The Beautiful Flower and the Ugly Man – M.S.Srinivasan

A naturalist, poet and environmentalist says:

“Oh, our human race, it has become so ugly. If God appears to me I will ask him to make me into a flower. I don’t want to be part of this violent and greedy human race.”

A very beautiful sentiment! But is this the right choice for a human being? A flower is undoubtedly an infinitely more beautiful creation than man, who in his present condition, is probably the ugliest of Nature’s creation. But after achieving human existence if you want to go back in evolution, I don’t think neither God nor Nature will be very much pleased, because it is a very ignorant desire. If you insist and God consents to your wish there can’t be a more terrible curse. You have to repeat again all the millions of years of evolution you have passed from the plant and animal kingdom to become a man. If you cry and protest after realizing the folly of your ignorant prayer, God and Nature may tell you, “Look, we have invested so much wisdom, energy, effort and time in making you a man with great spiritual possibilities. But you want to go back again to the plant kingdom and become a flower. Now suffer and learn the consequences of your ignorance.” Don’t take this literally and ask “How can God be so cruel”. Take it as a parable for illustrating a fact of evolution.

We have to admire the beauty and harmony of Nature but without indulging in an ignorant romanticizing of physical and animal Nature, like for example some poets and naturalists who preach “Be like a bird, see how it flies, so carefree”. Is that really true? Do we know the inner evolution of the bird? In Sri Aurobindo’s epic Savithri, the divine Mother of sorrow says: “I have shared the fear-filled life of bird and beast…Its long hunt for the day’s precarious food…Its covert slink and crouch and hungry prowl…Its pain and terror seized by beak and claw”. She knows better than the ignorant and sentimental human poet because her knowledge is by identity.

If the beauty and harmony of physical nature is the highest possible achievement of terrestrial evolution, then why at all Nature brought in Man? We must also achieve beauty and harmony in our individual and communal life but at a much higher and a more conscious level than physical Nature. Whatever may be our present ugly and miserable condition, when we as a race or a species are able to manifest and express freely our spiritual potentialities we can create a much more beautiful and harmonious world than physical Nature.

Our modern environmentalists must note here that harmony with physical Nature is not the aim of human development. Interestingly, according to some occult and spiritual traditions, the biblical legend of the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, by eating the tree of knowledge, is a parable of evolution. Garden of Eden represents a state of consciousness at an early stage of human evolution, when human beings lived in a state of primitive subconscious unity with physical Nature.  The serpent which tempts Adam to eat the fruit in the tree of knowledge and make him fall is the force of evolution which goads and pushes Man to move forward from the primitive consciousness of Garden of Eden towards a more self-conscious mental development, imaged as the fruit in the tree of knowledge. So, going back to the Garden of Eden can’t be the aim of human evolution.

Modern environmentalism is a step forward in this mental development of humanity because it represents an attempt towards a conscious, mental understanding and attunement with the laws of physical Nature. But even this is not the highest aim of human development or the highest form of our relationship with Nature. We have to rise beyond, towards an intuitive attunement with the spiritual dimensions of Nature, where in lies the deepest, highest and the integral truth of Nature. The laws of physical Nature are partial reflections of corresponding laws of spiritual Nature in the realm of Matter. We can understand the true meaning and significance of the laws of physical Nature only when we are able to arrive at an intuitive understanding of the corresponding laws of spiritual Nature.

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