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Lions Roar : May 2014
nostalgia for imaginary states of mind I notice I make stuff up about what my mind was like before I was distracted, when actually it was about as distracted as it is now. I can’t find a base- line to return to. I don’t really need somewhere to stand outside of where I am. Which is lucky because there isn’t such a place. Not knowing where I am is intrinsic to creativity and innovation. Distraction started early in my life, when I would wander up the road to get kindling and come back two hours later with arms full of sticks and memories of strange trees. When I first went on meditation retreat we were told, “Don’t look at the mountains. Don’t look at each other.” It was a kind of fasting of the eyes, but it seemed in other ways to be building a prison rather than breaking out of one. I had learned to sit looking out over wild valleys and mountains, watching the world be itself, and learning to bear being myself. This spring I like watching the narcissus push up out of the frost, the golden winter lemons that seem to lodge in my heart, the finches like jeweled, excitable tears. Watching things can also be meditation. Someone in a recent retreat had a kind of dream vision. She was a very experienced meditator but as a person seemed inaccessible, as if wherever she went, she was balancing something that might spill. In her vision, she was meditating inside a large paper bag and had cut out a round hole, making a window. She had a view out of the hole. But then she reached out, picked up the round piece of paper, and began to sew it back in place. It’s an endearing dream, since it gives her an image for what she’s doing in her life and shows that the barrier around her is paper thin. Noticing seems like a move toward freedom. a distraction is a Gate Long ago and far from here, a pilgrim was travel- ling in the hills. His thoughts were like clouds and dreams. He forgot to think, since there wasn’t any- one to think. He became lost in his walking. He rounded a bend, and on the opposite wall of the canyon there was a peach tree in blossom. The blossoms were white with crimson in the center. No veil separated him from them, and suddenly the peach blossoms were him. The tree, the river, the birds, the sunlight, the morning cold—every- thing was peach blossoms. He laughed out loud. His name was Lingyun, and he wrote: For thirty years i searched for a master swordsman. How many times did the leaves fall, and the branches burst into bud? But from the moment i saw the peach blossoms, i’ve had no doubts. It can be a shock—the heart coming forth. Any- thing, anything that we meet, is a peach blossom. An email about cancer, a phone call, the winter moonrise. When we truly meet any part of the universe, we recognize it. It feels like I’m seeing my own face. The things I thought I needed to SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2014 53