Sunday, April 11, 2010

Patiently Being

DHS 151
Pretty bad tonight. Amusingly (to me, at least), about halfway through my mind flashed back to the year i studied calligraphy with a teacher, back in '88 in a small town west of Tōkyō. I was not only the only foreigner in her class, but the only adult — all the other students were elementary school kids. I was the teacher's pet pupil. The lady that cut my hair had convinced her to take me in. ("Go on, he's amusing. You won't stop laughing at his Japanese...") Anyway, about halfway through tonight's DHS, all of the sudden i was sitting in that class, in that small, cluttered, packed to the gills, room with one door leading outside and shoji doors leading to her kitchen, and she was putting another big red mark through one of my attempts at calligraphy and telling me what was wrong with it. And then i popped back to tonight, and immediately made a mistake. Oh well.....


Just to be clear, i want to point out that when, in a previous post, i said that the mossy doormat in front of my porch reminded me of Mary Oliver's poem Landscape, it wasn't simply because of the reference to moss in her poem. No, the connection in my mind was my reference to the doormat on my front step having reinvented itself, as compared to Mary's reference to the moss, trees, and crows simply being what they are. My thoughts about my doormat, and the subsequent remembrance of Mary's poem, reminded me that there are various ways of looking at this world. My thoughts had been on learning to become something new when you can't be what you wanted to be and Mary's thoughts were distinctly spiritual.

The first clue of that in her poem was when she said that moss could lecture on "spiritual" patience. Why include the word "spiritual?" If she had left that out, would it have changed the message? Moss is patient; it just sits there. That's patience. Right? Well, not spiritual patience. Patience, in the usual sense of the word, seems to imply waiting stoically for an outcome or an appropriate time to act. This patience, normal patience, is forward looking — it's sole focus is not on the present, but on the future, on the time it might be deemed proper to act.

Spiritual patience, on the other hand, seems to be the opposite. It is a focus on the present, nothing but the present. This moment, here, now, is all that occupies your mind. Yes there is a future; yes you have some interest in that future, but being patient means asking yourself, "Am i on the right path? Am i on the path that leads towards where i want to go? On the path that leads me to the result i would like to see?" and then simply focusing on living in the present moment while allowing that path to unfold in it's own way and in it's own time. You may not see your result this week, or this month, or this year, or in this lifetime, but you know that as long as you stay on the path, it will come. You sole job at this point is to focus all your efforts on living the present moment.

That's what the moss was doing. That's all the oak tree was doing — just like a fragile flower would do. And that's what the crows were doing. When they spent the night dreaming of what they wanted their lives to be, they didn't dream of being famous, or rulers of the world, or successful beyond belief, they thought about what they are. Their dreams were of being. Their dreams were of doing what crows do, with their strong, thick wings. And when they woke, and were startled by Mary, they did what crows do; they jumped into flight.

Being. Becoming. Two different and opposing concepts. There's nothing wrong with becoming, and all the dreams that go along with that, as long as you keep in mind that this is all a part of the relative world. And as long as that world is firmly founded on an understanding of being; just being. The relative you will only be truly content and happy becoming when the ultimate you understands and is content with being.

Two coins, one side.

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