Now is the time of year when the leaves begin to change. They become flush with bright, beautiful color and mesmerize us up until they begin to fall from the branches. It’s a breathtaking display in early October, but by November, as we tirelessly try to rake and bag them all up, the whole thing seems to lose its appeal. The fact that we even try to clean up after the trees in this way is a clear sign of our collective ignorance of the beautiful symbiotic dance of nature. Raking and disposing of leaves is a foolish business that not only cheats the trees that dropped them but makes it difficult for us to learn from this sacred process. The way that the trees offer up their leaves to the earth presents a great deal of wisdom that we can apply directly to ourselves, inside and out.
As with any aspect of nature, we must see it as a part of ourselves; not symbolically but truly and directly. It is the projection screen that shows us our design without resorting to brutal and barbaric “scientific” practices like vivisection and radiation. Every aspect of our physiology, anatomy and even our psychology can be seen and explained in the natural world. What can the falling leaves teach us about ourselves? When the autumn comes, the trees bare themselves before the world and offer up their achievements to the soil, which bore them. They shed every last leaf without hesitation and begin a great undertaking of inner work to prepare for the spring.
As the years of our lives pass by, we learn, grow and develop. The average person changes a great deal throughout their lives as they give in to our natural process of self-discovery. Sometimes when we look back on the things that we used to think, say or do, we become embarrassed or ashamed of the ignorance that becomes apparent to us only in retrospect. This could easily lead one to hide the past away and pretend, in vain, that they are a new person and that the “person they used to be” no longer exists. This idea is folly and serves only to galvanize concepts of separateness and the exclusivity of linear time. Our life is a continuum, and everything we have done, are doing and will ever do are all one in the same. All the thoughts, beliefs and ideas that motivate our choices and actions are perpetually evolving, and in that evolution, they change the way that they influence our experience of life. They may seem to change or even to be replaced, but it is only our perception of them and our capacity to realize their significance that changes.
We cannot separate ourselves from our past anymore than the leaves of this autumn can separate themselves from the fresh new buds of the coming spring. The trees withdraw their energy inward from their leaves and shed them to the ground. The leaves, complex amalgamations of carbons, nitrogen, minerals and organisms, then disintegrate and give themselves to the new integrity of the rich, fertile soil. This rich soil then provides the materials each tree needs to produce the new leaves. Leaves are so very important to trees. They provide a channel that brings the power of a star into the rich life of a forest. With the leaf-borne infusion of starlight, trees grow tall and strong to become a home for myriads of living beings, and they produce fruits to feed the forest. However, leaves do not belong to the trees. They are only borrowed from the soil below, and to that soil they must always return. Those leaves that fall are not only for the tree that shed them but for all life that could come to be from that one rich black earth.
Everything we say and do is a form of our unique expression. What we express is not ourselves but rather an illustration of our perception of consciousness itself. All our beliefs, preferences, habits, fears and understandings are leaves on our tree. They allow us to interact with and commune with the rest of creation by giving us a unique form among the whole of the one living organism. Consciousness expresses itself through us, and through that expression, consciousness learns and grows; it evolves. Because we live in a culture that does not maintain a focus on our unified nature, we tend to believe that these leaves are who we are. We become identified with them and attached to our expression, and, in so doing, we forget that we are just a part of a much more powerful whole. If we become attached, we do not let them return to the soil of consciousness; to refine themselves and reintegrate into an evolved understanding of the vast universe. We hold onto them as they crinkle and become stale as the soil below us, being starved for nourishment, stagnate and become inert. It cannot feed the evolutionary process of consciousness if we do not return those parts of ourselves that we have bound to our own deceptively isolated self-image.
In our society, we base our value on our creative expression so much that we cannot help but define ourselves by it. People are quite literally valued by their works. Their expressions are sold off to the highest bidder, held captive in the dungeons of vanity. People are defined by their ideas, beliefs and image; they create a brand and bind themselves to the collective circumstances of a nonexistent moment. The temporal is worshiped as the highest source, and attachment becomes an imperative of survival in an unforgiving world. What if a tree would be so irrationally selfish with the leaves that it bares; if it succumbs to the tempting praise of our adoration of its accoutrements, if it thought, “Without my leaves, who would I be, what would I be praised for?” If a tree fell into that very common trap of misidentification, then the soil would become barren and inert, and the whole forest would begin to die. As it happens, a tree does not make such errors. It sees itself as an extension of the fertile black source and thus offers its creations as a self-serving sacrifice to the essence of conscious life.
