Sunday, March 28, 2010

Stand Still When Lost

Daily Heart Sutra (DHS) 137

I set aside an hour this evening to clean out what used to be my email inbox but which has morphed into a complete rat's nest. Low and behold, there at the bottom of the list of messages was one i had sent to myself 2 years ago with this poem in it.

Stand Still

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Wagoner

I no longer remember why i sent this to myself (other than i liked it) but on rereading it, i find it very interesting where he says, "Wherever you are is called Here,/And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,/Must ask permission to know it and be known."

Is "Here," and maybe "Now" as well, a complete stranger? Powerful, certainly — getting to know her could completely and unalterably change your life, especially if you get to know her intimately — but complete stranger? (That's a good homework question ... for myself ..., what does it mean to know something "intimately?")

I would never have thought to say that we need to ask permission to know here or now. That's not at all how i see the situation. Rather, i see it as a simple process of opening yourself, inviting them in, and then quietly accepting their presence in your life. No announcements need to be made. No permissions need to be requested. No acknowledgments need to be offered.

In fact, it would wrong to say that you need to acknowledge their presence or ask their permission. Why? Because by doing either of those, you are objectifying the situation; on the one hand there is here and now, and on the other hand there is you. And neither of those is true when you actually visit them. There is only here and now and that includes everything that could ever be counted, spoken about, or acknowledged, including you. In fact, in the "real" here and the "real" now there is nothing, and everything, all simultaneously, with no objects involved and no time involved. It is pure emptiness, pure being, and no more.

However, he is right when he admonishes us with, "If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,/You are surely lost." In this case, take his advice and stand still. Or, pull out your zafu and sit still. Don't sit with any thoughts of "you" or "sitting" or "still." Simply sit. Life knows where you are. Let it find you while you breath in greeting.

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