They circle slowly each in its own tier of a near cloudless sky, their wings still as if frozen, riding the breeze, dipping and rising, going nowhere, needing nowhere, riding, riding, looking down at the wetland, and circling, until with a shift in the breeze the vulture vortex shifts east, and you watch them shrink, thankful that they are simply out for a flight, and not finding a meal in the reeds and trees where all the other birds live.
As you wander around looking for a place to build a temple, looking for eden, looking for nirvana, stop and simply sit, listen to the breeze teaching you the Dharma, the clouds chanting the sutras in a harmony beyond your hearing. Look down for you are in your temple, sitting in eden nirvana at your feet.
A reflection on case 4 of the Book of Equanimity Koans
He began his trek up the mountain early in the morning to allow time for the ascent and return. He’d planned this carefully, and proceeded slowly so as not to be put off his goal. He smiled as he passed through a low hanging cloud layer, erasing the ground from which he set off on his journey. He plodded on, seeing the summit growing ever, if slowly, closer. He finally reached his goal at the summit, sat and smiled broadly. He had made it. He gazed down, feeling as though he had at last achieved flight. He was one with the sky. A sudden shadow passed over him. He looked up at the eagle circling, mocking him, as if saying this is flight, you poor earthbound creature.
I will soon enough be in mourning for literature and philosophy for the moment is approaching when they will be lost, or I suppose simply subsumed, swallowed up in a cloud appearing momentarily then gone.
The day is rapidly approaching and if you doubt it for even a moment, go to your local library, if it has not closed, and note the diminishing number of books, replaced by computers, where everything can be found while the power is on, but just try and read there when a candle is the only light.
People of the mountain are quiet, some say taciturn preferring to listen for the cry of the eagle, wind whistling its familiar tune through a pass snow rent from the face tearing down in a crystalline cloud.
People of the shore merge with the song of the waves, feel its tempo punctuated by the bark of the whale, the horn anchored in the harbor, the tavern disgorging its nightly catch into the streets.
People of the city stare at the bleakness of the stone monolith torn from the earth white tipped peaks barren, and the endless wash of the sea, licking at land and retreating an ill-trained pup but mostly at the ground lest it slide from beneath them.
The clouds build slowly, turning the sky from blue to ever darkening shades of gray. He hopes it will rain, rain heavily, as the ground is parched, the wetland a bog, and the birds have moved on in search of water. He watches the build up, the clouds accreting, and he waits for the first drop of water. The clouds begin to dissipate, the sun peeks through widening gaps, and the sky is soon blue again. And in the distance he thinks he hears a voice whispering “you know mother nature is a cranky old broad, right?”
Arising into night the departing sun tangoes away with its cloud, memories soon forgotten. Other dancers take the stage, now a romance, now a war dance, feathers raised in prayer to unseen gods. Night will soon bring its curtain across this stage, the avian cast’s final bows taken the theatre will darken, awaiting another performance, a new script tomorrow, but for this solitary moment of frozen grace, it is we who write the conversation, our lines sung by actors who know only nature’s unrelenting song.