I am puzzled by the description of nature mysticism as relatively modern and distinctively Western,if I understood the seminar description well.I would be surprised if it can be proven that any mystical approach is either modern or is distinctively Western,particularly since,to my knowledge,limited as it is,the approaches to mysticism developed in subsequent centuries, in different cultures, were earlier developed to a high level by Asia,particularly India.
One can describe nature mysticism as the theory and practice of unmediated apprehension of the ground of being as experienced in nature. I think it can be proven that nature mysticism is not only central to Indian thought,but makes its clear appearance in the Upanishads and is also present in the Bhagavd Gita,if I remember well,to give just two examples.Is it not also evident in Tantra,based as it is on a sacralisation of the material universe? In Indian philosophy and in Hinduism,the universe as a whole is often sacralised,enabling the privileging of mystical practice and insight in relation to natural forms,a phenomenon that seems central to Mircea Eliade's conception of hierophany,as evident in his Patterns in Comparative Religion.One could even argue that the development of nature mysticism in Asia is more sophisticated than what the West has developed,perhaps beceause of the constriction on the development of ideas by the centuries of the intolerant dogmatism of the Christan church which policed the growth of ideas.As it is Asian nature mysticism is developed in relation to panentheism and to such a range of ideas about the relationship between the Absolute and the contingent, that I wonder if Western nature mysticism is so luxuriant in ideas.
Another useful source is Surendranath Dasgupta's description of the development of Indian mysticism in the first volume of his History of Indian Philosophy,where he described the Indian mystics as transposing the act of Vedic sacrifice from the material world to the cosmic realm,understanding nature as the totality of the natural order in the material universe,whereby the various parts of the horse normally sacrificed become parts of the cosmos,an imaginative process that resonated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which identifies each aspect of the human body with an element in nature,and this harmony with the Absolute,a totality the reader is encouraged to grasp through the transformation of the self by an immediacy of relationship with this harmonising ground.This is evident,I think,throughout the Upanishads but my favourite passages on this are in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisahd, particularly the translation by W.B.Yeats and Purohit Swami.This Upanishshad begins with the contemplative transposition of the horse sacrifice,and develops the unity of the human being,nature and the Absolute in chapter 5.
The poetic cycle Labyrinths by the Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo and the philosophy of the Austro-Nigerian artist and writer Susanne Wenger can also be understood in terms of nature mysticism.
Is it not more accurate to speak of experiences and conceptions in Western history of the ancient conception of nature mysticism rather than describing nature mysticism as relatively modern and distinctively Western?
With reference to Western nature mysticism,may I mention,if it is useful here, that along with the work of a scientist such as Teilhard de Chardin in Hymn of the Universe,one could also look at another scientist such as Paul Davis as in his The Mind of God. His book develops the metaphysical and epistemological implications of Stephen Hawkin's claim in A Short History of Time that a complete grasp of the relationships among the laws that shape the universe would constitute a knowledge of the mind of God,if I remember Hawkin's statement accurately enough.
If I might mention,even though it would be unusual to describe Isaac Newton and Immanuel Kant in relation to mysticism,I cant help but compare the intensity of what I would describe as the cognitive devotion in their descriptions of the relationship between the human being and the cosmos in some of their work which recall and might not be surpassed by the intensity and depth of the mystics writing on the same subjects. These sections are the reflections on the relationship between cosmic mind,if I could so describe Newton's expansive conception of God, and natural law at the conclusion of his Principia Mathematica and the meditation on the relationship between the temporal and the infinite,through the lens of human mortality on the earth, as it it enclosed by the immense spatial and temporal scale of the cosmos in the concluding chapter of Kant's Critique of Practical Reason.