I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child--our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
-Thich Nhat Hanh, "Miracle of Mindfulness"
This has certainly been my experience as well. Some of my greatest teachings, lessons and profound insights have come from nature and the small things that our modern world all too often tramples over as unworthy of our time, energy and attention. For example, I yearn one day to visit the sacred ground of Bodh Gaya (the place where it is said that Buddha obtained Enlightenment) yet I wonder what the Tathatgata would say about my desire and attachment to such zeal? I imagine that he would gently yet convincingly remind me of inter-being--that the Holiness of Bodh Gaya is no further then the end of my nose or the unassuming mock pear tree in my front yard.
He would remind me that the little sparrows that visit our humble abode are no different then the wise monks to be found at Bodh Gaya. They remind me that each moment is precious and that all places, times and people are sacred if we but look deeper into ironically what will be discoved as the obvious.
I am honored, blessed and profoundly thankful to live close to some stunning mountains that are just as stupefying as the most sacred temples. The rushing sound of the breeze blowing through the pine trees in those pristine mountains is no different then the resonating sounds of singing bowls and shrine bells.
There is no other place to be then here--in this moment. All we need or could ever want is right here, right now within us.
The ego desires specialness and religion can often feed into that fervor. It seems sometimes that we think that Enlightenment is discovered in ancient temples or that we expect to see angels or Bodhisattvas to tear the sky and grant us that which is already within us--nothing short of Buddhahood.
Perhaps I will make it one day to the sacred and historic Bodh Gaya but in the mean time I will rest and meditate in the Bodh Gaya of my home, mountains and pear tree. May we all see the sacred temples in all places and Buddha in all beings.
~Peace to all beings~