Notes on a Buddhist path

Delusion in the Mist

September 15, 2013 By | Leave a Comment

“A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The weather report calls for thunder storms today, something rather uncommon in my part of the world. Stepping out onto the sidewalk this morning the near chill of autumn’s budding tucked itself behind my ears as I walked with my warm cup of tea through my neighbourhood village to the sea.

I heard the bay of a tempest’s distant lament off in the west and felt the lightest gauze of wet patter against my skin. My mind went to all that I wanted to do today or more truthfully what I felt I had to get done or should have done. Would the rains come soon and drench me in their scuttled abandonment of the sky’s scowling mood? I should have brought a jacket although my sweater’s hood might be an ample cloak to the furtive assault making its way to land. There’s the soup I want to cook for the week of lunches ahead and the article of someone else’s words I still need to edit. And this piece, these words that trickle from my fingertips to the keypad of my metal laptop scribe.

The air felt warmer along the skin of the shore. The rain stopped and the lure of doing tugged on me less, as if the hook of delusions have slipped loose from my scaled beingness for an untethered breath of momentary freedom. The mists folded and churned on the horizon, reeling and winding slips of land into sight and then losing them again as the clouds pushed their will against the heavens and turned the mottled dome of light into a cathedral of felted grays and whites.


Thunder howled again, although this time much closer and I began to count. When I got to eight a sliver of lightening etched the southern firmament and cracks of sunlight fell onto the steel chipped water. Along the path an audience of grasses, dried wisps tanned in summer’s arms, nodded and leaned against the wind’s shoulders as a blue heron skimmed the breast of the darkening sea.

Heading east along the path I suddenly noticed four lines rising out of the ruffled waves. At first glance I was sure they were telephone poles but there was no land where they were drawn. They must be the masts of a ship, I thought, yet the hull of the vessel was hidden by the coy veils of mist. I caught myself in that moment, seeing my cleverness attempting to consort with the elements. Did it really matter what dots I connected to those four lines to make them somehow legitimate and knowable? Did knowing it was a blue heron that skated on the ocean’s currents make it more remarkable than seeing an unknown being of feathered cerulean and slate stir the air with the grace of an angel? Or would my hurrying to get to the doing of doing force me to miss the bursting beauty of ruby rose hips or the swirling chants of the wild sea below?

Instead of returning straightaway to my list of duties, I sat down on a bench and watched as life lived itself before me. I breathed in the moist mist and followed winged whiteness dancing in the sky. I felt the wet of rain’s fingers against the backs of my legs and sweet tea as it glistened in my throat. All the impermanence, all the cravings and makings of my misty self hold my tired gaze in their reflection, the mirror of my suffering casting a clouded view of the truth of this world. It’s in the noting of rose hips and sky and four lines rising out of the sea that the mystery and shroud of delusion can be lifted. In those brief instances when the mists of ignorance do dissolve, albeit for a fraction of time, true insights can be seen. Being in just this moment, noting the arising and passing away of each thought, each emotion, each conscious whisper opens a door to a lightness of being beyond anything doing can promise. To be like the those tawny stalks of grass, moving at the touch of the air and bending to the rains and the snows, dying to seeds of a day they will not see, asking nothing in their suchness of just being.

Getting up from the bench I turned and saw the mist had lifted in the west and a cloth of deep blue had spread itself across the now still ocean waters. The four lines that had reached up from those mists were gone as well. I smiled at the empty canvas of water and light and turned for home.

Poem of the One world

by Mary Oliver

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to

where everything
sooner or later
is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself.

“Poem of the One world” by Mary Oliver, from A Thousand Mornings. © The Penguin Press, 2012.

Image Credit:

Great Blue Heron by cuatrok77 via Wikimedia Commons


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