Dear Friends, I write you from the wildness of the predawn storm here in a clearing near the ridge line of our mountain forest dwelling. The storms are felt strongest here in these more open and exposed areas where the swirling wind and vertical rain blast in with all of their power and might and force. Lower down and within the trees it is warmer and protected from the full force of the winds. Here, a little Kuti doesn't seem like much protection in the midst of it all --if one of the big trees were to come down with rain-loosed earth and high winds-- and yet, for now, it is enough to feel and know the elements and be protected. My character is such that I find it useful to be up on the cliffs at the edge of the ocean in the full blast of the wind and spray, or here up in the open on the mountain in the midst of it, the Kuti itself shaking, rocked to its foundations by the force of it. Somehow knowing this body being in the midst of the full creative and destructive elemental forces, without resistance, calms and clears the mind. There is that empty space of calm and peace in the eye of the storm that, in it's absence of anything, can be unseen and unnoticed in the absence of the storm. But it is highlighted here, as it is, as a place, -the- place, of safely, shelter and refuge. For when the elemental forces become strong and move and shift, everything that had seemed (temporarily or impermanently) calm and peaceful, safe and secure, dislodges and goes into motion in such a way that it can no longer be grasped, and can no longer serve as either shelter and security. At that point, trying to grasp or being in the way of these things becomes dangerous, and the only real safety is in that still and empty space of nothing in the eye of the storm. Like a bridge, step by step, this gradual Path -- Temporarily, this space of safety is found in the trees. This is a synonym for sangha. The trees that stand together are much stronger and less in danger of being uprooted, they shelter one another. This space is found in the Kuti, the protection of basic requisite support, which allows just enough security to be able to relax a little and observe nature from a temporary vantage point of safety. This space is found in mindfulness and clear comprehension, and in meditative absorption, allowing a progressively deeper stilling, releasing, and letting go of the larger and heavier moving objects, knowing this progressive deepening peacefulness, and expansion of this space, and providing further, deeper, clearing and more penetrating vantage ground and point. I see a raging forest fire (tanha), consuming everything (all conditions) in its path, coming upon a great, deep mountain lake, the fire coming into it and being quenched right there, to it's utter bliss. For finally this place is found in the quenching, in Nibbana, the ultimate shelter, where the danger is completely absent. Nothing fuel, and nothing to catch fire and burn. Nothing to crash into or get hit by, and no need to grasp, with nothing to be protected from. Ultimate, complete safety, security and peacefulness. True shelter that is not subject to changing conditions and the shifting of the elements.
Nibbanam paramam sunnam; Nibbanam paramam sukham. "Nibbana is supreme emptiness; Nibbana is supreme bliss."
Rapture and happiness at the end of the world - pure Buddhist style. How reassuring to know that finally all -is- well that ends well, and I can put all my doubts, fears and grasping to rest. What a relief! I feel glad at least not to have to think of dredging up this body one more time, (as can come with other forms of rapture). The water basins on the back deck of Freedom Kuti are full to overflowing (I have been using rainwater for washing). Great bands of rain process off the ocean and up the canyon in waves like the Northern Lights or rippling gauze curtains. And the twin fairy ring redwood groves: in moments stand tall, silent and majestic, and in moments whipped madly by the wind, supporting one another; the old stabilizing the young that are so moved, and the gathering of the young too protecting and stabilizing the old, all bound together by their shared root system. I see these like our sangha. A lone and youthful Doug fir stands out at the cliff face twirled and tossed by the onslaught, it's slender trunk still flexible enough to bend and dance with it all. It is surrounded by the graveyard of its companions, it's sun-bleached, rain-soaked fir log predecessors, returning to the elements, never having left being such. In the love of the Life of the Path, with Joy, Ayya Tathālokā Freedom Kuti, Awakening Forest December 23, 2012