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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2009 67 tering, returning now and then like a school of fish to form what appears solid, pattern, thing, but happens only to be a temporary sack of cells turning together. As sunlight hits the prismatic water, the walls and floor of the pool become a luminous cage holding nothing but thought. ever since I was a child, for whole minutes at a time, I have effervesced out of my self in an ecstasy of com- munion with the cosmos at the level of atom and leaf. And yet, I also spend most of each day not in that state, with my zaftig “I” sprawling all over the mind furniture, a slovenly and selfish guest. so, is enlightenment sustainable? Jack Kornfield, of spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California, explains that enlight- enment isn’t continuous; one still has to do the laundry. but surely how one does the laundry is what matters? Fine, but one still has to go to work, not always with equanimity. Unless one lives in a monastery, it’s not easy to prolong a calm, serene, cheerful equilib- rium, which one nerve-jangling phone call can quickly convert to anxiety. In the stir of the world, I’m glad to find slender moments of dawning, when the ephemeral cape of being simply fits. In the end, life is the best koan—not the word, but the process of living. An endlessly mutating koan created by water, miner- als, and heat in the cold furnace of the atom, without meaning or purpose. From that evolved creatures stricken by meaning, afflicted with purpose. but it has always been about rust, the ancient, unknowable, nearly unthinkable rust that created all life, and the rust that obliterates us, intimately, one by one. timewellsPent so many marvels are bustling through this slender dawn: Lens- shaped clouds signaling high winds aloft. Roof shingles overlap- ping like dove feathers. A busily-sniffing dog reading its scent- version of the morning newspaper. On tree limbs and window ledges, birds facing upwind, to keep their feathers ironed shut, not ruffled up by the breeze. And several apes, walking down the street on their way to work, engaging in social pantomime. such is the texture of life, the feel of being alive on this particular planet. Most evenings, I think about the day’s experiences, and choose one that stands out. It may be as zesty as a bowwl of great lemon sorbet, as eye-opening as a passage in a book, as peaceful as a lunchtime snooze, as unexpected as a quick slant of sun- light catching dust particles in the air, as pulse-revving as a long- awaited letter, or as smooth as a piece of endangered species 70 percent dark chocolate. Or maybe realizing for the first time that the blue butterfly on its wrapper is a Karner blue, named years ago by fellow Ithacan, Vladimir Nabokov, and that the last remaining Karner blues now live among the whooping cranes in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. An odd synchronicity. embellishing that realization with words helps to store it in memory. What was the best thing that happened? Reviewing the day’s delights often yields surprises, and serves as a reminder how full a life is, how lucky some days feel, and how even stress- ful days may contain glowing nuggets of peace, pleasure, or joy. We can’t enchant the world, which makes its own magic; but