This week’s article continues in the mystical vein of last week’s article, and looks specifically at how nature, landscape and weather can become our meditation teacher! These are also themes we will be touching on in the Wednesday evening class.
Yours in the spirit of awakening through landscape,
Article of the Week:
Using Landscape to Connect to Our Primally Enlightened Nature
The great mystics have often used nature, landscape and weather as a way of helping people to reconnect to their primal enlightened nature. By primally enlightened nature here I mean that part of us that is already enlightened (and always has been), but that has been obscured and forgotten because we have become “lost” in the complexities of our conceptual mind and the world of ideas. To connect to ‘reality’ directly and move into a living symbiosis with our primally enlightened nature, we need to develop the capacity to drop our conceptual mind temporarily and simply accept and see things as we find them. Nature is a great teacher in this respect becausethe forces of nature exist and express themselves in a non-conceptual, direct manner.
As Lao Tzu says in his classic “Tao Te Ching” (This quote is from the Stephen Mitchell translation which is one of my favorites):
“Express yourself completely,
Then keep quiet,
Be like the forces of nature:
When the wind blows there is only wind;
When it rains, there is only rain;
When the clouds pass, the sun shines through.”
We have all had the experience of being in a landscape or traveling to a place, and being so enraptured by the energy and ambience of the place that all our thoughts just fade away and we move into a state of deeply fulfilling communion and being-ness. What I am going to do is give some simple examples of how you can meditate with remembered aspects of landscape in order to regenerate the non-conceptual, meditative states of mind that accompany them. As the saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words”. By recalling our own direct interactions with nature and landscape we can perhaps learn more about meditation than from years of studying books and techniques (although I recommend that to!)
Please note these are just suggestions, once you have a feel for it you can connect to any aspects of the weather, landscape and nature that work for you!
Some Simple Landscape Meditations
On Mountains and the earth element
Recall a visit to a mountain or hill that deeply impressed you and affected you with its energy. Visualize it before you, connect to its stability, solidity and deep presence. Become the mountain, stable, unthinking and yet fully present, able to accept storms and sunshine, wind and rain with the same equanimity, non-judgmentalness and (in the positive sense of the word) indifference.
On sea, rivers and the water element
Recall a visit to the sea or a trip down a river that really affected you. See yourself by the sea or next to the river, attune to the flowing nature of the water, to its depth and presence. Become the flow of the water, feel yourself in the calm depths of the river flowing across the rocks, or become the sea around you; with its turbulent surface but still calm depths.
On sky, clouds and the air element
Recall a skyscape that impressed or affected you, and the landscape that you experienced it in. Picture the sky in front of you, feel into its spacious nature. Become the sky, feel the strong winds, the clouds, the light. However turbulent the contents of the sky becomes,the open expansive spacious nature of the sky always remains the same.
On the sun and the fire element
Recall a time when you have been particularly affected by the atmosphere created by the suns light. See yourself in that landscape receiving the light, warmth and energy of the sun. Allow your mind to become brilliant, clear and energized by the energy of the sun. Become the sunlight, shining upon everything within its range; radiating, expanding, giving life.
So, in the long term one of the main capacities we learn to develop when we meditate in this way is to realize that we are always in landscape and surrounded by nature. Even if we are in a city we can look out of our office window, appreciate the ambience of the sky, and allow our mind to relax into the open, spacious, non-conceptual nature of the sky for a few moments. It is about using the natural forces that are around us all the time to reconnect and remember our primal nature, or as Zen puts it “Our original face”.
You won’t fully understand this article by reading it, it is not something that you have to “work out” with your mind, you have to do it!
© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com