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Nature’s Wisdom

Lessons from the Natural World

By S.P. Austen

This book has been written to assist the increasing numbers of people who are seeking to develop their character and potential as human beings in a world that seems determined to defeat all of their most noble qualities.

Essentially, this is a book about Nature and about the world around us. It is a book that seeks to point out the often hidden mysteries of the Natural World in such a manner that we can learn from those mysteries and then apply them to our life experience.

The reader will discover that the book is divided into 71 analogies, each of which contains examples of my own personal observations from the Natural World, that if looked for carefully, are teaching us lessons about ourselves.

Every analogy which comes under any particular heading concentrates upon one or more personal qualities or ‘virtues’ called ‘keywords’ that can be developed by earnestly observing the natural forces at work in the world, either amongst the animal kingdom, the plants and trees, insects, birds, or the elemental forces that play upon and shape the Earth.

The objective for the reader is to think deeply about the lessons that are being conveyed in this book and meditate upon them in order to gain the most from each lesson.

In essence, this is a reflective book, and I commend it to the reader to utilise it as such so that what is being imparted may be completely understood at a deep level of being.

There are a great many things in the Natural World which can help us along our path in life; a tree may teach us, or a humble flower. A bird may bring the lesson, or a wild animal.

Observing a river or a stream may be what is needed, or perhaps a mountain will instruct us, or a rock, a stone or a gem.

Perhaps you will look up at the night sky and learn from the stars in the heavens. Everything in creation contains some lesson in it, if only we are willing to take the time off from our busy lives to look for it.

These invaluable lessons are rather like those wonderful drawings and paintings that depict natural scenes but have cleverly disguised animals, faces etc, hidden amongst the scenery in the trees and in the rocks. It is only after careful study of the picture that these hidden meanings and messages can be perceived and interpreted. Nature, likewise, holds hidden messages for us.

This is the purpose of this book; by reading the text and studying the accompanying pictures it is hoped that you will increase your powers of observation and awareness of the Natural World around you, and so deepen your respect and reverence for it as you learn the valuable lessons that it is providing for your own personal growth.

The valuable lessons that the Natural World teaches us are probably endless. I have attempted to fill the pages of this particular book with some of the best examples that I have discovered for myself. Perhaps, as you read and study this book, you also will discover your own examples from the world around you and add them to those presented here.

May all that you read in these pages resonate with you, and lead you deeper into a more personal and interactive appreciation of the Natural World and the natural forces which play around us and upon us every day of our lives.

Nature is speaking to you. Can you hear it calling?

In memory of Pia,

Beloved Sheltie,

Truest Friend,

& Sacred Spirit

Nature’s Analogies…

Flow like a River

Keyword: Harmony

When we observe the course of a river, we see that often there is some obstruction that has fallen into the flow, such as a log or a rock. Yet the river does not cease its course because of the obstruction, but rather flows around it or over it, thus incorporating the obstacle into its natural flow.

By thus continuing to pursue its course regardless of the problem, the river makes use of the seemingly difficult obstruction as a means to enhance its beauty and therefore continues in an uninterrupted stream that babbles and bubbles with enhanced beauty because of the very impediment that at first appearance seemed to hinder the flow. The river has turned the obstruction into an advantage that actually increases the wonder of Nature itself.

By emulating the river, we ourselves can turn any difficult situation into something positive that adds to our stature and therefore teaches us to make the most of our abilities and our circumstances.

The Still Lake

Keyword: Calmness

In contrast to the flowing river, take a hint from the stillness of a lake. If the lake is rippled and disturbed, you cannot see down to the bottom. Neither does the lake reflect the glory of the surrounding mountains, the trees, blue sky or sun. In its disturbed state, animals do not even come to drink from the lake.

But when the lake is absolutely still, like a sheet of glass, it easily reflects the mountains, trees, sky and sun perfectly in a clear mirror image. It is then that the wild animals come and drink from the lake.

Therefore, if we also learn to become still and calm within, like the crystal clear lake, we may also draw all things to us and reflect the greater glory of life in our very stillness. Others will naturally be drawn to us because of our wonderful state of calmness, just like the animals which are drawn to calm waters. This is the Law of Attraction in its essence, as found in Nature.

