Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Encounter Under the Elms

There are no bodhi trees where I live. I do however have a large elm tree that spouted up next to the house a few years ago and now shades most of the northern side yard. I love to spend my early mornings sitting underneath the deep green canopy meditating.

Lately it has been far too hot to do so. So hot in fact that there was little lift for birds to fly. They stayed low in the trees, fluttering from one branch to another. Mourning Doves abandoned their posts on highline wires to seek shelter in somewhat cooler places. Even the woodpeckers called it a day.

Sometime during the night a cold front arrived, pushing the intense hot and humid air away. At a blessed 73 degrees I decided to abandon my office/shrine room to meditate outside.

After a month with over 100+degree weather I had almost forgotten how much I loved practicing outside. I spread my yoga mat underneath the aforementioned elm tree and began my practice.

While sitting on my mat, the gentle breeze blowing in my face, the sun warm and golden on the eastern horizon, I contemplated the suffering of others, then meditated upon taking all that suffering away.

I heard a growl behind me and a short warning yip. I eased out of my peaceful state to see a small brown dog out of the corner of my eye. The little dog moved around to face me, grumbling to himself like an old man. I continued with my meditation, yet mindful that he was still there.

The biscuit muncher came into my field of vision: a small brownish white corgi/terrier mix. He looked at me with big brown eyes. Apparently he had rounded the corner and was startled to see someone sitting cross-legged on the ground, singing the mani. Now he was merely curious.

He tilted his head as he gazed at me. For an instant I thought he might sit on my lap. I waited, wondering if he would do just that.

I had stopped singing and entered into a sequence of silent practices. I sat, noticing what was going on, and letting the experience go.

The corgi mix, finding me simply quite boring, ran to play with the chihuahua next door.

I retreated into my meditation. The sun golden as it rose above the buildings. Birds flittered in the trees, cotton tail rabbits nibbled tender shoots of grass underneath the canopy of wild green hedges and trees that comprise part of my back yard. The woodpecker resumed construction on his house in the old telephone pole down the street. The wind was soft and gentle, my meditation so deep and profound, so intimate and so very connected to everything that was going on around me.

Is this, I wondered, what Buddha meant when he wished never to leave such a blissful state?

Perhaps. Perhaps this was simply a taste of what is to come.

Or maybe I was blitzing out on my own endorphins.
Taking a deep cleansing breath, I let go.

The world seemed to recede, become a little dimmer. The birds didn’t sing as sweetly, the dogs playing in the field less joyful, the pine scented breeze a little less fragrant. A cloud covered the sun, promising rain. For a moment, nothing seemed quite real.

I let that go as well.

I sighed. It was time to return to the world at large. I folded my mat, watched the dogs play in the scorched summer grass, and headed back inside. I will keep the essence of the experience close to my heart today, but I won’t grasp for it. There will be other practices throughout the day, other times to experience the joy of love and letting go. I look forward to it.
May you benefit.

Om mani padme hum

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