Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Miraculous Quality of the Mundane

One of my earliest memories - I think I was seven - is of riding in a truck cab with my father, listening to the radio. Quite suddenly I was struck and overwhelmed by the vast, complex and intricate network of people, skills, interaction, cooperation and efforts that made radio possible. It wasn't just that someone had invented the radio itself but that there were people who paid for advertising products, which generated income which allow allowed other people to make music and play it over the radio so that others would listen to their music, and the advertising, and perhaps even purchase the products advertised, thus completing the cycle. I don't know how long it lasted, but I was pretty stunned by the complexity of it all. 

Quite a few years ago, when I was twenty something and was meditating for hours a day, I once went for a walk and realized I could feel the sidewalk humming. I saw that even the sidewalk, made of crushed sand and grit, was still alive - that everything was filled with Chi. This realization left me quite blissed out for hours afterwards. Since then I have always tried to keep in mind that the whole of the world is alive and conscious at some level. Not just the trees and animals but the stones and even the dixie cups. 

Yesterday, in the shower, I found myself looking at my twin bladed razor and thinking "this too is alive." It was tempting to laugh it off - seeing myself as ridiculous. But it's true - and miraculous. Consider the miracle of the razor: Not only is it an item that could not be produced by our bare hands. Not even a skilled blacksmith with a complete set of modern tools could craft this simple product. It takes the completely (apparently) unconscious and unskilled attentions of a robot factory fed on the remains of long dead monsters that once roamed the earth, to slap together a construction of plastic and steel that would not even exist if not for the current trends in human society to 1) be clean shaven, 2) compete with each other for resources, 3) constantly strive to find and meet previously unrealized needs in order to more effectively compete with other monkeys for
  increasingly scarce resources....and it occurs to me that sometimes miracles are not things emerging from puffs of green smoke but instead arising from the fog of the everyday trance - that even awakening from that trance, even for a moment. That is a miracle. We humans - building trash heaps of wasted resources on which we sacrifice the future of our unborn generations in the vague hope of another moment of unknowing - and suddenly acting out of compassion we transform everything - with a single smile we change the world. It is worthwhile - valuable - beautiful. . . and never to be encompassed by mere words. This magical, ecstatic Mystery that we are. What grand visions we mistake for mundane refuse. 


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