An kindly old lady, who was college librarian in a small town, once told me the following story of her life.
She had married a rising young lawyer and they had two lovely children and a beautiful home in which all were supremely happy. Suddenly one winter an epidemic struck. Within a few weeks, she had lost husband and children and the home had been taken for debt. All she had was gone and life seemed at an end. It was spring and the close of a difficult, cold winter. Going out she wandered into their little orchard where the peach trees were in bloom. The peace of nature, in such contrast to her own overwhelming tragedy, seemed too much to bear. Sinking down upon a bench, "suddenly," as she expressed it, "I seemed to disappear and looking about felt as though a part of everything. I was a part of the flowering trees and understood their dreamy thoughts. I was a part of the clouds floating overhead in the blue sky and of the birds singing in the tree tops. I was no longer I, but seemed one with everything and understood the living world around me as I understood myself — for we were one." With tears in her eyes she added, "Happy as we had been in our home and great as my loss had been, I had never known such happiness before."
The aroma of the experience clung to her during the remainder of her life, and through the years many of the students were helped by her intuitive understanding of their problems.
Just as every individual has at its heart a spark of divinity, so outer nature is but the shell of an invisible spiritual universe. But this inner reality can only be sensed by rising in some degree towards the spiritual consciousness within oneself.
Sometimes when the soul has been prepared through many lifetimes of aspiration, a sudden shock will rend the veil and for an instant the student will awaken to a new world, a world within the old. For a time he knows, because he is, and all the museum collecting, classifications and brain-mind speculations fade before the pure ecstasy of this illumination. Strangely enough, in such moments, when knowledge may be had for the taking, curiosity disappears.
The Theosophical study of nature differs from that of science, since with each step forward one approaches closer to reality; yet with each step ever greater adherence to truth is demanded. The utterance of an untruth closes the mind to receive truth or to perceive clearly.
Science confines its investigations to the physical plane, ignoring the innumerable links connecting individual facts with spiritual and universal law. To a Theosophist, on the other hand, these links form a network by which he can check and cross-check his conclusions; for nature follows one law in both the small and the great.
The student of nature treads a narrow path bordered by pitfalls. Sentimentality and fancy on the one hand, materialism and selfishness on the other, may draw him from the path of truth to the level of the lower mind. Only an awakened humanhood in its finer sense can keep to the path which leads to the mountains of wisdom.
The great need is to teach the Soul of Nature, and that what we see is but the outer shell of a mystical and wonderful universe.
I once knew a promising young poet who filed on a mountain homestead in hopes of finding inspiration in the beautiful valley. Years later he confessed, "No! I haven't written anything for some time. In building the home I wanted, the land got me, I became trifling and no account, I know it but now I don't care."
This attitude of indifference often submerges the "human" beneath the exuberant flood of physical nature. On the other hand the great religions and philosophies of the world have originated in the solitudes of nature. There also poets have reached their highest level of thought. How, one may ask, can this enigma be explained?
Perhaps it is something like this. A farmer who fails to exercise a quiet sympathetic control over his horse soon finds the horse losing respect for his master, and doing as he chooses. Similarly, since nature is also within us, one who fails to exercise control over the desires of the animal nature will soon find himself their slave.
The essence of Theosophical training is equilibrium, balance, the keeping to middle lines. For one having control over himself gains wisdom to understand and aid all nature and she responds by revealing vista after vista behind the veil of outer seeming.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE