Thoughts and Butterflies

I am hiking near a lake in the Cascade Mountains, meandering through a maze of deep cracks in the surrounding basalt flows. The trail emerges from the rocks and climbs to a knoll the that offers a view of mountains dusted by an early fall snow. As I gaze toward the vista, my visual sense is assaulted by emissaries of light in flight. They appear spontaneously from the clear blue sky, fluttering about in random swarms. The California Tortoiseshell butterfly is metaphorically on the march, migrating to its southern haunts somewhere in the Golden State.

I later take a moment to rest at the lake’s edge, laying on my back in the moist volcanic sand. I stare blankly into the sky and thousands of black dots begin to appear, morphing into a wild dance of butterflies with instinctual purpose. When sun backlights the wings, flashes of brilliant orange alternate amidst a pepper of brown spots. When a butterfly lands and folds its wings, the underside looks like dead leaves; nature’s gift of camouflage to help elude predators.

The insects continue to swarm, mirroring my perceptions as they emerge and disappear. The scene reminds me of thoughts arising and naturally liberating. Thoughts often seem to appear from nowhere, flutter about, and disappear into the vast expanse of awareness. It is only in grasping and clinging to a thought that it seems to remain for any length of time.

I aspire to rest among my thoughts like I am resting amidst this swirl of butterflies. May all beings experience the joy of spacious awareness, allowing thoughts the freedom to appear and dissolve naturally.


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