We are enjoying a walk-about through a dry river bed that snakes its way through the high desert. Spring moisture has helped the wildflowers put on a show. Although not a super bloom, we are able to identify 31 different species exhibiting their colorful blossoms. The Whitestem frasera (Frasera abicaulis) is particularly abundant today. But the show overhead dazzles beyond the display at our feet.
The sky is ablaze with a sun halo. Somewhat rare, sun halos are formed by hexagonal ice crystals in high cirrostratus clouds refracting light in the sky—22 degrees from the sun. The prism effect is such that the rainbow colors go from red on the inside to violet on the outside. It is like something from a science fiction movie where an explosion starts from a fireball and radiates concentrically into space.
Fireball in the sky, flower blossoms in the earth. “As above, so below” is a popular modern paraphrase of the second verse of the Emerald Tablet, a compact and cryptic Hermetic text from the late eighth or early ninth century. It is very appropriate here and mirrors the Buddhist teaching from the Heart Sutra— “Emptiness is form, form is emptiness.”
Buddha suggested all our problems come from disconnecting spacious awareness from solid-appearing phenomena. This is the dualistic mind that also separates self from other. Bad idea. It only takes a walk in the woods or desert to experience the union of above and below, emptiness and form, awareness and phenomena, self and other.
Sometimes we meet a person who embodies this understanding and what do we do? We place a halo over the crown of their heads or, in the case of Buddha: “His face radiated like the sun.” As above, so below—effortlessly united in our own radiant way of being.