How far must you wander to taste the pure essence, hear the pure note, see deeply into beauty, smell the first flower of spring, touch another heart. Will you grow tired from standing still in total silence contemplating this?
A reflection on Case 65 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (Trud Dharma Eye)
He loved walking around the small lake. He could make a circuit in just under 40 minutes. If. If he didn’t stop to marvel at or photograph some bird along the shore. The runners flashing by him gave him strange looks, likely because they didn’t see the beauty in this bird’s feathers, how the light played off that bird’s beak. He was a runner once, until his knees gave out. But he can’t remember much of the paths he ran, just moment after moment of what was on the ground in front of him.
Once the winter stars wrapped in their cloudy shroud shed frozen tears, unwilling to come out of hiding. We searched for them in vain, knowing our failure, retreating to the warmth of home, only to repeat the failed effort on so many other nights.
Now, here, the winter stars are usually fearless, some drowned by the moon, but she waxes and wanes and they reappear, the brightest never fearing the chilled sky. We stare at them in wonder having forgotten for so many years just how beautiful they can be in their glory.
There is a strange beauty in the slow loss of sight, for there is a progressive transition, a discovery of much that went unheard, unfelt, missing in the glare of the need to see, to categorize and organize, memories neatly arranged in an array of curated visual files.
But without sight what once was cast aside as noise is an intricate tapestry of sound and undistracted, you begin to see the individual threads to see deeply into the art and craft of the unknown weaver.
Without sight, you so often store images in two dimensions but now requiring touch, everything is three dimensional of necessity and the world is infinitely more complex and yes beautiful than you recalled.
And the darkness of night, which marked a border that dared not be fully crossed grows meaningless and hours once lost may again now demand to be lived.
His extended wings momentarily block the sun setting his feather tips ablaze. His vermillion talons grasp the waiting branch threatening to break it from the tree unless is bends to his will. His curved beak arches against an orange sky holding tightly to the retreating sun. I can only watch a majestic moment and believe that somewhere the must be a God for nature alone could not conceive of a creature of such beauty, such passion.
In the heart of winter, then, which seemed unending I would stare out at the maples barren branches piled in ever tottering snow and dream of palm trees and a warm ocean breeze.
In heart of winter now, such as it is, all I see are endless palms and many Southern Live Oaks, their branches piled under a heavy burden of sagging Spanish Moss and I dream of the simple beauty of the maple leaf shifting from its deep green to its endless shades of autumn beauty.