Category Archives: I am

How Many Seeds?

   We counted 118 seeds in this Pomelo (aka grapefruit predecessor.) Wow, that’s a lot. Looking at it another way, ask yourself “How many grapefruits are there in one seed? Grapefruit trees take up to 5 years to produce usable fruits, so it is a long-term investment for a grower.

The first good crop could be 25 pounds of fruit, in the 10th year, it could be as much as 250 pounds. One seed (or one well cared for seedling) could produce a bonanza of produce.

In an ancient Vedic teaching story a son, gesturing to the expanse of the earth around him, asks his father, “From where did all this arise?”

The father replied, “Do you see that tree? Bring a fruit from it,” The boy did so. “Break it open, what do you see?”

“Many tiny seeds,” the son replied.

“Break a seed open, what do you see?”

“Nothing at all.”

The venerable sage said, “That same nothing is the source of all you see here around you. And that [here is the good part], my son you are.”

‘That Thou Art’ or ‘You Are That’ is a hallmark teaching in Yoga, it points us to a unique and hidden truth about who we are and where we are. ‘That’ is all and all comes from ‘That’. This includes you and me and all the grapefruit we can carry. It includes stars and galaxies, and household dust. ‘That’ is the unchanging One, the whole enchilada. It is all that exists as well as all that does not exist.

In these times it is easy to get distracted by stuff, and by the ever-changing scene around us. The glitter, the hype, the chaos in politics and weather patterns is unsettling, our focus can become very narrow. We stress, we numb out, or we wade into the fray and campaign for a different kind of change or pick up trash on the beaches until exhaustion sets in.

If each day we can turn within and settle ourselves, we may find the strength to smile at a passerby, listen for the words that want to be spoken, and connect with that person where they are. If we can remember that we are all in the same boat, a leaky one, perhaps we can bail without blaming the problem on someone else. If we can stay present as much as possible, we may be able to allow what is, to be as it is, and chart our own direction without being angry or distracted.

If we can keep our heads while others are losing theirs . . . we may yet bear good fruit.

A Walk in the Mist and the Mystery

 

Yesterday (uncharacteristically) we decided to take a hike before breakfast. The ‘uncharacteristic’ part I refer to was ‘before breakfast.’ Up near the Canadian border we often go hiking on a familiar trail with our dog leading the way. Rama is an excellent trail dog, unless other dogs or people are around. Then he is a run-away, nut job, ever up for a romp with others, a friendly chat, or simply to follow anyone while leaving the ones who feed him behind. 

The day was set to be very hot, so getting out ahead of the heat was what drove us up the hill before taking in sustenance. And being out so early meant we also succeeded in avoiding people and doggies, a complete win.

While hiking I noticed how often my mind, just like my dog, runs off with me. Then in a moment my attention is captured by the way the morning light is touching and illuminating the broken trunk of a tree that has upended itself into the river below. The beauty of it touches me wordlessly. I resolve to be still, a wordless observer of the woods, but before long I am planning a project like this one. I will write about “Forest Bathing”, and hold forth with data about how the aromas given off by trees are as healthy for us as the oxygen they produce in such abundance. Ah, the mind – so quick. 

At the next lookout spot over our beloved river we note to one another the milky-white color of the water, and tussle with each other about the look and definition of run-off, and snow-melt. The sandy beach below has become more rocky than last we saw it, my hand-carved wooden offerings are still in place, someone has chain-sawed off a small piece of a downed tree. 

In this way my mind creates a world, populated by ideas, beliefs, musings, projects, and I become identified with it. ‘I am’ becomes, I am the hiker, the dog-lover, the carver, the notice-er, the river viewer, the one who comes and goes.

All the while a stillness is present and in brief glimpses I apprehend it, and even fall under its sway now and then. I am caught in stillness, even as my ears hear the river, caught in illumination even as the morning light touches the mossy tree ahead, held in the mystery even while swimming in the mist of the mind.