“Does the moon exist only when I look at it?”
I live in a city, a large city, and everywhere I go I see concrete and walls, and particularly I see lots of signs and advertisements. When I drive my eyes are trained to flick from one sign to another, you have to, right? If not you will miss the stop sign, get on the wrong freeway. Media promotions, now including video and moving lights, are everywhere. You may be in the car for hours in a day. How do you relax and stay calm in this environment?
A few weeks ago I was pondering this problem. It was fall, and the leaves had turned golden in the trees in the parks that I drove past. I noticed one stunningly beautiful tree, made like a patchwork quilt of different broad leaves, glowing in the evening sunset. By chance, or as I would say, synchronicity, I was able to pull over and rest my weary being, filling up a little from this tree’s grace and presence. It was only a few seconds later that I once again resumed my journey, refreshed and smiling. Trees can do that. I confess I am a tree admirer, and I love their deep rooted presence in this complex and transient kaleidoscope world.
The Buddha loved trees too. It is recounted that under an old fig tree he became aware of the beauty in all life, and this lead to his Bodhi, or enlightenment. His story is not alone, there are other stories in each of the major religions about finding connection to the divine under a tree.
I concluded that there was a special enlightenment that was achieved from attending to the beauty of my special tree. Perhaps you have a special tree, animal or other living thing that shines into your life also when you pay attention to it? Sometimes I sit and think about such things. Sometimes I just sit. 🙂
When I got home I just sat in silence for a while, brushing off the buzzing thought-flies of my conscious day, and remembering the tree. It was in this space of not thinking, that awareness came to me, that I wish to share with you. What if I was to pay attention to the beauty that is present wherever I am right now? I decided to try it, and guess what I discovered?
Sitting at a red light, a flower waved to me from the base of a sign. A series of bushes poked their yellow tongues at me as I drove past. The cosmetic pink blush of sunset brushed across the evening sky, and snowflakes became a pattern of joy rather than frustration. People in my presence were somehow new; I saw a curl of wife’s hair as a work of art. Even an insect buzzing on the dash became special, a mystery of flight rather than a pest to be destroyed. Was it me; was it my attention that created this beauty? I think this is a classic Zen puzzle, that indeed we can co-create beauty by observing life with a soft heart.
One of my favourite authors is Rachel Remen, craftswoman of “Kitchen Table Wisdom.” In her blog of July 2014, she wrote “As children we had the capacity to simply love life even in some of its humblest forms… an earthworm… a duckling… even an ant, but as adults we often hide our love or even experience it as something else.” Have can we reconnect to this childhood joy of discovery of the beauty of life?
Recent scientific discoveries, based on quantum physics theory, show a unique property of consciousness that links it to all existence. Werner Heisenberg, a father of Quantum physics, said “…separation of the observer from the phenomenon to be observed is no longer possible.” As a child, we knew this, our eyes were wide in awe of the beauty in every flower, every cat, every expression of life we encountered. In other words, our awareness was part of physical reality, because we make our own world by our intentions.
Hence Einstein’s quote at the start of this post. The Moon in all its languid beauty may not exist separate from our own observation. In observing beauty, we co-create it. By paying attention to the good, the beautiful, the joyful, and everything that lifts your spirit, you contribute to the positive yet “what you give, you get back, overflowing and running over.”
When I drive now, I search for life and beauty. Sure I pay attention to the road signs I need for safety and direction, but I also look past them, believing that somewhere in the field of view beauty will appear. The more I look, the more it does.
Try it. Take some time to just look for the signs of life all around you when you are driving. Just by taking time to be aware of the pale moon in its orbit, you can co-create the presence of its beauty.
This poem I wrote in 2011 may help!
Find the Beauty
Hope is not gone:
It resides in beauty, which adorns every path
if you look for it.
Find the beauty in a plant squeezing its way up through the city concrete.
Find the beauty in the smile of a child who has been encouraged by kindness.
Find the beauty in the evening stars who have always been sentinels of ordered light.
Be beautiful yourself by embracing compassion, love and peace.
Search, and you will always find, a rock, a pool, a sparkling eye, a transient glimpse of life in the wild.
Sometimes, just sometimes, beauty will flood your senses
And you at those times will know beauty is an infinite wisdom that flows into us as a gift.
At times when empty, look inside to find the source roadmap of where beauty is to be found.
The map shows life in abundance, a joy and peace beyond understanding, an intense inner knowing that there is more.
Find the beauty within,
for the roads that open from that soul-intersection are many,
each path will contain more flowers, scenes, and creative art
to enjoy with the laughter of friends along the way,
than you ever thought possible!Hope is not gone: It resides in beauty. And beauty is eternal and part of the infinite spirit.