Nature? Who Me???

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder.Photograph:

The Bridgeman art library/Getty from the Guardian

I confess.  The image above which I saw at the Guardian did get my attention.  I find the colors and the composition most appealing.  And in a rare moment, I did not react in revulsion at the sight of the serpent.  In fact, it hardly looks serpentine!  On the contrary, it appears as an innocuous bystander.  Nice change.

Yes, the image has all the elements of the Genesis/Creation story bar God of course.  A conspicuous absence.  Ah, trick, trick.  So, where is God?  Well, the answer I had as a child was:  God is everywhere.  I was raised Catholic and therefore Creationist by default.  I also did a degree in Science and felt compelled to embrace evolution/Darwinism.  Have I resolved the creation-evolution debate within me?  Absolutely.  My position is – I don’t know.

I mean, once you dispense with the anthropormorphic God, created in man’s own image, then it seems to me that anything is possible.  I mean, whatever position you may be in on the line of this debate, does it not make you ask the same question:  What is the source?  The ultimate reality?  I just happen to give that source, that ultimate reality the name ‘God’.  Actually, truth be told, I give it various names depending on whom I’m speaking to.  I want to give us a cognitive space which we can share and if that happens to be the word ‘God’ or ‘Brahman’ or  the ‘Nameless’ or ‘Allah’ or ‘Love’ or ‘Spirit’ or ‘Tao’ or the ‘Way’, so be it.

Lao Tze talks about this:

The Way is a limitless vessel

Used by the self, it is not filled by the world

It cannot be cut, knotted, dimmed or stilled

Its depths are hidden, ubiquitous and eternal;

I don’t know where it comes from

It comes before nature

And then he says in Verse 5

5. Nature

Nature is not kind

It treats all things impartially

The Sage is not kind

And treats all people impartially

Nature is like a bellows

Empty, yet never ceasing its supply

The more it moves, the more it yields

So the Sage draws upon experience

And cannot be exhausted.

Translation variously sourced and compiled at www.chinapage.com

Which prompted me to write this verse:

I look at a tree and I think

Nature

A bird

Nature

An ocean

Nature

A rainforest

Nature

A sunset

Nature

A mountain

Nature

I look at myself and I think

What a mess my hair is

God, I do look old!

I am not attractive

I am a failure

My kids have no interest in me

Why don’t I look at myself and think

Nature?

If I did look at myself and think ‘nature’, would it help me to be as ‘impartial’ as Nature, the way Lao Tze describes it?  Would it make me ‘not kind’?  And would it enable me to treat all things ‘impartially’?  And if so, would that be a good thing?  I mean to be ‘not kind’ still leaves room for being ‘gentle’ and ‘helpful’ and ‘loving’ and ‘thoughtful’ and ‘wise’ and ‘responsible’, or doesn’t it?  Matter of interpretation, would you say? 🙂

I know one thing from experience:  When I let go of any resistance, whether to an idea or to a person and their beliefs and actions, I find it freeing.   I find myself in a place where my behaviour is not contingent upon what is thought, believed, said or done.  Instead my words and actions spring from an undefined place…could it be that ‘limitless vessel’ that Lao Tze describes?

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