Bindu and Butterflies

A surprising number of trucks are parked along the road paralleling the Crooked River below Bowman Dam. The season is open and fly fishing is in full swing on this popular shallow river snaking its way through the gorge. It is easy to socially isolate even with all the fishing folks. But our goal is the Chimney Rock trailhead where we find only three parked vehicles.

The trail finds its way, climbing about 500 feet in less than two miles. Most of the path is relatively flat until you reach the switchbacks. This is where most of the elevation gain happens. Before that, the trail follows a seasonal wash exposing boulders and tree roots to make things interesting. At one point natural conditions create a wet area hosting smooth grey basalt with moss growing between fractures—a jigsaw pattern separated by fuzzy green tufts. 

The moist earth here attracts insects and today we see butterflies by the hundreds. The beautiful orange California Tortoiseshell predominates. We have to walk gently to avoid stepping on one. As I pass a resting cluster, the butterflies take to the air in a swirling pattern. I am surrounded and feel caressed by the batting of hundreds of wings. It is subtle but palpable. The energy envelopes me in “one swirling bindu of great bliss.” This phrase from one of our dakini practices is an apt description.

Bindu (Sanskrit) or thigle (Tibetan) literally means “drops” and is traditionally used to describe ‘spheres of rainbow light’ which is the essence element of perceived reality. We can experience this luminous quality as a rainbow diffracting the sun into atoms of colorful light. But it is not only a visual experience. Anytime we notice the vibrational ground of being, like in a swirl of butterflies, we get a hint of this energy.

The ‘nature’ of thigle is described as the feminine quality, Dakini (sky dancer), and the ‘form’ is the male principle or Daka (sky flower). This is the essence of emptiness and observable activity of our original unconditioned nature we experience as clear luminosity. We cannot create nor destroy this light as it is spontaneously unarisen and ineffable. I know, this is quite a paradox! Maybe it is better to say it is the way we experience love when free from grasping and attachment. I think this is why we have the phrase “falling in love.” When we encounter our natural clear luminosity in the dawning of love, we can do nothing but fall on our face, overwhelmed by a shower of grace. 

Unfortunately, we tend to want to control our experiences and we quickly lose awareness of our innate clarity by attaching significance—like I am doing now! But, then, I make no claim of being enlightened. My prayer is that I am able to point folks in the right direction. Maybe whoever reads this will, at some quivering moment, encounter their luminosity and recognize it. It is as subtle as wind from beating butterfly wings.

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