Friday, 17 December 2010

The Language of Nature

Silence and sound are essential features of life. Everything in nature flows between two shores: from the fullness of silence to sounds and forms, and back again to silence. This is the melodious dance of creation. Is it not true that all particularities of this ever-changing world seem to emerge, are transformed and eventually return to rest in the ground of all things which is infinitely stable? Just as the sound of one's breathing emerges from the silence of unbroken wholeness, so does this world come into being from the unmanifest ground of existence. All works of art too must reflect that unmanifest eternal field of life so that all who view it will hear the song of silence awakening deep within themselves.

Onward and upward, O artists, by way of the inward journey. Life is both surface and symbol. Our task is to translate the language of nature into the language of art. It is not what we paint, what we dance, what we compose that matters so much - it is not the content, but the structure in which it rests. What matters most is how we connect the abstract wholeness of life to each of its particular expressions, the immaterial essence to its material substance.

Every point in creation contains infinity and eternity embedded within it, so one can paint virtually anything, but it is the 'cadence of interrelationship' between infinity and the point which makes the creation of the artist sing.

Infinity exists in every flower, every blade of grass, every wafting cloud. Nature is at once spiritual and material, harmonizing and diversifying. Our challenge as artists is to articulate the deepest value of life. Look around – look deeply within – look, look – be ever open to life's immensity.

Barbara Briggs is a writer, poet, teacher of Transcendental Meditation and author of The Contribution of Maharishi's Vedic Science to Complete Fulfilment in Life. This excerpt is from Vision Into Infinity, her first book, which is out of print but will hopefully be reprinted soon. Email Barbara

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


As the days grow short the shadows creep in. The blanket of leaves grows dark and lies like a shroud upon the cold body of the earth as she draws back her fluids into herself. Winter sucks the life out of the land with a harsh and oppressive hunger, and all that is soft and warm recoils in the face of her advance. The woodland creatures hibernate, sealing up their dens to salvage and sustain the heat in the heart of themselves. They wrap themselves around it and sleep, little pockets of hot life imbedded in the cold clay. Secret dreamers among the black roots, spirits of fur and claw and snuffling snout, cave dwellers, fire keepers, as silent as grubs they hide from winter’s fierce and probing tongue.
We too are called upon to descend. Into stillness. Into the heat of ourselves. Into feeling. Yet so often we fear descent and struggle to resist it. We fear the death of what we know, the collapse of all that supports us. We fear the shadows that we meet there.
Yet every winter, Nature surrenders painlessly to this descent. She follows the cycle of her own being back down into the heart of herself. Of all the lessons she teaches us this is perhaps the most profound, that descent is not to be avoided but embraced. Entered into voluntarily it is a sweet release and the doorway to transformation. It is the death and dissolution of the caterpillar in the cocoon.

Ian Siddons Heginworth is an environmental arts therapist, founder of the Devon-based Wild Things community programme and author of Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life, Spirit’s Rest Books.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Courage, My Love

I’ve just returned from Japan, attending an international meeting to address the annual killing of thousands of dolphins there. Unbeknownst to most, this bloodbath is actually funded by the commercial trafficking of live dolphins, a few of which are shipped to holiday marine attractions and dolphin-swim parks around the world at exorbitant prices – while the rest are slaughtered as 'pests' and sold for their meat, which contains dangerous levels of toxic contaminants.

Predictably, this situation is enmeshed in a complex web of conflicting political and economic interests, while Japanese media often try to paint this issue as East clashing with West.

Dolphins – surely recognised as one of the most beautiful, joyous and inspiring of creatures, would seem a poignant representative of our troubled blue-green world. We know in our soul of souls that harming these creatures is surely wrong. 
Yet with danger comes opportunity. The plight of the dolphins represents a great challenge, extended to the human race as a whole. Can we avoid the distraction of supposed cultural divides and instead connect through something far more ancient, universal and profound – our compassion, our very humanity? 
Will we ignore the cries for help, or will we accept this challenge echoing across the seas and continents: to reach within ourselves and discover our archetypical inner hero, and stand up for all that is good and green in our world? Can we engage and inspire a critical mass of people to do the same? 
We can. And we are. Courage, my love.

You can see two short dolphin music videos I created from my time in Japan:
or on my website:

Leah Lemieux is an author and lecturer who works on dolphin protection, education and conservation initiatives.