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"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi


Nature's Enlightenment

Back in late 1987, the beautiful nature imagery in my meditative writings easily convinced me of their source in higher consciousness. Then, as now, I stilled my thoughts, listened to a wise, kindly inner voice, and out of my pen flowed lyrical, poetic images as refreshing as a cool mountain stream.

The nature-based imagery and, later on, parables in my "soul writings" quenched my thirst for the ineffable, healed my body and called me back to the woods and waters abandoned by me decades before. As I walked back into the beauty of the natural world, I regained my childhood appreciation for the divinity of Earth and this loving gratitude restored my childhood "symbolic seeing": that is, the ability to read the signs, symbols and life lessons in nature.

I did just this in the summer of 1999, while in Virginia Beach to write a book on my meditative writings and spiritual journey. The sound of the crashing sea washed into the book, and so did the intuitive urges heard in the quiet of the mind.

I followed one of these to a certain magazine in the bookstore operated by the  Association for Research and Enlightenment, and lo and behold, discovered an article proving the truth of my book's claims and every seeker's pathway to higher consciousness: it is the relaxing, hypnotic beauty of nature which calls us back to who we really are--spiritual beings exploring the rich diversity of life on Earth. 

I was delighted and astonished to learn in this article on brain wave researcher and meditation teacher Anna Wise that the sensory images in my meditative writings had quite literally opened my consciousness to deeper levels of mind, where we encounter everything from our creativity, empathy and intuition to our spiritual connection and psychic abilities. My writings had not only called me to nature’s pathway to higher consciousness, but had served as nature for me until I set out on my walk and, later, took up the practice of meditation.
Recently, I asked during meditation for objective proof of "symbolic seeing" and got a literal answer! As I opened my physical eyes, my "soul eyes" darted to an unread and forgotten book on the shelf, Frontiers of Consciousness (ed. John White, Avon Books, 1974). 

The book’s introductory section, titled "Transpersonal Psychology," features an essay by psychologist and Eastern scholar A. Reza Arasteh, who studied spiritual masters in many cultures and distilled this information into several stages of evolution leading to the "final integration" of enlightenment.

I hope you, too, enjoy this five-stage description of the seeker's journey toward enlightenment. It begins and ends with nature and her awakening call to our evolution of cosmic consciousness. 

1. We become aware of multiple realities, that there’s more to the eye than what appears.

2. We recognize, often with sudden insight, that our essence is rooted in the cosmic essence and accordingly we align our values, interests and actions to this greater whole.

3. Attuned to cosmic consciousness, we slip into a "flow state" with the divine, integrate with our higher self, and become ever more creative. Free of anxiety, we create and express ourselves openly, enjoying positive feelings and spontaneous expression.

4. Through intuitive flashes of insight derived from communion with the cosmic essence, separation of subject and object cease to exist and union takes place. There are no barriers of separation within our minds or between us and anyone or any thing, only a sense of unity and feelings of bliss. We merge with cosmic consciousness.

5. In the final state of evolution, or enlightenment, we become a constant creative attitude. Here, we find joy in deeds that benefit others regardless of hoped-for rewards. We function naturally and spontaneously without wanting to record, write or create. The creative attitude itself produces joy as we experience life in its entirety. This is what I call "the blossoming" of personality into the soul-self: our unique, individual spark of the divine.

While this model is fascinating enough, I was even more impressed with the qualities of masters in this final stage of evolution. See if any of this strikes a chord in you.

    * The enlightened person possesses insight into all human lives and is able to write a detailed life history of his/her own journey.

    * This master possesses enormous energy and the ability to carry the pains of others without burden.

    * The enlightened master sees fully into people, history and the nonhuman environment. Natural phenomena become symbolic of a universal communication. Or, in my terminology, the master perceives the signs and symbols in the natural world and develops "symbolic seeing" or perception, the visual symbology composing the world’s greatest poetry and art.

Let us walk in nature, you and I, to enjoy the beauty of the sensory world as we, the created, merge with creation and the Creator.

Here is why sages, monks and mystics have sought quiet wilderness since the beginning of time. Enlightenment itself awaits us in nature’s open, loving arms.

(Judith Pennington is a writer, teacher and author of "The Voice of the Soul," an illuminating journey into the depths of her psyche and distant places of great beauty and spiritual power. Visit her website,, to enjoy a light-filled meditation from her CD, "The Illuminated Door," and to sign up for her free e-newsletter, The Still, Small Voice, featuring articles related to this one.)



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