The sun is just peering over the horizon as I sit here by this serene lake. I’m alone apart from for an older gentleman in the distance walking his dog. The tired oaks stand with dignity in their silence. The palms gently quiver from a light wind off the water. It is springtime here and you can smell the Jasmine in the breeze. On this quiet morning, dew lingers on the park benches, the leaves and the old wooden dock that reaches out to eternity. All around me you can hear nature come alive. It’s in these hours that we find what we usually spend a lifetime seeking. Liveliness. Peace.
As the gray morning is broken up by the sun’s powerful rays slicing through the overcast, the Great Heron swoops down inches from the water and sores back up to pose admirably on the old dock. The Belted Kingfisher, with its energetic flight, hovers just above the lake and then dives at his prey, disrupting the silence. Hundreds of crows chirp and flutter all around, playing, singing and looking for food on the shoreline. It’s musical. The world is asleep but nature is stirring with potent vitality. With all this life awakening, one wonders how this liveliness, this beauty, this existence could possibly have a beginning or an end. It seems infinite. It is I believe.
Sitting here drinking my coffee, I’m questioning why people treat each other so harsh. In this vast majestic world we all reside in, why do we get bogged down and overtaken by trivial dramas and futile quarrels. Sitting here at this moment you realize, at least for an instant, that yesterday and tomorrow are illusions. They are nothing. Only right now is real, this moment. And it’s amazing when you recognize this; nature helps tremendously. When you sit as an observer in nature it un-teaches all that’s been taught, all that’s been conditioned in our minds; it chips away at all the opinions we’ve accumulated over the years, mostly from other people. Knowledge is always in the past.
When alone, and you empty yourself of everything, the past doesn’t cast its shadow. Past and future have no meaning. This is where it’s at. This is the nirvana that we seek.
What I’m finding out is that we learn more about life by watching the sunrise and the birds come alive, seeing and hearing the awakening of nature around us than we can by reading any book or ancient doctrine. There is truth here and you feel it in all your senses. I believe the poet William Blake understood this when he beautifully put these words together:
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
Now the sun is dissipating the coolness of the morning. The warmth touches my face as the sun rises higher in the blue sky. The low hovering clouds that were prominent before sunrise have slowly disintegrated, giving way to a colorful morning.
I often wonder why we are all so serious. Why do we worry so much. Why do we live in a world of superficiality, walking around, fighting, bickering, and constantly at each other’s throats over the most trivial of matters. Why do we exalt in pride and our self-righteous beliefs. Why are we susceptible to the most obvious falsehoods. Why do we live most of our lives asleep and what does it mean to be awake. These are the questions hitting me this morning.
To be fully alive, like what I’m seeing this morning by the lake, means living deliberately with dignity. It means finding joy and letting it engulf you. It means, as the words of Joseph Campbell come to mind, following your bliss. It’s about being who you are and not yielding to anyone or anything. Being truly alive is entering the woods where there is no path. It’s about making your own, leaving your own unique footprints on this heavily trampled earth. It means creating things that will outlive you. This is what being alive and living with purpose is all about.
A strong scent of orange blossoms hit me as a sudden wind came off the water. I sipped my coffee in the immense stillness of the morning. An abrupt sound of flailing wings from the heron taking flight turns my head. The sky has faded into a great coalescence of color and the light haze over the lake began lifting.
I think to myself how man has broken this earth. Tribalism, nationalism and religious idealism continues to wreak havoc on this planet. My flag is better than your flag. My God is the truth and your God is not. Mine mine mine is better than yours yours yours. This infantile mentality is the cause of everything evil in this world. We fight amongst each other while politicians exult in their power over the divided many. And religious leaders, with their devious power, implant a dangerous world outlook in the hungry minds that crave false hope to continue on. They create a world of duality, causing eyes to look at the world through the narrow lenses of good and evil.
These days, individuals don’t want to make their own decisions; they need someone in power to guide them. We look to authority figures for constant guidance. We rarely ever challenge or disobey. We strut along with full compliance, even to rules and laws that ruffle our conscious. People, robbed of their essence, are incapable of thinking beyond their provincial upbringing, unable to empathize with other humans that are unlike themselves. We put more trust in the corrupt institutions around us, whether it’s the state, academia or the church, than we do our own selves and our neighbors.
Unfortunately, with this unwavering trust in institutions, we’ve elevated to power the most depraved men in society. These are the same men who’ve tricked us into supporting the bloodshed of our fellow-man under the pretense of good verse evil. We are all saddened when a child is tragically killed but seem to be unfazed when the State does it with drone strikes under the language of war. We tend to compartmentalize our morality and feelings, detaching ourselves from what’s really going on, in hopes of living guilt free in our own little world, refusing to accept our indirect responsibility for these crimes.
Mankind is not inherently evil, but if somehow we can be convinced that the prescribed evil is good, we’re sure to adopt and execute it. All of us believe that murder is evil, but if committed by one in uniform, it is praised and glorified. Stealing is wrong, but if done by politicians in the language of “for the greater good”, then it’s fine. Redefining evil through political language is how the ruling class gains control of the people, making them do what they want.
This leaves us at a place in life where living freely and harmoniously with all things is a far-reaching utopia. We’ve bought into what the great powers have wanted us to buy into—disunion and conflict. Politicians feed off of this division knowing the masses will misplace blame for the ills of society. The people in general, drunk on entertainment and ignorance, will find it difficult to uncover a cure for the spreading cancer of society because we ignore the source and only treat and complain about the symptoms. We live comfortably and securely in a world of falsehoods and hardly take the time to read and genuinely learn. Our wisdom today is gained through sound bites and headlines. We barricade ourselves behind comfy little lies and chastise those who speak truths. And with this bleak ignorance we’re incapable of seeing through the deliberate misinformation bombarded on us.
There is hope. I believe, like nature all around this morning, people are slowly coming alive. Questions are starting to be asked. Technology is making it harder and harder for these institutions to hide their atrocities. A ruling system that functions by political violence will surely implode. As soon as the majority adheres to the virtues of truth and wisdom, and reclaim the essence of individualism and freedom, change will ensue.
People now are starting to make their way to the lake shore. A photographer sets up on the dock to capture shots of the many birds. A couple walks hand in hand, taking in the beauty of the horizon over the lake. The chirps from the crows are louder and sun is now sprinkling its radiance on the water. The world is fully awake now, and I sit and watch this resurrection with complete emptiness.