The first recognition of beauty was one of the most significant events in the evolution of human consciousness. As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. Flowers have provided inspiration to countless artists, poets and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a “silent sermon” once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realization) was handed down by twenty-eight successive masters and much later became the origin of Zen. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless.
Using the word “enlightenment” in a wider sense than the conventionally accepted one, we could look upon flowers as the enlightenment of plants. Any life-form in any realm - mineral, vegetable, animal, or human - can be said to undergo “enlightenment.” Since time immemorial, flowers, crystals, precious stones, and birds have held special significance for the human spirit. Their special significance and the reason why humans feel such fascination for and affinity with them can be attributed to their ethereal quality. Once there is a certain degree of presence, of still and alert attention in human beings’ perceptions, they can sense the divine life essence, the one indwelling consciousness or spirit in every creature, every life-form, recognize it as one with their own essence and so love it as themselves. The exception to this are all newborn life-forms - babies, puppies, kittens, lambs, and so on. They are fragile, delicate, not yet firmly established in materiality. So when you are alert and contemplate a flower, crystal, or bird without naming it mentally, it becomes a window for you into the formless.

Can humans defy the gravitational pull of materialism and materiality and rise above identification with form that keeps the ego in place and condemns them to imprisonment within their own personality? What is it that characterizes the old egoic state of consciousness, and by what signs is the new emerging consciousness recognized? An essential part of the awakening is the recognition of the unawakened you, the ego as it thinks, speaks and acts, as well as the recognition of the collectively conditioned mental processes that perpetuate the unawakened state. Unless you know the basic mechanics behind the workings of the ego, you won’t recognize it, and it will trick you into identifying with it again and again. The act of recognition itself is one of the ways in which awakening happens. When you recognize the unconsciousness in you, that which makes the recognition possible is the arising consciousness, is awakening.
The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are that light. The “normal” state of mind of most human beings contains a strong element of what we might call dysfunction or even madness. Certain teachings at the heart of Hinduism perhaps come closest to seeing this dysfunction as a form of collective mental illness. They call it maya, the veil of delusion. Buddhism uses different terms. According to the Buddha, the human mind in its normal state generates dukkha, which can be translated as suffering, unsatisfactoriness, or just plain misery. Wherever you go, whatever you do, says the Buddha, you will encounter dukkha, and it will manifest in every situation sooner or later. According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin”. Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.
Science and technology have magnified the destructive impact that the dysfunction of the human mind has upon the planet, other life-forms, and upon humans themselves. That is why the history of the twentieth century is where that dysfunction, that collective insanity, can be most clearly recognized. A further factor is that this dysfunction is actually intensifying and accelerating. Another aspect of the collective dysfunction of the human mind is the unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life-forms and the planet itself - the destruction of oxygen-producing forests and other plant and animal life; ill-treatment of animals in factory farms; and poisoning of rivers, oceans, and air. Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction. If the history of humanity were the clinical case of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived “enemies” - his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.
It is important to realize, however, that fear, greed, and the desire for power are not the dysfunction that we are speaking of but are themselves created by the dysfunction which is a deep-seated collective delusion that lies within the mind of each human being. Trying to become a good or better human being sounds like a commendable and high-minded thing to do, yet it is an endeavor you cannot ultimately succeed in unless there is a shift in consciousness. You do not become god by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.