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Lions Roar : November 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2011 58 is the very dimension of language that we two-leggeds share in common with the other animals. We share it, as well, with the howling of wind through the winter branches outside my house. In the spring the buds on those branches will unfurl new leaves, and by summer the wind will speak with a thou- sand green tongues as it rushes through those same trees, releasing a chorus of rustles and whispers and loudly swell- ing rattles very different from the shrill, plaintive tones of winter. And all those chattering and gossiping leaves will feed my thoughts as I sit by the open door next summer, scribbling and pondering. When, in meditation, we bring aware- ness to our breathing, we gradually undermine the ready distraction of the literate mind, with its propensity to wan- der far from the present moment. But we also accomplish much more, since the air flooding in and out of our lungs is contin- uous with the breath nourishing the frogs chanting across the creek, and both are laced with exhaust pouring from a coal- fired power plant outside town. The air we breathe is continuous with the salt spray of waves breaking on distant shores, with the wind rippling the fur of an endangered lynx stalking its prey, and with the dwin- dling respiration of drought-stricken pine forests. Escalating wildfires surge through those forests, infusing the atmosphere with the tang of smoke. To bring awareness to the air as it rides in and out of our nostrils is to dissolve our detached thoughts into the ongoing exchange, the meeting, the reciprocity between our body and the rest of the biosphere. We renew the conversa- tion between our animal presence and the animate earth. Meaning lives in this meet- ing. And meaningful action grows, pre- cise and powerful, from the replenished exchange. ♦ This article contains a brief excerpt from Becoming Animal by David Abram, © 2010 by David Abram. Used by permission of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House Inc. PHOTOBYTOMJONES