that tree art thou

November 11, 2013

A couple of years ago I took a morning solo ATV ride on a remote mountain trail after a light rain and stopped to sit with a grove of young pines.

I was able to sit in silence and smell the cool breeze coming through the pine. The morning sun was bright and the rain drops on the pines sparkled like diamonds.

The way the young pines opened up and leaned into the sun was impressive. They were collectively and individually responsive to the sun and rain with openness as young pines always are.

Wondering if the breeze was singing as it passed through the pines or if the pines were singing because the breeze was blowing, I remembered that as with all things, the answer isn’t either/or.  It’s both.  It’s never either/or.  It’s always both.

Soon, before I headed back down the mountain to be with my sons at the camp fire, I remember thinking that the young pines aren’t always open and expansive. Like all natural things, they respond and react, but they always do so appropriately. If it becomes too cold or dry, they will shrink and withdraw. If a disease or fire arises they will draw up, falter and perhaps die. Some with explosiveness owing to the fuel in their veins.

The difference between their reactions and our reactions to these elements and external stimuli isn’t all that much.

While the difference is simple, it is indeed profound:

they just. don’t. talk. about. it.

THAT’s when it hit me. Sitting with that grove of young pine I finally understood that ALL of nature sits zazen all the time. WE are the only ones who incessantly think and talk about talking about talk about non-existent notions and concepts like past and future and heaven and hell.

When humans learn to sit zazen, we are learning how to “re-member” our “dis-membered” Self. We remember our true nature, the collective Universal Self which includes those young pines.

When I sat with them in silence, even for a few moments, I was able to peer into who I AM. Silent awareness in the present moment.

Religionists would call it a God Moment. And, they would be right to the extent that God is “all of this.”

But, if we strip away ALL concepts, the fact of the matter is I was merely sitting with young pines the way I was meant to sit. As a silent witness to what is.

~ Scott Kinnaird

4 Responses to “that tree art thou”

  1. feralmonk Says:

    Deep bows, Sensei _/|\_

  2. Narada Says:

    An ATV run on a rain-soaked trail will tear it up more than hundreds of runs on a properly dry trail.


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