A Song of the Human


My friend Tom Hawkins is on a pilgrimage to Buddhist India. The other day he wrote.

We have arrived in Bodghaya. Thousands of other pilgrims, us, and then two thousand Tibetan monastics for a special gathering. Beyond words too be at the bodhi tree in the evening with such a crowd. And to make offerings and devotional gestures. Yet, even in Buddha’s enlightenment place, there’s the shadow side. Two of our group had their shoes stolen, I fended off a pickpocket whole we were performing our bows, and a maroon robed ‘monk’ pulled a scam. We saw him tallying up his earnings later as we passed a shop in town….

I was really taken with the image.

For me it sings into the heart of our lives. Here we are, human beings, hairless apes with a penchant for the violent and astonishingly self-serving. And, at the same time, just a little space from the angels, our own dreaming of human possibility. So, here we are, smelly, noisy, grasping, and sweet, and kind, and generous even onto death.

For me, as I read Tom’s words, I felt my heart swell with the song of humanity, the low and the high, and within it the great reconciliation. All one.

In particular I found myself thinking of those of us more or less consciously on the spiritual path, how our aspirations are so lovely, and our actions so disreputable. All one.

In the shade of the Bodhi tree we are monkies scrambling and squabbling.

And with the gift of seeing, if only for flashing moments of joy. That joy itself endless stretching from before time and past all naming.

And back to monkey.

I particularly think of that “monk” counting his ill gotten gain.

And I see a little hint of recognition.

The monkey with the beggar’s bowl.

Me.

And, of course, you.

The ill gotten gain, our life’s dream.

Such foolishness.

Such joy.

All one.

And in the noticing,

Such gratitude.


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