Six or seven laypeople and the monk who is the teacher at the Temple we were attending this morning, sitting scattered around a bit of yard and the garage parking area where a simple and beautiful altar had been set up in front of the garage door. Because of Covid regulation in California we could not meet inside, so we sat in the chilly overcast for two periods of meditation and then a Dharma talk (better attended because of Zoom link-ups).
Its a back yard I’ve been used to for about 30 years now and have spent a lot of hours enjoying and working on. It has changed, as have I and so has the monk and the people who attended today.
One thing that was interesting to me was the Ivy “wall’ I was facing instead of the usual walls of a temple or monastery or in the places I’ve lived. The ivy was lively.
Busy squirrels and birds and from the street busy cars and motorcycles and the rush of BART trains in the near distance and jet planes not too far above, as I asked “What is listening and hearing these sounds?” the wonderful reality of the history of humanity encompasses the actual development of the human brain as our ancient ancestors heard rustling of leaves and the noise of other lives in a quite different way and adjusted their responses to the world as the sounds changed with days and nights and years and millennia and then Ages. We developed into a being that is unique in the history of the world (as far we can ascertain), in that we have adapted to have a range of about 20,000 feet, some of it underwater when necessary , and we can roam across the whole globe with a little preparation within those 20,000 feet.
But to choose to sit still, not to hunt, nor set a trap or to watch or observe comings and goings of other creatures; rather for the purpose of allowing something to appear to us that we cannot see, even when we strain to see it. When we don’t strain it may show up or just skitter through the branches above us or zoom along a track or in the sky or just be always available should we wish to be still and nod hello, without moving our heads rather our hearts.
A good day in an old world.
By a thread I cannot see, a bit of bark
Is suspended and twirls, clock-wise
Then counter, slowly then quickly then
Stops and swings and is Still just for
Some time and there I was privileged to
See it act like a mighty ocean, yet
Way way smaller. More like a drop in