Looking Up

 

 

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My personal practice these days consists, in a large part, in something I call Looking Up. By Looking Up I mean to, number one, physically look up. It is amazing how often we travel down the road or even across our yard or across the street, all the while looking straight ahead, if not down at our feet. When we look up we see the blue, blue sky above us, with the bright shards of sunlight flowing down to us. Or else we see the great billowing clouds, all full of the promise of rain to make all things on our planet grow and flourish. Or else we might see the rain itself, falling down into our open eyes and perhaps, open mouth. Or we might see the tops of the trees swaying slowly in the breeze, reaching into the sky, connecting from their deeply entrenched roots down in the great yin of mother earth and then stretching up higher and higher into the great yang of the heavens.

It is just a wonderful practice to notice what we don’t usually see when we are walking or driving along. The tops of old buildings in many cities are covered with wonderful designs. Even just the sight of the rooftops of the buildings around us, as they blend in with the line of the sky behind them can be beautiful. We might see birds swooping around in the tops of the trees or on the rooftops or even on the tops of electrical lines.

And, of course, as with all real practices, we can take it a step further and use the concept of looking up in our own lives. It is often when we become obsessed or distraught by the small details of our lives that we lose the big picture. If we can, in our moments of stress or depression, we need to take a look up to become more aware of our lives in all their grandeur. When we are looking at a more objective view from on high we can see how each little moment comes together to form the amazing and beautiful mosaic of our lives. And while it is true that many of these moments contain lots of pain and suffering, we can also get a grander view if we only practice looking up. In that looking up, we can perhaps see the pattern more clearly and in this way we can learn to let go of the small stuff and focus on the whole journey rather than each individual step.

Laozi says we suffer because we have a limited sense of self. The Buddha also said life contains suffering because of our attachment to having things the way we want them to be rather than of the way they are. By using the teachings of these two great masters we can, perhaps, take this long and high view of our selves and of the world we find ourselves in. And in that way we can free ourselves from our earthly-bound material body selves and find ourselves soaring and swooping through the blue, blue sky like a bird on the wing.

Looking Up also means looking at the big picture, something we are not trained to do in our modern fragmented society. Most of us are stuck in our own extremely narrow worldview. We are more interested in what is happening in our own small part of the universe.

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