Strength of Lightness

During a recent walk, I saw on a lawn a ginger cat with a white throat. It was lying on its back kicking and biting a stiff black crow’s feather. Long patches of late afternoon light crossed its pale apricot fur, emerald grass and grey-brown concrete path like a warm breath.

Further along the road a group of five or six crows flew across the city in a northwesterly direction as they always seem to do here at this time of day. With the breeze stilling for a moment you could just hear the rustling of wing beats – grey silk, blue paper – a sound that represents the silent togetherness of their ancient flight. Minds, beaks, eyes intrinsically locked together in journeying. The mind of social creatures invisibly seen.














I remember not long ago picking up a gull feather resting on the smooth, copper flecked ripples of a black sand beach. How light it was yet how disproportionately it resisted the air while turning in my fingers around the waxy quill.

The hissing, lapping fringes of all shores have these grown and discarded things fallen from the sky like dry leaves. Rolled up in salty foam, blown along in sand, smoothed pieces of wood, seaweed, plastic.

No longer grouped for exquisite order by minds and bodies through way-faring winds and blue reaches. Nor shingling vitality with such durable softness through cold rains and sunbursts, efficiently cupping heart beats, hollow bones and sinewed lives.

Organisms are minds dissolved in the medium they inhabit. Their bodies are born from that and something unreachable enables the whole facility. This bright intelligence is so obvious it’s easily overlooked. A production whole and present but shy of the divisions of analysis, of acquisition . There were no committees, plans, capital or future fruition. And likely no singular feathered genius, just unfathomable relationships endlessly fertile to self and species.

The minds of albatross, dolphin, mountain goat and coyote have melted into turbulent winds, cold seas, grass and shale, sagebrush and dusty arroyo. Their bodies borne from the relationship. Air, water, trees, hillsides have been contemplated by the still mind of Life, muscle and nerve molded to their essence.

Like this, hands and branches both are fruits of contemplation, of roundness and hanging downward, and springing up. Of the need for motion, rest, support. Muscle, fascia and bone share a profound intimacy with the spring of cellulose fibers and sap-filled cambium. They are siblings having different careers, yet live from the one insight.

The mystery of eternal time can be seen at the fringes where the utmost lightness seems to exhale from all things solid. The sheen on a crows back, the faint indigo hovering over forested hillsides in late summer, light on a window sill.

The real so glimpsed stuns the mind. If we live wholly within utility, naming and seeking after the next chapter of our story, our eyes are not round enough to fit the roundness of a world so full as to still our knowing.

It’s important to be quiet, allowing seeing, listening, hearing to arise in stillness, in all points of the field of perception rather from the hardened point of the knower. A wholly civilized thing to do, every day for a while.

Since the dawn of time, in Asia, the West and amongst tribal people this has simply been a part of life – a silent mode of primary research. A quintessential distillation of the deepest passion for being alive. The deepest celebration. Not to seek some future experience but to be sought instead by immanent silence.

In this way, at times and repeatedly, we can find our minds dissolved in the medium we inhabit. A pristine emptiness, fragrant with all kindnesses ever enacted and the most unclaimable beauty. The guide of our lives comes from this quiet poise, not from the words of ancient hypocrites and blood-soaked pages.

From here our bodies remember their birthright.The ever-flow of moments of seeing, of being. Lenses of peace they are, in which the true relationship of worlds and selves are glimpsed – meaningful, beautiful, intelligent, wise.




Light within the heart is like a crystalline drop suspended from a late winter greening twig in which the environment, global and pure, shines in the one roundness.

Thomas Martin


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