*This writing is one that is written without thought. The way it works is that I do an entrance meditation and then just let the words flow, not trying to direct them, to correct them, to coerce them, or manipulate them in any way. If they make no sense that’s perfectly fine. If they make all the sense in the world, that’s perfectly fine too. I really enjoyed where this practice took me with this piece. I encourage you to try it sometime. See where your quiet mind and full heart take you.
There are times when I feel endlessly bound. Handcuffed and chained, a swallowed key. I feel bound by limitations placed upon me by others, by me, by society, by financial insufficiencies, by insecurities, by my own mind, by physical incapabilities, by expectations, borders, class systems, government regulations, gender biases…an infinite list of limitations that imprison me.
There’s an easy way to put this feeling of imprisonment in to persepctive. My path to truth and enlightenment is always nature. Nature never fails to reset my finite thinking. To set my feet on a path where the possibilities are limitless and always have been limitless. Bound before by my inability (or unwillingness) to see the infinite. Believe the infinite.
Today, I believe. I look out over a vast ocean. So vast, I cannot even vaguely comprehend the depths it reaches, the miles it stretches, the gallons of water swallowed in it, the quantity and size of the species living within it, the miles of it untouched and unexplored, the power and reality that this ocean is one of many. Its vastness multiplied by five. What I can grasp is the smallness of me. Little ‘ole insignificant me. Rather than binding me further, this truth sets me free.
It frees me as I look more intimately upon the sand on which I lie. Delivered here by time and wind and tides. We speak of sand as a singular unit but is that because a single sand grain is so insignificant that it no longer has value? One tiny speck. One granule of something that once was. Broken down by nature in to individual specks of insignificance. Thrust together they become one long expansive beach of beauty. Alone, it is small and insignificant. Together, majestic.
The ocean tide powered by the moon still visible and hung in full view just above the horizon. This moon so familiar to me. A presence in my daily existence. Always present, yet only vaguely known. All alone, no community, relatively unexplored. Powerful yet unable to create or emit its own light. It merely reflects the light of a star. And there it hangs, suspended in the infinite enormity of stars and plants and space. Small and insignificant.
Oh, the stars! Light years away and bright enough to reach my eyes. Awe inspiring. Yet, on nights when only one is visible, the others suffocated by the artificial lights of my city or outshone by the reflected sun, that lone star becomes small and insignificant. Nothing more than a pin prick in the fabric of the night sky. Hardly noticed.
Nature is my teacher just as it’s the sand’s teacher. There to break me down, guide me, and hold me.
Teacher, why am I so plagued with suffering? Why are my problems so unique? How will I fix them and end my suffering?
Teacher (Nature) tells me,
Step on to that beach. Notice the immeasurable bits of sand. Notice that together they are beyond understanding, beyond measurement, beyond a finite limitation. If they were to rise up they would be a powerful force capable of overtaking any obstacle. Instead they comfort, cradle, mold, play, house, and simply accept the winds of change. They will move. They will be stepped on. They will be thrown around and kicked about. Some will be washed away never to be seen again. They will be underappreciated, cursed, and, at times, even shat upon. All of this will go unnoticed because in the realm of all that is universal they are small and insignificant too. Close your eyes. Listen to the ocean. It speaks. What do you hear?
I close my eyes and listen.
I hear waves. They’re angry and motivated. Systematic in their approach to reach the shore. They’re reaching. Grasping. Unsuccessful, they retreat back. Regroup. Attack. Retreat.
They too are small and insignificant. You hear only a small voice of the vast ocean. If you were to venture out further, you’d hear silence. Peaceful silence. Even your own voice too small to break that silence. The waves feel much like you, bound to obey forces bigger than them. There are rules and they must follow. They have slipped away from peace and discovered suffering. What you hear is the rumblings of dissent. Their resistance of what is. Their suffering. They are you. Small and insignificant but making deposits. Not recognizing their collective value and therefore coming in kicking and screaming.
Now look up. Do you see the moon? The stars? What do you notice?
I look up studying the sky.
They seem so far away. I’m amazed I can see them at all. I wonder if they see me. And if they do, what do they see? How would my energy reach them? Do I have an energy that can pierce through the gaps that both divide us and bridge us? I look up and feel the greatness of all that is out there. The universe reminds me that each being is relatively small and insignificant in the perspective of all that exists. It’s true that even the moon, the waves the sand, the stars, other human beings, all feel insignificant from time to time. I am no different. My problems feel lighter. They are as insignificant as I am.
Your problems are not insignificant but neither are they unique. In this universe, the one in which you stand upon sand, the sands carried by waters and winds to other lands, those lands inhabited by others, all of you existing under the same night sky, winked at by the same moon, casting light from the same sun, surrounded by the same stars, made up from the same particles, your problems are in no way unique. Your aloneness, imagined. Your insignificance a gift in which you are free to make mistakes. A gift to live fully without fear. Your significance in community. As part of a whole, your insignificance becomes as powerful as each community. As powerful as the community of heavenly bodies. As powerful as the oceans. As significant as the sands. Use your insignificance as a collaboration for peace and silence. May your depths become immeasurable. Your vastness, awe inspiring. Your motivation, pure. Your community infinitely good and powerful. And, one day, when your insignificant, finite life ends, may you and I join forces. May I be your new community and my you teach the new, seeking insignificants their limitless possibilities.