Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
After yesterday’s post, I looked into an article on Hurricane Ike, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Ike], and learned that Ike began as a system in the Sudan, and moved through Nigeria, Mali, and Senegal before crossing the ocean. After moving through the U.S., it proceeded to unleash high winds and heavy rain on Ontario and Quebec. So, it is truly awesome to contemplate how extensively the elemental powers connect places and people. Here, we have an echo of “butterfly effect” theory. In the wake of destruction, we are also reminded of other ways that we are connected. A lot of people think that Buddhism teaches that we are all One, but that is actually more of a Hindu concept. However, as one of our local monks, (Ajahn Khemasanto, abbot of Wat Dhammasala in Perry), has pointed out, what the Buddha did say is that all beings are united in suffering. So, something else for me to contemplate, as I gaze into the creek which is still racing, two weeks after the storms.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Another way that Heaven and Earth are interconnected, and enable us to be interconnected, is through water and weather. Today I stood on the Elm Street bridge, as I like to gaze into Sycamore Creek. I noticed the creek is still a bit swollen and swifter-moving from the torrential rains of two weeks ago. When Hurricane Ike was done pounding the Gulf Coast, its system tracked up into the Midwest—which is typical of prevailing weather patterns. Although it created a lot of havoc in Chicago, we weren’t too badly affected, even though we experienced “a hundred year storm.” (We’ve had several hundred-year storms in the 12 years I’ve been living here.) I actually look forward to Hurricane season in the Caribbean, because when the rains eventually get to us, they bring cooler weather, often break summer droughts, and wash a lot of the ragweed pollen out of the air—thus enabling me to get out for more walking. These weather systems also enable me to feel elementally connected to my older son. He is an rpg designer-programmer in Austin, Texas, so the weather that he experiences eventually works its way up to me. (By the way, one of his hobbies is tornado chasing.) When I watch the weather news and see that something is coming my son’s way, I know it will eventually get to me as well.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The illusion of onions as golden balls amuses me, because the golden orb is a traditional sun symbol, and in Jungian psychology, it is also an archetypal emblem of the Self. Golden balls (in sets of three) used to be hung at the top of English Maypoles, and they are a common design element in old German signage and other wrought iron decorations. Also, people have seen mysterious golden orbs hovering over crop circles and other mystical sites in Britain. So, if I want to color the onions by the side of the road with meaning, I could read them as a message of how we can find a shining quality of happiness and wholeness in the humble things of the earth.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The flicker's exhortation to seeing and hearing is a theme in the works of Gary Snyder, who likens its cry to the zen master's exclamation, "This! This! This!" This is a reminder to see things as they really are, independent of the images and notions we form about them. Because "Whimsy Walks" has to do with ways we can project our imaginations into the things we encounter, this may seem like a contradictory point to be bringing up. However, I think it's possible to maintain a dual consciousness, acknowledging that other beings have their own realities, while entertaining our own little fantasies about them--as long as we remain respectful. After all, who is to know whether some of our imaginings engage reality on another level?
Because flickers are Michigan's most common woodpecker and have such distinctive markings, they were among the first birds I learned to identify, beyond the obvious robins, cardinals, jays, et al. (In those days I was more into my seeing function, as the only bird call I ever noticed was the mourning dove's; I didn't start paying attention to sounds until I was in my 40s.) Nowadays, the recognition of different birds revives memories of my first sightings, which in the case of flickers, was on a walk in the autumn-yellow woods. Also, there is something about the way a flicker flashes his big white spot during a sudden take-off that can be just a little bit startling--not unlike the flash of insight.
p.s., the flicker pic is by F.C. Hennessey, circa 1919.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I collect proverbs and greeting words, and greeting itself is a magical act. When you say "Hello" to someone, you are using an old Anglo Saxon blessing word that is wishing health and wholeness, as well as happiness, to him or her--in keeping with the wholistic worldview that characterized the Anglo Saxons as well as so many other tribal peoples. The greeting terms of other lands have similar associations. For example, "salute" comes from Latin roots that are related to salutary (healthful) and even salt as a healthful, protective substance. Walking provides an opportunity for many hellos, and as I walk, I try to extend my Hellos not just to the humans I meet, but also to animals and to distinctive features of the natural as well as built environment. Such "rites of greeting" enable us to engage the environments we pass through in ways that make us participants, not just mere observers.
Therefore, I wish us all innumerable hearty hellos, as we greet our world, and in return, receive greetings from that world.