Showing posts with label reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reflections. Show all posts

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The Curious Case of the Curlew




Bush Stone Curlew

The Wisdom

Look! Look! he is climbing the last light 

who knows neither time nor error, 

and under Whose eye, unforgiving, 

the world, unforgiven, 

swings into shadow.


 –from "Evening Hawk" by Robert Penn Warren


Have you ever had one of those pivotal moments in which everything you had previously thought of as true and real, no longer seems so because your whole sense of reality has shifted gear and opened out into a wider dimension?

This 'new' perspective is so near and so natural we can't help wondering how we had never noticed it before.

I think most of us have experienced such moments during our lives. When they happen we feel that nothing will or can ever be the same again and 'truth' seems so very near and obvious. But alas, all too often and all too soon we lose the lofty heights of our momentary perspective and sink back into the dream...

And the 'dream' is addictive and compelling. We believe in the story of our lives and almost everything that we do or say or think feeds into the sturdy edifice of 'our story.' It is almost as though we cannot help ourselves because the story-line seems so believable.

And sadly, we almost never think to question our story or to investigate the nature and origins of our inmost sense of 'self.' As a result, our attention remains locked onto the drama of our unfolding life and we remain none the wiser right up until the time it is about to end.

Most of us are not even aware that we are fixating on a drama which is neither true nor real and we are accustomed to living almost all of our lives this way. For us, what is nearest and true, as our inmost nature, has become but a distant dream and what is dreamlike and passing is the obsessive focus of our day to day attention.

There is a nocturnal bird that lives in Australia, called a Curlew. It has a tendency, on occasion, to turn up outside windows and reflective surfaces where it appears to be mesmerized by its own image. It is not that it thinks the image is another bird, rather it knows instinctively that the image it is seeing in the glass has something to do with itself. There is an almost fatal attraction which compels the bird towards what it is perceiving in the glass.


In a similar manner, we human beings are infatuated with our sense of self-identity. We are convinced that we are what we appear to be.

We can learn so much from the natural world around us, from the wildlife, from the plants and in fact from every living thing.

Since I was very young I remember hearing stories about birds that
would appear just before or around the time of someone's death. In fact, I personally witnessed such a thing on more than one occasion in my younger years.

In New Zealand, where I grew up, these untimely or timely, visitations were considered, by the Maori, to be an omen.

Modern societies have forgotten about omens. Everything has been reduced to the small and narrow focus of what is apparently provable. As though the only reality we can identify with must be scientifically accounted for.

And yet, whenever something rattles our attention and gives us pause for thought, or better still, arrests our thought altogether, we come face to face with the 'unknown.' In such confounding moments, we entered the realm of the omens of awareness. We cannot understand them with the mind and yet on an almost subliminal level we feel deeply unsettled by them.

Getting back to the curious case of the Curlew.
Some years ago, while I was visiting Kuranda, a small settlement, in the far north of Queensland, I was surprised to see groups of birds occasionally gathered here and there around the town, usually near bushes and leafy parklands.

They were most often completely still and immobile so that one might not actually notice them until very near and then be startled by these strange, still and ghostlike creatures. They certainly made an impression on me.

I asked a friend about them and he told me they were called Bush Stone Curlews and that the Aboriginal people feared their appearance in a locality as harbingers of death.

Whether that is actually true or not remains to be seen, however, given the ancient origins of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia one might well assume that they would have cause to know.
I was particularly impressed by these birds and had the feeling of something 'other-worldly' which I always felt when I saw them or happened upon them on my way.

They are said to be primarily a nocturnal bird explaining why they move so little during the hours of daylight and have an almost dreamlike quality about them. Dream-like as in sleepwalking.

Then, quite recently I came across a story of a bird that appeared in a busy Brisbane suburb. One of this particular breed had planted itself very firmly outside an office building and was seen to be gazing at itself in the glass of the shop front for hours on end. In fact, it would come at the crack of dawn with the very first rays of the sun and leave again only at dusk when it became dark.

Of course, many people noticed it and the occurrence began to spawn much attention. So much so that a notice soon appeared on the window just above where the bird would stand in isolated and determined vigil gazing at itself in the glass.