But if we are disturbed, we tend to push good things away from us, rather like the animals that are repelled by the disturbance and shy away from drawing near. In a state of turbulence, the glory of life that continually surrounds us is impossible to perceive or appreciate - the mirror becomes distorted and cloudy.

So many people are working themselves up into a frenzy in their eagerness to get the things that they think will make them happy, when all they really need to do to experience genuine happiness is to learn the art of becoming still and calm. It is only from the midst of calmness that we are able to see our life more clearly, just like the reflections mirrored upon the surface of the lake.

Shine like the Sun

Keyword: Generosity

Consider the sun. It does not ask you for anything in return for the light, warmth and energy it provides for you. It shines on the good and the bad, the just and the unjust, giving of its radiance towards all living things, yet the sun itself is not in the least diminished for it.

Likewise, if we are radiant and generous it does no harm to us. By behaving benevolently in a sun-like manner we place ourselves above our own problems and become a blessing to all those who come into the sphere of our influence.

Holiday makers in their millions go off looking for the sun in order to bask in its light and get sun-tanned. In a similar way, when we radiate a generous, kindly spirit to others, many are drawn to us by the ‘light’ that shines from us and we become a light for the world.

The Firm Mountain

Keywords: Strength & Endurance

A mountain is constantly assailed by the elements; rain, hail, snow and wind are perpetually playing upon the bare faces of mountains, yet these geological monoliths remain unmoved and barely changed throughout the centuries.

Life casts many tribulations at us, the rain of tears, the hail of insults, the freezing snows of hardships innumerable and the drastic winds of unwanted change. But by adopting the eternal strength of the mountain we can stand firm in the face of all difficulties and emerge triumphant and unmoved.

We will not always have the answers to all of our problems, and there isn’t always a ready to hand solution. Sometimes, all we can do is simply be strong. Sometimes, by accepting and enduring what life throws at us and refusing to crumble is the greatest and most useful thing we can do.

There are times in life when the real solution to the problem is simply to adopt a position of strength. Setting the example of strength, without providing any particular answer is often the only solution. This position of strength and endurance can often solve the entire problem. Then, when the troubles pass, just as rain must pass, as snow must melt, as hail must cease and the winds become still, if we have endured it all like the mountain, and have not crumbled, we remain, and find that troubles are no more.

You Reap what you Sow

Keywords: Responsibility & Justice

Although this is a well-known analogy, made famous by Jesus, it is one that is worth repeating. If you sow seeds of negative thought such as hatred, anger, resentment, jealousy or envy, you will surely reap a harvest of the same. A gardener who sows his flower or vegetable seeds knows exactly what they will grow into. Yet how is it that we do not or cannot recognise that we are sowing seeds with our thoughts and attitudes?

If we can visualize that the atmosphere around us is basically a field of energy, and that this energy is the ‘soil’ which is receptive to new thought, then all of our thoughts and feelings are actually ‘seeds’ that are sown into this energy field. We thus activate the Law of Attraction which dictates an echo in response to our thoughts and emotions, saying over and over, you reap what you sow.

If we can remain open-minded enough to accept that this could in fact be the case, it would be wise, therefore, to pay particular attention to our thinking process. The wise individual then sows thoughts that are positive, unselfish and uplifting. Such thoughts, being ‘seeds’ will sprout in the ‘soil’ of the energy field in which we live and move and have our being, and, like the gardener’s seeds they will grow and produce abundance in their season, drawing up good, healthy growth into your life.

Taking this analogy a step further, it is not enough to merely cast the seed-thoughts out and then forget about them. Like the gardener and his flower seeds, we must water and then fertilise our thoughts like growing plants. We do this by trying, as best we can, to continually remain positive, cheerful, and hopeful, no matter what. This attitude revitalises and nurtures our original thought and takes care of its progress, just like a good gardener who takes care of his new plants.

But if we constantly send out negative thoughts, words and emotions, all we can expect to reap in return is more negativity in our lives. Sow the seeds of thistles and bindweed and all you can expect to grow is thistles and bindweed. In effect, most of what comes into our lives is only in direct proportion to what we are sending out into the energy field around us. What we get back in return is justice. That justice may either harm us further or heal us, but the result is always self generated.

