Last week’s sketch showed a parachuter slowly gliding towards earth, symbolising the idea that our life starts when we’re born and ends when we die. With this sketch of a Dandelion plant I would like to invite you to look at life as something beyond conscious thought.
I think, therefore I am
How do we know that we exist? In 1637 René Descartes answered this question with the famous sentence “I think, therefore I am”. He wanted to assure us that our sense of self is proof that we’re real. This proposition became a fundamental element of Western philosophy and culture. It put the mind, our sense of self, into the center of everything.
Had a Zen monk been around when Descartes wrote this sentence, he would probably have gently hit the philosopher with a stick. Smiling he would have asked: “Dear friend, isn’t the feeling of pain proof enough, that you actually exist?”
Here a short story to explore a different way to look at the world. I invite you to use your imagination, to search for answers within yourself – beyond the ways of your mind.
It’s a warm summer day. You went for a walk and decided to sit down on a field of freshly cut grass. There, in front of you, you notice a lovely Dandelion plant. You move closer, fascinated by the big, round seed head. Just then the wind picks up. A handful of Dandelion seeds are lifted up into the air, gently swaying across the field, slowly disappearing into the distance.
Imagine yourself being carried away into the air. Looking back, you shout: “Bye, bye Dandelion friend, thank you for helping me grow, thank you for setting me free!” Flying over the grass you understand that this is your journey. It’s up to you to make the best out of it. Looking down you realize that you’re slowly floating towards the ground. In your heart you understand that completing the journey means to touch down. It means to have the opportunity to give life to a new Dandelion flower, starting the dance of life together with your friends the earth, the sun, the rain and the wind.
What do you feel?
The cycle of life
In an abstract way we all know that we are part of nature. But without any recollection where we came from, our mind cannot fully accept this thought. It keeps insisting: “If I can’t think about it, I can’t accept it!” When the Zen monk hit René Descartes with his stick, he simply wanted to remind him that many things about our existence are beyond conscious thought.
Instead of “I think therefore I am,” the Zen monk would probably have suggested to René Descartes to simply write “I am”. Then, giving him a gentle hug, they would have walked out into nature, enjoying the warm sun on their faces.