Fleeting Clouds

There is a small deck attached to the south facing side of my place. I use it for one purpose – cloud watching.

On different days, clouds are passing the sky in various shapes. It could be horses galloping in tall grass, witches riding on their broomsticks, pandas in the zoo munching bamboo shoots. Or sometimes it might be Cupid aiming his arrow to open air, King Kong atop the antenna pounding his chest, and the Buddha reclining to contemplation in Lion’s pose.

When a storm is brewing, there are black drapes embroidered with silver linings. Or if a twilight is glowing, purple velvets are enhanced with crimson ribbons or golden lace. And orange breakers may deluge a pink beach, while a new sun is uprising.

Besides the clouds, occasionally a sequence of wild geese cackle past the sky, in a lineup that resembles the Chinese character 人, meaning ‘people’.

From my deck I see people riding the clouds, roaming in emptiness, pursuing meaningless, grasping impermanence … I am adrift among them, perching on my own cloud-castles, overstocked with obsessive compulsive disorderly thoughts of all sorts, willful, wishful, cynical, dismal, immoral, insane, pathetic, primitive, versatile, futile.

We the people are like migratory birds, goaded by seasonal rhythm and hormonal riots, performing our life cycles like circus animals on the wheels – how many more rounds of repeats are still ahead? The concept of samsara means the endless cycles of death and rebirth in material world, but I suspect it must also refer to the constant flux of old thoughts and new ones.

When we replace a foolish old idea with a sensible new insight, isn’t it a life cycle completed itself?

It’s said an average person has 50,000 thoughts going through their mind every day, which means 35 thoughts per minute. By the time he reaches 85 years old, 1.5 billion thoughts would have been passing through his mental sky.

If we count the relinquish of an old thought as a death, and the adoption of a new insight as a rebirth, what an abundance of life cycles we are to complete in this lifetime.

A samurai came to Zen master Hakuin to question him if there are really paradise and hell. “Who are you?” Hakuin asked. “I am a warrior,” the samurai replied. “But you look like a beggar, your sword is probably too dull to cut off my head,” Hakuin commented. The samurai got angry and drew out his sword.

“Here open the gates of hell,” Hakuin remarked.

Upon hearing this, the samurai was awakened, he sheathed his sword back and gave Hakuin a bow.

“And here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.

When you’re a reality show host and you say something funny, you open the gate to entertainment or even heaven; when you’re a President and you wasted crucial time in babbling, you open the gate to magnitude coronavirus deaths and maybe hell.

Life is a journey to tame the mind and transform the self. A journey of never-ending process to disarm, surrender, purify and sublime. Just like a mere notion could make a hell or a paradise, a simple replacement of thought could be the achievement of a lifetime.

kitten (3)

17 Comments

  1. Hey buddy! You’ve been nominated for an award!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful post that teaches gently and before the reader realizes they have just gone back to school, you have imparted a valuable lesson. Thank you Dot. I will strive to open the gate to paradise and I will need to keep that in mind as Samsara sends me back to learn what I missed this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My God (not an exclamation), thank you 🍑 I’m really happy you decided not to die. Your approval means paradise to me 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gates of Paradise opened. 😇

        Like

  3. I love to watch clouds, also, creating the beautiful things they create. Wonderful post, dear. Thank you. I, also, like the fact that you write a short Chinese story of wisdom, words, and phrases. You give me some kind of an opportunity to compare this kind of wisdom with other cultures. It is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Somehow I knew you’re the type who loves to watch clouds too, I just knew⛅️ And speaking of something short and wonderful, I enjoy those short, succinct, seemingly simple yet not too simple words you’ve been sharing – I never could fully grasp what they mean, to be honest, but I enjoy reading them nonetheless 🐤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Timothy Price

    Clouds are fun to watch and see how they constantly change from clouds to recognizable forms and then back to clouds. I like your Zen master story, however, I am so sick and tired of people blaming the President for Covid-19. No matter what the President does, says, tweets, etc. it’s wrong in the eyes of the media, most celebrities, his political opponents, and people who buy into the constant BS that floods the airwaves and the Internet. These people are so deranged, that they have lost all sense of reality, creativity and logical thinking. It’s scary. It’s such a shame that the media, celebrities and our elected officials cannot work together during a pandemic and put their pettiness, agendas and hatred of our President aside for a few months, and actually do something good for people and our country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got inspired about the cloud-watching by you, Tim, from your wonderful photographs of all the clouds in your backyard 🍑 How is my Blue Kitten drawing this time, hope it doesn’t make you as sick and tired? 🐧🐨🦔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Timothy Price

        I always love your Blue Kitten. And I like your writing. Please understand, I am not a Trump supporter. I voted for Gary Johnson. But the constant negative attention Trump gets is so tiresome. We have really serious issues in the world. Trying to use them to bring down the president does no good for anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m not anyone’s supporter or non-supporter – I don’t think I am well-informed enough be either. Seems to me it’s impossible to discern how much of the ‘truth’ we get is true … I just feel that not all entertainers are the best material for being a leader. If we had to have a show host as the President, I might prefer Oprah over Trump; if we had to have a President as show host, I would prefer Trump over anyone … Anyways, I am grateful to you for sharing your views. All you comments have been truly educational for me – I am aspired to be ‘armchair philosopher’ after all, and I learned the term exactly from you 😽

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Timothy Price

            If I had my choice, I would like someone like Thomas Sowell or Walter E. Williams for president. They are brilliant, eloquent, understand economics and politics, and are constitutional scholars. For better or worse, the only qualifications the Constitution has for a person to run for President is that he or she is a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old and has “been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” However, nowadays you have to be politically connected, and either have a lot of money or have supporters willing to give you lots of money to be considered a viable candidate for President.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I never even heard of Thomas Sowell or Walter E. Williams 🐧 Every time you get serious about something, I’ll have to do lots of Googling and read lots of Wiki … Looks like I really have a long long long way to go, inching toward my armchair goal 🐾 I do have a copy of the Constitution at hand (which looks like a booklet that came with the slow cooker I bought), but I don’t like reading manual of any kind. So the knowledge and insight you share bits by bits in your comments are basically what I feed on … Let me be your ‘armchair disciple’ first, before I proceed other armchair dreams 🐞

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Timothy Price

                I relied on the writings of Thomas Sowell and George Gilder (another economist) a lot when I was working on my degrees at the university. They provided common sense, excellent research, and good data during the Reagan years, another time that brought out derangement in so many people. I discovered Walter E. Williams in the 90s.

                Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW Dot! Simply WOW! I bow to your descriptive insights. I was just for a moment, actually there, laying on my back in a summers spring meadow watching the clouds and contemplating life. Your post was a ray of sunshine peaking through the dark days that have fallen upon us. And so true your words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really appreciate your nice words 🍏 And thanks for sharing those great posts of yours – they are so informative, well-written, and inspiring 🦉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dot — I just updated that Post.
        For a remarkably fresh and poetic insight of the topic and contents of this post, I highly recommend you visit dotandlines.net
        And her deep insightful post — Fleeting Clouds

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This post is inspired by CorkyWK’s post “America’s Grim Reaper” https://wordofwayne.com/2020/03/28/americas-grim-reaper-coronavirus-or-president-trump/
    Thank you Wayne.

    Liked by 1 person

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