Friday, July 7, 2017

A Minute Meditation

No. 225

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.  

-- John Muir --
In His Own Words 


This sounds strange today in a world of spaceships and trips to the moon and probes to many of the planets in the solar system.  Perhaps he's talking about a different Universe?
 

31 comments:

  1. I think perhaps any wilderness might do the trick..so long as it is wild enough to blow the dust of ordinary life off of us, and let us experience, if only for a moment, the grandeur of the natural world. A person can get lost staring at a tree -- a universe in itself -- if the eyes are clear enough.

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    1. Stephen,

      I think you're right. It helps if we can get away from the mundane of everyday existence, but we also have to be open to what's out there--or, as you say, " if the eyes are clear enough.."

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    2. Oh! I forgot to thank you for your movie review. It sounded enjoyable if not something exciting enough to hunt down..

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    3. Stephen,

      You are welcome.

      It's a pleasant enough film, two guys reconnecting again after many years, and coming to grips with their advancing years.

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  2. I don't know John Muir but he could be speaking metaphysically. I feel closest to God in nature.

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    1. Sharon,

      John Muir was the founder of the Sierra Club, For more information, check out the following address to the wikipedia entry on him.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Muir

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    2. Well, he did not believe in the metaphysical, I gather, but he seems to draw on figurative speech that can imply it.

      But if he is being concrete, I'm not sure what he is saying. There is certainly a lot of information about matter one can discern from the forest, but the universe is more than a forest.

      Does he find drawing on metaphysical language inescapable when trying to describe how the forest makes him feel?

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    3. Sharon,

      I'm not sure what you mean when you say "he did not believe in the metaphysical." According to the article, he had a concept of God, the creator. This is from the Wikipedia article.

      " He came to believe that God was always active in the creation of life and thereby kept the natural order of the world.[55]:41 As a result, Muir "styled himself as a John the Baptist," adds Williams, "whose duty was to immerse in 'mountain baptism' everyone he could."[55]:46 Williams concludes that Muir saw nature as a great teacher, "revealing the mind of God," and this belief became the central theme of his later journeys and the "subtext" of his nature writing."

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    4. Didn't someone say 'the universe in a grain of sand'? Plus I think Sherlock Holmes said that you could theorise an ocean from a single raindrop.... and then I started thinking about Fractals.... How my mind works!!!

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    5. I formed that conclusion from this quote in Wikipedia:

      In maturity, while remaining a deeply spiritual man, Muir may have changed his orthodox beliefs. He wrote, "I never tried to abandon creeds or code of civilization; they went away of their own accord... without leaving any consciousness of loss." Elsewhere in his writings, he described the conventional image of a Creator, "as purely a manufactured article as any puppet of a half-penny theater."

      So I misunderstood him. He believes in the metaphysical just not God revealed in the Bible. He believes in God as revealed in nature. I guess Muir believes these are two separate Beings, the first one invented and the second one real.

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    6. CyberKitten,

      William Blake in "Auguries of Innocence."

      To see a World in a Grain of Sand
      And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
      Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
      And Eternity in an hour"

      Yes, Sherlock said that in _A Study in Scarlet_. It isn't that I have a great memory, but I just finished reading the story last week, and that comment made me stop and think of Blake's poem.

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    7. Sharon,

      I think that Muir may believe that he could get closer to a realization of God directly through his handiwork, The Book of Nature, than indirectly through what humans said and wrote.

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    8. Well, the Bible says the Heavens declare the Glory of God. (Psalm 19:1)

      I would say that God's revealed Word is as direct as nature. More so, because words are concrete while communion with nature is mystical.

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    9. sharon: no offense, but i'd say it was the other way around...

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    10. Mudpuddle: that words are mystical but nature is concrete? Hmm.... I meant that when I read words, I receive definite meaning while nature can be more subjective...but maybe nature is not subjective....I will have to give more thought to the matter...

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    11. Sharon,

      I think trees and flowers and animals and stars and suns are concrete, while words are marks on a page, filtered through human consciousness.

      But I also think that some people are more comfortable with words while others are more comfortable with Nature.

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  3. a matter of perspective: expanding the awareness to include more than just the immediate surround: ideally contemplating the planet, solar system, galaxy, galactic cluster, dark matter and energy, and the universe... and seeing it all from a quantum level; all inclusively conceived at once... and as phenomena unassociated with the species currently living on a small undistinguished planet in an ordinary solar system on the edge of one of the smaller galaxies(humanity)...
    nice quote; Muir should be required reading for anyone interested at all in the natural world...

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    1. Mudpuddle,

      Yes, that quotation was a grabber.

      I would expand your last sentence to "Muir should be required reading for everybody regardless of whether they are interested at all in the natural world."

      I would make him required reading in grades 1-8 and high school.

      If it's OK to indoctrinate children with violence and hate, then what's the objection to openness, compassion, and empathy with the whole world.

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    2. fred: that's entirely too logical and sensible: never happen....

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    3. Mudpuddle,

      Unfortunately, you are right: it will never happen, at least not in my lifetime, or so I believe after reading what our leaders believe.

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  4. I love forests. There is something very special about being in one. I feel very much connected to the Universe when I am in a forest.

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    1. Maybe it's because we spent quite a lot of our early history in trees and still have the genes adapted for that environment so forests feel like home?

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    2. Brian,

      Is that something you can explain? Just what is it that makes you feel connected?

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    3. CyberKitten,

      Interesting speculation. The sight? The texture? The odor?

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    4. Probably everything about the total environment. If messing about in trees is buried deep in our DNA (which I strongly suspect it is) it would make sense that we would, at a subconscious level, feel fully at home there. Personally I like fir trees.... but that might be a possible, and much more recent, Viking heritage speaking to me [grin]

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    5. CyberKitten,

      If it's anywhere, our DNA is where it would be. No particular preference for any type of tree since my heritage, as best as I can figure, is located in central Europe which has a wide variety of trees.

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  5. I wonder about the capitalization of Universe. Hmmmm.

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    1. R.T.,

      I just checked, and it is capitalized. Perhaps he's suggesting something beyond the physical universe.

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    2. Fred, Frank Wilson just left a comment on my posting about Hemingway; he referred to the something beyond life (after death) as "the Great Perhaps." Maybe Muir would like that notion. Well, it appeals to me.

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    4. R.T.,

      I couldn't answer that. In what little I've read of his writings, I can't remember anything relating to an afterlife. He is totally absorbed in the wilderness, in the physical world and our relationship in it and to it.

      In wilderness is his spiritual quest.

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