Be With Those Who Help Your Being
Be with those who help your being.
Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.
A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don’t try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it’s too late for all you could become.
Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?
Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi
After having a dream that refused to leave me for days, I became frustrated with the repeated imagery and confusion about possible meaning. Aware that a dream such as this lingers as a token of importance, I still wanted the imagery to abate if only for awhile. This dream was so stubborn, it quickly became clear this was not a typical downloading of data that often accompanies a deep sleep but an opportunity to wake up and take note. The time had come to take out the proverbial notepad and start writing, regardless of potential. There was no rationalizing this task away, only the need for analysis and a way to place all discoveries within the confines of my current situation.
In this dream, I found myself lying on a soft blanket of soil while looking up at a very formidable tree; the kind of tree that stretches endlessly into the heavens and seems to brush the stars with its uppermost branches. As I reclined in a peaceful repose, I noticed the rays of the sun kissing the very top of the tree and skirting in and out of the various branches and leaves. It was a mesmerizing display of light that traveled at breakneck speed around the bulk of the tree.
“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,
For reasons unknown, I became aware this very same highway of light wrapping the length of the tree was in fact me. My spirit, being an energy that is free and boundless, was dancing along with the life system of the tree. I watched as this light show continued and marveled at the fact that I could be a part of an amazingly complex ecosystem in ways in which I could never have believed.
Moments later, the blanket of soft soil seemed to close in and become more tangible. With an element of fear, I realized I was not on top of the soil, but a part of it. Being of the soil meant I was underground and a part of the complex roots and superhighway of light connecting with the sky. Fear was replaced by a calm sensation of oneness with all else: the universe, sky, sun and this very tree with it’s steadfast roots. I was everything and everywhere, but at the same time small as a grain of soil. In this state, I was able to hear the heartbeat of the entire system in which I was a part of. I danced with a constant rhythm of energy swirling around and tangibly participated in the life cycle of this tree via a rhythmic heartbeat giving way to all else.
As magical as this all was, I could not resist reliving this experience as the days passed. We all have the divine spark within, just as the complex energy system the tree inhabited. This spark creates a magical and connected superhighway of energy that pulsates with life force. If I recognize this spark in another they too can recognize it within me, including all that is known and unknown in this discovery. I must make an effort to quiet the noise in my life in order to experience the mystery of this connectivity each and every day no matter how mundane the tasks presented to me may be.
A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the living meaning of Zen?.”
Zhaozhou said, “The oak tree in the courtyard.”
– Case 37 from the Mumonkan (Wumenguan) Collection of Zen Koans
Nothing else seemed to matter in this state. Not the stress from work, people that had been less than kind, illness, nothing. All that mattered was connection with everything around me. Believing the in all matters like calls out to like, it moves me to seek others that have this same sensibility. This has nothing to do with external worldly roles, rather a knowing that the soul next to me is a seeker such as myself. A seeker is one that asks questions, sees the light in others regardless of outside packaging and looks for beauty in all circumstance. I know that I must try to find this connection in a world that is closed off to interpersonal connection, compassionate attention and even personal touch.
I will not meet this challenge simply by sitting under a tree and feeling universal energy. No, the only way to find this other is by living a full life among the weeds and thorns. In the process of living this very messy life, my path will undoubtedly cross with those whom I seek. Each time I find another who has the heartbeat of the soil within, I feel a moment of recognition that says without words “I see you”. I enjoy this immensely and cherish it whenever and wherever it may approach. Seek out those that speak to you beyond the daily particulars of life. Once found, hold on and honor the spark that shines brightly in the being of another. This very spark is what lies within you and will continue to burn brightly after having connected with another.