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Redwoods Without Me
By Martin LeFevre
Jan 27, 2018, 4:09pm

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It was sprinkling when I left the house, and 20 minutes into the sitting downstream from Cedar Grove in Chico's big city park it began to rain fairly hard. I ducked into the space between a trio of redwoods near the picnic site, and they provided excellent shelter.

Redwoods don't normally grow in this part of California, and who knows how many decades ago this little group was planted. These three are fairly large trees by usual standards, but small as redwoods go.

The soft, stringy bark of the redwoods was pleasing to touch and smell as the rain fell. Man is an arboreal species, and for millions of years, even long after we began to walk on two feet, we slept in the trees, and found safety in them.

If you've ever seen Coastal Redwood north of San Francisco, or the gargantuan girthed Sequoias in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you'd laugh at the idea of our ancient ancestors sleeping in them. The lowest limbs are at least a hundred feet off the ground.

The rain stopped and the skies cleared some. There was even a bit of late afternoon sun. I emerged from the shelter of the redwoods and took my seat again, facing upstream with my back to the picnic table.

Watching a long stretch of the swollen stream flow by, the mind-as-thought quieted in the act of simply attending to every sensation, thought and emotion without judgment or choice. What is is the door; attention without effort or choice is the key that opens it.

The mind without thought has infinite beauty. Then it's not 'my mind' or 'your mind;' it is simply mind, perhaps the mind of the universe itself.

It's strange how love flows into one with the ending of thought through complete attention. The idea of love precludes the actuality of love. Love seems to be intrinsic to every cell on earth and every atom in the universe. Why then is it so rare for we humans to feel this impersonal love?

Man is a very cunning animal, but he is not intelligent. Intelligence has nothing to do with smarts, much less cunning. Intelligence is completely beyond thought. Indeed, the more thought, the less intelligence.

Nature had cleansed and reclaimed the municipal park that from the humans that see only as a playground. It was a joy to walk muddy paths in boots, especially in a meditative state. Smells, sounds and sights are much more intense, and one feels alive as our distant forebears must have felt alive.

Two questions I've been asking came to mind as I walked. Why does the mind/brain revert to thought/time? What prevents the flame of attention from burning sufficiently strongly to end psychological thought (the 'me' and all its petty concerns) irrevocably? Certainly that must be illumination.

Which relates to the second question. Why, if the evolution of symbolic thought gave the brain the capacity for conscious awareness of the cosmic mind, is thought such an impediment to total awareness, and illumination so difficult and rare?

There is no answer to such questions. But asking and holding them---not repetitively but insistently---brings insight, and perhaps, liberation.

Photo by Martin LeFevre


Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue.

Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.

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