P N C O

Mostly photography, with the occasional philosophical contemplation

20: Autumn Dream

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Autumn Dream

Leaves on the ground   hardly any sound
The wind is soft and sway
What is still here will soon fade away
The mystical atmosphere of the forest
Trigger dreamlike images    fantasy of the mind
The magic lake mirror merges the sky and earth

As i drift away swimming in a sea of thoughts
The depth of being    unfathomable
Traveling between waking and sleeping
Life unfolds itself like an infinite dream
Where beings of the old play ancient games
Their dance of illusion distorts reality

Slowly awakening from the catnap
I realize i dozed away again
I can’t help but wonder how i didn’t see
That the whole time sleeping
The world was upside down

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6: Winter, Spring and everything in between

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In the Netherlands the climate is moderate. The winters are not too harsh and the summers are not too hot. Because of this, i’m not always aware of the changing of the season. There is just a constant flow of the seasons coming and passing. Right now it’s summer and in a few months autumn will be here again. The cyclic nature of the seasons has always been there, but the way i see this cycle has changed a lot since i was young. When i was young, there was the expectation of hot summers at the beach and snow at Christmastime. It was all about enjoying the possibilities each season held.

Now i observe the seasons from a different perspective. Spring means i can start going out again with the camera more easily, do some work in the garden or just sit and relax outside. Winter triggers me to go inside. Both on an external and internal level. Like the bears who go into hibernation, i tend to become a little more seclusive and contemplative during wintertime. And springtime brings the much needed sunshine. After all the long dark nights, it takes some time to recharge the batteries and start enjoying the arrival of spring.

The most important thing i’ve learned to observe is that everything is impermanent. Although things may seem solid and build to last hundreds or thousands of years, in the end everything which is made will eventually break down again. Glasses and cups fall to the ground and break, flowers grow until they fade away, and grandparents are there until they pass away.
At first i was quite intimidated by impermanence. With my youthful enthusiasm i thought that life would last forever and that i would always be healthy and sporty no matter what. But when a good friend and also former roommate suddenly passed away at the age of 28, i realized after going through a lot of denial, pain and frustration, that i am going to die one day too.

And that’s why it has become important for me to recognize and acknowledge impermanence. Not to be nihilistic, but more in a sense that i become more sensitive to the changing which is happening all the time. Every moment is impermanent. Everything changes, although we might not recognize this. Some things we can easily learn to deal with, as they are mostly on a mental level. Take for instance cold and hot. We suffer a lot because of these two. In the office, a colleague might think it’s too hot and open the window. Then another colleague will start complaining that it’s cold. So why would i bother with this? If it’s warm, then it’s ok. If it’s cold, that’s also ok. I can dress accordingly. Accepting the inevitable change of the weather makes life so much easier. It helped me to actually enjoy the rain instead of feeling sorry for myself for becoming wet. By seeing the larger picture, i can now see the benefit the rain brings to farmers and the land.

To come back to the image. This young fern was at the start of its life and now a few months later i’m sure it has grown a lot bigger. And at the end of the year all of it will be gone again, after the seeds have been spread onto the earth. In the end it doesn’t really matter that the fern grows or dies. What matters is its relationship with everything else. Without the earth, without the rain, without the shade of the trees, without the sunshine, there would be no ground for the fern to grow. And the same goes for us. We tend to cling so much to what we want and who we are, but we tend to forget that we can only be in relationship to everything. Not to mention that there is just one me and 7 billion other humans. Pretty presumptuous to say to myself that i’m the most important one huh?

For me the journey is now about honoring the relationship, the interdependence of things. It’s about the act, the doing. Not the subject or object, but the verb. Cause everything changes, everything flows. We are all part of this flow, we can not be separated from this flow even if we think we can. And even if we separate ourselves by living our illusory dreams and thoughts in our minds, we’re still one with the flow. So i’ve decided that i will just let go. As said in the movie Waking Life: “Go with the flow. The sea refuses no river”

3: Butterflying my life

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I´m always amazed by all the beautiful butterflies. So delicately build and yet so agile in flight. They´re in our stomach for a reason. Tingling, joyful, exciting, almost too much too bear. And yet also very gentle, colorful and peaceful. They call to me in a way i can´t describe.

The most amazing part of the butterfly is its capability to transform. Starting as a small caterpillar, they morph into pupa before the final metamorphosis is completed. I often feel the same. One day someone said to me i was not yet showing who i really was and he compared me to a butterfly in pupa stage. Funny enough i sometimes feel like that. Knowing that it’s me who prevents the final transformation. Luckily every night i sleep under a blanket filled with butterflies.. and i’m working on transforming myself. I’ve come to realize it’s all about letting go. Letting go of my expectations, of thoughts, feelings and ideas about who i should or should not be.

In this way the butterfly becomes a powerful reminder to wake up to what’s actually here. Dealing with everything as it is, is so useful. At this moment there is no need to improve anything. Once the moment is here, it is all here. Nothing is left out. So i can rest and just enjoy whatever arises. If i make the transition or not is not even the point, cause everything i need is already here. I just need to recognize. Clearing my thoughts, creating space by being mindful and meditating, accepting.. all are part of the ongoing process of self(less) inquiry.

