D10. The Infinite Mind in Nature.
You are fortunate if you love trees, and especially the wild ones growing where the Great Creative Force placed them, and independent of man’s care. For all things we call “wild” or “natural” are nearer the Infinite Mind than those which have been enslaved, artificialized and hampered by man. Being nearer the Infinite they have in them the more perfect Infinite Force and Thought. That is why when you are in the midst of what is wild and natural—in the forest or mountains, where every trace of man’s works is left behind you feel an indescribable exhilaration and freedom that you do not realize elsewhere.
You breathe an element ever being thrown off by the trees, the rocks, the birds and animals and by every expression of the Infinite Mind about you. It is healthfully exhilarating. It is something more than air. It is the Infinite Force and Mind as expressed by all these natural things, which is acting on you. You cannot get this force in the town, nor even in the carefully cultivated garden. For there the plants and trees have too much of man’s lesser mind in them,—the mind which believes that it can improve the universe. Man is inclined to think that the Infinite made this world in the rough, and then left it altogether for him to improve.
Are we really doing this in destroying the native forests, as well as the birds and animals, which once dwelt in them? Are our rivers, many of them laden with the filth of sewage and factory, and our ever‑expanding cities and towns, covering miles with piles of brick and mortar, their inhabitants crammed into the smallest living quarters, honeycombed with sewers below, and resounding with rattle and danger above—are these really “improvements” on the Divine and natural order of things?
You are fortunate when you grow to a live, tender, earnest love for the wild trees, animals and birds, and recognize them all as coming from and built of the same mind and spirit as your own, and able also to give you something very valuable in return for the love you give them. The wild tree is not irresponsive or regardless of a love like that. Such love is not a myth or mere sentiment. It is a literal element and force going from you to the tree. It is felt by the spirit of the tree. You represent a part and belonging of the Infinite Mind. The tree represents another part and belonging of the Infinite Mind. It has its share of life, thought and intelligence. You have a far greater share, which is to be greater still—and then still greater.
Love is an element which though physically unseen is as real as air or water. It is an acting, living, moving force, and in that far greater world of life all around us of which physical sense is unaware, it moves in waves and currents like those of the ocean.
There is a sense in the tree which feels your love and responds to it. It does not respond or show its pleasure in our way or in any way we can now understand. Its way of so doing is the way of the Infinite Mind of which it is a part. The ways of God are unsearchable and past finding out. They are not for us to fathom. They are for us only to find out and live out, in so far as they make us happier. There is for all in time a serenity and “peace of mind which passeth all understanding;” but this peace cannot be put through a chemical analysis or the operation of the dissecting room.
As the Great Spirit has made all things, is not that All Pervading Mind and wisdom in all things! If then we love the trees, the rocks and all things as the Infinite made them, shall they not in response to our love give us each of their peculiar thought and wisdom? Shall we not draw nearer to God through a love for these expressions of God in the rocks and trees, birds and animals?
You laugh, perhaps, at the idea of a tree having a mind—a tree that thinks. But the tree has an organization like your own in many respects. It has for blood its sap. It has a circulation. It has for skin its bark. It has for lungs its leaves. It must have its food. It draws nourishment from soil, air and sun. It adapts itself to circumstances. The oak growing in exposed situations roots itself more firmly in the soil to withstand the tempest. The pines growing thickly together take little root, for they depend on numbers to break the wind’s force. The sensitive plant recoils at the approach of man’s hand; many wild plants like Indians will not grow or thrive in artificial conditions.
Yet with all these physical resemblances to your own body, you deny the tree or plant such share of mind as the Infinite gives it! No, not that. The tree is a part of the Infinite Mind, even as you are. It is one of the All Pervading Mind’s myriads of thoughts. We see only such part or form of that thought as is expressed in trunk, root, branch and leaf, even as with ourselves we see only our physical bodies. We do not see our spiritual part. Nor do we see in the tree its spiritual part.
The tree is then literally one of God’s thoughts. That thought is worth our study. It contains some wisdom we have not yet gotten hold of. We want that wisdom. We want to make it a part of ourselves. We want it, because real wisdom or truth brings us power. We want power to give us better bodies, sounder bodies, healthier bodies. We want entire freedom from sickness. We want lighter hearts and happier minds. We want a new life and a new pleasure in living for each day. We want our bodies to grow lighter, not heavier with advancing years. We want a religion which will give us certainty instead of hopes and theories. We want a Deity it is simply impossible to doubt. We want to feel the Infinite Mind in every atom of our beings. We want with each day to feel a new pleasure in living and commence where we left off yesterday to find something new in what we might have thought to be “old” and worn out yesterday. When we come into the domain of the Infinite Mind and are ever drawing more of that mind to us and making it a part of us, nothing can seem “flat, stale and unprofitable.”
We want powers now denied the mortal. We want to be lifted above the cumbrousness of the mortal body—above the pains of the mortal body—above the death of the mortal body
Can the trees give us all this? They can help very much so to do when we get into their spirit; when we recognize and realize more and more the reality of that part of the Infinite which they express, and when we can cease to look on them as inanimate creatures.
