I have removed my bed to sleep on just the mattress. I know this is not likely to impress you. It would be more impressive if I slept on the floor without the mattress. But this is not about the sleeping, this is about how I wake up. I am now waking up on the ground and this is a daily reminder of humility. It is a reminder for me of the profound limitations of thinking and thinking that I know.
The veery is a little bird that lives in North America and migrates 4000km south once a year. In the Netflix program ‘Connected’, an observer of the bird noticed that the departure time varies every year. He was curious about what would make the veery leave early considering the risks to its young ones. He wondered about all of the different factors like food, their arrival time, etc.
In the end, he thought that perhaps it had to do with the journey itself. He then mapped the departure time with the intensity of the hurricanes each year – and found a correlation. The birds left early when the hurricanes were particularly intense and in that way avoided getting caught in them. In other words, the birds could predict the intensity of the hurricane weeks before it happened. In 2018, our birdwatcher contacted the centre of meteorology and asked them what their prediction was for the hurricane season that year. They thought the hurricanes would be mild. He responded that his birds said otherwise – they had left early. The birds were right.
Now I know that we cannot say 100% that this is the way it is, however it opens our mind to something bigger at play. How can a little bird have such knowledge? How can it find its way to Brazil every year, to the same spot where it was the year before?
This story reminds me of the importance of humility. There is magic out there, there is amazement beyond comprehension.
You might still ask why does it matter? Well, for one, we step off the endless wheel of next, next, next and believing that once this and that area is in order, then I will be happy. But I think the big thing for me is that it gives my life context. For me, this is what it is all about, it is all about becoming conscious. That is the ride.
What keeps us small?
A Danish poet, Trille, described habit as a little grey tyrant that easily dominates the way we function. It is more than that. We perceive through the lenses of our past, of the input that was put in. This input is made up of mental habits and restrictions.
In effect, these little grey tyrants obscure reality, leaving us in a fantasy land of limited understanding.
The word ‘Buddha’ means ‘awake’. Awake is when we realise that our thoughts and feelings are disguising reality. They are blocking the experience of awe, of oneness, of wisdom. Waking up is being shaken out of preoccupation with that which is ultimately hollow, empty and insubstantial. In waking up, the body and the mind fall away and we are left with nothing and everything – the only consistent reality.
We don’t just wake up to knowing that there is consciousness, we wake up to realising that that is all there is. This is also called nondual awareness. We are no longer separate from anything, life arises like a massive heartbeat moment by moment. This is what humility and a little statue of Buddha reminds me of.
There are other ways, other gateways, of course:
• Spending time in nature
• Reading poetry
One of my favourite poets is Meister Eckhart:
“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
“God’s divinity comes of my humility…”
― Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart
And Eckhart Tolle:
“All the things that truly matter, beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace arise from beyond the mind.” ― Eckhart Tolle
Engage in Zen Koans, (riddles designed to bring us to see the limitations of our understanding and bring us to ultimate wisdom and insight)
The Koan: The coin lost in the river is found in the river.
For wonderful instructions for how to work on this Koan go to: https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-zen-koans/
What are your thoughts or experience with this? Would love to see your comments.