Saturday, May 26, 2007

after silence

It’s a beautiful morning, clear sun after a night of rains: fresh, cool, calm. All I have to do today is clean, get some fruit and some sun. My coffee is strong, my bites don’t itch so much. Outside in the tree a troupe of monkeys relax. What’s all the great shakes about being human? Hoss and Golden have been playing all morning, wrestling, eating, dozing. The two toads in the bathroom were exploring holes searching out morsels. The monkeys eat, play, sleep, the males howl at any noise bigger than them, shake their balls and then settle down on a branch for a nap. All of them living completely in the moment, no consciousness about what comes next, what to do, how to do it, what will happen if its not done right, repercussions, causes, effects, issues, wishes. Isn’t that peace? And peace at what cost: no self awareness, no possibility of developing consciousness? And who among the humans does that? We are all of us living in potential – and even that is not living. The creatures aren’t fully self realized – and so what of that? They work as perfect, efficient beings, capable of living their lives. It seems that we are the only species who find it all so hard. There are anomalies: the bird who constantly attacks his reflection in the mirror, the dog who’s afraid of heights – don’t they sound like human characteristics? The ideas that humans are the peak of evolution, that the totality of the animal kingdom exists within us, that in eons we have passed through every type of sentient existence: what purpose do such ideas serve? Do they make us more sensible, responsible, aware? Is evolution a race, is nature continually trying to better herself – again aren’t these human characteristics? The native and pagan religions of the world do they believe humans to be the pinnacle? I don’t know. I look at the big male monkey who’s head of his troupe. He’s right outside my open window. He’s sitting in a fork of a branch, his tail wrapped behind him, a hand on either fork and he’s watching. High, high above the ground he’s looking down over the hill to the pacific, just watching. A quad passes on the road and he follows it with his eyes, barking a little in response to its noise. So he reacts, he responds to situations without understanding. Humans have the capability to consider before reacting, how many of us do that and how often? Is that it? Is this the task, the challenge: to reach above instinct, beyond reaction to conscious response while still being in the moment? To at once distance oneself, observe, while participating fully in life?

We just finished a silent retreat yet last night was I think when I finally settled into it. So many thoughts, layers of perceptions, distractions, annoyances and fears. Sense of self still coming from the outside with few moments of exception, very few. Not a judgment, an observation. No concept of self equals no judgment – is that what the animals have, reaction stimulated by outside situation, not inner response? Where is instinct? Does that have the same place as mind, except we are making the shift more and more from instinct to mind?

The monkeys are so close I can see their tongues when they yawn and hear them sneeze.