The responsibility for our lives rests upon our own shoulders – literally, for it is that which comes from the thoughts in our heads that creates our own reality. We have a choice; either to sow negative thoughts or positive thoughts into the seed-bed that pervades the atmosphere around us. We must be careful what we choose to sow, for we shall surely reap the harvest of what we have sown.

Water dripping upon a Stone

Keywords: Patience & Persistence

If we need a lesson in patience and persistence, observe how water drips upon a stone. For a long, long time, it appears that the water does not affect the stone, but in the fullness of time it gently erodes the stone away bit by bit. The evidence for this can be found in certain caves where water drips slowly and continually and, over a period of time depressions and holes are worn through solid rock. It is the accumulative effect of this continual dripping that works the wonder, slowly, imperceptibly, dissolving away what seems to be the impossible.

In like manner, persistent efforts, even if not immediately obvious, do indeed achieve an effect, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to be. In a similar fashion, our patient and persistent efforts can wear away the obstacles that we encounter in life, no matter how hard, solid or impenetrable they may appear to be. Some things in life just take time. Perhaps we should all remember that, and thus, persevere.

The Revolving World

Keyword: Purpose

Consider this; the earth upon which we live revolves around the sun at precisely the right distance and at precisely the right speed to provide precisely the perfect conditions to sustain an infinite variety of life forms.

Is all this occurring by mere chance? Even cold-minded scientists now agree that the chances of this happening at all are literally astronomical, and even more strangely is that our moon exactly covers the sun during an eclipse, even though these two celestial bodies are millions of miles apart and differing vastly in size. Yet being at exactly the right distance necessary for this phenomenal feat to occur, the moon is able to cover the sun during an eclipse. Scientists also agree that this fact alone is astounding, and the odds against such a phenomenon are colossal.

Does this suggest then that there is a plan for our little blue world set upon its course in the midst of space?

If there is a plan for our earth, which is perfectly balanced in its revolutions in space like a gigantic mathematical equation made manifest, then it brings hope to us that there is also a plan for the human race, and therefore for each one of us as individuals. This should give us hope that there is some unseen reason for all that is manifest around us in the material universe; that no matter how meaningless our lives may appear to be at times, there is somehow an overall scheme of things that fits each one of us perfectly into this scheme, as perfectly as the earth revolving around the sun.

Thorns & Nettles

Keywords: Dedication & Endurance

When late summer brings forth its crop of fruits our eyes are naturally drawn to the luscious blackberries that grow in abundance in the wild hedgerows of the countryside. We find the fruits irresistible, and can hardly help but pick them, despite being pricked by thorns on the bushes and stung by nettles that invariably grow up around the blackberries like sentries.

Normally we wouldn’t go near those piercing thorns and stinging nettles, but the fruits tempt us. Heedless of cuts and stings we pick the berries regardless of the trouble it takes to get to them, for the fruits are worth all of our efforts.

We can apply this philosophy in our lives to any goal we have in mind; if the ‘fruit’ is worth the dedication that will be required of us we will endure the trials it takes to obtain it, ignoring our sufferings and not complaining because ultimately the fruit is worth the effort involved.

From Darkness to Light

Keywords: Faith & Hope

Have you ever remained awake throughout the night to witness the dawn? It is a magical time. It is also a moment when night seems to envelope the world in an impenetrable darkness that would seem impossible to dispel. Just before the dawn breaks, before it brings the first glimmer of sunlight, is the absolute darkest hour.

It is worth reminding ourselves that this analogy holds very true in our lives in many ways. It is often when we are at the absolute point of despair that things suddenly begin to pick up again, that somehow we receive hope and courage and can see circumstances changing in our favour once more.

Therefore, never despair, and teach yourself the inner wisdom that Nature shows us; that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Our faith, indeed our knowledge that the darkest hour must turn into a new dawn will see us through.

Night will always turn into day once more, for life is an endless cycle of opposites. No matter how bad your present experiences may be, know this; the dawn is coming!

Growth comes in Cycles

Keywords: Acceptance & Harmony

Recognise that your personal development is a cyclical one. We can learn from any tree that grows how in the early stages the seed (such as an apple pip) lies dormant in the ground, nurtured by the soil in which it is embedded.

This stage might be compared to being in the womb. Only after it has been sufficiently protected from the elements in the comfort of the soil will it finally put forth a shoot and emerge as a tender sapling in the spring.

