When Boundaries Fall Away
Walking through the woods, watching the sun drop into the earth’s horizon before dusk, or counting the innumerable stars and galaxies in the sky, calls to something deep inside of us that goes beyond name, form, identity or opinion.
Objects within the mind fall away and for a moment, there are no borders between the mind and the scene, the viewer and the view. There isn’t any sense of time and so the feelings of spaciousness and connection that ensue can conjure up prehistoric sentiments of ancient Devonian skylines or hidden mountain ranges covered in mist-enshrouded conifers.
No matter the manifestation, a sense of calm and understanding pervades all things when we inhabit such a state of being. Our mental boundaries are broken, and for an instant, we experience an opening to sit reverently in touch with what is here. Through this intimate meeting with the world, we discover that unearthing an innate reverence for life connects us to the mystery of all that is, the direct experience of which opens our doors to the possibility of experiencing a profound opening of the heart and mind.
“Buddhism is not technically a religion. Buddha was an ordinary man. We make no claims for him being a son of God. What he did is solve this apparent dichotomy that we feel separate from the rest of the universe, this feeling that we are like a little grain of sand. What Buddha teaches is that we are all indisputably connected to the entire universe.”
~ Peter Coyote
Reverently moving through the present and appreciating what is streaming around us at all times—whether it be a broken window or a passing flock of cawing parrots—blows down the past and future, and erases their influence on our reality. All that is left is the now and our gratitude for the experience that is unfolding. There is ample room for what appears to come as it is and for what goes to go as it pleases. Walking to work is just walking to work and the sound of rain falling through the branches is just that too. But there is a quality of mysticism in the seemingly mundane moments as well, one that is ordinary and yet vibrant. When the mental commentary is taken away, this natural appreciation springs forth from our entering into a different level of consciousness.
Why comment on that which is already brilliant? Why block yourself from the brilliancy? Just be still, reverent.
Meandering through daily life or the redwoods in the middle of a rainstorm presents its own quandary: It is cold, wet, and miserable, or it is majestic, nourishing, and perfect as it is depending on our level of awareness.
Spiritual reverence doesn’t come so much from our thoughts, but from our raw, unobstructed connection to life. The interconnected world and its wild nature, has an inherent beauty—an awe-inspiring brilliance that is so natural and simple yet infinitely complex and vast.
Reverence is our human consciousness tapping into this vast brilliance and witnessing it in the here and now. As intelligent beings, our capacity to turn a mirror-like mind back onto reality is manifested as reverence and the clear state of mind is simply unfettered reality.
Rituals consist of some type of action undertaken with symbolic or metaphoric value, but they can also represent so much more. Our interaction with the sun, rising in the morning and setting at night, is a ritual in itself. I like to think of living in the moment as a kind of ritual in which I am stepping into a sacred realm that has the capability and the capacity to blow my mind, my thoughts, and my delusions to pieces at any moment. Hiking in the mountains and swimming in the ocean can be their own forms of ritual. Salty water against the skin, sand beneath toes and crashing waves can nourish us the same way love and affection do. Fresh air and windless scenes underneath redwood groves might unlock a hidden wisdom that could have remained hidden until our passing through. And of course, these rituals bleed into the fabric of our lives. The ordinary experiences are their own rituals too. Walking down the sidewalk, evening barbeques, 4th of July fireworks, the texture of a steering wheel, bird watching, and grocery shopping, might unlock something within in the same way. Remaining open to these moments—to all moments: this is the activity.
As I continue to practice meditation, things invert themselves and fall back onto nothingness. Meditation and long walks become their own rituals for me where I have an opportunity to open my mind to tap into a greater reality.
When I first began my practice, I remember feeling a connection to the world that I hadn’t experienced before—one that only became apparent after I calmed the internal stirrings of my mind. I wasn’t really sure how I had ever led a life that neglected or avoided this, but I had a feeling that my mind was part of the reason so I forgave myself. My little meditative rituals began to spread and permeate throughout the texture of my life to the point where there wasn’t a difference between this life and that ritual. Through the practice of mindfulness, life is a ritual and ritual is life.
Reverence for the moment and the life that is occurring now, in this room and in the context of this universe, is a profound openness that isn’t profound after a while because it is the “thusness” of reality: always present and silently vibrant, the vigorous and resounding quality reverberating around and through the entirety of it all.
Editor: Brianna Bemel