The more clearly the source of creation comes through in our expression, the more moving and pleasing our endeavors of creativity are to us and to those around us. This makes it all the more difficult yet all the more important to withdraw from any false sense of ownership or identity with such expressions. We also must be aware of the way we are prone to hold too tightly onto the parts of ourselves that we are running away from. We can hold onto something favorable due to fear of losing it, but we can also hold onto what is unfavorable due to fear of never being free of it. If we claim and become attached to the thoughts that serve our self-created image, then we must also claim and become attached to the thoughts and actions that we perceive as hurtful or destructive. We praise ourselves for the former and condemn ourselves for the latter. If we try to condemn these aspects of ourselves, then we are doomed to condemn ourselves for as long as we hold onto such condemnation. We continue to punish ourselves for these things, yet as we think we are now a different person, we punish ourselves by punishing and condemning others who are reflecting these parts of ourselves that we are running from. This duplicitous assault on our own nature can only be justified by the image of ourselves that we have become attached to. Unless we relinquish attachment to all thought and deeds, we cannot find peace. If, through the realization of our place in the larger consciousness, we detach ourselves from these things, then we can find the essential virtue in them all and discover that any perceived negativity was only the product of a distorted reflective lens.
Trees need not worry about losing their leaves as much as we need not worry about letting go of our temporal creative achievements. The reason is the same; both of these beautiful manifestations of life are merely reflections of a much more rewarding source. A tree does not value itself through the lush display of its beautiful greenery. A tree only thinks of itself as a part of the soil and so it devotes itself to the health and quality of that soil. In this devotional process, faith is placed into the soil, and the stunning floral display we see is a mere manifestation of such a powerful process. If we value ourselves not by the quality and substance of our creations but by our devotion to our unified essence and an unceasing recognition of our integrated, interconnected oneself, then we will be merging with the practical perfection of physical manifestation—of nature—and such a phenomenon is sure to manifest in the glorious display of physical enlightenment and infinite beauty.
Every moment is a turning cycle of the seasons. We burst forth in the springtime of our creative living experience and adorn ourselves in the unique expression of the underlying tides of consciousness. We bask in the beauty of creation and live every thought and deed as unassumingly as the sun floods its warm rays into the ever-reaching depths of an endless space. In the autumnal introspection of the one moment, we begin to glow with the vibrant colorful splendor of self-realization. We recognize the source of our emanations and liberate them from the cumbersome confines of our limited minds. We fearlessly shed ourselves to the rich vast soil of consciousness itself in our actualization of our blissfully unified nature. With our soul then bare and free from the bounds of attachment, we touch the very essence of our being, and in this sacred communion, we are not renewed but rather manifest as renewal itself, where we are inevitably inspired to spring back into the glory of formal creation. The seasons turn in the one living moment and, as the light of awareness burns brighter and brighter, they turn faster and faster; ultimately bursting free from the shackles of conceptual time and revealing their simultaneous form.
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Autumn may be an intense experience for us, and its perceived favorability is proportionate to our understanding of the inner process that it represents. It is a time when we can touch the core of our essence, behold only the most essential parts of who we are, and begin earnest inward evaluation of who and what our life and actions are reflecting to the universe. This stage of our process is as outwardly apparent as the fiery display of the October trees. Although it can seem a bit tumultuous to us inside, others around us can sense a kind of pleasingly sober calm that is indicative of the higher state of consciousness that makes this process possible. It is a time to be courageous and bravely accept ourselves fully and completely and let go of the temporal things that might bring temporary solace in spite of the truth of who we really are. The past is not past, it is just a part of the present continuum. Every part of who you are and what you’ve done is an inseparable, irreplaceable part of who you are and the boundless potential of what you shall become. Letting go of the trinkets of vanity opens your arms to embrace the wholeness of eternal life.
Take this lesson from the trees, and perhaps we will be more reluctant to interfere with their own process here in our world. Is our tendency to clean all the leaves from the yard purely practical, or are we hiding from this sacred vital process within ourselves? Let the trees nourish themselves and leave the leaves where they lie. The autumn leaves that fall are an offering of love and devotion to the fertile soil of infinite physical creation. The autumn leaves are the springtime. Each vibrant leaf that flutters through the brisk sapphire sky is a garden beyond time. When we recognize this, we remove ourselves from our own limits of time and space to see that birth and death share the same body, and that body is immortal.
Check out Matthew David’s transformation story!