Trampled at the tail-end of a difficult day followed by a sitting meditation, which also literally began on the wrong foot, I recalled an important passage from Jack Kornfield’s, A Path with Heart:
“The purpose of a spiritual discipline is to give us a way to stop the war, not by our force of will, but organically…”
Re-examining intent is vital along the spiritual path. Attempts to dodge the pot-holes of apprehension will render you limping along the curb feeling blindsided, stranded, and profoundly frustrated despite a well-studied map itinerary.
Questioning clears the debris on the road to discernment. Dedication deepens at those moments when the destination lies just off the next exit. Footloose and free from the boot-straps of societal and personal dogma, you choose instead to lighten the load and let it go.
It just is.
Precious good stuff. Keeps us attentive and on our toes.
As basic as the instructions printed on the back of your shampoo bottle: get wet; apply generously; work up lather. And I mean a delightfully thick, velvety lather infused with zeal.
Rinse well and repeat at least once daily, with gratitude. Then extend that intent far beyond the physical horizon.
“The aim of Buddhist practice is to go from the field of phenomena down into the level of substance, of true nature.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
That specific evening the new tenants above, whom I refer to as “The Clompets,” were in full voice, stomping endlessly from room to room. I found my weary mind channeling thoughts for more “spaciousness” and less “inter-being” between them and the ceiling.
Then the other new residents ignited their grill for another meal of flambéed animal.
Sensory overload rendered futile attempts to return to concentrated breathing. I “named” the thought demons stampeding through my brain: over-analyzing, judgmental, hungry, cheeseburger (rare), relocate, and finally, in sum, good old chaos.
Ready to unleash a fiery primal scream rather than a refreshing primordial sound, I hoofed it out the door to settle in the damp turf beyond the confines of the building and my mind.
Practicing meditation and yoga have proven useless the vanity in grasping for equanimity or any asana. Tenacity is requisite, but stubbornness is an empty façade rendering you nowhere and fast.
Immeasurable grace manifests itself more often when fumbling about, patiently determined and unrestrained.
“Please remember that we are not talking about philosophy, we are talking about reality. Look at your hand…You have to see life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Greeted by cornfields in the dusky sunset, I regained a tentative foothold. Their silken tops were iridescent and downy as the earth released its steam after the stifling heat of the day.
Closing my eyes, I envisioned slowly walking along those fields-purposely cultivated– and each stalk became a living being. Some were tender and yielding, while others, irritating and sharply dug into my skin.
All were sacred.
And much taller than I’ll ever hope to be.
Regardless, we stood together grounded in the same warm dirt, reaching skyward and unafraid of the possible piercing, lonely darkness of night.
Late summer has rendered their base the color of straw, a reminder that all life is a timeless cycle of beginnings and endings. I also have roots which change color with time.
The watery blue sky was dotted by an infrequent paper thin cloud. Steely dark in the middle with ragged edges framed in white, they resembled the appearance of hands held up to a campfire and illuminated from behind.
Wondering: might this be what the sand envisions, looking up from the edge of the shore into the waning daylight of the sky?
Does it think, or simply behold the view?
Waste precious energy hoping to extinguish the temporary disturbances of man-made wakes?
Or choose to remain quietly content, happily savoring an uninterrupted, natural, and unsullied stillness?
In our youthful innocence, we all were the same. We saw and knew these things and didn’t even try.
The “Clompets” received a stash of books and guide to the numerous local walking//bike trails.
And the grill cooks, a bag of fresh, fleshy vegetables suitable for charring by fire from a local farmers market.
We need to be more aware, tread more gently, this beautiful path we share.
When faltering, begin again by looking downward and become reacquainted with your feet.
You’re already firmly planted within acres of loving and compassionate refuge.
Where is your field of vision of intent and, more importantly, whom do you hope to see step out from that resonant place of silent contemplation?
“Tomorrow I will continue to be. But you will have to be very attentive to see me. I will be a flower, or a leaf. I will be in these forms and I will say hello to you. If you are attentive enough, you will recognize me, and you may greet me. I will be very happy.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
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Assistant Ed: Andie Britton-Foster / Ed: Catherine Monkman