“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. [Humans] experience self, thoughts, and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
I was riding my bike so late one night that it was actually morning. Actually, it was just before the dawn when the sky is at its darkest shade of deep blue, bejeweled with an encore of glittering starlight shining incredibly bright due to a new Moon which seems to say no Moon to the naked eye. This is the time when the streets are empty and there is a quiet blanket over the metropolis. I floated through the city on this two-wheeled aluminum instrument fueled by my piston legs and my engine heart. The city was mine, or maybe I was the city. Everyone in it was in me.
As I passed, hovering over the two wheels turning, on either side of me people slept in their homes. I could feel their soft dreaming breath on my cheek, in my ear. I could sense their cocooned bodies heavy in the warmth of blankets and bedding, curled and cuddling.
As I peddled in rhythm with my breath, I began whispering into the atmosphere the lovingkindness meditation. Wishing well wishes. May you be safe and free from harm, at ease in the mind, and comfortable in the body, may you live in peace. Again and again, house by house. How many bedrooms in that house, and that one, how many slumbering bodies? How many children? How many grandpas? How many had fallen asleep with tears drying on their cheeks, or still entangled after lovemaking? How many nightmares? Perhaps a few lay wide awake staring at their insomnia on the blank ceiling. And maybe one, one person in their safe home under warm blankets in a quiet city was content. Maybe one. Maybe more. Over and over again, wishing well wishes, wishing well wishes. Picturing people… so many people, too many people.
And luckily there was a little space in my head for listening because that is what listening is: making space, and over the loudspeaker of well wishes, I heard them: the birds beginning their morning songs. What a glorious gift and task to have, a song to sing the Sun awake, a song to birth a new day, a song to celebrate and claim life as a wondrous miracle. I imagined all the birds hiding away in the trees unbeknownst to me. And I began wishing them well. And there was a faith in me, a faith in the birds, that they were at peace, knowing their purpose, knowing their song and what to do to live peacefully in the world. I had no doubt that there was more than one completely content.
I am so grateful for the birds, the trees, the Sun, the wind, the dawn in all its fleeting wholeness. Focusing on what is within all that we notice and don’t notice, we can investigate what is inside all of these forms, the whatness that is nameless. What we celebrate, witness, and aim to connect with is not the thing itself, but the force that animates it.
Let our devotion be why we take any action in life. The body knows this innate wisdom is linked to the same inherent wisdom in which the birds reside when they know their song and how to fly and make a nest and raise their chicks and migrate across continents.
There is something beneath, inside, together, under, beyond what emanates from our physical form and unravels from our spine. It is that which creates and attracts, and offers. In the greater scope of things, it is not our doing, it is inside our doing.
Love that space. It can feel uncomfortable and awkward because it is unfamiliar, but there is something magical there. The opportunity to open up to that chance of experiencing our inherent connection. Many times we stand on the edge of sharing and an insecurity stops us from opening up. Let that insecurity open you up. When something is secure, it is sealed and limited. Love always takes us to a vulnerable place, so invite that insecurity in and support it with curiosity. It can be a scary place, yet it is an exhilarating one. A place of growth, natural development, evolution. Get comfortable with that feeling and the freedom to share and discover will come. We are not just what we see.