I was out early with Moss this morning on my regular, pre-work walks and I came across the sight of birds flocking together (as well as a neighbour whose birthday it was – but that’s another story). What went through my mind at the sight of the birds was the following:
- I wonder what the lifespan of one of these birds is?
- I wonder what brings them together, seated upon electricity cable?
- What’s the reasoning behind the flocking and the subsequent swoop from, and flight back, to the electricity cable?
- Is the flight like our stretching first thing in the morning? A loosening of our muscles to prepare ourselves for the day ahead?
- Finally, if they have a short lifespan the question is what is their purpose and service to the world?
All of these questions came out of the simple observation of that flocking together and while it was indeed a beautiful sight it was neither a significant occurrence or indeed out of the norm for this time of the year. It was something that simply occurs in all corners of this blue green planet. What it did for me however, was quite remarkable.
Usually, it is very easy to see everything around you, and I use the word ‘see’ in a broad, sensory input kind of way. ‘Sight’ is the process of simply seeing arising stimulus. It is something that is happening outside of you and a process that requires you to simply experience.
Stimulus = Experience.
That however, I have come to understand, is only part of the overall equation. We often seem to miss out an important, and quite fundamental element. We seem to forget to bring ourselves, and particularly our hearts response into the situation. I don’t mean judgement and opinion, but objective and immersed experience. We can see sights, like the birds flocking, and ask questions and seek answers. However, if we do that we may simply miss the experience itself and the chance to become immersed in the situation with body and soul.
In Pali, The language of the Buddha, the translation of the word to meditate, Bhavana, means “to cultivate“ and we cultivate through care and attention, love and patience. When we cultivate a seed of an idea, that is been presented to us, we do so by placing it in fertile ground, ground that we have within us. We approach that nurturing with love and compassion and gently encourage the experience to grow. We don’t simply look at the idea and try and think it into existence. Cast it aside on hard and rocky ground. We should see ALL experience as an opportunity to nurture what is shown to us. The same is especially true when it comes to life situations and especially those experiences that are presented to us every day and may seem mundane and trivial.
When we are presented with something that triggers a response, it is our duty to see it from as broad a way as possible. To use all the tools, we have available to give it the best chance of existence, this could be using all our senses as well as our analytical mind. We need to do it however with a balance between the two. As well as seeing it clearly, we also need to see if it will give us insight that will be of benefit to us. Everything that is presented, at any time, provides us an opportunity to learn and to grow and if we choose to see something from a narrow view point we miss the chance to see the lesson it can bring to our lives. We should see everything that happens with open hands, open eyes and an open heart. Even the mundane will have something to teach us if we are prepared to observe it fully, absorb it totally and embrace it completely. This requires us to use both our head for analysis and our hearts to checking the results, but if we can do that then we will be able to nurture true happiness.