Friday, June 25, 2010

Who Would Have Thought.....

Spent yesterday afternoon in the saddle with this very nice poem by Robert Hass:

The Image

The child brought blue clay from the creek
and the woman made two figures: a lady and a deer.
At that season deer came down from the mountain
and fed quietly in the redwood canyons.
The woman and the child regarded the figure of the lady,
the crude roundness, the grace, the coloring like shadow.
They were not sure where she came from,
except the child's fetching and the woman's hands
and the lead-blue clay of the creek
where the deer sometimes showed themselves at sundown.

Robert Hass

I love this poem on several levels and, for me, see three different messages.

We see "the world" as being "out there" and "us" and our thoughts as being "in here," and take it for granted that that's the way it is. Few people question that even though a great many teachers over the centuries have told us that this just isn't true. We see ourselves as isolated individuals, separate from, and unconnected with, everything and everyone else "out there."

In this poem, the woman and child (mother and daughter?) question the origin of one of the figurines, but they simply take for granted the existence of the mountains, the stream, and the deer. They don't stop to also wonder about the origin of the world that surrounds them. Could the origin of the figurine and the origin of the world as we experience it be related?

Just like the creation of the small, graceful clay lady, everything we do or say originates in a thought; one single thought. Everything that happens originates from a thought. Everything that has ever been done, built, performed, painted, written, etc. originated from a single thought. Did you ever stop and wonder why that particular thought occurred at that particular point in time to that particular person? Where did that thought come from? Are they nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain or is there more to it than that.

It's pretty obvious that what we choose to focus our thoughts on determines the life we lead, the experiences we have. It's pretty obvious we can control the over all tenor of our thoughts, but where do each of the individual thoughts come from? We can choose what genre of thoughts we want to focus on, the overall picture, but how is each pixel, each thought, in that picture chosen?

Taken to the next level, if we admit we don't know where our thoughts come from, that leads to the question: is there really such a thing as free will? Do we really chose what thoughts to have throughout the day and what we think about? Anyone who has ever meditated, or just sat quietly for any amount of time, knows that thoughts, on any and all subjects, come and go at times of their own choosing, whenever they want, whether summoned or not, whether wanted or not. Do we really have a choice in what we think about; in what thoughts come up when we think about a subject?

Maybe this is too much of a burden for one little poem, but that's what came up and i got home from my ride before i found all the answers. :-)

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