Monday, September 21, 2015
Impermanence (A Meditation)
Sand is pulled from beneath my feet as the backwash of a wave retreats down the beach. I sink as the firmament that holds my weight is suspended and carried by the ebbing surf. I lift my feet to get a better hold, back on top of the sand, where I think I should be. All the time. In a way I don't believe that the ground beneath me is moving. Instead I tell myself that I have footing to stand on, and that I deserve a place solid and permanent, that I can rely on it to always be there. I ignore the evidence to the contrary, the evidence that is right there below me, that the ground on which I stand is in flux, constant change, movement, on its way to somewhere else. Rather than accept and admit the truth of it, I sink my teeth and feet into an illusion that this shifting world is solid, dependable, trustworthy. I attach to that in the belief that doing so will make my illusions true. When the sands shift I feel betrayed and suffer, and the aversion that is the change makes me angry enough to fight against it. You know how that works. Might as well fight the tides. But the mind is an ornery beast with inflated sense of its power. It doesn't see that the sand both supports and washes away, gives and takes, blesses and extracts, that there are great kindnesses in those passing grains of sand. A friend buys you coffee, asks how you are, surprises you with a great generosity that goes to the secret of your being. Such a gift sustains and then passes. The passing opens up an opportunity to reach to someone else who is sinking and afraid. A kindness given can help deepen the fact of passing, the beneficence of seeing a truth head-on. It is only in the act that the mind can learn. Kindness received. Kindness given. A cycle of departure and return, a swirling violence of peace, grief, and joy, all of it contained in the simple gaze that sees the sand as it is.