From a teaching I experienced (embodied, actually) while on retreat last summer in a birch grove by Anglin Lake, I placed my ear against an aspen while on retreat last week in the city.
The dharma talks at this retreat by our teacher, Adrianne Ross, were on the five faculties (faith, effort, concentration, wisdom, and mindfulness), so listening through a tree to the wind coming off the South Saskatchewan River in the heart of Saskatoon seemed a good test of me for Adrianne’s teachings of momentary concentration and the jhana factors.
The first factor in my concentration test, viveka (seclusion turning inwards; turning energy inwards; sitting under a tree) was simply a walking meditation in the trees during this silent retreat.
Each factor lead to the next, without planning or even my clear understanding of the steps – it just happened.
The second factor, vitaka (be here, be awake; initial connecting; bring energy here, now) was choosing a suitable tree with a smooth spot where I could place my ear against the trunk.
The third, vicara (stabilizing and sustaining; exploring with just enough energy), was my connection with the tree, being curious, and staying there.
Piti, or rapture, is the fourth factor. This was the settling into the tree and keeping a rapt attention to the sounds transmitted down the truck from the branches as they were blowing in the wind. Adrianne described piti as the whole body being filled with presence and awareness – just being here and now.
And a feeling of ease, or sukha, is the fifth factor. Again, as Adrianne taught, it was a unification with the tree, the wind, and my senses, which filled my body, creating ease and balance, with no need to be elsewhere.
Then the bell rang, calling me back…
But, in those brief moments, it was a very real and embodied experience of concentration. Just a moment. In the city. With lunch calling. But it was real.
I wondered on other walks during the retreat if the city wind had a colour, but I wasn’t there yet.
I look forward to being at Anglin Lake again to learn more, including trying to sense:
… to the bee, the wind is the warm color of the sun; the old dog, who perceives the world through smell, experiences it as “pink, flowery, pale white”; to the wolf, it smells of the forest; for the mountain, the wind is a bird; for the window, it is the color of time.
with mettā, Rod