…whever you are.
It is that time of year when those of us who know burners get to watch our social media feed fill up with photos and anecdotes about this year’s burn.
I have never been. I hear it is transformative. And last year a friend who has been a burner gave the best advice, I thought. She said, “Jean, people go to Burning Man to see and be a part of something that they didn’t think was possible – so many people functioning together in gift economy and with agility.” (okay, something to that affect) And then, “But Jean, you already believe in that and you already live in the gift economy all the time.”
And I think this was fantastic insight. (And part of why I fear getting vastly disappointed if I went to the burn). It is not the thing itself that is all that phenomenal by itself. It is how it transforms and awakens those who come to have the experience.
I politely decline when friends invite me to this transformative retreat or that one. Not because I don’t think my friend was transformed by it. I believe that was their experience. But I don’t go because I have to find my own.
“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” – Zen saying
It is not the burning man experience… or going to an ashram in India… it is not about a jungle adventure in the Amazon or going to Africa, India, or somewhere else. It is not about a spiritual retreat or a personal development methodology. It is about you coming to your own awakening – through whatever portal is available at the time you are ready.
It is about getting out of your own sleep to see something you haven’t seen and do something you haven’t done to keep yourself awakened. To discover awe. To explore what is possible that you didn’t know was possible. Find what awakens you – and do that. And then find the next thing that awakens you…
At some point, you begin to build the muscles of the mind and spirit to be awakened by awe. And then – it is not burning man or Marrakech… it is the light in your window and the flower in the garden that brings you to new levels of awakening. Because you know how to awaken. To perceive anew. To refresh yourself.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean– the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, The House Light Beacon Press Boston, 1990.