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Natural Unfolding

--by Gil Fronsdal (Jan 18, 2005)


I believe that spiritual practice unfolds most smoothly when we find how to accord ourselves with nature. A useful metaphor for this is river. The river metaphor is expressive of a practice of according with nature, with truth. A fast river may require our attention and navigation to stay in the current, off the rocks, and out of the eddies. Practice requires mindfulness and investigation, supported by calmness and inner stability, to discover nature and how to accord ourselves with it. Often this entails learning how to leave ourselves alone, how not to interfere with the natural unfolding and healing that will occur if we give them a chance.

Our conscious mind may not know what is supposed to unfold. Like a flower that needs water and fertilizer, our inner life opens in its varied ways when it is ready, if we nourish it with attentiveness, compassion and acceptance. [.] To work with nature, we also need to study it thoroughly. One way to do this is to investigate all the ways we work against nature by being judgmental, hostile, demanding, hurried, unkind or ungenerous.

In contrast to natural unfolding, there is change imposed by the ego, out of our insecurity, fear, hostility, greed, or ambition. One concept we often impose on our experience is an assumption of permanence, which can put us at odds with the impermanence of all natural processes. Another concept that can inhibit the expression of our nature is a fixed image of ourselves, which can easily propel us to conform to "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts." Because of our phenomenal ability for abstract thinking, we easily impose our world of ideas on top of nature rather than patiently allowing nature to show us what is needed and how we can come into accord with it.

--Gil Fronsdal

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On Jun 12, 2006 Dinesh wrote:

Henry David Thoreau: Nature is full of genius, full of divinity that no snowflake escapes its fashioning hand. Nature as probability: it is the nature of 101 highway to have accidents. But having your car totalled was a struggle because it had not come to it's natural end. It seemed violent. But that forced me to take the train everyday. Maybe I have to unnaturally lose the car, so I can let other lessons unfold. What is natural? Is anger natural too? Or should we not let that unfold? Nature helps me but it's hard to remember that. It's like exercise ... I often forget its value. There's a big oak tree in Henry Coe Park -- it seems alive to me. Bright river: 'Waking Life' on stage and you're a participant. Before anything, there was light; it was light only because it was contained in darkness. At a certain spot in the woods, there hasn't been much imposition of ideas on it. Don't let personal thoughts or feelings encumber your experience of nature. Quote by George Be  See full.

  • Henry David Thoreau: Nature is full of genius, full of divinity that no snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
  • Nature as probability: it is the nature of 101 highway to have accidents. But having your car totalled was a struggle because it had not come to it's natural end. It seemed violent. But that forced me to take the train everyday. Maybe I have to unnaturally lose the car, so I can let other lessons unfold.
  • What is natural? Is anger natural too? Or should we not let that unfold?
  • Nature helps me but it's hard to remember that. It's like exercise ... I often forget its value.
  • There's a big oak tree in Henry Coe Park -- it seems alive to me.
  • Bright river: 'Waking Life' on stage and you're a participant.
  • Before anything, there was light; it was light only because it was contained in darkness.
  • At a certain spot in the woods, there hasn't been much imposition of ideas on it.
  • Don't let personal thoughts or feelings encumber your experience of nature.
  • Quote by George Bernard Shaw: "Person who cannot accept self change, cannot change anything else."
  • Hiking is a form of meditation -- trees have been silent for so long and I can feel it.
  • Personal goal: try to be more in nature, no buses grinding or people rambling.
  • Nature is an incredibly important teacher for me.
  • In Australia, once, I honestly felt the presence of rocks ... what they had been through and experienced.
  • Listening to the wind helps me a lot.
  • What happens if the natural unfolding is disillusionment?
  • "If you choose to sit it out or dance, I hope you do dance."
  • Any choice you make will be your nature too. And you don't know it till you get there.
  • Sun God's prayer: consort of shadow.
  • Sometimes half poetry is more true than full poetry.
  • When I see dead nature (like broken concrete), I feel nature calling me to ask me -- can you do something with this?
  • Beauty of nature vs. beauty of city: what's the difference? I don't know but I get more drawn to nature.
  • Natural folding -- folding is also a part of nature. All things die. But whenver that happens, we resist.
  • Is negativity nature? Are these walls nature? Is white nature? There's a different energy ... a temple vs. a bar.
  • In terms of emotion -- what is more natural -- anger or compassion? For me, it's compassion.
  • Both light and darkness are constantly trying to coming together.
  • What makes nature special is that it's beyond us -- that gives us nothing to attach our thoughts to. And connecting to that, gives us a certain sense of joy.
  • Flowing with nature, accepting nature as it unfold moment to moment, is key.
  • Ocean: fish are plants, bigger fish are eating smaller fish. It's all nature. Growth lies in accepting that. The city and the street and the garden and the parks.
  • One of the first American to go to Japan to study Aikido learn a valuable lesson: simple kindness trumped violence.
  • Recently in the Amazon in Brazil, I saw two rivers next to each other, but they don't mix with each other!
  • I know a person who meditates best when in the midst of people; particularly, the trains of India! Most people go to find "nature" or peace, he rushes to find chaos! :)
  • What I remember about nature is the smells -- almost the internal part of that experience.
  • Central concept of spiritual path is to find our true self.
  • River metaphor vs. climbing to the top of the mountaintop metaphor. With one you flow, with the other you struggle.

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