The Nature of Wind (written 2007)
In Golden Wind by Eido Shimano Roshi, I find this quote: “Whether the wind is a fragrant spring wind or a cold winter wind, or just a gentle wind, after all, the wind is merely a movement of air.”
This metaphor explains the mind's true nature beneath the phenomena of thoughts and emotions. New image to me. I suppose it is a different version of ocean depths and waves but it is striking in that it is new. Tonight after supper I was also reading Matthieu Ricard's book Happiness and pondering the terse instructions he gives to just look between the thoughts for a moment of clarity and there it is. Between the thoughts. This kind of instruction makes we want to laugh or scream. Where is this “between” anyway? Even when I manage to focus on the breath, in, out, it seems to me what I've done is simply slowed down the process. I'm looking at one car closely instead of watching the train whiz by. Am I missing something central here? Where is the teacher when I have a question? Out of a five day retreat just noon today where I could find no clear questions to ask. Now, alone in a hotel, sleeping over before the trip the rest of the way home tomorrow and now I have questions.
No, wait. I've had moments in meditation, perhaps they are more than moments, they're timeless so I'm not sure, when the breath itself fades from view and there is just something. To me it always feels like lifting or pulsing somehow. I've described it as an aura or as if my body is suddenly light as air, as if I'm not anchored. Is that when I'm seeing the air and not the wind, the depths not the waves?
I think what I want is to be able to keep that. And here is where my “clinging” pulls me off track.
Wanting something. That's what may draw us to the Buddhist path in the first place. That is what must be emptied. And in releasing the wanting we find what...peace? Release of self. That wanting was the string that bound us in the first place. For what is the self other than this tight and painful knot of questions and worries and wants?
So this is a way into release. A way of finding, ultimately, nothing. No solid center. The self is only the wanting. And immediately upon writing that I think of a culture built on consumerism. The egos, the selves that result. Teens, in their formative years, so consumed with desire to be “somebody” that their world is defined by it. Children who undertake the task of separating self from the world. “Mine” can be a first word in their vocabulary, in this Western world at least.
Questions and self dissolve together then. Stop asking. Breathe. Release. Make space. Space remains. And settle between. No more restless movement of wind, of the wanting mind.