Where does God exist? For me God is in everything and in every moment. God is in the loving smile in the eyes of a friend. God is in the stillness of the early hours of the morning. God is in the cool fresh air of a morning walk by a rainforest stream. God is the stream and the burbling sounds of flowing life-giving water.
“I believe in God, only I spelt it ‘Nature’”.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Different people find God in different places – through religion, maybe after a life-threatening incident. To me God has always been with me and to feel God’s presence requires me to find stillness.
God Is In The Details
The famous saying attributed to different people ‘God is in the details’ couldn’t be closer to the truth. Through details we can not only feel closer to God but actually experience God’s presence, God’s energy.
I am not particularly religious in the tradional sense. Yet I feel a deep sense of spirituality. I don’t believe in a ‘life under monastic vows’ which is the Middle English origin of the word religion. The Old French meaning of the word was ‘obligation, bond, reverence’, perhaps based on Latin relegate ‘to bind’.
To me I feel deeply religious. My church is nature.
When I commune with nature I feel the bond with with God’s energy. I am in reverence at the incredible beauty and diversity of life. I don’t feel bound but connected every time I venture into a rainforest, stand atop a mountain, sit by a burbling brook.
Being in nature I feel a deep sense of awe and gratitude which I call greenitude. It fills my heart and in the stillness within myself I am touched by God.
So Who Is God?
For me God isn’t some anthropomorphical supernatural being in which we are clones. To me God is an all-pervading energy that is in everyone and everything. So the question for me has always been not who is God, but where is God, how do I commune with God?
God to me is in the tiniest details to the largest moments that define our life and existence. God I feel expressed in my emotions as anything from a deep sense of love, compassion, joy, and gratitude.
An inner feeling of Goodness brings us closer to our own sense of Godness. We are all Gods. Most of us, including myself, often get caught up in what seem important things in life that we loose touch with the details, the seemingly trivial details of living.
God is in the details. Close your eyes and listen to the rhythmic sounds of water dripping. Something as simple as the sound of water can connect us to the life force.
Trivial comes from the Latin trivius – of three roads, or crossroads. It came into existence meaning that public streets were very common, everyday. Yet I see the trivial as where God is found.
Before I get into the trivial, let me digress to progress to where I am going.
God isn’t just an inner feeling of Goodness or Godness. God can be expressed through rage, anger, passion and resentment. We call these the negative traits of a person. They are more trials or tests. Trials that lead us down trails and if we are able to overcome these trials of passion we may just discover the middle road.
The Middle Road
The middle road is that path that Buddhism teaches. To remove judgement and aim for equanimity. Where others may judge certain actions as ‘evil’ a enlightened soul may choose not to judge. After all evil spelled backwards spells live.
In the Bible Jesus speaks of redemption for sinners not condemnation, of turning the other cheek. It may be argued that Jesus and his teachings were of Buddhist origins or influence.
Path of Understanding
This third road of the trivium is the middle road between judgement of the good (the good road) and evil (the bad road). It is the road of understanding, compassion, peace, the removal of suffering.
God is found at the junction of these three roads. And the junction of these three roads is the trivium or the trivial. It is through the experiencing the detail, the little things that we can discover God.
For Buddhism truth and understanding is gained through meditation. Meditation is a little thing. You seemingly don’t look like you are doing much. Yet it is from seemingly doing little that one discovers an inner stillness and is touched by God.
For me, I cannot sit still long enough to access the infinite through meditation. My meditation requires movement. Deliberate movement. Through this slow deliberate movement I am lulled into a rhythmic space that opens my heart to the world and to walk the medi or middle ground.
Walking through a rainforest I feel my heart opening. With every deliberate soft and quiet step I feel myself falling deeper into the secrets of the forest. As my heart opens so does the rainforest give me glimpses of the infinite.
While many speak of mindfulness, this deliberate letting go of the mind, heartfulness is about naturally embracing each moment fully. It is a letting go, a liberation. It begins when we allow our environment to enter our heart.
Connecting with nature need not be as distant as walking through a remote mountain rainforest or desert. It can be accessed through gardening, having fresh flowers in the house, or as I experienced a few moments ago, looking after Heidi’s orphan possum, Benjamin.