If you can look on trees as fit only for lumber and firewood you get very little life from them. They feel then toward you as you would feel towards a person who regarded you as a thing without mind or sense and fit only to be sawed into lumber or firewood.
A tree is a part of God. When we come to send out our love to it, it will send its love back, and that love—that literal mind and element coming from the tree to us will enter our beings, add itself to them and give us its knowledge and power. It will tell us that the mind and force it represents of the Infinite has far better uses for man than to be turned into fuel or lumber. Their love will tell us that the forests piercing the air as they do with their billions of branches, twigs and leaves, are literal conductors for a literal element which they bring to the earth. This element is life giving to man, in proportion to his capacity for receiving it.
The nearer we are to a conception of the Infinite Mind—the clearer is it seen by us that this mind pervades all things—the closer we feel our relationship to the tree, bird or animal as a fellow creature, the more can we absorb of the vitalizing element given out by all these expressions of mind. The person who looks on trees as fit only for fuel and lumber, can get but little of this element, which to the finer mind is an elixir of life.
The mind only to see in tree, bird, animal, fish or insect only a thing lacking intelligence and fit only to destroy or enslave, for its amusement, repels from all of these a spirit or element, which, if recognized, would be received or absorbed, and, if absorbed, would bring a new life and power to mind and body.
We get the element of love only in proportion as we have it in us. We can only draw this element from the Supreme Power. We draw it in proportion as we admire every expression of the Infinite, be that expression tree, or shrub, or insect, or bird, or other form of the Natural. We cannot destroy or mutilate what we really love. The more of these things we really love, the more of their element of love flows to us. That element is for us life as real as the tree itself. The more of that life we are receiving and absorbing, the more will we realize a power in life, which can only be expressed as miraculous.
Destroy the forests, and you lessen temporarily the quantity of this element given out by them. Replace the wild tree by exotics or cultivated varieties, and such element is adulterated, and the vigor it can give is lessened. Cover the whole earth with cities, towns, villages and cultivated fields, and we interfere with a supply of life‑giving element which the forests in their natural state only can furnish. Keep ourselves dead to the recognition of the tree as a part of the Infinite Spirit, and we are dead and unable to absorb of the Infinite Spirit working in and through the tree.
The trees are always giving out an element of life as necessary to man as the air he breathes. Man’s works so soon as finished are giving out dust and decay. In our great cities we take in dust with every breath. Nothing in this Universe is still or in absolute rest. Our miles of stone, brick and mortar are ever in movement, slowly and imperceptibly grinding to an impalpable dust. Cloth, leather, iron, and every material worn and used by man is ever wearing into dust. Look at the dust which in a single day accumulates in your room, on shelf and table, or fine garment, even when its windows are not opened. A gigantic ever‑moving force is at work there taking everything to pieces in it. Let a sunbeam enter through a shutter’s crack and see the innumerable motes floating in it. Think of the myriads of these, too minute to rank even as atoms that you cannot see.
All this is second‑hand element which is breathed and absorbed into both body and spirit. But trees and all natural things send out element full of life.
Our bodies also are ever throwing off through the skin matter they can no longer use. In the great city thousands on thousands of bodies are throwing out disused element too fine to rank even as dust. It is thrown off by sick bodies, and many are sick on their feet. This we breathe. We breathe each other over and over again.
This unseen cloud of matter pervading crowded cities is not life sustaining. It has in it a certain life as all things have life, but it is not fit for man’s growing life.
When we get eternal life, health and unalloyed happiness, the attitude of our minds will be entirely changed toward tree, bird, animal, and everything in Nature. We shall see that when we really love all these expressions of the Infinite Mind, tree, plant, bird and animal, and leave them entirely alone, they will send out to us in love their part and quality of the Infinite. It will flow to us a new life, and the source of a life of far greater power and happiness than the present one.
“But how shall we live,” one asks, “unless we cut down the tree for fuel and lumber, slay bird and beast for food?
Do you think there is no other life or way of life other than the one we now live? Do you think in the exalted and refined mental condition we call “Heaven” that there will be killing of animals, mutilation of trees and destruction of any material expression of the Supreme Wisdom? Do you think we can grow into that higher and happier state of mind without knowledge of the laws by which only it can be attained? As well expect to sail a ship around the world without knowledge of seamanship or navigation. We are not to drift into Heaven something as a cask rolls down hill.
