Guest Posts, Politics & Activism

I woke up here today

<<Guest Post by Ben West>>

I woke up here today
next to a stone Buddha
on a hill top
on an island in the pacific ocean

I sat cross legged
a squirming city slicker that can’t sit still
i was all alone in shangri la
or at least that is what i thought. but when the traffic jam in my mind slowed down a bit
I started to hear the birds and the grass hoppers and the deer in the distance rustling twigs and bushes
the wind helped raise the voice of the ocean the trees and plants all around me. It occurred to me that hearing all this life around me wasn’t just because my mind was now quiet.

The living things around me had all learned to keep their voices down when the human predators were around
our ecological footprint becomes more than a metaphor when you realize that the sound of our footsteps is a source of fear for creatures in nature
of course we are all in nature too – even while sitting in a hummer idling on the Port Mann bridge
yet we are all so out of touch with the air we breathe that we look at trees and see lumber instead of the lungs of the earth

we don’t think about the magical dance of chloroplasts, vessicles, and root deep under ground mixing the carbon we breath out with the water and nutrients from the soil and the power of the sun to produce what we need to be able to breath in again

every time we breath in they breath out
every time they breath out we breath in
we breath together
as partner

The mycelial web that connect the forest to the the soil and the trees to one another is like a giant brain
and the trees are the nerve endings exchanging electrical currents like synapses firing

Trees are not individual life forms
they are part of a life bigger than each one of them
and so are we

As I sat before the Buddha I focueed on my breath
and felt this relationship to the treas and the soil and the mycelial fungal brain
and then
just as I was about to experience some sort of third eye orgasm
a spider walked across my face and freaked me out.
I flicked it of and was brought back quickly to the reality of me – a sweaty guy in the hot sun on a pile of dirt
on a hill somewhere in the wilderness of British Columbia
I became even more truly present in the moment and I laughed
I looked at the Buddha and he was smiling and I felt like I knew why

He was the young Buddha
Slim with good posture
like a young elvis
before he ate his feelings
How did the Buddha get chubby anyways…
perhaps all that sitting around?

This made me think that if the Buddha had a TV where his belly was
then the average north American would watch 6-8 hours of the Buddha every day
When i was young I was a talented meditator in this regard and
a devout follower of the boob tube Buddha

As I think all of this trying to sit still up on that hillI
I realize I’m cheating
My mind is not quiet, its writing this poem
I smile again mischievously
like i am doing something wrong
Which is often a fun thing to do
but now i’m thinking should i really be worried about being so clever
should my ego and my super ego be so interesting in trying to inspire approval

It seems to me that what I really woke up to was that it wasn’t the meditation, or the retreat from so called “reality” that really mattered
it was being centered
i am now acutely aware of my center
the belly button that once literally connected me to my mother
now i’ve replaced that umbilical cord with a cordless iPhone application
lets call it “iStill Love You” or “iAm Still Suckling”
or something

What i realized is that it is that core that needs to be strong
so i can sit up straight before the Buddha or while taking the bus over the Port Mann Bridge (if there was such a thing)

Being centered, being present in this place means
treating all water like it comes from a well that could run dry
wasting nothing like the toilet that feeds the soil instead of poisoning the ocean
and breathing deeply
from the belly button
walking softly
because we know the earth is listening and afraid
and remembering to smile and laugh our way through the day
because it might all be an illusion but
it sure is beautiful


Ben West

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