For about 20 mins my attention was fully into interacting with Benjamin. He is only four months old and he has just been weaned off syringe fed milk and is now lapping from a bowl. He is housed in a basket and wrapped up in layers of fabric to keep him warm and provide a simulated pouch environment. I watched him as he sniffed my fingers and tentatively began to know me. My heart opened as I stared into the eyes of this tiny creature of perfection, being very careful to not scare him and at the same time melting into his pure innocence. God is in the details and in these moments through Benjamin I could experience God.
I believe that spirituality, what we call God is reached through sensuality. I’m not talking of over-indulgences and excess of the kind experienced in Roman times. In fact, it may be reached by the complete opposite.
I am talking about becoming tuned to your senses. To hone your senses and in doing so you become mindless yet heartfilled. Filling your heart with sensuality opens you up to feelings of gratitude and wonder.
A simple act of walking deliberately through a forest becomes a journey into ecstasy and discovery. Each step my senses come alive. Unencumebered by thoughts striking me from multiple directions my eyes can settle on a colony of colourful fungi growing on a rotten log hidden in the undergrowth, or a bank of tiny bright red carnivorous sundews basking in the sun.
My ears become attuned to the sounds of the forest. My light footsteps ensure that the animals of the forest are not disturbed by my presence. Walking lightly is done also out of reverence. Just like entering a holy place we do so in silence.
Below is the sounds of frogs croaking along the bubbling Cedar Creek in rainforest on Mt Tamborine.
A breaking of a twig, a rustle in the undergrowth, the scratching of leaves on the forest floor reveals life in all of its abundance. The more we walk silently, the forest opens up to reveal its treasures. I have heard or seen shy lyrebirds on many of my forest walks simply from becoming in tune with the forest.
Through stillness nature rewards me. On one walk lately In Joalah National Park, I stood still and the forest came alive with bird calls. Being able to be witness to this fills my heart with gratitude and deep reverence to the Earth, the source, life force, God.
Below is the recording I took while standing motionless in this forest.
Walking through nature to me is like getting a tune up. Just like a piano is tuned so that each key rings true, so too, walking through nature can bring me in tune. A good walk through a mountain forest, breathing in the cool fresh mountain air, walking under a waterfall or sitting by a limpid bubbling mountain stream, my senses become heightened.
Each touch, smell, sight, sound and sometimes even taste connects me to this energy which is God.
The remarkable thing about becoming ‘in tune’ through developing our five senses is that it opens us up to our sixth sense. We begin to vibrate with the frequency of the universe and in doing so we become attuned to the subtleties of this frequency which we may not be consciously aware of. We all have a sixth sense, some have it more developed than others. Some have their sixth sense muffled by the background noise of life.
Stillness, whether through meditation or walking silently in nature, allows us to become in tune with our intuition. Intuition is an inner knowing. It is said to be beyond our five senses yet I think it is intricately connected to them and accessed through maintaining an open heart.
Unheard, Unseen, Unknown
Intuition helps us connect to the seemingly unseen, unheard, unknown. Yet, through stillness we discover that this knowing does come from seeing, hearing, and from feeling. Stillness gives you access to the subtleties beyond our physical senses. We see with our inner eyes, our inner ears, feel with our heart. When we connect to energy, to source, to life force, we are connecting to God.
Just this week a potential client called me. I had gone up and spoke to his wife about designing a shop for them. The shopping centre had recommended my services and they were keen to move forward with me. A couple of days later, the husband called, and before he could utter a word, I had said in my mind exactly what he was about to say, ‘we have decided to pull out as my wife has just been diagnosed with cancer’. I counselled the husband who was deeply distressed and said that pulling out was the right thing.
I wonder looking back if my five senses picked up on a subconscious level cues upon meeting his wife a few days earlier? Or was it her vibration that I picked up on. Either way, this inner knowing brings a sense of groundedness, and reassurance that I need to follow my intuition more.
Following Your Heart
If I think about my life the most exquisitely beautiful, memorable, profound moments have come about from when I followed my heart not my head.
Following one’s heart I believe begins by finding that stillness within, a stillness I find I can access through being immersed in nature. For when I am in nature, my sacred temple, I am gifted through remembering the importance of the little things, the tiny details. These tiny details are accessed through our senses which are the key to opening our heart.
