According to an ancient wisdom, a human experience goes through five layers which include the environment, physical body, mind, intuition, and self or spirit. While some people describe the spirit as the non-physical element of the body which houses character and emotions, some would even attribute one’s sense of purpose and meaning to spirit.
In a time of scientific advancement when complex equations and lab coats are deemed the most trustworthy, the metaphysical world can be quite confusing for its independence of the governance of science. However, thousands of years ago before the growing feuds between ‘science’ and ‘religion’, humanity sought to learn the secrets of the universe whether they were mysteries of the soul, or galactic marvels.
After years of meticulously studying the human body, our understanding of such majestically entwined system continues to unravel some of the most complicated physiological puzzles. Nonetheless, the animating force of this vehicle, without which all collapses, remains far from comprehension when perceived solely through the lenses of logic.
In the absence of an absolute explanation for the spirit, invariably defining what a spiritual experience is becomes almost impossible. It might thus be best to consider spirituality a very personal experience that can be achieved through multiple practices, evoking various feelings and psychological statuses.
Although it is has become customary of modern communities to link spirituality to religion, rich spiritual experiences are often encountered outside the vicinity of institutionalized religions. Before there were houses of worship, nature in its full glory posed as the all-encompassing house of worship that knows no gates, walls or ceilings. Despite the abundance of religions around the world today and their adjacent spaces of worship, the religious and unreligious alike still find their way back to nature to quench that inevitable spiritual thirst.
But how is it that nature has continued to spiritually nurture so many peoples throughout history in spite of the ever changing face of religion?
According to the biophilia hypothesis, humans are innately inclined to reaching out and connecting with nature and other life forms. It is not so surprising when one realizes that humans are made up of nothing different from the elements and energies which make up the entire universe, essentially making them an inherent part of nature. Based on this principle, environment does not solely lie on the outside, but is rather a core part of our very making.
Could it then be that when we meditate and connect with nature we are in fact connecting with our extended bodies? The opposite could also be comprehended to be true, whereby establishing a vivid understanding of nature leads to better understanding of ourselves.
Hypotheses about the link between man and nature and the lengths to which they interchangeably influence one another extend much further than humans merely being physical constituents of the overall grand design of the cosmos. One theory suggests that the outer universe is a reflection of our consciousness, a hypothesis which rests on notions such as the percentage of water being relatively proximate in the human body and on Earth, or other notions of circular motion of elements around a center manifested in the atomic structure as well as the solar system.
While many sciences cannot be fully grasped without a certain level of prerequisite knowledge, man will inevitably find himself looking up to starry skies and pondering what lies beyond and where he fits in this massive universe. Could it be that our souls carry deep knowledge hindered by nothing else than our constant mental intervention?
As above, so below.
If you're keen to learn about some of the world's ancient religions which sought spirituality and the Divine through nature, make sure you check out 'Nature and Spirituality Pt.2: Where Did Ancient Cultures Find the Divine?' here.