Whenever I have the opportunity to spend time with my little grandsons, all under the age of three, I am vividly reminded of the wonder and miracle of simply being alive. A muddy twig or stone they find on the ground fascinates them as easily as a shiny new toy. They see with “Beginner’s mind,” with what we ourselves saw before society taught us what was “good,” “beautiful,” or “important,” and what was not. Their approach is strikingly different from the attitude we adults so often voice: “Been there and done that!” In recent years, as the veil of conditioning has grown increasingly transparent and the realization of what is deepens, I have noticed that, like my grandsons, I stay put in the moment more often. And like them, when we play peekaboo, I never cease to be surprised at the wonder of it all.
Figure/ground shifts alter my perspective repeatedly. When I look at my hand, I find life. When I look for life, I find myself sitting with my morning cup of coffee. I study my multiplying wrinkles, and muse on the passing years; then I see myself everywhere – in every face, in every facet of life. I am nothing and everything. My being, our being, stretches from quarks to quasars, nanoseconds to light-years, and embodies both life and death. As I get another cup of coffee, I am filled with profound awe.
Listening to a Bach sonata, I am reminded that all manifestation is like the notes played on the cello, coming out of nothing and just as quickly disappearing. Our being unfolds as the evanescent, timeless, flickering radiance of what is. It is all a play of the mind, appearances in our awareness that are without substance, including the self we think we are! The awareness of our true nature precedes both mind and manifestation, so there is no figuring all this out, and no answers to find. Yet, here I am, and I have a dentist appointment this afternoon!
There is beauty in every direction, and only our attention is required for it to dazzle us with its creative brilliance. Whether it is a crane fishing in a tide pool or the desiccated remains of a leaf in the fall, the simple elegance of a cloud overhead or abstract patterns on urban skyscraper windows, an unusual bug on the arm of your chair or the spectacular blaze of a sunset, life pulls us into its artistry, and invites us to lose ourselves in the intimacy and enchantment of its creations. The feelings of profound gratitude, love, reverence and humility that accompany such experiences tell us this is our natural birthright. This is home, and where we belong. We are Life.
I find myself drawn increasingly to simplicity, and the luxury of silence, solitude and stillness. I relish the mystery that is, and sip the subtle joy of unknowing like a fine wine. There is a growing inclusiveness unfolding, expanding like ripples in a pond, a deep love pulling me into union with all that is. Gradually emptying my pockets of the favored opinions, beliefs, and attachments of a lifetime, I find everything that is needed right here and now: just this. While life remains replete with all the characteristic suffering and dilemmas of existence, perfection is found in imperfection, and on occasion, I simply float effortlessly in the currents of what is.
How are we ultimately to express the miracle of it all? The same force that makes the planets spin in their orbits causes our hearts to beat, brings the wave to the shore, and lifts the doe over the fence. We participate in every moment of creation and watch firsthand as wonders unfold in our presence. How can we make sense of a heart overflowing with gratitude amid the suffering and distress of life? Language cannot snare our being in a net of words or plumb the contents of our hearts. The measures of science cannot capture the splendor of the setting sun, nor gauge the reach and power of our love. However we try, there is no way to articulate the imponderable nature of things. We simply yield to life’s unfolding with deep gratitude and joy. Joining our children in the celebration of what is, we can never unravel its mystery, but we can be it.
One of our many blessings is our friends. John Greer, author of Seeing, Knowing, Being: A Guide to Sacred Awakenings, is one such kindred spirit. Thank you John, for all the love. For more details on his delightfully enriching and informative book (it’s become a favorite with my Natural Well-Being meeting friends here in Berkeley) please see: http://www.seeingknowingbeing.com/