It was a very windy day, with gusts over 60 kilometers per hour. You would think the hummingbirds would be hunkered down somewhere. But a small fleet of them put on an incredible show around the feeder in the backyard.
As the wind whipped the trees and buffeted my face, eight of the tiny aerial acrobats at a time swooped, hovered and dove with astounding agility on the swirling currents of air. They often buzzed within inches of my head, hovering for a few seconds at a time in front of my face.
And though my back was only a foot from the wall, they even did numerous high-speed loops around me, two or three at a time, as if I was a pylon in an air race. How are they able to fly with such precision in such high winds?
I sensed they appreciated my admiration of them. Despite their tiny brains, hummingbirds are obviously much more intelligent than I’d realized. Clearly they were responding to awareness and affection, though they aren’t fully consciously aware themselves, as humans have the potential to be.
All the while they took turns feeding on the sugar water at the feeder about a meter away. At one point, six landed at the same time, their miniscule claws clinging to the bar as the wind swayed the feeder back and forth like a ship on high seas. I’ve never seen more than two perch and drink simultaneously, so that too was quite a sight, and delight.
The show went on for a full 40 minutes, with each timeless minute bringing a deeper feeling of the hummingbirds’ inexhaustible joy. Indeed, as undivided, passive observation of the outer and inner movement grew into meditation, one realized that they embodied joy.
Self-knowing is the door to the infinite sublimity of life. However self-knowing is not a function of knowledge or accumulation, but of keen awareness of what one is actually thinking, feeling and doing in the present moment. Most people think they know themselves, but few are self-knowing. We can never know ourselves; we can only be self-knowing, because we’re changing all the time.
The hummingbird’s antics were so fast and there were so many of them that at times my eyes couldn’t follow their movements. Humans must seem like lumbering giants to them in their tiny, high-speed existence.
They struck me like children free to frolic to their hearts content in a pool on a perfect summer’s day. Through them there was a feeling of a deeper, intrinsic intelligence in nature. Their joy was inexhaustible—what is its source?
Stubbornly viewing the sublimities in nature in terms of the categories of the intellect, and derisively reducing the wordless experiencing of being in terms of brain functions is an act of intellectual violence.
There is a mystery that will always remain a mystery, no matter how much knowledge science accumulates. Protecting and advancing one’s capacity to perceive and feel the mystery of being is the difference between becoming an inwardly dead human and a growing human being.
Different languages tend to divide people, and language itself tends to divide humans from nature. However there’s a language of being that all creatures share, which human beings hear when our separative minds and tongues are silent.
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