Occasionally in the schedule of daily activities, there comes a pause while contemplating the essence of a flower, the ecstasy of resurgent birth filling the springtime air, the bird song interrupting a tense mood. These diversions are reminders that although physical senses are openings to what seems to be a world of shape and form, they are more; they also open inwardly and lead to the headwaters of natural wonders. Walt Whitman expresses the miracle of silent forces working through the evidence all around:
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand put to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depressed head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer's girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake. -- "Song of Myself," original version
Where is the prompter to enlighten ordinary man whose worldly exploits have lost their power to excite any further search for purpose and meaning? Perhaps the answer is so nearby, so much threaded into man's nature, that it can never be detected in the outwardly directed view-finder, but exists within the unexplored being of the viewer himself.
This inner view will be found in the principle of mind, because it is the awakening of mind in our present cycle that compels man to discover his creative powers and the moral obligation linked to the exercise of those powers. That daily treadmill which claims so much of our attention can be assigned its deserved segment, and then the mind is free to encompass the wonders all around while at the same time infusing purpose and meaning into the duties of daily life.
One need not venture far in observing nature to fill the mind with questions. Where in us is the interpreter of sense impressions stimulated by bees at sun-up humming around an apple orchard, where the full-blown blossoms are becoming impregnated while sharing their nectar with these busy carriers of their fertility? True, the blossoms are following their role in the appointed cycle of renewal, but why do the flowers induce a sense of beauty in a quiet observer? The bees are intent in their function as essential organs in the body of their community, but why do they and the flowers belong together? And why do apple trees and honey bees, in their closed circuits of survival and rebirth, also make surpluses in the fruits of their work to provide food for other kingdoms of nature? Is it too far out to consider by analogy that man also is unconsciously and intangibly converting life forces into food for a higher kingdom of beings which is to man what man is to the kingdoms below him on this earth?
Then there is the song of a meadow lark, to activate the memory bank where days of youth are stored. Where in the spectrum of sound is the wireless which carries the signal from the soul to those experiences remembered? Was that song infused into the consciousness during those springtime adventures? Why do birds sing? Scientific explanations are viable, and include such things as language of communication, mating sounds, etc. However, one is free to believe that sometimes they sing as nature's messengers, and one may also be excused at times for his egotistical belief that the songster's melody is alone meant for him.
Then there is the sight of birds on the wing, causing our attention to soar with the rhythm suggested by things belonging together -- wings in air, thoughts in ether. But there is wonder at the eye level, too: about the control center in the aerodynamics of birds, of graceful takeoffs and landings, of retraction and deployment of "landing gears," and the coalescence of life with mechanics.
Perhaps this level of thought may be considered poetic and worthy as a diversion from attention to necessities; but such poetry can also lead to the birth of understanding of man's true course. When one accepts the plea from sense impressions to pursue the source of their marvels, he will also discover a way to modify the course of his own individual tributary feeding the mainstream of life. In an article written in the '80s of last century by Robert Hunt, F.R.S., there is a suggestion put in question form which attracts thought to the headwaters of this life stream:
May the pulsing of vital matter in the central Sun of our System be the source of all that life which crowds the earth, and without doubt overspreads the other planets, to which the Sun is the mighty Minister?-- Popular Science Review, vol. 4, p. 148
Herein, the seemingly self-evident factor of life is that 'unknown' which relates earth forms to their motivating force. When this factor -- dynamic life -- enters into our calculations, the mind is washed free of its notions separating men into scientists, artisans and religionists. The whole man will respond to the poet's conviction: I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars." This life essence that thrills all of nature is the keynote of the poet's inspiration and of every man's inherent freedom from enslavement by only one pole of his intellectual duality. Life cannot be precipitated out and weighed, because it is the vital principle of every solar system, of every man, animal and plant, of every chemical solution and precipitant.
Search into the heart of Being begins when we take the first steps on that grand tour toward the selfless side of our nature. The familiar momentum of the intellectual world is halted, and attention moves off center of personal gratification when one elects to follow the signposts erected for his guidance. The tracks of our evolutionary journey can be discovered leading through all the kingdoms of nature, and we now embody a vast encyclopaedia of living experience upon which to draw, for humanity has embarked on the upward spiral of its course where we are having to meet the challenges to become partners with nature.
We, as humankind, have evolved to a level where we may not only intellectually understand the thrust of nature to evolve "conscious life out of inert material" (Cf. Combined Chronology, p. 32, K.H. to A. O. Hume, Nov. 1, 1880), but we shall from now on face the reality that we are also her co-workers. The familiar chant, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" is disclosed, not as a petition but as a statement of spiritual law -- the urge of temporal will to synchronize with the network of cosmic order and harmony.
It seems at this present evolutionary juncture that man is reluctant to lift the veil which reveals the continuation of life's dramatic reality. Perhaps the substance of this hesitancy is due to his lack of recognition of his creative role wherein man, the actor, begins to realize that he is also an apprentice composer of his script, and moreover is accountable for its performance. Those in today's world who have a glimpse of man's inherent responsibilities in nature's design become more sharply aware of the disharmony. This in itself proclaims man's potential greatness, because he observes what he has helped to create, and that which he admires or deplores, bears to some degree the tool marks of his creativeness.
Of all the questions prefaced by the phrase, "I wonder why," the one that plunges deepest is that of birth -- birth and all the mystery surrounding and evolving from the centers of egg, seed and spore. We can witness the event of human birth, but the wonders pouring in from space through the umbilical channel during the intrauterine period are outside of our control, yet within the range of understanding. Physiological changes during the embryonic and fetal stages are analogical keys to the perception of nature's indomitable will to relive and review past experiences in order to manifest perfection. Life's design and purpose begin to be revealed when we realize that the human is the only known kingdom on earth today that has evolved the principle of mind, including its implications of responsibility for thoughts and acts. However, in the preceding kingdoms of nature, free will is not yet evolved, so that the harmony and rhythm of birth, fruition and renewal are under the guidance of prompters unseen. There is a spiritual umbilical cord which does not separate when the physical umbilical is severed, but always maintains the integrity of the hierarchical being of every individual cell in nature.
Of course, these thoughts concerned with evolution of Being run out into infinity and cannot be understood without an awareness of the hub formed by compassionate care and guidance throughout the macrocosm and therefore by reflection in every microcosm. Recognition of the poetic symphony in our fellow kingdoms of nature is proof that we embody the essence of those qualities in our own being because our human consciousness is evolved out of those living experiences. And now when we face the challenges of our purpose in nature's plan, we may draw upon the built-in deposits of harmony and order to guide us. In this cosmic cycle, the time has arrived for humanity as a whole to follow a path of rebirth, when life itself becomes a test of our ability to assume in individual commitment, our spiritual responsibilities, and ultimately fulfill the destiny of human perfection.
(From Sunrise magazine, October 1974; copyright © 1974 Theosophical University Press)