Monday, July 14, 2008

The Big Room with the Blue Ceiling, Part 2

A few more thoughts about the camping trip I blogged about earlier...

What was it that gave me such a different mind-state while I was camping? In the comments, Doug brought up the difference in noise, that it's "noisy in a different way, city noises vs. forest noises." (OK, where I live in Berkeley, it's not exactly a city, but compared to the State Park, it's close enough.) In addition to the sound, maybe there's something about how in Berkeley, the bulk of everything I experience is man-made, whereas on the camping trip, it's reversed.

In my "city" life, I'm surrounded by buildings, roads, cars, electronic devices, etc. I couldn't personally create any of these things... but they all originate with the ideas and plans and efforts of human beings. Their source lies in human intelligence like my own. I have at least a little understanding of how the buildings etc came into being.

On the camping trip, we had our tents and portable stove and all, but most of the environment was non-man-made. Life was bursting out all over. Trees were everywhere, and between the tress were bushes and grasses and insects and critters of all sorts. Who made all that? Where does it come from? The fundamentalists may feel differently... but for me, the source of the sky and trees etc is pure mystery. I've got no sense that the root source of these things is anything like the human intelligence I'm familiar with.

In fact, I get the sense that everything is appearing out of an unknowable source, and disappearing back to the unknown... and this "everything" includes my thinking, and the very sense of "I." It's all appearing and disappearing, like the flies that hatch in the morning and get swallowed by frogs before noon.

The human cities are no different from ant-hills, in that it all ultimately is rooted in the same mystery.

All that swirling life in the woods gives a sense of the vastness of the universe, as well as its dream-like quality. At night, we'd look up at the stars with an attention I never give them in the city. Moreso than anything in city-life, watching the stars makes all my thinking, all my personal issues... feel like a flash of lightning or a drop of dew.


Diane said...

I enjoyed this description of your enjoyment of nature on your camping trip.

A favorite quote of mine is ""God is in everything. He sleeps in stones, breathes in plants, dreams in animals and awakes in mankind." (Sorry, I don't know the source of this quote.)

Keep up the good work on your blog!

Stuart said...

Diane quoted...
"God is in everything. He sleeps in stones, breathes in plants, dreams in animals and awakes in mankind."

Thanks for stopping by, Diane. your quote reminds me of a Zen saying: "Silence is better than Holiness." A walk in the wilderness can teach that one pretty well.