The marvels of creation reveal an intrinsic design and beauty mirroring the one reality. Emerson reminds us that "the tint of the flower proceeds from its root, and the lustres of the sea-shell begin with its existence." Nature gives birth to itself from deeper causes of being, from consciousness, originating in a divine source with unlimited creativity on many planes.
Plato had the idea of divine thought behind all outer phenomena, the basis of harmony, design, and order reflected in an ever changing universe, where ideal spiritual patterns precede the development of souls and their vehicles. From this standpoint mankind can be regarded as a more advanced prototype for the lesser kingdoms to strive toward, just as the gods are for humans. The forces of consciousness are focused through beings continuously unfolding their qualities while engaged in activities of growth, disintegration, and regeneration.
What is creativity if matter is neither created nor destroyed but only changes its forms? There is a continuity behind change, a movement towards greater perfection. Outer forms remain for only a relative time in a sustained operation and then are destroyed, again to be regenerated. The snake must shed its skin in order to grow, and when it dies its body is shed, like the skin, while its essence endures. When the shoot breaks from the seed to push its way up towards the light it is bringing out of latency the energy required for its development into maturity.
Nothing is wasted in nature, for creativity requires economy and efficient use of all things. Matter is re-used, reshaped, as we see in the exploding supernovae, which scatter particles of the elements in space to be used by other suns and worlds. When a star explodes it creates a gaseous cloud which has been observed to contain young stars forming in it. A similar process occurs in a forest, when a dead tree falls and decomposes, redistributing all the energy that it had when alive. Its atoms are used by other plants including young seedlings and a vast assortment of fungi, bacteria, insects, and microorganisms. Life is an integrated, ongoing process, where new and superior types are being constantly produced and evolved from the primary blueprint.
A spiritual transcendence is behind the dramatic changes that nature exhibits. The caterpillar breaks from the chrysalis as a butterfly in a profound metamorphosis involving inner and outer transformation of soul, not merely of substance. Can we say that the caterpillar shares the same consciousness as the butterfly? Yes and no. Even if they are the same entity, the awareness of the butterfly would appear to be superior to the caterpillar's, for the whole life-style is dramatically changed. Nature's fundamental operations being consistent — individual sparks of consciousness repeating and reforming themselves in the infinitely small as well as on the cosmic scale — so atoms must be analogous to solar systems, and cells to universes.
The infinite variety of living things is connected inwardly, forming part of a grander unity of design instilled with divine purpose. A striking example is the snowflake, where even two flakes in billions are not identical, although they all are based on hexagonal or six-sided patterns. The whole structure is determined by the bonding affinities of the atoms of water, yet they form something greater than the sum of the parts. What is it that provides the cosmic blueprint that unites the parts? Each entity issues forth from a divine core, the essence of its individuality. This enduring, indestructible unit of consciousness produces a unique individual, like the snowflake. The source of its uniqueness is still a miracle. Why do the billions of snowflakes precipitating out of the clouds take on slightly different forms of their own?
Humanity has been an integral part of Earth's creative work since the beginning. During the vast preparation of terrestrial as well as spiritual evolution we were instrumental in bringing about changes that affected the growth of the lower kingdoms. Continents develop with new flora, fauna, and races. Together the kingdoms are a part of Earth's body, its soul, and evolution. They comprise the living biosphere, essential to the planet, with circulating fields of atmosphere, clouds, water, and land masses that rise, sink, and collide, making mountains. Volcanic activity is also constantly reshaping and remolding the surface. There is no end to it. Climate and geography partly determine the adaptations of organisms, and in turn the animals, forests, and sea life help make the climate. Gaia, the planetary being, ultimately directs the course of her constituent parts.
We human beings are a wondrous miniature pattern of the cosmos, a mixture of Heaven and Earth. Like our living Earth the universe requires the human stage and infinite grades of beings to form its soul and body. Countless smaller lives also exist and experience through us. The human body is a unity, a universe of over 50 trillion cells marvelously integrated by an instinctive intelligence, an oversoul which originates in the consciousness of the monad or divine center. The transcendent wisdom of the cosmic soul finds expression through innumerable lesser beings. These channel its forces and energies, regulating the vitality of the universe. They build and sustain and also destroy it.
The gods — divine architects and builders — transmit their wisdom through the whole system, for they are its inner constitution. This is part of the ancient concept of hierarchies. The ideation of higher beings guides the animals, for example, through instinct. The social insects — bees, ants, wasps, termites — reflect this in their orderly societies which show cooperation and intelligence. The bees' hexagonal chambered hives — the most efficient use of space — and complex communication system; the amazing geometry of flowers; the symmetry and mathematics of the spiral in sea shells: these are part of the endless permutations of the creative power of universal mind.
Our human kingdom is in the middle of a vast chain of being — countless gods beyond, and endless unevolved god-sparks below. All are necessary expressions of universal being. As divine beings influence us, we affect the lower kingdoms and our fellows. The ants, for instance, show a singular capacity to create cultures and societies just as a civilization is the extension of our thoughts, aspirations, and ideals. It follows that the lower kingdoms reflect human qualities, and all beings potentially have the divine attributes of the gods.
There is a relationship between the cosmic mind that fashions a universe, and our minds as ideators, self-conscious thinkers, harnessing will and imagination. Undergoing a natural creative process of unfolding soul qualities, we are doing on a limited scale what the universe accomplishes on any one of its vast levels. In feeling sympathy and at-oneness with all life, we identify with nature's inner operations and thus gain wisdom directly. This would be impossible if we were not essentially one with the cosmos.
(From Sunrise magazine, June/July 1988. Copyright © 1988 by Theosophical University Press)