“Once Gautam Buddha was asked, ”Why don’t you teach your people to pray?” It was an obvious question — a religion without prayer is simply inconceivable to many people.
And the answer Buddha gave is as fresh today as it was twenty-five centuries before, as new and as revolutionary. He said, “I don’t teach my people to pray because their prayers will harm them. Right now they are not conscious enough to ask for anything, and whatsoever they ask will be wrong. First, let them become conscious enough. I teach them how to become more conscious and then it is up to them.
“When they are fully conscious, if they want to pray, they are free. They are not my slaves. But I can say one thing: that anybody who is fully conscious has nothing to ask for. He has got everything that one can ever ask for.”
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 a moral duty: Clean it up, preserve its nature, exploit it less. If love depends on beauty, then beauty comes first, a priority that accords with pagan philosophy rather than Christian. Beauty before love also accords with the all-too-human experience of being driven to love by the allure of beauty”
(from “The Practice of Beauty” in Uncontrollable Beauty, ed. Bill Beckley, with David Shapiro).
The consciousness of human beings has introduced a lot of ugliness into the world. A consciousness that is awake to beauty is alive to the gifts we are given by nature. It’s an awareness of the exquisite paradigm we inhabit and it will seek to foster and protect that matrix of creation. As the Buddha knew, most people are asleep.
Waking a human being is difficult. In that state of slumber, of hypnosis by conventions, crimes are committed. Blindness to our role in the miracle is common. That’s why the world is in trouble. Our experts are killing the world because they are unable to love it. They can’t see its beauty.
As we busy ourselves erasing the beauties we are given, replacing it with a million kinds of desecration, the gods are wringing their hands. Their cries fall on our deaf ears. Species disappear from the Earth, never to return, their beauty gone forever.
But we don’t know everything. Nature has surprises for us, surprises we view as emergencies. We scramble to solve this little puzzle so we can get back to turning our earthly paradise into a moonscape. But this last little shock that is killing people is also creating a new consciousness. We are starting to realize what we’re losing. We are reminded of beauty and how it depends on deep vibrant roots into the web of earthly processes.
A little destruction over there kills things over here, strangely enough. Living processes are not isolated. We are learning to imagine how everything is connected to everything else and how we ourselves are implicated. How we imagine life has made it possible to destroy it on an ever-expanding scale, but when we become capable of imagining its all inclusive grandeur we will act differently. We will grow up and assume responsibility for protecting creation. Seeing its beauty is the first step.
We can’t live without beauty, without the ability to see and protect beauty, without a sense of devotion to it. We are not put here to make a fortune or achieve fame. We are meant to serve love and beauty as we find it in the world.
This is a time of course correction. This is an opportunity to awaken to the miracle we are part of. May we use this chance wisely.
- Anima Fire is my publication