A young man and older woman are peering into the parkland from the sidewalk with a look of trepidation. A bobcat, he says, not wanting to enter the park. Walking a few hundred meters in, there it was—larger than I thought, three times as big as a domestic cat, with dark fur. And it’s ambling with complete assurance in the familiar place.
Word spreads fast, and people quickly clear out of the vicinity. Suddenly the parkland is no longer a playground, a dog-walk, or a bike and jogging course. It’s a reminder of nature, possessing a hint of wildness and danger that must be avoided at all costs.
I follow the bobcat without getting too close. But it never even turns around before disappearing into a small grove of redwoods planted in the park many decades ago. Though it’s in the middle of the city and man ostensibly dominates the land, the bobcat conveys a feeling of complete self-possession, and mastery of its environment.
As I leave the little grove, two zombie young women are poking sticks into the bushes at the edge of the park road. They don’t even look up when I ask if they’d seen it, but just ask if it’s a mountain lion. With zero curiosity and complete indifference to life, they mumble something to each other about not having to worry and go back to their inane conversation.
It’s the first felt day of autumn, and the foliage has suddenly turned from green to a predominant yellow. The wind is blowing, and big, oblong acorns drop to the ground and plop in the creek. They remind me of the native people that once lived here, for whom the acorns were a staple.
The sight of the bobcat, the abrupt change of seasons, and the strong winds dropping detritus onto the land don’t transport me back to another time however. Rather, the park unexpectedly opens to the earth, and feels directly connected to its mystery and ferocity.
As I walk down the bank to the sitting spot, a woodland hawk takes off and soars silently and over my sitting spot, alighting on a branch over the creek just downstream. Another gift, another blessing.
There is a great urgency to awakening negation in meditation. Besides the crisis of consciousness, we have only a short span on this beautiful earth to awaken to our fullest capacity in this lifetime.
The sycamore leaves are the first to die and drop. They lie around me in various stages of curled, brown decomposition, intimations paradoxically not of death, but of spring and rebirth.
In a state of negation and complete emptiness, one inhales life and exhales death with each breath. There is no separation between the ground of death and the pulse of life in actuality, only in thought. A human being can and must know death as a friend while fully alive, without a trace of morbidity or fear.
Living is not about having experiences, but dissolving the detritus of experience so there can be experiencing, which is always of the moment. Recordings, whether digital or in the brain, are dead things.
A small rock in the middle of the stream is situated just right, so that the water flowing over it rises above the stone, maintaining a fan shape. Our lives are like patterns of water over rocks in a stream—lasting a little while in a certain form and configuration, and then ending, perhaps to take another form.
Death is not the same thing as deadness. Everything expires, whether naturally or prematurely, necessarily or unnecessarily. A person has to physically die, but a people need not die. When they do, bad things happen unless something new is born.
At the end of the sitting, having entered the house of death in a state of negation, the stillness of mind is the silence of being. Insights, as well as the state of insight, flow from a state of negation.
Strange how love has its source in death. Strange how death is the ground of all being, taking everything in the end, as it gave everything in the beginning.
The state of emptiness, with fearless awareness of death, recapitulates in the human being the creation of the universe, before and after the Big Bang. Before there was birth there was death, beyond the word, beyond all dying and recycling, as the ground of all being.
Death is the ending of all continuity. Then what is reincarnation? Reincarnation is incomplete death.
Death is the ground. When, while fully alive, it’s the home we return to daily, dying to the past as effortlessly as a sycamore leaf dropping into the stream, is there death at all?