Finding the Door

May 6th, 2018

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

Rumi

The shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture is the shift from body to mind. It’s essentially the thought, “life can be better than this.” As told in Genesis, it happens when we eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: that is, when we think about “right” and “wrong.”

In a world at peace, there is no right and wrong, just as in nature, there are no weeds. This is why, as Shunryu Suzuki teaches, “for the student of Zen, a weed is a treasure.”

The words heathen, pagan, uncivilized, wild, and savage all mean “one who lives in nature.” To live in nature, we must re-inhabit our own bodies. There, we find the source of true compassion.

To empathize, we must return to our natural, calm-alert state. We are able to care about others only to the extent that we are out of fight-or-flight ourselves. For that, we have to feel safe and provided for. In short, we have to feel at home. Otherwise, we are just strangers in a strange land, always looking out for number one, cowering and struggling to survive in what I call “ScareCity.”

Foraging offers two ways to uncover Paradise. First, foraging is a walking meditation, the original forest bathing. In the wild, both danger and opportunity are evident to those moving in mindfulness.

Second, eating wild food can be a practice of what Buddhist psychotherapist Rick Hanson calls “taking in the good.” When we experience Providence, we regain what psychologists call secure attachment, not just to our human parents but to nature as a holding environment. We live “by the graze of God.”

When we go back to nature, we go back to our true nature as loving, open beings. We welcome the world with open arms, and we find that it has been waiting for us all this time: for us to come home.