This period might also be compared to our infancy. It is a tender stage of life. In the course of time, the sapling goes through many transitions, ultimately becoming the tree.

We also grow into adulthood in like manner. Yet the cycle doesn’t end there for the tree, neither for us as people. The tree will shed its leaves in autumn and then become dormant throughout the winter. In spring it will put forth new leaves and in summer it will ultimately bear its fruits, such as the apple tree does.

In like manner, do we not have our own cycles? We each have periods of ‘withdrawal’ from life, when we feel a need to go inward, to remain centred in the quiet of the inner self. This corresponds to an autumnal/winter period, and we should not resist this natural inclination anymore than the tree would resist the onset of winter and the natural shedding of its leaves.

We need to reach an acceptance that such periods in our lives are necessary in order to rejuvenate our energies. After this withdrawal period always comes the spring and then the summer follows quickly upon the heels of spring.

Likewise, in our lives, we have our own times of re-emerging, of coming back out into society and revealing our glories. We need to learn to go with this at those times and express who and what we are, just as any tree will express itself at the right time in the right season, like the apple blossom that precedes the fruitage.

Each of us, therefore, has a duty to our own self to recognise our own personal growth cycles, and not to resist them but actively become involved in the process of going with these cycles.

The result of this conscious recognition of our own personal growth cycles is a life that is calmer and more harmonious in every way. Note therefore, that the tree will never resist the seasons, rather, it blends in with and becomes at one with them.

In living by such a philosophy in which we recognise when we need to go inwards or come outwards, by listening intently to how we really feel inside ourselves, each of us then develops an advantage of inner happiness which those who resist their natural cycles cannot attain.


Keywords: Beauty & Simplicity

Let us learn a lesson from the humblest of flowers. Some of the most beautiful and enlivening flowers we see in the world around us are the simplest in composure, such as crocuses. Crocuses are amongst the least complex of plants, consisting basically of a bulb with a couple of simple blade-like leaves and a single flower. Yet how remarkable they are when they push up through the soil in spring! They appear in a variety of mesmerising colours which cheer the heart and delight the eye.

In their simplicity these flowers add a great glory to our surroundings. We also really do need to simplify our lives if we wish to achieve inner and outer harmony. Is it necessary to make our lives complicated by pursuing so many desires and accumulating so many ‘things’?

The simple crocus does not amass more of anything ~ certainly not of space, not even of more leaves or more flowers. It is content with its two uncomplicated leaves and its one unpretentious flower. All of its vital forces draw up energy from the soil to produce one solitary bloom only once per year; here today and gone tomorrow. But a lasting, radiant impression is made upon the eyes of the beholder. The crocus, possessing so little, has attained so much. Surely there is an important message in this for all of us.

The Oak Tree Takes its Time

Keyword: Endurance

Consider the mighty oaks. They take a long time growing to full maturity, and for many years they remain unnoticed until they produce their first crop of acorns. It takes about forty years for an oak to produce its first acorns, and up until that point the tree is rather insignificant.

Yet in time the oak tree becomes the mightiest of all trees in the wood, providing a home for birds and supporting a diverse range of insects and lichens. There is no denying the rugged beauty of oak trees, and how many people are drawn to them. All of this from a tree that remained unnoticed for a great number of years in the wood or hedgerow.

Sometimes our success comes late in life, and for most people it is because we need to reach a certain degree of maturity first. Young oaks are blasted by the winds, baked by the sun, soaked by the rain and frozen by the frost and snow. All of these elemental effects serve only to strengthen the tree and increase its growth.

We hold this in common with the oak as the many vicissitudes of life assail us also. Therefore, welcome those things that appear as troubles, for like the elements beating upon the young oak they serve to improve the quality of your nature. Do not despise difficulties but recognise that they are drawn to you in order to help you to grow.

Do not despair if your achievements come late in life ~ you will probably appreciate them far more. Remember the oak, that it brings forth its acorns only when the tree is mature enough to produce them, and when it does bear fruit, the acorns are plentiful indeed.

The Spider’s Web

Keywords: Perseverance, Trust & Faith

There is a lesson in perseverance which comes from the persistent spider. No matter how many times the spider’s web is destroyed, the spider spins new threads all over again, repairing and double-checking that the web is perfect.

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