In honouring nature as a great master, and ceaselessly gaining spiritual insights from its abundant manifestations, the Zen tradition has reached a peak. To Bashō, the zen monk and the greatest Japanese master of haiku, the nature’s beauty and simplicity were enough to pull him into deep states of reflection and meditativeness. He sang: ‘Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.’
Lao Tzu, the ancient Tao master, invited the spiritual seeker to learn stillness from the ways of the nature. ‘Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished,’ he taught. For Lao Tzu, by observing nature, the sincere spiritual seeker could gain deep insights and wisdom. ‘In stillness,’ Lao Tzu said, ‘the muddled water returns to clarity.’ Many Taoist masters regularly drew inspiration from the trees, the rocks and the water, and made references to the elements in the nature. Through them, they widened their perception and gained perspective, necessary for living a life of balance and oneness.
Eckhart Tolle, one of the most renowned spiritual teachers today, often speaks of the power of nature to offer guidance and support to those in pursuit of the truth. ‘Allow nature to teach you stillness,’ he says. ‘Seek out a tree and let it teach you stillness,’ he advises. ‘We have forgotten what rocks and plants still know - we have forgotten how to be — to be still — to be ourselves — to be where life is here and now.’
On the path of meditation, one is often asked to create a sanctuary — a silent place imbued with sacredness, positivity and supportive vibrations. There is no sanctuary greater than the nature. Nature can be the vastest, most extraordinary and limitless abode for the spiritual seeker. True silence is not an absolute absence of sounds. It is, rather, the letting go of the idle talk and gossip, and stilling the mind that always swings between past and future. The buzz and the murmur of the insects, the birds and the wind through the trees is not noise — it is a blank canvas for your restless mind, which instills peace, tranquility and relief from all tensions.
Leaning against a tree, walking barefoot in the grass, or simply sitting on the ground (dressed preferably in cotton clothes) are simple grounding techniques that are often combined with outdoors meditation. The contact with the Earth releases chronic energetic patterns and provides holistic healing. When the excess mental or emotional charge is released, one becomes more balanced, and dissolves anxiety, stress and fears.
For ages, mystics and seekers have sought spiritual refuge in the nature. Mahavira meditated under the Ashoka tree, Buddha got enlightened sitting under a Bodhi tree. Both of them wandered the forest and the hills for many years. Ramana Maharshi spent his life in the mesmerizing Arunachala Hill. The Himalayas have always been the proverbial abode of yogis, siddhis and enlightened masters.
Nature has always been a generous ally to the seeker on the path of inner transformation. Natural stimuli hone our senses and sharpen our perception. Nature pulls us out of slumber, and helps us re-establish a healthy flow of energy through our physical body. By restoring our physical health, resetting our sleep cycle and stabilizing our breath patterns through removal of common respiratory problems, nature provides us with energy. This energy is necessary in order for us to walk the spiritual path with determination and grace.
Pyramid Valley International conducts a 7-day Stillness Retreat every alternate month. Please check the page https://pyramidvalley.org/stillness for details and registration for the upcoming event in February 2021.