"I'm a bush stone curlew," the sign read.
"I'm fine. I just like to stare at myself in the window."


Many people were alarmed by it's behaviour.

The Brisbane City Councillor, Ryan Murphy, humorously named
one such bird Sir Kew Llew, when, on a separate occasion, one appeared outside his office and took up the post of a vigilante for several days on end.

He wrote;

The situation is rapidly spiralling out of control. Despite it being clearly signed, the Curlew ignores all instruction. What's worse, patrons of the nearby Dominos Pizza shop have gifted it a generous supply of Classic Crust, allowing the bird to maintain its siege indefinitely.

I am no stranger to odd constituents. Indeed, one once threw a burning tyre through the very window that now consumes this Curlew. The affection of some constituents burns red hot, but the obsession of this avian interloper is more than a man can bear.

RSPCA refuse to pick it up, so I guess Sir Kerr Llew must stay. Like an ‘office volunteer’ who hangs around a lot, eventually, I will be forced to put it on my staff.'


😄


Australia is blessed with many unique and extraordinary birds but there is something mystical about this breed. They have a bone-chilling and piercing cry which can often be heard if they are nesting in the local vicinity. Their call is very haunting when it sounds out in the early, silent hours of the morning.

As with so many things in nature, we can find, in their seeming eccentricities, things which are entirely relevant to our own lives and peculiar ways.

We are so surprised and even quite unnerved by the behavior of the Curlew. To us it appears extreme and irrational and yet we do not notice that we also behave in a similar fashion.

We may not plant ourselves in front of reflective surfaces for days on end gazing at our own images in the glass and yet, are we not mesmerized by our sense of 'self-identity' and the seeming reality of our lives and the part we appear to be playing in them?

This infatuation can compel us to move through an entire lifetime like a sleepwalker, awake to the dream and yet asleep to what actually is. Like children engrossed in watching the pictures made up of moving dots on a screen, we fail to notice the screen itself.

To be present and yet absent from our presence is a dilemma that ensnares our modern societies. The fatal attraction of a pseudo pleasure which is always somehow just out of our reach is a modern version of an ancient human problem. Smartphones and our digital technologies play into this dilemma very conveniently by creating devices that snatch away our attention and subvert it very efficiently into channels that do not in any way serve our best interests.

At the end of the day, the wise will remember that life is brief. Of what use is it to spend so much of our precious time and attention gazing at a screen? Better by far to waken from our dream and become aware of what it is that makes the whole show appear in the first place!

The only truly meaningful thing to do in this world is to understand who and what we really are and yet we find endless ways with which to distract ourselves from this vital investigation.

We are fatally attracted to what we perceive and yet fail to notice what it is that does the perceiving...

This points to what is missing in our lives. Many feel that something is in fact missing and yet cannot quite say what it is. The answer is shockingly simple. 
Our attention is missing. 

When our attention is distracted we are not aware of the only thing which is actually real and true. Without it we are merely puppets dancing to some frenetic tune from which we finally collapse, exhausted and lost.

Unwittingly, we have become sleepwalkers. From the moment of waking until the moment when we sink into sleep, we are the plaything of our perceptions and of the very technologies that promise to free us. The lines between waking and dreaming have now been dangerously blurred so that we scarcely notice them at all.

Is this not a strange turn around of events? Unintended repercussions are often the result of fundamentally good intentions.

May the omens of awareness come to shake us out of our torpor, out of our dreaming. Infatuated with the images on the so-called screen of life we fail to see that we are swallowed by the abyss of inattention and when our death comes to greet us, as it surely will, we will suddenly wake and wonder how it all has come to pass.

Like the Curlew that has planted itself in front of the glass, we are fixated and lost. We are not able to free ourselves from our obsessions.

Let us not forget the most precious of all gifts which each of us has right here and right now, in the very palm of our hands. 

It alone deserves our unswerving attention now and always...





Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Face in the Mirror



Whose is the face in the mirror?
Yours..?