We cannot cease immediately from the enslavement or slaughter of tree; bird or animal, nor from the eating of animal food. So long as the body craves and relishes such food, it should have it. When the body is changed by our spirit and belief to finer elements, the stomach and palate will reject meat of every description. It will not abide the taste or smell of slaughtered creatures. When the spirit settles these matters it does so definitely and forever. Man’s error in the past has often been that of endeavoring to spiritualize or change himself of his own individual will into higher and finer conditions. To this end he has enforced on himself and others fasts and penances, and abstinence from pleasures which his nature craved. He has never by such methods saved himself from sickness, decay and physical death. He has never by this method regenerated or renewed his body. He has lost his body eventually even as the glutton and drunkard lost theirs. The ascetic has not trusted to the Supreme to raise him higher in the scale of being, but in himself and his own endeavor. This is one of the greatest sins. Because it cuts such person off temporarily from the Supreme and the life, the Supreme will send when trusted. There is no way out of any sin, any excess, any injurious habit, but through an entire dependence on the Supreme Power to take away the gnawing, the craving, the desire peculiar to that habit. Otherwise the man may seem reformed outwardly. He is never reformed inwardly. Repression is not reform.
The bigot of every age and creed has been the person thinking he could of himself make himself an angel. Such belief makes the man stand still in his tracks. The Supreme is always saying, “Come to me. Demand of me. Find me in all created things and then I shall be ever sending you new thoughts, new things, new ideas, new element which shall change your tastes, your appetites—which shall gradually take away grossness, eliminate gradually fierce, insatiate, lawless desire and hurricane of passion, and bring to you pleasures you cannot now realize.”
We shall see more and more clearly in time that when we get the higher, finer and more enduring life (to which all must grow), we shall have the greatest possible inducement to give the trees, plants, birds, animals and all other expressions of the Infinite their lives and their fullest liberty. We shall be compelled to love them. What we really love we cannot abuse, kill or enslave. We cage a bird for our own pleasure. We do not cage the bird for its pleasure. That is not the highest love for the bird.
The highest love for all things is for us a literal source of life. The more things in the world of Nature to which we can give the higher love, the more of their natural love and life shall we get in return. So as we grow, refine and increase this power of recognizing and loving the bird, the animal, the insect or, in other words, the Infinite in all things we shall receive a love, a renewed life, strength, vigor, cheer and inspiration from not only these, but the falling snow‑flake, the driving rain, the cloud, the sea, the mountain. And this will not be a mere sentiment, but a great means for recuperating and strengthening the body, for this strengthens the spirit with a strength which comes to stay, and what strengthens the spirit must strengthen the body.
We cannot make of ourselves this capacity for so loving and drawing strength from all things. It is our belonging, but must be demanded of the Supreme Power.
It is natural to ask, “But why did not the Supreme Power implant at first this higher love in us? Why has that Power so long permitted man to go on slaughtering and marring nature? Why are tempests and earthquakes and wars and so much in the forces of Nature and the forces of man allowed to go on and bring so much catastrophe and misery?
We do not undertake to answer for the Infinite Wisdom. It is enough for us to know that there is a road leading away from all we call evil. It is enough for us to know that the time is to come when as new beings with changed minds we shall forget absolutely that such evils ever existed. We shall see in the forces of Nature, be they fire or tempest, or aught else, only what is good and what can bring us happiness.
Communion with Nature is something far above a sentiment. It is a literal joining with the Infinite Being. The element received in such joining and acting on mind and body is as real as anything we see or feel.
The ability so to join ourselves with God through His expressions in the cloud, the tree, the mountain and sea, the bird and animal, is not possessed by all in equal degree. Some are miserable when alone in the forest, plain or mountain. These are literally out of their element or current of thought. They can live with comfort only in the hustle of the town or the chatter of the household. They can find life only in artificial surroundings. Their spirits are covered with a parasitical growth of artificiality. This cuts them off from any sense of God’s expressions in the solitude of Nature. So cut off they feel lonesome in the woods. Nature seems wild, savage and gloomy to them.
Whoever can retire for periods to Nature’s solitudes and enjoy that solitude, feeling no solitude at all, but a joyous sense of exhilaration, will return among men with more power and new power. For he or she has literally “walked with God” or the Infinite Spirit of Good. The Oriental and the Indian, through whom superior powers have been expressed, loved Nature’s solitudes. They could live in them with pleasure. They could muse by rock or rivulet or the ocean for hours, almost unconscious of immediate surroundings, because their spirits had strayed far from their bodies, and were dreamily absorbing new ideas of the Infinite. You will rarely find a person who as ruler, soldier, inventor, discoverer, poet or writer left his impress on the race, but loved communion where God is most readily found. There inspiration is born. The poet cannot sing of the city laid out at right angles, with sewer beneath and elevated road above, as he can of the rugged mountain wrapped “like Jura in her misty shroud.”
We cannot train ourselves to this capacity for enjoyment among the natural things of earth or drawing strength from them. To assume a virtue when we have it not, is to be forced “gushy” and sentimentally silly. But when we demand persistently of the Infinite the new mind, which can find and feel God in the forest or on the sea, in the storm and tempest, and feel not only safety, but absorb power and strength, when Nature’s Forces seem in their most angry mood, that mind with that capacity will gradually take place of the old one, and with the new mind “all things will become new.”
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shutterstock (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://www.shutterstock.com/search/mauritius+beach+sunset
Mulford, P. (1886-1887). The infinite mind in nature. Your forces and how to use them (pp.697-706). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09