I am writing this on the first day of Autumn 2022. Smoke from the Cedar Creek fire has returned, shrouding the landscape with a light beige blanket of haze. Earlier, the winds cleared out the smoke for the past few days and I hoped that would be an end to it. But winds shifted and now my clothes smell like I have been sitting around a campfire. The winds of change?
The wind blows thoughts through my mind. I think about the time when we experienced very few wildfires. I think about Bend when it was smaller, kinder, and with less traffic. I think about the time before the pandemic, the Trump, and co-arising divisiveness. All these thoughts are not helping me settle my mind. So, I look at the thoughts rising and falling like waves on the ocean and notice the stillness within the movement. Thoughts without a thinker?
It is an auspicious moment, pairing thoughts with the equinox. We can watch the winds moving through the mind without grabbing or pushing away—equanimity mind. Day and night become equal teachers, just like pleasure and pain. Approaching polar opposites with equal-mindedness, they become “of a single flavor,” as the Buddha Dharma informs us. We experience the “innermost one taste of the wisdom mind.”
Now, a day later, the smoke has cleared for the moment. A robin offers me a lesson in song. Prayer flags are flapping from a trellis in our garden, sending good wishes on the winds. A blue lobelia waves to me from a planter on our deck, nodding in agreement and sending its own prayers. Movements in my mind are softer and more easily dedicated for the benefit of others. “Don’t get too attached to the ease,” the Buddha tells me. Winds always change, always offer us the chance to dance like a leaf, resilient and graceful, blowing where we are needed—where love is requested.