Rohatsu and a sleep in the park.
On Friday 8th December, Rohatsu, when Buddha’s enlightenment is celebrated, I took a walk at Tynninghame, just as dusk began. I’ve been reading David Hinton’s beautiful and thought provoking/awkening books – Existence, a story and Hunger Mountain. These books get to grips with early Chinese thoughts and experiences of consciousness, absence/presence, emptiness and the weave of existence, mirror mind, T’chi energy and early Chinese pictographs and writing, landscapes and poems (and much more). I found them to deeply resonate with my own experiences of Zen practice and landscape walking and the idea of mind as the universe reflecting upon itself. Moment after moment in the here and now there is everything. The walk began with bright low sun bathing the trees in the lane and gradually as the sun diminished darkness came. I mused that on Saturday night I might rather sleep out under these trees and stars than be in Princes Street Gardens with 9,000 others, but then a major part of Zen and of Sleep in the Park is to acknowledge the interconnection and community of all beings and all things, of supporting others as we support ourselves…Rohatsu does indeed seem to be an appropriate time to do this.
David Hinton takes the reader back into the distant Chinese past and to some of the first pictograhs discovered on oracle bones, are quite beautiful representations of animals and natural forms, he discusses the gradual evolution of script and language and how within this early pictographic writing subject/object is almost absent though beginning to form. The I or ego barely features, humans are more at one with the ten thousand things, though consciousness is present as a mirror of ’this’. In the spirit of this here are some scenes from the walk –
Blue grey cloud
The ninth was quite some night. At the time Josh Littlejohn was speaking 3.6 million had been raised by the Sleep in the Park action. Taking part was a wild mixture of thoughts and emotions and experience of the actual. I did sleep intermittently amongst the six thousand odd other participants…there was the beauty of the castle, the chatter and giggle of folk, the wrestling with and rustling of plastic survival bags, stars above seen through the slit of my jacket hood, gradually warming in the sleeping bag after standing about and listening to the performances, the rumble of diesel trains and generators, the wild cries in the night of passing drunks, police and ambulance sirens and then gradually the cold creeping in, prompting me to huddle more tightly and adjust positions soothed by the snoring of my next door neighbours. All through the night there was laughter and a sense of coming together for something good, along with some anxieties, no doubt. When I woke to the hum of conversation and a more continuous crackling of plastic there was sparkling frost. My fingers numbed as I rolled up my mat and thoughts went to others out in this, not so well equipped, not so cared for, instead, looked down on, spat upon and too easily ignored or erased. The challenge of compassionate action is there and I was so pleased that place had been made for schoolchildren to take part in this, to be part of this great communal gesture of compassion.