The following photos are all from natural settings. For those presently living in cities – and for all others – may these photographs provide a momentary retreat.
Contemplation and Meditation
Natural settings are ideal for spending time in reflection, contemplation, and meditation. Here are thoughts to ponder:
1. One of the most effective of all spiritual teachers is nature itself.
2. We are a part of nature, and through reflecting on life in the natural world we can overcome our separateness, and awaken an awareness of the whole.
3. All of nature – the wind, rain, animals, birds, fishes, grass, and stones – can teach us something about ourselves, and the mystery of existence.
4. The awesome beauty of nature bypasses the rational mind and directly touches the heart.
5. Nature’s rich sensuality overwhelms our cultural conditioning and puts us in touch with the primal Power of Life.
6. Retreating to the wilderness: Many spiritual traditions encourage us to spend time in the wilderness, reflecting on life in nature, away from the comforts and hassles of towns and cities.
7. A songbird’s sermon: One day, a Zen master was about to give a sermon when a bird started to sing. The master said nothing and everyone listened to the bird. When the song stopped, the master announced that the sermon had been preached and went on his way. (Zen teaching story)
8. Spiritual experiences are natural. Any event can suddenly trigger spontaneous illumination – the dizzy heights of romantic love, the agony of tragic death, a shaft of sunlight through trees, the familiar affection of family life, a kind word from a stranger. All of life is an opportunity to awaken.
9. The beauty of nature: Many people who regard themselves as “unreligious”, experience spiritual states through being overcome by the beauty of nature. The 19th-century writer, Richard Jefferies’ love of nature inspired the same spiritual insights as the great saints of the world’s religions.
Source: Timothy Freke, Encyclopedia of Spirituality: Information and Inspiration to Transform Your Life (New York: Sterling Publishing Company, 2000).