Searching for the truth has always led me to the same conclusion, whatever angle i used to tackle it. See the ego for what it really is. For me it’s the cocoon. It has its purpose and is very useful in my every day life, but it is not who i really am. The first time i recognized i was identifying myself as the cocoon, it was wild. I could feel the space which lay beyond. But also there was fear and anxiety. What would happen, once i let go of this cocoon, of this protection i had been carrying for so many years?

I’m still learning to let go of the cocoon. Every now and then i get the change to see through the holes which are now there and see the wild open spaciousness which lies ahead. The experiences have shown me that this spaciousness is my true home. Pure from the beginning, simple and full of love, wisdom and understanding. Which gives me the breathing space i need to deal with the cocoon which is still here. No longer it is necessary to fight it. As the caterpillar´s instinct tells it to create the cocoon, so i now know from deep down inside that everything is ok. I know it´s safe to let go. With the cracks appearing in the cocoon, i can taste more and more of the freedom which lies ahead of me. And with that i´ve learned that death too is another transformation.

Am i ready to let go?

Enjoy the moment

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Had a marvelous week in France.. also enjoyed a few beautiful sunsets..
Being there helped me to really be present and to enjoy the moment.
Let the mind talk, there’s no need to follow all those thoughts
As i relaxed into this mood of being, thoughts vanished by themselves

Experiental

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Today i’ve wandered through the forest, seen and heard many birds.. came back home full of experiences and photographs

The interesting thing about all these experiences was that earlier today i was reading a book by Lama Tsongkhapa in which he describes how much we’re attached to our senses.. and indeed, in the forest i was constantly on the watch for sights and sounds. Perhaps that’s the downside for me of taking the camera with me. Or better said, it’s a lesson for me. First relax the mind, eyes and ears and then engage with the forest, connect with it without wanting to grasp at certain experiences (like seeing a kingfisher or a squirrel)

So today ended up being both rewarding in terms of photographs and in applying wisdom..

 


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Re-minding

The mind is such a weird creature. It could have its own episode at ‘weird wonders of nature’. Its capability to create everything ranging from beautiful to grotesque, its illusive nature.. only when it is looked into by scrutinizing analysis, can we learn to see some of its workings. If we leave the mind without looking into its nature and essence, the mind will not be seen for what it is. The trickery of the mind is grand, so our investigation should be thorough.

A good first step into our research is to calm the mind. Mindfulness can create a spaciousness which makes it possible to see how the mind operates. To just be aware of what is going in the mind, gives one the opportunity to recognize and break free from the habitual patterns which normally dominate our experience. To see through our feelings, thoughts and inner demons is a task which demands determination and diligence. At first one may run away, but with time it becomes increasingly better to stay focused and aware.

Another great way of working with the mind is focusing on loving kindness and compassion. To open oneself to the reality that all beings want to be free from suffering and want to be happy, helps to break out of the confinement of self grasping. We are all interconnected.  Once this truth is realized, the circle of compassion can be widened from our loved ones and friends to strangers, animals and our enemies. Mindful giving of love and compassion combined with taking in all the suffering from others is a powerful tool to transform ourselves. At first it may seem odd to take in the suffering of others, while giving away your best, but as time progresses it becomes natural to wish for the best for others. It actually is a great recepy for happiness and joyfullness. 

As one becomes familiar with the workings of the mind, the path to wisdom and clarity lies in resting the mind. This was written as a friendly reminder to myself. May it be of benefit. 

Would you judge a tree?

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trees

Ram Dass on self judgment:

I think that part of it is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image, which I think I have used already, but let me say it again.  That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.[..]

Source of the quote – read more at: Ram Dass on Self Judgement

I’ve read about this idea in the past and today i was reminded of the story of the trees. Such a wonderful analogy Ram Dass makes here. What if we would be able to just see each other without all these labels and judgements in our minds? Next time you’re ready to judge a person, try remembering him/her as a tree. Perhaps it can help to stop judging and be more open to who’s there in front of you. I’m gonna try this 🙂


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Job interview

Today I had a job interview. The days counting towards the interview were mentally a bit exhausting and thrilling. And now afterwards I’m wondering whether I said the right things. And now I realize waiting is even more exciting. So a good moment to pause and see what’s going on inside.

Very intriguing how the mind works. This whole process has created lots of body specific  sensations which it then deems tension and thus stressful. But in reality these are just sensations. Neither good nor bad. I’ll just have to breath into them and be mindful.

In the end I’ll just have to wait a few days for an answer. In the meantime thinking or stressing about the situation won’t be of any help 🙂 Patience is my friend here..

Dreamlands

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kade-forest

Dreamlands

Being on the other side as the magic slowly comes alive
Dream of lands full of mystical places long forgotten
Fairy tales escape from the minds of their creators
And find their dwelling in this land of in between
Playing on the land, in the water and flying through the sky
Nature performs her dance right in front of my very eyes

 

Calm breathing

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When the body is in unrest, the mind is in unrest
When the mind is at rest, the body can rest
When the body is at rest, the mind can rest
How wonderful this connection between body and mind

No wonder that so many practices focus on the breath. The key to unlock the connection between body and mind.

As Thich Nhat Hahn teaches in this practice (in your thought say the words on in-breath and out- breath)
In                                Out
Deep                          Slow
Calm                          Ease
Smile                         Release
Present                     Moment
Wonderful               Moment