We say to start where you are. To deal with what’s in front of you. And, the next step is found within present conditions. There are probably lots more ways of saying the same thing. However in the end one just has to move and do something, but what? What a clamor there is in our lives and it’s good to remember there is more to living a life than clamor. Even sitting still can become another doing clamoring away. As is obvious I chose to first write a post here. It’s so good to have the time and space to devote to this activity.
Here’s what’s in front of me this morning. My computer is opened and ready to write a post for Jade Mountains. Further out a dish with two walnuts from Butchart Gardens, Victoria Canada and a piece of picked-up-and-passed-on pumice found during a trip to Medicine Lake and Glass Mountain, California. Next a Kanzeon holding a lotus. Outside, a dusting of snow. This is the view from an upstairs window where I am staying this winter. This then is what’s before me this morning.
Then there is the rest of the desk with papers and items all calling and competing for attention. Petty cash to balance, a short video calling from a flash drive to watch and respond to, a book of poems by Seamus Heaney (Human Chain) quietly whispering to thank the couple who gave it. Oh and there is the bank to deal with, personal business, that announced they had closed my account while I have been away, and to my right a pile of cards ready to be written and sent off. They are thank you cards to temples and their communities for hosting me this summer.
Behind, beside, above and below. The phone, the email, Google Talk, Skype, Twitter (my ID is revmugo for those who even know what Twitter is) and now back to this. This. THIS! And this is what’s here in the midst of the up, down, above and below. How very easy it is to loose contact/awareness with oneself. The skin, flesh, bones, brain, mind, consciousness of oneself.
We in Buddhism call what I am broadly talking about as the five skandas. Form, sensation, thought, activity and consciousness. That which constitutes self and which (very important to remember this) are not fundamentally separate from conditions. And even more import, to know that the important thing is not something other than THIS. All is all in the up, down, beside, below and behind. (I will be had up for sounding Zen if I am not careful!) At Shasta Abbey there are, I think there still are, five red lights hanging in lotus flowers above the altar. We call them the skanda lights. Jim reminds me that I pointed these out to him years ago, it was our first conversation together.
Anyway. Now as I drive off into the tasks calling to me I’ll take a look in my rear view mirror. Like any good driver knows, first check the rear view mirror. For me this has the effect of bringing me back to THIS. Which embraces the this and that’s I’ve been talking about.
At least, at last, here is an actual post for you all. It’s my first thank you note of the day.