I always wondered what living in harmony with nature looks like and how does it affect our lives, but I finally came to know the answer to this question.
Some years ago, I was watching an interview with the co-authors of “The Art of Happiness”; Dr. Howard Cutler, a psychiatrist and Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman.
In this book, Dalai talks about happiness is the purpose of life, and that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.
In an attempt to set a simple example for living in harmony with nature, Dalai was describing how his parents in Tibet lived with no electrical power, walked around barefoot, and planted their own food.
“There’s nothing like nature to bring you back to your self and connect you to your senses.”—he said.
For evidence of this harmony, all we have to do is look at a pinecone, a pineapple, or a seashell.. etc. The simplicity and elegance of the nature exists all around us. We don’t need to live off the grid to appreciate such harmony.
However, everyday stresses and strains in our physiology break down that harmony over time. In fact, spiritual growth is a matter of cultivating that state of harmony.
The possibilities of how that harmony would look on the surface of life are limitless. Yet it has been the quest of philosophers, social scientists, and theologians to define precisely what living in harmony with nature looks like.
However, Dalai believe that harmony is a far more subtle phenomenon than we generally appreciate. It transcends all stereotypes!
Expanding this to our society, true harmony with nature results when all individuals are living in harmony with the depth of their being; or in other words living in harmony with their own true nature. This is how great civilizations come into being, supported by the balance of Mother Nature.
“I remember when my sister was a little girl and we went to the beach.
As one wave came in, I allowed it to crash up against me and knock me down. Getting back on my feet, dripping wet, I looked at my sister and said, “Out of harmony with nature.” When the next wave came, I jumped up at the right moment, and that wave carried me effortlessly. Then I turned to my sister and said, “In harmony with nature.””, he said.
Imagine a society of people all living in harmony with nature, all being carried forward by life-supporting waves.
History has shown us many great civilizations that lived in harmony with nature; the Ancient Egyptian civilization is a perfect example. However, over the generations, that harmony has slowly been lost as their ideals ceased to be in harmony with nature and instead were fueled by selfish interest or other twisted motivations like wars and disputes.
So what do we do about all this? How do we as individuals bring our society into a state of harmony with nature? The spiritual leader, perplexed by the difficulties in life, posed that question.
Bewildering as it may be to the modern mentality, it is not about doing. The solution lies beyond doing, to be established in the source of harmony that birthed the universe and dwells at the depth of our being.
The doing necessary is first to understand that the solution lies beyond doing. That is very difficult for our modern mentality to accept. We are all caught up in the doing: What laws can we pass? What activist solution can we promote? What political posture can we take?
All these things are superficial. The solution lies at the depth. Only once we understand that does it become reasonable for us to aspire to learn how to transcend it.
How do we transcend the superficial world of doing? How do we find that source of infinite harmony with nature? Where do we look?
The answer is quite simply: Within.
The technique is proper meditation and mindfulness. For example, focusing the mind, controlling the mind, pushing out thoughts, following the breath.
At the depth of our being lies the field of infinite harmony, the source of all existence. Harmony dwells within and everything gravitates back to that, if only we would allow it. The problem is, we don’t allow it. We try to do it. That is all upside down.
As difficult as this may be to accept, what it means to “live in harmony with nature” on the surface holds no answers.
It can look like almost anything! Some living in harmony may be liberal, others may be conservative, some may be capitalists, socialists, or even communists. Some may go barefoot, and others may buy their jewelry strictly at Cartier’s while their limousine waits outside.