Behind that face, there is only 'now'
And 'now' is the faceless face of a million aeons...
The timeless 'you' beyond all seasons.

Colliding with the universe
We are cast out from infinity
Mind creates a circle of illusion.

But we are Blessed.
Our Source is ever Pure and Free
Even though we are Bound by the thrill of 
Being and Becoming.

May we swiftly
Merge into the Vast Expanse
Once and for All...

Lyse Lauren

We have such a strong habit of accepting that things are as they appear to be and yet our true purpose in life is to uncover how things really are, beyond appearances. The only way to really do that is to take a long, hard look at ourselves. Not at the image, as it appears in the mirror, but at what is perceiving the image as itself.

This journey begins and ends with our recognition of awareness.
We have an innate propensity to be mesmerised by the image in the mirror. We fail to notice what it is that is doing the noticing...

It is an interesting and extremely common dilemma and yet most people do not realise that it is the very cause of their failure to embrace the natural 'happiness' to which all are entitled by virtue of just 'being.'

The mirror is a great little tool in helping us to perceive what is already present and yet beyond recognition, yet we seldom fail to use it for that purpose. We can see our 'face' in the mirror and we take it for granted that we are connected, in some mysterious way, with that 'face.' Yet, once we are no longer gazing into the glass, the 'face' disappears and we simply believe that we continue to exist in that form.

The mind and senses trick us and snatch our attention away from the present moment. They distract and bind us inside an enchanted circle. Yet we can unravel this web of delusion. It is within the power of each and every one of us because what is true is direct and near and utterly fundamental. Perhaps it is too near and too direct...

Our attention is almost always in a state of movement and flux and because it is so colourful and vacillating our attention gets caught up and fixated on these shifting appearances. 


Behind that face
there is only 'now'
the faceless face of a million aeons.
The timeless 'you' beyond every season.

A million 'faces' have come and gone but the essential current of our existence, that which is perceiving them all, is stable and un-shifting. It has been our constant companion; un-shakable and consistent.

This is not a matter for debate because we can and should verify it for ourselves right here and right now. In fact, our happiness depends upon us doing just this. Unless we stop and take the time to investigate the mystery of our existence we remain like the two fish who swim around in the ocean debating the existence of 'water.' Or like the beggar with the golden begging bowl. We have to break this cycle of delusion.

There is a popular story about a group of employees who worked for a large company. One morning when they reached their offices they were greeted by a small notice on the door that led into their workspaces. It read; ' Yesterday, the person who has been hindering your growth in the company, passed away.' It went on to invite all the employees to a funeral service which would be held on the premises later that day.

Naturally, this event caused much discussion between the people in the offices and the whole day there was the buzz and anticipation of the impending 'service.' There was much speculation as to the identity of this deceased person. No one seemed to know who it was and this deepened the general excitement and enhanced the sense of curiosity.

Later that evening there was a large gathering at the venue which had been designated for the 'service.' The room was humming with the mutterings of its eagerly waiting attendees.

A coffin could be seen near the farthest wall, large and beautiful bouquets of flowers had been placed near and around it, incense had been lit, there was soft and pleasant music in the background and the lights in the room had been dimmed. A single candle had been placed near the casket and cast a warm glow over the solitary coffin.

A small barrier had been erected so one ventured near.
In due course, the proceedings began. There was a muted speech or two and then one by one all were invited to approach and pay their final respects.

Each person present had one thought in their minds. 'Who is this guy who has been hindering my progress?' As each one approached the coffin and looked inside they were confronted by a mirror.
Silence reigned as they moved on one by one, each had been thrown into a cavern of reflection. 

A sign had been placed inside the coffin and near the end of it were the words;  'Your life changes when YOU change, when you go beyond your limiting beliefs when you realize that you are the only one responsible for your life. “The most important relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself”.

*****

One can well imagine what kind of impact something like this could potentially have on all those present.

We might take this story even further by inviting ourselves to look beyond the image in the mirror to what it is that is perceiving that image...

Why is it that we fail to notice that..?

Lead me from darkness to light
From death to immortality
From the unreal to the real.
Gayatri