|Morning Flower Sermon, Lanikai, HI, September 2020, iPhone 11 Pro © Steven Crisp|
The common advice when one is uptight or troubled is to “just be yourself” as if that will relax you and let you breathe more easily.
But while that may be better than being anxious or fearful, is not enough. Still you have yourself — your ego — and that requires defending, stroking, placating, and the like.
So the real step to take is to Just Be! Dis-identify with that self that needs protection. That self is itself a contraction of being. You can even feel that contraction in your body if you become still, quiet, and aware.
Just Be that which is present in this moment, or as Ram Dass so wisely titled his first book, just Be Here Now.
So rather than just being yourself, try freeing yourself so that you can Just Be.
After all, what you call the self is not a solid, well-defined, static thing. If the self is anything more than just a label, it is a dynamic, ever changing, process of being. The flux and flow of Life itself.
You understand this intellectually — cells constantly dying and dividing, new experiences being processed and becoming part of your identify, even gut microbiome being changed based on the food you eat and affecting your health, etc., etc.
Absolutely everything you believe is your “self” is changing continuously. It's impermanent. That is what Life is.
Come to know that fact intellectually and experientially, and you will have unlocked a precious treasure. The ability to allow yourself to simply Be. Recognize that you already are part of Life itself, an ever unfolding part of the Cosmos. You are not looking at Nature, you Are Nature.
Nature does not worry about its past or project what might be its future. Nature simply flows, based on the deep interconnection with all that Is. Indeed, it is that Is-ness, or Such-ness that constitutes your true Being.
There is a so-called Flower Sermon, given by the Buddha to his monastics and visiting lay-people. It is captured in a famous Buddhist Sutra, and has been interpreted by Thich Nhat Hahn, in the book Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha (available for free).
In the Sutra, at the beginning of his anticipated dharma talk, the Buddha (Guatama) held up a single flower in his hand, and remained silent for a long time. One of his disciples, Mahakassapa smiled and received the direct transmission of wisdom of this teaching, as interpreted below:
“The Buddha began to speak. “Friends, this flower is a wondrous reality. As I hold the flower before you, you all have a chance to experience it. Making contact with a flower is to make contact with a wondrous reality. It is making contact with life itself.
“Mahakassapa smiled before anyone else because he was able to make contact with the flower. As long as obstacles remain in your minds, you will not be able to make contact with the flower. Some of you asked yourselves, ‘Why is Gautama holding that flower up? What is the meaning of his gesture?’ If your minds are occupied with such thoughts, you cannot truly experience the flower.
“Friends, being lost in thoughts is one of the things that prevents us from making true contact with life. If you are ruled by worry, frustration, anxiety, anger, or jealousy, you will lose the chance to make real contact with all the wonders of life.
“Friends, the lotus in my hand is only real to those of you who dwell mindfully in the present moment. If you do not return to the present moment, the flower does not truly exist. There are people who can pass through a forest of sandalwood trees without ever really seeing one tree. Life is filled with suffering, but it also contains many wonders. Be aware in order to see both the suffering and the wonders in life.
“Being in touch with suffering does not mean to become lost in it. Being in touch with the wonders of life does not mean to lose ourselves in them either. Being in touch is to truly encounter life, to see it deeply. If we directly encounter life, we will understand its interdependent and impermanent nature. Thanks to that, we will no longer lose ourselves in desire, anger, and craving. We will dwell in freedom and liberation."
Excerpt From: Thich Nhat Hanh. “Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha.”
And that is the intended purpose of the flower photo above. Open your eyes and try to see all of Nature just as it is, part of the "wondrous reality" that is Life itself. And Just Be a part of that wondrous reality! No words are needed; no words can really describe it.