No individual exists in their own nature, independent of all other factors of life. Each has the totality of the Universe at their base. All individuals have, therefore, the whole Universe as their common ground….
~ Lama Govinda
When we consider interdependence it is so easy for us to fixate on other humans specifically and perhaps include nature in a general and somewhat vague way. But there are specifics in how nature exists that we humans can learn much from, and a deep wisdom that we are usually quite ignorant of. Years back one of my sons wanted to study Japanese archery. We found a dojo in Apex and went to visit the class, arriving before it officially began so he could acclimate himself to the space. We were ushered onto a long wide veranda that extended along the back of a house and overlooked an enclosed courtyard landscaped with large rocks and what appeared to be plants that seemed more suited for a desert, rather than the lush greenery of North Carolina -- though that summer day felt as hot as a desert might be. Along the back wall of the courtyard were several circular targets.
As we waited, members of the class began to appear, dressed in what we later learned was traditional Japanese archery attire. They quietly and slowly moved about the space sweeping the floor in a very ritualistic manner. They then moved onto the courtyard and began to carefully sweep the sand and rocks and appeared to bring things into an order that I didn’t quite understand, but it obviously made sense to them. Later some of the students appeared with watering cans and began to slowly water the plants and then the rocks. When all seemed to be in order the class began.
At the end of the class, my son and I spoke with the teacher who explained details about this martial art form and took a great deal of time to talk with us about the beginning portion when everyone appeared to be tidying things up to get ready. It turned out this was all a very intentional, mindful meditation. He spoke to us about how an aspect of their learning was from nature and that the rocks were watered out of respect, for they too were alive, they simply existed in a way and evolved at a pace most humans couldn’t appreciate. He eyed us carefully to see what our reaction would be.
I admit that I don’t know anything more about what the teacher shared, though I never forgot this story for the chord it struck within me. A chord about “other factors of life”: the compelling wisdom to be found in all of nature which we are interconnected with as it moves and evolves in ways we humans remain so willfully and woefully ignorant of. Back in Apex that day this view of nature, the deep wisdom it held, and our connection to it all, somehow made perfect sense to me. Addressing the rocks and everything else with profound respect made sense too. And it did for my son as well -- though he decided not to take the class.
What might it mean to live fully and deeply in a conscious resonance of the entire Universe as our base? All of it as our common ground. To know that not only are we connected to one another and the elements of nature in the world we see but also the vastness of the world(s) we do not see.
It is almost more than one human mind can take in.
Which I suppose is proof itself of the point.
We are interconnected.
What might we mindfully sweep? What other beings and entities might we water, show respect for? The opportunities are plentiful.