Thursday, June 14, 2012

Winter yatras

The gale had nearly huffed itself out by the time Saturday came around, but there was still a morning ruffling of the air as though it was indignant and offended. It was cold and we knew we were alive. We were the hardy souls who had not lost our power overnight or been blown off the road.
 Strangely, the group did not initially want to take their shoes off and walk the cold stone on a lookout rock. I kept a fairly steady pace in to North Lawson swamp, where there was an old tree trunk in the sun, in the lee.  It was a lovely seat for meditators who wanted to sit for a while.  I crashed around trying to find a better way out of the swamp , but it was dagger hakea at every step, so  we negotiated the eroded old track. Constant rain has made it a slippery gutter with a hakea fringe.
There was a little sun at morning tea on the road; here's proof!

Honeyeaters sang and flitted about. Then a group of yellow-tailed cockatoos flew across, like the whales of the skies, calling laconically. I always think of this as good fortune.

We set off again, aware of the whole body moving. And what was moving when we stopped?
This reminds me of a story about Hui-neng, the sixth zen ancestor after bodhidharma.
"Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind. One said, "The flag moves." The other said, "The wind moves." They argued back and forth but could not agree. The Sixth Ancestor said, "Gentlemen! It is not the wind that moves; it is not the flag that moves; it is your mind that moves." The two monks were struck with awe." ("THE GATELESS BARRIER: The Wu-men  Kuan (Mumonkan)" translated with commentary by Robert Aitken)

 We had lunch at this beautiful rock further along Lawson ridge. A blast from the south meant that meditating at height was not comfortable. We ate lunch tucked into a rocky shelter, in the lee of the hill.

Our return along the ridge was peppered with stops to meditate on any handy log or bank. And the wind picked up.

Blasts of cold air - 
the trees furious - 
warm body moving 

 But warmly wrapped, by the end of the day everyone was willing to give barefoot walking a go.Here is Renee, experiencing it.

I unwrapped my feet: they were like the pale white grubs in the soil which, when unearthed, shrink and curl away in alarm. My feet had that reaction, but each surprising step was rich with the graininess of the rock, its shocking cold, its uneven shape and the shifting closely observed view of its axe-grinding grooves and wind- carved shapes. And then there was the moss: so soft, so cold and wet, bright green, little patches of this simple ancient plant making a decent living up here, in the cold air and winter light and wind.

  Maybe in the warm weather a group can return here to fully explore this rock with it's axe grinding grooves and view to the west.