• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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The holy book of nature

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Everyone who can read and write knows what a book is. Every book is inanimate but has the capacity to transmit knowledge and make people better informed on various aspects of life. A book can be described as captivating, gripping, enlightening, lifting, inspiring, boring, and so on. However, to describe a book as holy is a bit curious. Holiness is an attribute of a living being, not a book. Even so, only a minute segment of the good people on earth can be described as holy. What this means is that any book described as a holy book has been elevated to the level of a living being and given the attributes of super humanity.

This explains why holy books all over the world are held in reverence and highly venerated. It also explains why adherents strive not to notice or dwell on obvious human foibles that dot the pages of the many holy books we have in the world today. It is regarded as a sacred duty to defend such holy books from any attempt to show that they are not perfect and as such should not be regarded as inerrant.

The essence of this piece is to show that those who wish to embrace a flawless book that contains the word and mind of God must look away from conventional books written on paper and look instead on the many agents of nature that carry the authentic messages of divinity.

Nature speaks a language of symbols, images, metaphors and signs. These are ingredients of poetry. As we know, poetry is the aspect of creative writing that pays attention to symbols, metaphors, images, using words to capture these. Of all the genres of literature, poetry is the one that is most economical with words. It is also the most appealing to the senses as it pays attention to aesthetics and sound effects. Unfortunately, it is the least understood and the most controversial aspect of writing. This is what poetry shares with nature.

Nature does not use words to communicate but it does speak to people, animals and plants. However, it only gives hints and allows creatures to make what they can out of the clues it gives. When the cloud darkens, nature has spoken and even the deaf cannot miss the signal. We see beautiful roses surrounded by monstrous thorns and in that we hear nature speak. Various interpretations are given to that singular image. Nature keeps silent and allows every shade of opinion. It does not step in to say the absolute meaning of anything. That is why controversies trailing certain natural phenomena reverberate from generation to generation and may never end, yet it is not the kind of controversy that threatens the peace.

One prominent theme that nature talks about is the source of life and the origin of the world. When we see a giant iroko tree, its grandeur strikes us with awe and makes us wonder how it came to be. Beautiful flowers, giant snakes, patterns in the sky, bodies of water all have the same effect. Countless men and women from all parts of the world have spent countless hours of their lives gazing in wonder at the wondrous works of nature. Centuries down the line, books have been written on the subject, many songs done, many sermons rendered, yet the wonder persists and men are not yet any closer to the mystery of nature than when it all began.

Nature gives us a hint about a superior entity (or entities) that are behind the many wonders we see including our own bodies, but they remain just hints. Being gifted with active imaginations, human beings from earliest times began to give shape, form, voice, grandeur and even face to this entity (and entities) as they deemed fit. Of course, being human, we give the gods of our imagination human attributes. That is why we talk of the hand of God, his ears, eyes and so on. We also imagine, quite naturally, that he has emotions such as love, anger, jealousy, all of which are human attributes. Even the concept of seeing the creator as a male entity is a fallacy created and crystallized in human minds by a male-dominated system. If we had the right ears and could eavesdrop on the conversations of fishes, I can bet that to them, God must be a giant whale or shark somewhere in the deepest part of the deepest ocean. The same would apply to all other creatures that have the ability to think and imagine.

Human beings have the most developed brains and the most active imagination of all creatures; so naturally, we have also created the most elaborate images of the Supreme Being (or Beings) and evolved worship patterns that have become strong institutions around them. In other words, we are not comfortable with the desire of the architects of this world to maintain hidden identities so we go out of our way to unmask them (in our minds) and offer them various sacrifices and worship which we consider befitting to them whether they like it or not. This situation in itself is harmless but at various points in history, the powers that be adopted one form of religious expression or the other and sought to force everyone to be part of it or face persecution. This tendency to use force to promote a religious view is the root cause of the confusion that has enveloped our world today and is threatening to annihilate mankind.

Nature’s book is the only holy book that does not allow human interference or pollution. It is pure and transmits undiluted truth to everyone who devotes time to pay attention to its rich instructions. All man-made ‘holy books’ contain more questions than answers basically because they are feeble attempts made by men to capture divinity in a bottle and cage it. It is man’s effort to reduce divinity to words and letters. That is an impossible task and the result is what we have today: holy books that breed confusion and cast aspersions on the very nature of God. This is because the idea of God is not crystallized in human experience. It is fluid, like a liquid, taking up the shape of whatever container it is put into. In our recent past, a couple would happily name their child Nwaamadi if they believed that he came from Amadioha. It was perfectly normal because society accepted Amadioha as a powerful god. Today, such a couple will not even think of being seen talking with the priest of Amadioha because society has dethroned Amadioha from the pedestal of gods.

Throughout history, men have changed gods as if they are clothes, all because it is something hazy, not concrete. It is beyond our comprehension but somehow, we must be seen to be joining others to pay homage to whichever god is in vogue at every point in time. Every holy book known to man contains certain portions that are so outrageous and embarrassing that the adherents have to try to find ridiculous defences, attributing those parts to the influence of some negative spiritual forces on the writers. Nature says it as it is and allows the individual to interact with his maker through the channel provided in the human soul.

As stated earlier, nature speaks in a poetic language which yields its full meaning to people whose cognitive and spiritual faculties are well developed. Rather than imprison human minds and stuff every available space with empty dogma, all men and women of goodwill should strive to raise a thinking generation that can appreciate nature and drink copiously from its wealth of wisdom and insight. That is the only way we can redeem our race and reduce the religious carnage that is turning civilization on its head by turning human beings into barbarians.

NNENNA Ihebom