Moved by Beauty
In The Great Work, Thomas Berry speaks of the intimacy the indigenous people had with the land, each part of nature was experienced as a personal other. I have always been drawn to the beauty of nature, lured deeper into the land and its mysteries though the textures and luminous presence of beauty. The beauty of the land was the deciding factor for me in choosing a college, and later in making my way across the country to the mountains of Colorado and eventually to the lush terrain of northern California.
Beauty has always nourished me, soothing and comforting as my eyes gaze over an undulating landscape, follow the flight of a soaring hawk, or rest in the peace of a snowy night. Berry speaks of women carrying the nourishing aspect of the Great Mother, bringing awareness of a nourishing universe. The Mother, Mirra Alfaasa, who was the living embodiment of the Great Mother, devoted her life to an exploration of cellular matter through her experience of the numinous presence within the cells.
By delving into her own body, she forged a link to the aliveness within matter that the indigenous people experienced. As I have deepened in my own experience of my body as living matter alive with consciousness these past 30 years, my experience of the numinous presence within the living landscape surrounding me has grown. I feel each tree, each plant, each breath of the wind as the beautiful other. The more tangible my own inner landscape becomes as sacred matter, as I feel my blood in contrast to the cells of my bones, the fluidity of my organs floating in the sea of my torso, the more intimately I know the living Earth as well.
In the Navajo Way there is a line the world is restored in Beauty. This recognition of the Earth as sacred is the return of beauty to the world, our own recognition that beauty resides in matter. Our embrace of our own cells, our cellular world as sacred body, is the emergence of the feminine that we have been awaiting. The tangible embrace of this worldview restores beauty and nourishment to our parched cells, awakening the luscious presence of Beauty sleeping in matter, reviving our bodies and the Earth. The world is restored in Beauty. The interiority of every living other in our external landscape is sacred. Our bodies are sacred. All our relations are sacred.
James Hillman writes in The Practice of Beauty: “We want the world because it is beautiful, its sounds and smells and textures, the sensate presence of the world as body. In short, below the ecological crisis lies the deeper crisis of love, that our love has left the world. That the world is loveless results directly from the repression of beauty, its beauty and our sensitivity to beauty. For love to return to the world, beauty must first return, else we love the world only as moral duty . . . .” Beauty is mystery and the eternal made visible, the revelation of sacred patterns, symmetry and luminosity that emerge – both through our own bodies as graceful motion and radiance – and in the flora and fauna that surround us.
Inspired initially by Sat Prem’s description of the Mother’s cellular exploration in The Mind of the Cells, I have been communicating with the luminous intelligence of my cells for the past 25 years. I experience the cells communicating with me as well, we are in an ever evolving relationship through daily conversation, in the same way that I have entered into ongoing communication with the land around me, the lake I walk around, the tree in front of my home, the raven landing on the fence, the moon in the sky and Mount Tamalpais towering to the south. We are in a personal and intimate relationship, cellularly connected, a part of this great Mother Earth, embedded in the Living Universe, in conversation with the wild presence animating us all.
Embodiment, the ever deepening process of living through the body, connects us in an awakened and living communion, an ongoing dance of continually shifting patterns – rhythms – captivating and drawing us deeper through their luminous beauty. Rooted in our true nature through our bodies, we dance in a living landscape together with all our relations, nourished, held, strengthened by the beauty all around and in us.