I am sitting by the ocean here in South Carolina for a much-needed break in the action. I am re-discovering the order in nature. It is so restful, so regenerating. Watching the ebb and flow got me thinking about the poem, “The Idea of Order at Key West,” by Wallace Stevens where he mentions “the genius of the sea.” Some people speak of genius or intelligence as if it were something only humans possess, its abode “the castle of intellect.” Stevens’ famous poem muses on imagination, reality and order: where does the appearance of order come from—our imagination, or nature itself? And what’s the relationship between the two?
Here at the ocean, order is clearly manifest: the waves rolling in methodically as they’ve done for who knows how long; the clockwork of sun, moon and stars; the tides’ constancy; the pelican’s dive. It’s as if nature knows what it’s doing. Buckminster Fuller called it “nature’s know how.” Perhaps this sense of underlying harmony is, at least in part, what attracts people to the ocean and why so much literature has dwelt on the experience of the sea.
Maharishi’s view is that life is structured like the ocean: waves of activity and change are visible on the surface, but most of existence is beneath the surface—and all of it, from the changing waves to the silent depths, are one and the same substance. This also describes the structure of the physical universe as understood by modern science and sheds light on the source of order in nature. Quantum physics strives for a workable “unified field theory” or “ultimate theory of everything” (T.O.E.) that identifies the underlying source of the diverse phenomenal world. Physicist John Hagelin regards this most fundamental field as “a single, unified field of intelligence at the basis of nature” which can be “directly experienced by the human mind.” The unified field and all of life can thus be seen as an ocean of consciousness or intelligence.
For a wave on the ocean to enjoy its true status, all it has to do is settle down—then it becomes the unbounded ocean. This is meditation. The mind settles inward to finer and finer levels until the faintest impulse of thought is transcended and one experiences the source of thought. It’s not an intellectual or emotional contrivance but a natural, mechanical shift in one’s state of consciousness, involving physiological changes as much as a change of awareness. (It’s so real that you don’t have to understand or believe in the unified field or pure awareness to experience transcending and enjoy the benefits.)
From this perspective, meditation is a means for experiencing the unified field of consciousness directly, drawing upon nature’s unlimited reserves of energy and intelligence to benefit all aspects of life. The unified field and its perfect order is not just out there, underlying and upholding everything in nature, separate from human existence; it is also discovered within us—residing, in Wallace Stevens words, beyond thinking and feeling, beyond the edge of space, “at the end of the mind.”