"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Answer, My Friend, Is the Wind Blowing

"OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet, 
When the wind comes right behind the rain."
-- from "Oklahoma" by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein

"If you know how to contemplate the beauty of nature with the eyes of the Buddha, 
you will not say that your life has no meaning."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Eyes of the Elephant Queen", 
I don't know how much research Rogers and Hammerstein did as they wrote the musical, "Oklahoma", but they sure nailed one thing.  I've been here in Central Oklahoma for a week now and there has been a significant stiff breeze blowing each and every day of my stay. Though I haven't seen any fields of "wavin' wheat" here in the fringe suburbs of Oklahoma City, nor yet experienced a rainstorm in this area which is still experiencing "severe to extreme" drought conditions, the wind has come "sweeping down the plain" each and every day.  

I saw the movie version of "Oklahoma" as a nine-year old child, and as I sit here in the library of the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma reviewing the lyrics of the title song, images and feelings cascade through my awareness --and tears emerge.  Portrayed in musical cinema and filtered through the experience of a child now 68 years old, the storylines and songs of this exuberant piece of Hollywood entertainment, when looked into deeply, whisper of the truth and beauty and joy of Life.  I guess if you really look deeply into most anything that is probably true.  My heart sings "Oh what a beautiful morning",  as I feel the whole "high side" and "low side" of our human condition played across the screen of memory. 

In the culture of the 40's and 50's of the United States some issues, of course,  were assiduously ignored.  The plot ignores the tragic history of conquest on this continent by European colonists and the cruel reality that Oklahoma itself was originally the western terminus of the infamous "Trail of Tears".   In fact, the "cowboys and the farmers" that were the major characters of the tale were  beneficiaries of another round of broken treaties, opening Indian Territory to land speculation and "homesteading". 

It's ironic that in  the title song, our Fundamental Connection to Nature, perhaps the hallmark of the Native American Spirituality, is underscored again and again as the lovestruck cowboy, Curley, sings of his envisioned future with his beloved "farmer's daughter".  In the chorus he proclaims "we know we belong to the land" and envisions the perfection in moments sitting with Laurey watching a hawk circling in the sky with "the wheat wavin' in the wind."

Beyond the infatuation of the romantic love being portrayed is, perhaps, yet another artistic rendering of the universal intuitive perception of our ultimate interdependence in the web of life.  In an era where many of us are increasingly separated from nature by the veil of technology, I'm glad that Thich Nhat Hanh and others refer us back to being Mindful of the natural world that we flow from, flow through, and flow into as our flesh and bones return to Mother Earth for recycling.

When Jesus recommended that we consider the lilies of the field, I don't think he was just making a 
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point about fundamental trust.  He had spend 40 days in the wilderness, perhaps more than once by then.  Like Lao Tse before him, the Way unfolded as Jesus retreated to pray and meditate, to encounter God in the arms of Mother Nature. Buddha sat under a tree and his enlightenment emerged with the morning star.

In this era where more and more of us are wired to personal media --even while outside --this is an aspect of Practice that, I think, is important to remember.  Over the years I've found that the majesty and vastness of it all can become quite apparent as we unplug from "civilization" and surround ourselves with the earth and sky, the sun and moon.  As we become more proficient at "getting out of our heads" (yes, that means taking the earphones off), as we become more able to actually "come to our senses" with full awareness,  just a good walk can be Transformative.  Even in the midst of buildings and sidewalks and the like, Mother Nature doesn't really take "no" for an answer.  She's irrepressibly Present out there.  Just stop, look, and listen.

Saying that I think it's time to step away from the computer and take a walk.  Mindful of breath and body, thoughts floating freely in the spaciousness of awareness, the trees here on the University of Central Oklahoma campus (if not wheat), were certainly "wavin' " as I walked across campus to the library earlier.   With the sensation of the wind blowing across my skin, even that 90 degree temperature was delicious.  I felt Present to the Presence.

To recast Bob Dylan's line, with Practice,  sometimes "the answer, my friend, is the wind blowing."

Nothing more.  Nothing less.

I like it when that happens.  

1 comment:

James Koyama said...

Enjoyed reading this. I like the song "Surrey With the Fringe on Top." It is interesting in the way it it unwittingly blends a simple love of nature with a materialistic mindset. While noting the beauty of sunset and animal life around him, the singer also comments almost like a car salesman on the various selling points that make his surrey such a good one.