For most people in the past, nature was their teacher. However, in this space age of aggressive technology and industrialization, that is rarely the case anymore. We are all paying a heavy price for this so-called advancement in science. A writer described this misfortune aptly in the following words:
“So much of what Americans live with is an economic landscape – malls, stores, and movie theaters, ski slopes, and theme parks – in which one’s relationship to place has to do with boredom, undisciplined need, and envy…”
There is a lot of truth in the above passage. In the present time, television, computers, the internet, shopping malls, cinemas, and the constant (obsessive) pursuit of wealth, pleasure, and recognition/fame has replaced the natural world in many ways. And we have often become alienated from nature. The enveloping massive “economic landscape” causes us to become increasingly blind and unreceptive to what nature has to teach us. Skyscrapers and all kinds of imposing but artificial stuff surround and obscure us. Our senses are constantly being bombarded and confused by the media, billboards, advertisements, television, commercials, and songs.
As we immerse ourselves and sink more and more deeply in the superficial world of entertainment, competition, and unrestrained desires, we sacrifice our spirituality for what is false and fleeting. There is a widespread tendency to ignore topics that are really important and fundamental. Most people do not want to look into the great matter of their own impending death. It requires courage to calmly ponder such grave issues.
The modern world is filled to the brim with all kinds of methods to preserve and maintain one’s youthful appearance. When this reaches an extreme, one is ignoring reality. The continuous refusal to accept the inevitabilities of life causes tremendous stress. Giving in to acquisitive and egoistical inclinations increases one’s vulnerability.
Evading solemn and thought-provoking topics will not help one to understand the very thing that one dreads the most. One fears what one does not understand. The main and obvious lesson the natural world teaches is the harsh universal truth of how everything and everyone is impermanent and constantly changing.
An invention could bring harm or benefit to humanity. We have within us, the innate potential to inflict pain or to bestow aid upon living beings.
The direction one gravitates towards is an individual choice. Is one able to give up what one is for what one can become? Can one sacrifice one’s temporal-self for world-transcending values?
Bliss or misery,
The turbid world or the Pure Land,
Is the result of
The constant choices one makes,
And the path one takes.