yogis might attempt these "charnel ground" practices today.

But if the spooky graveyard is only one side of nature, then we know the others too; the pleasant beach, the clear air of a mountain. Does it matter where you meditate? No, but you might as well take advantage of the opportunities you get, and the natural world's forms allow us many ways to meditate and expand our minds in order to heal ourselves and others. A walk in the park is something real. We know this intuitively. Once we've crossed the threshold, and become meditators, that walk in the park can become a chance for recharging, and experiencing the sacredness of the world. This is a sacredness that will never be limited to a church or meditation hall. Like vines and weeds and invasive species, sacred power permeates every moment of life whether or we notice it (although I'd generally recommend noticing it).

This begins and ends with mindfulness, I think, with mind directing mind in order to cultivate wholesomeness. You can try this yourself. You do this by placing your senses on perceptions. This can happen with a coffee cup, or a tree. The thoughts take a back seat for a moment and something else happens.

Nature is always saying hello. Constant reminders mean that integrating one's practice with everyday life is both possible and hard to avoid. Right now I bounce along a beach road near marshes. I can glimpse the infinite sky. When I look at it, my mind expands out into space.

Space is projecting space into space. Tarthang Tulku

An Experience of Nature is an Experience of Space and Energy
An Experience of Nature is an Experience of Space and Energy

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