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Naturalness is called the Way.
The Way has no name or form;
it is jut the essence,
just the primal spirit.

In the Taoist wisdom tradition of the East, the original nature or unconditioned light of consciousness is symbolized by a golden flower.

Gold stands for light, the light of the mind itself. The flower represents the blossoming, or opening up, of the light of the mind.

Through the art of letting go of conceptual thought and tuning into effortless non-dual and non-conceptual awareness, we can get a temporary glimpse of our original nature in its spontaneous natural state, independent of environmental and cultural conditioning.

Reconnecting with your original nature or spirit involves a mode of awareness subtler and more direct than thought or imagination and what opens us up to this is the experience of awe.

Awe, Enlightenment And Self-Transcendence

A funny ultra spiritual meme
A funny ultra-spiritual meme that has been circulating the Internet.

Awe is known as our self-transcendent emotion because it helps us escape the egoic monotony of self-referential thinking and shift our perceptual filters to see ourselves as part of something greater than ourselves; a family, a community, a species, an ecosystem, a planet or a cosmos.

It is a creative pathway to uncovering our original nature and the hidden potential buried under everything we have been taught to think, believe and identify as ourselves.

There is a book I have carried with me for over a decade in all my travels. It is called The Secret of the Golden Flower. I like to think of this rather profound little book as a mystical companion to apply the insights of another profound Chinese classical book of life called The Tao Te Ching.

The Secret of the Golden Flower is an ancient treatise on meditation as a way of life and how to open up to the vastness and mystery of our original nature through what might called a “nondual ecology”.

In the Taoist and Buddhist traditions, enlightenment is not a noun or a place you seek or ever reach. This is a gross misconception that flips the original meaning of the concept to feed the Western ego.

Enlightenment is a verb, it’s something that blossoms naturally when we tune into the felt presence of our immediate experience rather than being lost in self-referential thinking rooted in human language-based abstractions of the past and future.

Here’s how my favourite translator of The Secret of the Golden Flower Stephen Cleary describes the awakening of our original nature and an opening to a nondual ecology:

“The experience of the blossoming of the golden flower is likened to light in the sky, a sky of awareness vaster than images, thoughts, and feelings, an unimpeded space containing everything without being filled. Thus it opens up an avenue to an endless source of intuition, creativity, and inspiration. Once this power of mental awakening has been developed, it can be renewed and deepened without limit.

The essential practice of the golden flower requires no apparatus, no philosophical or religious dogma, no special paraphernalia or ritual. It is practiced in the course of daily life. It is near at hand, being in the mind itself, yet it involves no imagery or thought. It is remote only in the sense that it is of attention generally unfamiliar to the mind habituated to imagination and thinking.”

Waking Up To The Aliveness And Sentience of Nature

Mother Earth and the Tree of Life
How Midjourney’s AI conceives of the Tree of Life.

Stephen Cleary was a brilliant translator who translated many of the great wisdom traditions of the East. He believed that The Secret of the Golden Flower was perhaps his most important translation because this treatise has historically been revived during times of great crisis:

“The Secret of the Golden Flower is remarkable for the sharpness of its focus on a very direct method for self-realization accessible to ordinary lay people. When it was written down in a crisis more than two hundred years, it was a concentrated revival of an ancient teaching and it has been periodically revived in crisis since, due to the rapidity with which the method can awaken awareness of hidden resources in the mind.”

It sounds like exactly the kind of spiritual medicine we need to reverse the impending doom of climate change and solve our compounding meta-crisis with a new way of seeing, consciousness and being in which we are rooted again in a feeling of belonging and kinship with the natural world.

We must slow down and fall in love with each other and the world again. We need to re-enchanted the disenchanted mental colonization scheme of scientific materialism, which has put us under the spell that nature is simply dead matter and we exist in an ultimately meaningless and purposeless Universe.

Nature is alive as you and I are. It is sentient. Matter is not inert, it is conscious. The fifth element ether or space is not empty but full of awareness and aliveness. We can tap into this spiritual force effortlessly through awe by appreciating the vastness and mystery of life.

This form of direct perception opens us to a nondual ecology and does not arise through abstract thought, reason or language. In fact, the “a priori” Western secular materialist worldview actively suppresses the blossoming of this awe-inspiring nondual perception.

Awe opens us to the ineffable and the transcendental, which cannot so easily be put into words. It shifts our perception from being a detached observer to being an intimate part of what we are perceiving.

From this experience of awe bubbles up the feeling of wonder, which involves an intuitive knowing, curiosity and childlike aliveness that starts to bring us back to our original nature.

I believe awe and wonder are the ultimate medicine for the alienated modern self that gets so easily caught in a knotted web of cynicism, self-judgment and endless digital distractions.

The Golden Flower Blooms Effortlessly With Awe

The Golden Flower Blooming
A golden lotus flower blooming in the water.

The power of the Golden Flower is its pragmatic purpose to elicit experience, not to inculcate doctrines or engage in the moral superiority of righteousness and virtuousness.

What awe awakens in us is a deeper and more meaningful relationship with nature, God or the Way. Through this relationship, we reconnect with our original nature, holy spirit, Buddhanature or true self.

In the rather profound words of Taoist sage Lao Tzu on the first page of the Tao Te Ching, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. Names can be designed, but they are not fixed terms.” Or to put in a more Western context, the great mythologist Joseph Campbell explains, “God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought.”

Whether we believe in God, a Great Spirit or the Universe; awe is how we feel the magic of this transcendental being.

As luck would have it, tuning into the effortless awareness of awe and wonder is as simple as taking a walk. Become mindful of your senses and start to feel the vastness and mysteriousness of the world around you.

Watch the compulsive labelling, judging and comparing of the analytical minds arise and pass away. Allow your mind to quiet and awe will arise.

Notice the vast spacious blue sky above, the self-similar fractal patterns replicated in make every tree, plant and mountain, feel the space between things and the silence and stillness that is always here just waiting for us to stop thinking and tune in.

The golden flower blooms effortlessly when we learn to let go and live in awe and wonder at the beauty and mystery all around us.

Take some time to fully unplug today, take a walk and notice all the little wonders and how they make you feel effortlessly joyful and alive.

You will be amazed by where a simple walk can lead you.

Kyle Pearce

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