“Love of Nature is usually the sign of a pure and healthy being uncorrupted by modern civilisation. It is in the silence of a peaceful mind that one can best commune with Nature.” (The Mother, CWM 16: 401)
What is Nature? When this question was once asked of the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, she replied simply: “I think that Nature is the most material part of the creative force which is concerned with the creation specially of the earth, of the material world as we know it upon earth.” (CWM 7: 160-1)
This Nature, the prakriti may be understood as a mechanism of active Force, an executive force, put forth for the working of the evolutionary Ignorance (avidya) to move the world. The Indian knowledge traditions speak of the lower nature of the individual, which is the triple nexus of mind, life and body, bound in avidya. But there is also something that is the higher, the Divine Nature (para prakriti) which is free from Ignorance and its consequences. Essentially, this Ignorance or avidya is the consciousness of multiplicity, the relative and multiple consciousness. To help arrive at the higher nature, to the consciousness of Oneness – both in the individual and in the creation – Love acts as a great Divine Force.
The entire universe, this manifestation, is essentially an act of Love – Love of the Divine, the Perfect Supreme Consciousness. The manifestation of the Love of the Divine in the world is an act of supreme self-giving. The Love of the Supreme for its creation is a movement to help awaken in the world a longing to get back to its essential divinity.
“The manifestation of the love of the Divine in the world was the great holocaust, the supreme self-giving. The Perfect Consciousness accepted to be merged and absorbed into the unconsciousness of matter, so that consciousness might be awakened in the depths of its obscurity and little by little a Divine Power might rise in it and make the whole of this manifested universe a highest expression of the Divine Consciousness and the Divine love. This was the supreme love, to accept the loss of the perfect condition of supreme divinity, its absolute consciousness, its infinite knowledge, to unite with unconsciousness, to dwell in the world with ignorance and darkness. And yet none perhaps would call it love; for it does not clothe itself in a superficial sentiment, it makes no demand in exchange for what it has done, no show of its sacrifice. The force of love in the world is trying to find consciousnesses that are capable of receiving this divine movement in its purity and expressing it. This race of all beings towards love, this irresistible push and seeking out in the world’s heart and in all hearts, is the impulse given by a Divine love behind the human longing and seeking. It touches millions of instruments, trying always, always failing; but this constant touch prepares these instruments and suddenly one day there will awake in them the capacity of self-giving, the capacity of loving.” (CWM 3: 71)
Today, the world is acutely aware of the crisis facing our Mother Nature; the future of ecological balance will impact the next phase of earthly evolution. Solutions are being frantically sought – from science, spirituality, industry, arts; terms like conscious consumerism, ecological living are fast becoming commonplace. But the truest, the deepest, the most sustainable and effective solution lies in the evolution of consciousness – in the movement from avidya to vidya, from the consciousness of multiplicity to the consciousness of oneness, oneness with all nature, all existence, all beings. In the movement of love.
The Mother once said that the whole life of plants and trees is a worship of light, the material symbol of the Divine. Nature’s ardent prayer to light is essentially a yearning for her hidden divinity, as she is awakened to her intense seeking for oneness with the creative source and force of it all, the para prakriti.
What light does for nature, in human terms it is done by love. Love is a force that awakens in an individual a yearning to get to his or her true source, that deep oneness within, the truest light within. Only when we act from that center of light and love, we act most truly and most powerfully. Only the deepest force of love for Mother Nature which comes from this center of oneness, an inner identification, has the potential to lead the humanity and earth out of the ecological crisis we face today.
Nature herself can teach us such love. The Mother tells us how.
“The movement of love is not limited to human beings and it is perhaps less distorted in other worlds than in the human. Look at the flowers and trees. When the sun sets and all becomes silent, sit down for a moment and put yourself into communion with Nature: you will feel rising from the earth, from below the roots of the trees and mounting upward and coursing through their fibres up to the highest outstretching branches, the aspiration of an intense love and longing,—a longing for something that brings light and gives happiness, for the light that is gone and they wish to have back again. There is a yearning so pure and intense that if you can feel the movement in the trees, your own being too will go up in an ardent prayer for the peace and light and love that are unmanifested here.” (CWM 3: 72)
It is in the force of Divine Love that humanity will find a most radical and universal power to exert its influence and action in the world. Such love radiates not only from the soul but from the whole being, and that is why touches not only the soul but the whole being of others. Such love alone has the potential to truly help and guide humanity evolve in consciousness, and aspire to grow in oneness with all.
The mind of a man
And the mind in a stone.
But the Mind of minds
Sits bright and alone.
The life of a tree,
The life in a clod,
To the Life of all life
That men call God.
The heart of a beast
And a seraph’s heart,—
But the Heart of all hearts
Throbs ever apart.
A body beloved
And a body slain.
Yet both were the bodies
Of One in their pain.
(Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, CWSA 2: 635-6)