"Beauty Arises In The Stillness Of Your Presence
What you have just described is something that I have occasionally experienced for brief moments when I am alone and surrounded by nature.
Yes, Zen masters use the word satori to describe a flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence. Although satori is not a lasting transformation, be grateful when it comes, for it gives you a taste of enlightenment. You may, indeed, have experienced it many times without knowing what it is and realizing its importance. Presence is needed to become aware of the beauty, the majesty, the sacredness of nature. Have you ever gazed up into the infinity of space on a clear night, awestruck by the absolute stillness and inconceivable vastness of it? Have you listened, truly listened to the sound of a mountain stream in the forest? Or to the song of a blackbird at dusk on a quiet summer evening? To become aware of such things, the mind needs to be still. You have to put down for a moment your personal baggage of problems, of past and future, as well as all of your knowledge; otherwise, you will see but not see, hear but not hear. Your total presence is required.
Beyond the beauty of the external forms, there is more here: something that cannot be named, something ineffable. some deep, inner, holy essence. Whenever and wherever there is beauty, this inner essence shines through somehow. It only reveals itself to you when you are present. Could it be that this nameless essence and your presence are one and the same? Would it be there without your presence? Go deeply into it. Find out for yourself.
When you experience these moments of presence, you likely didn’t realize that you were briefly in a state of no-mind. This is because the gap between that state and the influx of thought was too narrow. Your satori may have only lasted a few seconds before the mind came in, but it was there; otherwise, you would not have experienced the beauty. Mind can neither recognize nor create beauty. Only for a few seconds, while you were completely present, was that beauty or that sacredness there. Because the narrowness of that gap and a lack of vigilance and alertness on your part, you were probably unable to see the fundamental difference between perception, the thoughtless awareness of beauty, and the naming and interpreting of it as thought: the time gap was so small that it seemed to be a single process. The truth is, however, that the moment thought came in, all you had was a memory of it.
The wider the time gap between perception and thought, the more depth there is to you as a human being, which is to say the more conscious you are.
Many people are so imprisoned in their minds that the beauty of nature does not really exist for them. They might say, “What a pretty flower,” but that’s just a mechanical mental labeling. Because they are not still, not present, they don’t truly see the flower, don’t feel its essence, its holiness_ just as they don’t know themselves, don’t feel their own essence, their own holiness.
Because we live in such a mind-dominated culture, most modern art, architecture, music and literature are devoid of beauty, of inner essence, with very few exceptions. the reason is that the people who created those things cannot_ even for a moment_ free themselves from their mind. So they are never in touch with that place within where true creativity and beauty arise. The mind left to itself creates monstrosities, and not only in art galleries. Look at our urban landscapes and industrial wastelands. No civilization has ever produced so much ugliness." _Eckhart Tolle, The Power of NOW, pgs. 96-98