This morning, April 27th, I woke from sleep with the image of this drawing in my mind. I lay in bed and made contact with the image and the energies that it awoke. About two weeks before September 11th, 2001, I kept having disturbing dreams about some major disaster in New York City, where I lived at the time. This drawing was from one of those dreams.
Interestingly, I wasn't formally practicing Buddhism when I drew this. Fortunately, while devasting, the destruction on September 11th wasn't this apocalyptic. But the dreams and their imagery still resonate strongly with me. It's not because I think the dreams were somehow prophetic--I don't--rather, it's the message that this image delivers. The message was so powerful that I had to draw it, and because it is so powerful, it still impacts me and empowers me today. The message: Life = Resilience + Perseverance.
The dreams reminded me of our most vital qualities. Nature reminds us of this. Nature continues, even when all forces seem to be against it. It is resilient, and it perseveres in the most difficult of circumstances. Nature's essential nature is to live. We have all witnessed the lone sprout growing out of a tiny crack. Our bodies get sick or injured, and they work to heal. History teaches of civilizations having re-emerged from the rubble time and again. We have seen Nature/Life finding a way to flourish despite the radioactive disasters of Chornobyl and Fukushima. When all options are exhausted, Nature may seem to disappear--Life may appear to die--but it is temporary. Life finds a new path, a new form, a new existence.
We--being Nature, being Alive, being LIFE--inherit these powerful qualities. But while perseverance and resilience are essential, they alone are not enough. The enduring spark of Life needs compassion if it is to thrive harmoniously. When I drew this, I realized I was not relating to the monk in this image. I was not finding peace in depicting an existence that must artificially defy the conditions. I wanted to adapt, rebel, and thrive. Instead, I related to the sprout when I created the drawing.
However, today, I realize that we are both the monk AND the sprout (see those little halos?). One isn't better than the other; they are both necessary. Life is not separate--it is all connected. Life is one--going through a myriad of experiences together, simultaneously, persevering, adapting, disappearing, reappearing, accepting, rebelling, struggling, and thriving throughout time and space.
The dreams, this drawing, teaches me this message. During the most challenging times, I can look within and connect with the miraculous power of Life. I can perceive Life's qualities of perseverance and resilience around me, even in the midst of illness, aging, and even destruction. I can offer compassion, knowing that this essential, Natural being will find a way to continue and perhaps even thrive.
A blog by the Lotus Heart Zen Meditation and Study Group members