You may have witnessed crows swooping at the heads of passersby when one of their friends lies deceased on the sidewalk.
Seeing a deceased crow on the road yesterday, I wondered what crows think of cars. Do they realize humans are agents of life and death when driving a car? Do they pity us when they see us step into a metal monster several times our size? Do they challenge a car which has just run over a friend or loved one? Do they ponder whether anything can be done to stop these metal beasts which beam light from their unseeing eyes?
As I was thinking of the title for this post, I chuckled as I remembered the series of book titles beginning, I believe, with the Joy of Cooking. I now feel a little apprehensive about writing about Joy.
Not apprehensive enough to stop.
I have been considering what situations and experiences are likely to engender joy for me. There are of course the obvious ones we all would or want to list–friendship, partnership, pets, and home. The first three are dependent upon or, at least, involved with other beings and their presence in greater or lesser degree.
Home is more or less tangible as a source of joy. And not always reliable since it can be fraught with or by circumstances over which we have little control.
Words in poetry, story, music, images, light, ideas and concepts, borders and boundaries, and the plant world. These are the sources to which I most often turn when I set out, consciously or not, to experience Joy and renew, recover or recreate myself.
I have chosen the word “recreate” purposely as a relative of the word recreation.
The spirit of Zen is one with nature, never seeking to conquer it or rise above it. The Zen practitioner sits face to face with nature, striving to take in its many revelations and call to mind its many truths. In “The Sound of the Valley Stream, the Colors of the Mountain, ” an essay in Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, Dogen wrote this:
‘The sound of the valley stream, the colors of the valley stream, the sound of the mountain, and the colors of the mountain all reveal truth unstintingly. If you do not prize honor and gain, then the valley stream and the mountain will expound truth to you without stint. But even then, unless you undergo the discipline necessary to perceive that the stream and the mountain are in fact the stream and the mountain, you will not be able to see or hear their truth.’
… . The Zen precept to “live as you are” means not to live as you wish but to follow the laws of nature. Embrace those laws with body and soul, Dogen is saying.
From Eat, Sleep, Sit, My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple by Kaoru Nonomura, p. 273-4.
“Our brains are hardwired for justice. To be required to accept that you can’t have justice is to give up part of yourself as a human being. Law is a service profession. Justice should be a fair, timely, basic human right.”
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at Thompson Rivers University Law School quoted in Bartalk, April 2012 issue
Continuing with quotes on beauty from Caponigro’s email, these on beauty emanating from inside or going inward:
“People are like stained - glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
These are taken from John Paul Caponigro’s May email. The first is a little off topic for here but it is amusing. The rest are aligned with the experience of beauty in the natural world.
“The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you’re an artist.” - David Hockney
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” - John Muir
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Beauty is a manifestation of secret natural laws, which otherwise would have been hidden from us forever.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” - David Attenborough
A meditation on the light through as the plants arise in the lengthening days. Click above to see the PDF on your screen. This is the same collection of images as appear in the video below.
The Light Through, A Meditation, Spring 2012
“There is a Buddhist term “fragrance learning,” which means a kind of unintended absorption. Just as passing by an incense burner can imbue the clothing with fragrance, so we are affected unconsciously by the atmosphere of a place, just by happening to be there.”
Kaoru Nonomura, Eat, Sleep, Sit, My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple, Kodansha, 1996
Camellia blossom spiralling outward toward Spring.
Photo (c) Daphne Dukelow 2012