Click on the link below to see a land mullet I filmed along a forest path.
The details in life is what adds depth and richness. By using your senses, life takes on texture. Life without texture is bland.
Each moment in our lives is given richness only through the attention we give it. Walking through a forest others may call hiking. They may be interested in breathtaking vistas and see hiking as an exercise from getting from A to C so on the way one can see B. I often see hikers who rush past to get through the experience as quick as possible. Often they are talking loudly and walk briskly and loudly and miss out on all the details that make walking through the forest so special.
Texture is the sensual quality of a moment. It is more than a visual or tactile quality. Texture is the interweaving of micro moments, thoughts, feelings, that connect us to the universe . Texture is what give moments depth and meaning.
By not glossing over life in our mad rush to achieve things, texture, the detail of our lives, allow us to connect to the oneness we know as God. God truly is in the details, and the details of each moment is what weaves this rich tapestry known as our life.
Texture Provides Context
It is this texture, these details, woven together that give us context, not to mention content. Contentment can be found in the content of each moment, not some future moment. By delving into the details we can discover the connection we may be longing for.
Finding The Path To God
Some of humanity’s greatest spiritual teachers found God through stillness in connecting with nature.
Nature Through Nurture
St Francis of Assisi the patron saint of animals and ecology, expressed his devotion to God through his love of all God’s creation. He cared for the poor and sick, preached sermons to animals, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God.
The Body Tree
The Buddha received enlightenment under the Bodhi tree where he meditated for 40 days.
Buddha said, ‘The Bodhi tree under which I sit is a perfect example of compassion and detachment.”
It can be said that through accessing life’s details through the teacher that is nature, we may discover this middle road, that road that opens up our heart, that removes judgement, that takes us to compassion and detachment.
By settling the body and mind in stillness we can discover God within and without.
Into The Wilderness
Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness led by the Spirit to be tempted by the Devil. To me this story is just as relevant now as it may have been in Jesus’ time.
This story to me is about seeking inner peace, about connecting to God through stillness. Nature is the door that can help us enter this stillness. Jesus fasted for those forty days and forty nights and to me this act of aestheticism was a way to connect more deeply with God. Undistracted by comforts and dramas of modern life, the act of fasting heightens your senses, and the stillness of nature gives space to notice the details.
Temptation of the Lived
After 40 days and nights of fasting, the Devil tempted Christ. Yet each time Jesus resisted. The Devil symbolises modern life and all its distractions that take us out of our bodies and into our minds. Devil spelled backwards is ‘Lived’. Ironically, what we seek, that connection with God, can be reached through sensuality, and sensuality can be experienced through stillness not filling our lives with stuff and drama.
Jesus is reputedly to have said that ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God’. To me what Jesus was saying that a person who is distracted by the material world and neglects their inner spiritual world will find it impossible to connect with God and the little joyous details of life that provide access.
Through stillness I was able to witness the calls of the rare near threatened Albert’s Lyrebird. Sit down, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of God.
Just like most of us, I get caught in the business of life. Yet, I feel blessed that when it all becomes too much, I regularly retreat into the forest. There in my church I can reconnect to the living energy of God, to be filled with gratitude, wonder, awe and joy.
While some may find joy in continual interaction with others, I feel that by having time in the wilderness I can come back to life recharged, reinvigorated, and ready.
In a world of excess and access, removing myself form ‘the World’ and its distractions, to be in the middle of a forest, sometimes a few hours walk away from people, food and transport, just surrounded by nature can be a spiritual experience in itself.
Finding The Trail Through Trial
I am drawn to the life of an aesthetic, of simplicity, where less is more. The spiritual greats have taught us that finding the right true path doesn’t come through excessive comfort and materiality but through simplicity and sometimes trial, whether that trial be self-induced or not.
In our crazy modern world some find it harder than ever to find God. Yet I think if we can sit still enough we may just discover that God has always been there with us.
Rather than chasing big things we need to focus on the seemingly insignificant, the trivial. God is always with us, we just needed to sit silently and in that silence read the seemingly trivial fine print. That is where we will discover God.