A Quiet Place ~ Sasonoa River
Mandalas (Sanskrit, "circle") are used in Buddhism and Hinduism as meditation aids. They are energetic, geometric representations of the universe.
And yet I have a sense that all this mandala business is, for me, at least, useless. It has considerable interest, but there is no point in my seeking anything there for my own enlightenment. Why complicate what is simple? I am reading on the balcony outside my room. Five green parrots, then eight more fly shrieking over my head.
*Thomas Merton. The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton. Ed. Naomi Burton, et al. 1973.
* * *
April 2016, Lake City, Florida -
I just started reading the Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, and last early evening, Saturday, I felt a strong witness arising in regard to his words on simplicity, written in New Delhi, in October 1968. And the mandala - I, too, have admired the mandala – amazing spiritual art. Yet, I agree, "Why complicate the simple?" We have a tendency to do that in matters spiritual and otherwise. But hidden within is usually, if not always, a defense against the beauty and power of simplicity, an avoidance of just-this-is-enough.
Possibly, something in us, or most of us, sees less, rather than more, plain, rather than ornate, and so forth, as a threat to our sense of well-being and person - but we need the threat. Possibly, we feel shame with simplicity, as though we are settling, being lazy. I know this is true in meditation in my society, for passive quietness, even with noble intent, is counter our cultural push to prove ourselves by activity, by doing.
I would recommend to feel the threat of less, to feel what it feels like to choose keeping it simple. Simplicity, we find, after all, is an expression of freedom, even though such is counter the messages we are surrounded by constantly. I mean, too, this is one reason I am no longer a pastor – enough was never enough both within and outside the churches. Yes, the religion of Christianity has fallen under this societal spell of the dread of absence, aloneness, silence, and the joy of simply being.
I thought Merton's reference to the green parrots was an expression of openness to the simplicity of Life. This morning, after bicycling, I stood beside the creek, and a huge, bellowing-out hawk flew overhead. I was surprised at how low he, or she, had flown over my head and the dark creek waters. Now, that was an amazing flying mandala! - so simple, to appreciate.
* * *
December 2021, Damariscotta, Maine -
Reflecting on this musing over five years later, what arises is: The energy is everywhere. Yes, anywhere you touch life, you touch all of life. Touching one thing, you touch everything. Any being has the potential to become sacramental. A hawk flying overhead can be a messenger of Grace. No, we are not always aware of these openings. Yet, living aware, we will experience them more often. It seems Life responds to our preparedness to receive the unveilings between here and there. And we discover, it is all here the more we are touched by what is there. Heaven and Earth have never been apart. While these are different, they are not other than each other either. Herein is the union of opposites that are different but not opposites, to begin with.
* * *
*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2021.
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.
* * *