From Our Readers

California, August 12, 1999

To me, nature is from our earliest years the basic learning tool, the abiding comfort of our earthly life. To begin life with nature's influence, its observation and appreciation, is not necessarily an end in itself; it may also be the path into arts, music, literature, science, and into the human composure that prepares us for inquiry into the ancient wisdoms.

I resort to my own life experience by way of illustration. The lantana was in full bloom — the kind with pink florets ringing those forming a creamy center. The hummingbirds were feeding there. A parent put a flowering sprig into my hand, cautioning me to hold it out with a very still hand. Lo, one of the birds soon came to feed from my sprig. I have belonged to nature ever since.

I was then three or four; by sevenish I had a book picturing birds in color. The flaming Cock of the Rock particularly impressed me. Just this spring, seventy-four years later, I made my way to Peru, actually seeing for the first time this improbable bird. Thus this firebird rose from the well of abiding support that nature had laid down within my life.

Whether it is a scraggly geranium in a pot or a vast landscape, nature is the common denominator of daily life. Is it not the gift of the Unknowable to each of us? Shall we reach the realization of our part of divinity without having along the path appreciated and embraced the natural world of which we are part? And indeed it is a world from which no one lives excluded. — Barbara Curtis Horton


California, October 5, 1999

After reading the October/November 1999 articles by S. B. Dougherty and Armin Zebrowski, suddenly I remembered: "Meno complains that the conversation of Socrates has the effect of a torpedo's shock upon him . . . [Socrates] professes to have heard from priests and priestesses and from the poet Pindar, of an immortal soul which is always learning and forgetting in successive periods of existence, wandering over all places of the upper and under world, having seen and known all things at one time or another, and by association out of one thing capable of recovering all" (Benjamin Jowett, The Dialogues of Plato, Meno, p. 236) — and just as abruptly I thought to Myself:

Oh my divinity
re-blend Thou with me
so that once again,
from the corruptible
I may re-become incorruptible,
and from this evolution
of iterating opportunities,
may all of humankinds
realize the Kosmos' "pathless way,"
and ultimately live anew —
befittingly. — Wynn Wolfe

Oregon, September 30, 1999

Much of the self-help press these days exhorts us to spend more time Being and to spend less time Doing — as though they were separable. On a weekend retreat some time ago, a Harvard professor urged this seeming choice upon a group of business-executive-type couples. Toward the end of the weekend, one of my friends had all of his light bulbs suddenly illuminated. He ran from the room and in time returned with a legal size yellow pad covered with all the things he was going to Do in order to do more Being. At the time I thought this was hilarious.

Now I'm not so sure.

I no longer think doing and being are separable, nor do I think being is such a great thing to emphasize as preferable to doing as we live. We hear of dying people lamenting that there were so many things they wished they had had time to do. Never have I heard of a dying person lamenting that he or she had not spent enough time being.

Is not doing but a form of being that is reserved for the time we are equipped with the incredible capacities for doing that human form provides? Certainly we are provided plenty of time for being after we separate ourselves from these capabilities at death and leave our human form. Then is the time for being — when we no longer can do.

Isn't the true issue, What and How will I Do as I live out my life? If you find me in a hammock by the lake on a fine summer day rather than dashing around a tennis court or putting a new roof on the cabin, grant that I made a commendable choice as to what to do.

That doing is but a form of being is brought out by the fact that we are known as human Beings as we live out our Doing lives. We are always Beings — sometimes we are Beings Doing. — Hugh H. Harrison

(From Sunrise magazine, December 1999/January 2000; copyright © 1999 Theosophical University Press)

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Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege
Through all the years of this our life to lead
From joy to joy; for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. — William Wordsworth