Aging, Awakening, awareness, Beauty, Beginner's Mind, Body, Buddhism, Buddhist Psychology, Camera work, Celebration, Christian Theology, Christianity, Compassion, Cosmos, Delight, Eyes of the Heart, Flowers, joy, Kingdom of Heaven, photography, Rocky Mountains, Sunflowers
A possibility of losing some or all of my ability to see with my right eye has appeared on the event horizon of growing older and starting to experience the Three Heavenly Messengers the Buddha encountered at the beginning of his spiritual awakening and such awakening I believe is possible for all, what I know for sure is that for all of us who live long enough there comes this time when the body starts to breakdown and thus begins the challenge of accepting losses for which there is no one and no thing to blame – no divine fault to assign – no god to curse or beg, and to which our only holy choice is to hold and love our frightened and anxious small self in gentle compassion as the teachings of Jesus and Buddha offer to us for those with eyes to see… and now and then too experiencing knowing moments of clarity through which we can accept letting go and I think out of that our heart’s open wider and there is a shift – a transformation by grace into greater love.
I’ve known for a year that my right eye is doing something odd – something that was not possible to diagnose only a few years ago. While my corrected vision is currently 20/25 the eye itself is slowly pulling away from the lens and at some point will disengage. Now before I became a Buddhist and learned that paying close attention to the body is one of the four foundations of mindfulness and a sure path to enlightenment; I was known as a hypochondriac.
Since learning the eye is twice as bad as last year, I’ve been paying much more attention to it and seeing as how one of my prime passions is photography suddenly going out with a camera and being able to see intricate patterns of beauty of color of texture of form and of light has acquired more importance to me. My Buddhist practice of holding my self and this body with compassion and love and kindness rather than holding my self with a judging, comparing and/or trying to fix “whats wrong” with “me,” frame of mind allows me to focus my attention more tenderly upon my eye and an odd thing has been occurring. Much gratitude arises and a photograph or two surprises.
Yesterday the flowers out at Blue Lake Ranch called to me and I eagerly packed up my gear and went. Within seconds of opening the garden gate a tall, gangly, Sunflower danced into the open space and shouted out “Hey Look at me!’ And I did and soon as I did that familiar “yes” moved energetically through my body and I as I continued to wonder at the life and light bobbing back and forth in front of me my body was already moving to set up the tripod, select a lens of choice and see if I could somehow dance right along with it.
It is my experience and Zen understanding of photography that when one is out wondering around and if mindful and playful – awake and aware – that now and then something comes along that taps you on the shoulder…Well it taps me on the shoulder presenting a visual and a spiritual invitation to focus attention, to exercise curiosity, and to engage with wonder and delight sharing moments with a sagely and insistent Sunflower.
Bowing with thanks I looked up and saw Dawa looking up at the darkening clouds wearing his hipster sunglasses. We spoke of lighting and clouds, of light and flowers, of mind and seeing and how this year never before seen colors are popping up on the surviving flowers and then it started to rain and I ran to the truck to keep dry and decide to stay or go for the day.
It rained and rained and I thought it’s not gonna stop – I started to go – then it stopped. Jumping out I saw dark berries dripping against yellowing leaves and when I turned the corner and saw the Cosmos and Sweat peas wet from rain and sparkling like diamonds in the golden Rocky Mountain sun it was like walking into the kingdom of heaven.
Light came from within and without that spot of color on god’s still green earth it was alight with sparkling colors, the flowers were glowing and dancing and shimmering against a light breezy background. The energy and the moment was joyful – it was for me, a moment of grace. It was beautiful I didn’t even think to photograph it all I thought of was to dance….a little happy dance and so I did. I danced and laughed in the light on the glittering grass opening to the heart of child inside this old man’s chest – the both of us dancing – sharing the joy.