Creative Intelligence and Harmony with the Natural World

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By Kainat Felicia Norton and Muinnudin Charles Smith

Tuning ourselves to clarity, creativity and a sense of possibility is vital in meeting the ecological challenges we now face. This is essential for anyone who undertakes a path of social action, as it is easy to be overwhelmed by the severity of the problems around us. The natural world is our teacher. Nature does not retract from roadblocks to evolution, but instead experiments.

Meditation, instead of being an obscurity and an abstraction, can best be understood as a simple tool for appreciating our world and aligning with Nature’s rhythms and imagination. Explaining this further, physicist David Bohm (1918–94) emphasis that meditation reveals a sense of the interconnectedness and an underlying “implicate order” behind physical reality. He suggests that from this experience arises an informed creativity that can help bring discernment and effective action to the world.

Making a Difference

Given the scale and intensity of the issues we face, can an individual’s meditation and other pathways of cultivating fresh and creative perception really make a difference in our world? Is it true that, as the Persian poet Jalālu’d-dīn Rūmī exclaims, “The clear bead at the center changes everything”?

Sufis accent that our collective human evolution is “worked out” within the details of our individual lives. In this regard, Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan observes that our attention to our planet’s own intelligence is opened via meditation, and that such an opening has a profound effect:

“The collective working of many minds as one single idea, and the activity of the whole world, are governed by the intelligence of the planet, and unlock the doors opening up into a glorious future.”

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C.G. Jung identifies a similar principle in his studies of the alchemy of human consciousness, describing a contagious action of multiplicatio. He characterizes this as akin to a homeopathic-renewing power within a tincture, the effect of which spreads dramatically. A parallel to this multiplicatio, operating in the psyche, is found in the natural world. For example, biologist Lynn Margulis observes that, by the profound interconnectedness within all living matter, a change in the genetic structure of a single microbe will, within a few years, affect the entire gene pool of all life forms on our planet.

Extending beyond the Sufi tradition, Indigenous teachers and other contemplatives have recognized Nature to be a sacred manuscript capable of providing the guidance that we need to survive and flourish. Many have also emphasized that our individual perception and vision play a critical role in our evolution.

Clear and luminous perception obtained via a deep practice of reflection or meditation sparks creativity and opens new possibilities. Such perception is a significant human contribution to the flourishing and vitality of our Earth. It may help us to realize and be more responsive to what Thomas Berry called Earth’s “radiant intelligibility”, and better serve and safeguard our natural world.

Felicia Norton is International Head of the Ziraat, a school of sacred ecology. Charles Smith teaches sustainability at Hofstra University Their book An Emerald Earth: Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creative Beauty in Our World is published by Twoseasjoin Press (2008).

[1] excerpts from Resurgence and Ecology, Sept/Oct 2018 by Felicia. Norton and Charles. Smith, Fresh Perception