The garden was quiet. The flowers still – motionless. Stately and magnificent. I sat down on a bench beneath a sheltering tree relaxing into the pace of the place – slowing down the internal chatter of the mind and arriving in this place of beauty. I wanted to stop knowing and start seeing and there was a question or two I was curious about. “What is the quality of my mind;” and “where does ‘Robert’ start or stop and the universe begin?” Lofty questions for a flower patch maybe but I was confident that the flowers – if so willing – could be powerful muses of insight and inspiration.
Colors danced inside my head. Swaths of colors blurred into a spectrum of shades and hues. I focused on the breath and breathing and on listening to sounds arising around me. A thought arose and like a dog seeing a squirrel my mind instantly followed it. It was memory of something my partner had shared about being in the moment – about realizing that “fear is simply a delusion and that true freedom is found when one realizes that none of us have any control over anything.” I watched the mind turn those word thoughts over and over till I was lost in them before I awoke again coming back to self – back to the breath once more. The mind soon quieted down again.
A friend of mine is a Dharma teacher in our local Sangha. We have lunch together and cackle quite a bit. She shares her clay feet and I mine. I respect her wisdom and her experience and when she started telling me about her insights during a meditation retreat she had attended taught by some fellow named Ashin Tejaniya, I perked right up. “What is the quality of the observing mind,” this Monk had asked? “A good question” I thought as I mindlessly stuffed another french fry into my mouth.
So, I asked of self as I sat beneath the tree, camera bag at my side, the gentle aroma of earth and plants and diesel fuel tickling my nose. “What is the quality of my observing mind,” I asked and waited in silence noting the movement of breath in and out. A voice spoke: “this is a stupid question.” it said. “A HA! Judging mind.” I laughed and held myself with gentleness. As my laughter faded spaciousness appeared and it seemed in that moment that just for a second “Robert” had disappeared.
So, when the mind follows the drone of a plane as it disappears out of range, where is Robert? When the call of a bird snatches the mind and flaps away with it – where is Robert? When the mind is filled with fields of color – where is Robert? When “I” am concentrating on a single flower – focusing upon a tiny bit of light – photographing a moment of time spent contemplating in a garden – where am I?