Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dharma Storms

At the end of a long day here at the office. I have several things that are telling me that. First, I have a pain in the neck – literally, not figuratively. I am sure it comes from either working with my head tilted or sitting on a teleconference with my head tilted for too long. I am hoping that a nice hot shower when I get home tonight will ease it a bit. I have the habit, when I get busy or involved in what I’m working on to let time slip by without noticing it – resulting in sitting in place for too long. I had a couple of those absorbing tasks today and I suspect I am suffering from the consequences of it. Always get up, always move – except when you forget too.

I’ve been following the news regarding the storms that rolled through the south, both from a curiosity level and from a personal level. That was a pretty impressive set of storms. Weather, the hand of nature, is always an impressive thing. On a pleasant day we can easily forget how powerful and destructive it can be on an unpleasant day. The scope of a vast storm-front like that is amazing.

I’ve often said that, having moved to California in my twenties, that one of the things that I consistently miss from the Midwest is the summer storms, their raw power and beauty, sweeping completely across that endless horizon on the great plains, a wall of wind and rain and hail. I don’t miss them in the sense of being battered by them, but I miss them in the sense of their awe-inducing majesty. You cannot help but feel very small when you behold them. South Dakota is the land of impressive thunderstorms and wind storms and the not infrequent tornadoes and they were a frequent occurrence in my youth. I still remember, at around ten or so, laying in bed late at night and feeling the wind buffet the entire house. In order to lull myself to sleep I would always pretend that wind was the little men of the mountains, playing nine pin ala Rip Van Winkle. (The other thing that I also miss is the endless sweep of the stars on a clear night, unobstructed by terrain, unpolluted by light.)

I thought for a while about Zen and storms today – probably because the two of them were on my mind. My thought was basically this – “It is easy to practice Dharma in beautiful weather. It is quite another thing to practice Dharma in a storm.”. Of course, there is no storm and no not storm as far as the Dharma is concerned. For the rest of us though, storms are real, and impressive. To pass through such storms is very much in the nature of our journey on this world.

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