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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
ELIZABETH MONSON 99 a fullness and richness that speaks its own language. Something as simple as a breeze can provide a doorway into an experience of our deepest nature. Rocks, trees, grass, mountains, oceans, and sky all provide a powerful stimulus for us to be present now, in the moment. No conceptual thought is necessary to know their existence. They simply are as they are. The fundamental nature of a tree, its tree- ness, is right there for us to experience and perceive directly, unmedi- ated by cognition. All our sense perceptions can function like this, serving to wake us up. In a moment of direct perception, the sound of a bird singing can ring like an echo throughout our whole being. In doing so, it can tune us in to mind’s emptiness and its ever-unfurling expressiveness. In its purity, the song of a bird can’t be categorized as “good” or “bad,” or even “beautiful” or “grating.” Birdsong simply presents itself in its naked, most primordial form, a form inherently empty of essence but compelling to our auditory sense. Meditation helps us gain some grounding in direct sensory expe- rience unmediated by thoughts, ideas, or projections. When we engage in practices such as shamatha and vipashyana, we stabilize our flighty, busy minds and develop our innate mental clarity and strength. We experience firsthand the possibility of letting go into, and becoming one with, the greater context that surrounds and encompasses us. This creates the conditions by which we can experi- ence nondual awareness, the true nature of our heart–mind. Having Birdsong is birdsong. The warmth of the sun is just what it is. There is nothing esoteric or mystical about this. Things are just what they are.