Through the ages, sensitive minds have found enduring inspiration in Nature’s manifestations. They have hinted at lessons that every human being can find in the exhaustible variety of phenomena and forms around us. But we are generally blind to these “signs” of the Divine Presence that, according to Islamic tradition, are manifested everywhere. Those who have Shakespeare will remember his words about finding “tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” As a wise Teacher pointed out in the early years of our Society, a hint must be taken from wherever it is found. Hints are abundant in Creation.
Jesus also taught his disciples to “consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.” There are many beautiful and fragrant flowers whose very presence brings happiness to passersby. L. Schmithausen in his scholarly work on Buddhism and Nature, draws attention to the view that they are examples of spiritual perfection, not afraid, free of desire, anger, love of possession, and so forth. Through Nature, the Divine Mind reveals coutless other splendours. Jami, the Sufi mystic wrote “My world-endowing Beauty, to display its splendours, in a thousand mirrors shines.”
David Bohm the physicist, pointed out in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, that order and beauty constitute a fundamental aspect of Reality. Nature manifests, but only partially, the majesty and artistry of that Reality in our world of sense perception and mind, in a vast number of things we come into contact with in Nature. In his The Imprisoned Splendour, Raynor Johnson wrote: “We may draw attention to some bird songs, to the magnificently rich colouration of rosell parrots, to the colours and patterns of deep-sea fish (where there is practically no light) and also of butterflies, and to the perfection of colour and construction of the peacock’s feathers…Wherever we look in Nature we see the evidence of artistic exuberance far beyond utilitarian survival.” Such manifestations inspire us to lift our eyes to the “Beyond.”
The inscrutable Intelligence directing evolution also reveals itself everywhere. The well-known biologist E. O. Wilson, who specializes in entomology, particularly the study of ants, tells us that they “gather food, fight off enemies, deposit rubbish and fallen comrades in neat heaps outside their nest, and pull off some of the most amazing feats of engineering in the animal kingdom. How do colonies achieve this, when the brains of their individual members are so limited? . . . No one, it seems, is pulling the colony’s strings, so how does it manage to function as a whole?” With all respect to this eminent specialist, we may say that something does pull the strings of the colonies, and that is the Cosmic Mind, the intelligence of the Universe.
Evolution is a vast movement taking living beings towards perfection and the highest level of consciousness. At the human stage, we have the privilege of watching and learning where we are going form the signs around us—nearer to supernal beauty, intelligence, and truth.