still in the forest in autumn and let the trees tell you
their story. The vibrantly colored leaves falling
from the branches speak to us of the seasons of
life. Birth, age, sickness, and death--all the
seasons of change are held within the falling of a single
leaf. The leaf on the ground becomes part of the
loam that allows new seeds to grow. The leaf is not
separate from the tree but is born of the tree; it is also
not exactly the same as the tree. Intimations of
change are held in each passing moment and there is
nothing in this life exempt from that rhythm. We are
taught by those intimations; to try to interfere with a
passing season is to enter into conflict, struggle, and
sorrow. There is a freedom in absorbing the simple
truth of change--to live in harmony with this
understanding is to find peace in all the changes of our
the changing seasons we understand the way to the end of
separation, conflict, and confusion. We learn to let
go, to let be. We stand amid the perpetually
changing seasons of each moment. Everything that is
born will die; everything that arises will pass
away. Nothing is exempt. Whenever we endeavor
to separate ourselves from this rhythm we create a world
of struggle and fear. Each time we cling to or grasp
any thought, experience, feeling, or encounter embraced in
the rhythm of change, we set ourselves apart from the
world. Mindfulness is the art of non-interference,
of not clinging anywhere. In not dwelling anywhere,
not fixating upon anything, we are present
Buddha remarked, "The mind that does not cling, does
not become agitated. The mind that is not agitated
is close to freedom."
in the forest amid its life we come to see that no one is
making all this happen. The buds form on the
branches, the sun, the rain, and the richness of the soil
provide the conditions for those buds to develop into
leaves. The heat of the summer, the winds of autumn,
and the first frosts of winter all affect the life of a
single leaf, which will eventually fade and fall.
Everything is interdependent. Life interacts with
itself. If the conditions changed, if there was a
drought or the tree was damaged, a different process would
simply occur. The conditions of life are constantly
changing and perpetually affecting and influencing our
experience of each moment. We are not always in
control of these conditions and our commands are mostly
futile, but we are not powerless. The seeds of peace
lie within the mindful presence brought to each moment.
life of the forest is a reflection of our own life.
Within our body, mind, and heart, we experience the
process of change in every moment. Thoughts,
feelings, bodily sensations, and experiences all arise and
pass away. Our world of this moment is affected and
formed by where we are, what we are exposed to, and how we
meet the simple truths of each moment. It is futile
to believe that at the center of this unfolding and
interacting process there is a controlling entity.
As we learn to be intimate with ourselves and all things,
we understand that nothing and no one is separate from the
changing conditions of the moment. Our understanding
and sense of who we are undergoes countless changes in a
single day. The angry "me" changes into
the "me" of tolerance and patience. The
hopeful, excited "self" of the afternoon has
quite forgotten the "self" that brooded and
obsessed over breakfast. We begin to discover that
it is impossible to find any sense of "self"
apart from our beliefs.
deep, transforming understanding of change, suffering and
its cause, and the end of suffering, is the wisdom of
mindfulness. The secret of the Buddha's smile is
endlessly speculated upon. Perhaps he smiled at
himself for spending years searching outside of himself
for the freedom that was always in his heart.
Mindfulness is born in each moment we turn our attention
to where we are. With gentle, calm attention we
engage with this moment; probing beneath the surface to
understand the simple truth of the moment, we are taught
by it. Freedom is not complicated or distant.
We are asked to be present. Suzuki Roshi, a wise
teacher, reminded us, "To a sincere student, every
day is a fortunate day."
shows readers how
to awaken to the
present in order
to capture those
moments of peace
and stillness, and
bring balance and
harmony to their lives.