Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Forest of Peace

What we plant
in the soil of contemplation,
we shall reap in the harvest of action.

~ Meister Eckhart

Nine strong.  That's the number of Redwood sprouts growing in pie dishes at the Whitefeather Peace House.  Seeds from small cones collected beneath the shade of two giants at a nearby park were gently persuaded to awaken.  These fragile beings are filled with the potential of the ancient Goliaths, once the most plentiful trees on earth.  The oldest known Giant Sequoia lived for 3500 years.  It makes our 90 year life span seem rather puny.  Yet, in our brief time we have even greater potential to reach amazing heights of awareness through action. 

In the world of peace I see myself as barely a sprout.  I've spent most of my years secluded from the rest of my species, a recluse, thinking and geminating my early life experiences.  I was happiest alone in the forest, sheltered from opinions and egos, free to think openly with only the trees, owls and elements bearing witness.  Just as the Buddha touched the earth, I touched the earth, and more importantly the earth touched me.  She's absorbed my tears as I've struggled to comprehend the topsy turvy landscape of this human experience.  Why do we destroy this very spaceship that gives us life?  How did our vision become so narrow?  Why do we create so much of our own misery?  We cage those that struggle for justice while letting the criminals responsible for mass murder walk free as exalted leaders.  Americans have allowed themselves to be convinced that high values like democracy, peace and justice, can be imposed on others through violence.  Those pushing this propaganda know that it's not true, but as long as they reap the profit of the lies, the lies will continue.  Our world is being run and ruined by the hungry ghosts, whose appetites can never be satisfied no matter how much innocent blood is shed.  Suffering, sickness and death are a given in this life.  Yet there is much we can do to alleviate unnecessary suffering.  We can stop giving money to those who destroy life, like Israel.  We can stop bombing Iraq and Afghanistan and step up to help women rebuild these nations and others, from the community level up, by educating them in new schools, providing tiny microloans, etc.  If we really want to end violence there and at home, we have to end our violence both there and at home.  The creative capacity of the human mind is limitless and yet so many minds walk around in their host bodies in sleep mode, closed off and focused only on grasping at personal pleasure and avoiding discomfort.  When was the last time you did something creative, generous, kind and caring?  When was the last time you cried for the suffering of your fellow space travellers, your neighbors, really letting their pain into your tender heart? 

These questions are hard.  It's much easier to watch tv, to let some blowhard tell you what to think and assure you that there's nothing you can do about it.  You may, for a short time, even be satisfied with going to the 9 to 5 job, spending your money on material things destined for the land fill.  Or maybe you'll be one that complains bitterly, yet does nothing, believing that somehow someone else is responsible for your misery.  But if you don't wrestle with these questions now, when will you?

We all have choices in the life we lead.  But when your last breaths begin to rattle in your chest and you start to untie all the knots of attachment to this world, what then will you contemplate?  Will you be able to relax into the arms of the universe knowing that with each passing day you had strived to reach even higher than the day before.  Will you be able to stand tall as the redwood with your roots solidly held by your mother earth and your arms reaching high toward father sky and state with confidence that yours was a good life, that you honored your parents and cherished and loved all your siblings in this existence.  When you exhale for that last time, will you be at peace?

The first Whitefeather Redwood sprout appeared on Groundhog Day, and is fondly referred to as Portland Phil.

1 comment:

Tom H. Hastings said...

What a great post! I spent my years as a hunkered down hippie homesteader in the north woods of Wisconsin and felt after those years like I had a personal relationship with every Barred Owl, every Pinus strobus, every bryophyte in 'my' woods, so I know that grounding to which you refer. It is medicine. Miigwetch...