One spring I spent walking through the Alps in Northern Italy. Fruit trees were flowering in the valleys, but the mountains still displayed all stages back to midwinter. Thick snows covered the higher elevations. On the hillsides trees between large boulders joyfully showed their first bright green, translucent leaves covered with tiny dots of snow, pure white or crystal clear, melting and dripping. The darker evergreens carried heavier loads. Everywhere was nature's own silence and the sound of soft dripping.
Spending my days there alone, walking, watching, and listening, quite unexpectedly I came to see the world with different eyes — the young leaves seemed to have turned into emeralds, the snow crystals into gems of supermundane beauty. It was as if the whole world had jumped to a more spiritual frequency. The trees, which we usually regard as standing haphazardly dispersed wherever their seeds happened to drop, formed a harmony. Their branches were not just growing where space allowed, but took part in the forest's silent symphony. Even the boulders took part in the celestial song.
Meditation is simply attuning oneself to what is there all the time. I wondered if things around us are more spiritual than they usually seem to us; if perhaps this physical earth, with all in it and on it, is a reflection of a world one degree closer to the divine than our everyday senses and minds perceive — a world where all beings are notes in a divine song, so that every tree, every mountain, every stone, every creature, has its right place and right task to fulfill, just as musical notes have their precise place and function in the symphony they make together, where none can be left out without spoiling the tune.
We do not need psychic powers or mystic experiences to perceive such a world. We can see, hear, and smell it with our ordinary senses aided by the imagination. Is it strange to believe that behind the phenomena we perceive — which science tries to convince us are solely material things brought about by chance processes — there is a divine harmony? How else can we explain that we perceive beauty in nature, and that our hearts can be filled with joy when touched by it? It has been said that beauty is the garment of the gods. If the gods in their essence are truth, compassion, and harmony, can their garments be anything but beauty?
Ever since that day nature has remained a touch more divine to my eyes, and this awareness has added an extra dimension to my appreciation of mundane beauty. Nothing is alone or lonely in nature because all are part of that greater consciousness, just as a player in an orchestra, though sounding his own note, is in continuous communication with the total chord being played. What is true in nature is true in the human world: the architecture of our cities, though far from perfect, is a reflection of the architecture of a higher world, translated down through human hands. The same is true for the better aspect of all our accomplishments.
An analogy exists, moreover, between physical nature and the human body. Our cells are the entities which build our physical structure. They function under the guidance of the inner chord we strike. If our self-conscious inner being — our self-chosen thoughts and feelings — reflects the higher harmony of our divine nature, then streams of life force, running through innumerable invisible channels, transfer this harmony to our cells and throughout our being. The result is growing recognition of the divine, awakened intuition, health, and beauty.
(From Sunrise magazine, February/March 2001; copyright © 2001 Theosophical University Press)