A Bunny Day

When I took high school French, I remember our class chuckling when we translated the phrase “cette une bonne idée,” which means “that’s a good idea.”  The translation sounds like the title of this blog post, “a bunny day.”  Cute.  And apropos of this morning.

Our little Westie pup is, as some might know, bred to be a “ratter.”  In other words, he kept those cold, Scottish castles, from which he originated, free of vermin of all kinds.  Our little guy, nicknamed Spud, is simply thrilled with his first mature Springtime (he was a newborn last Spring), and the proliferation of bunnies on our property.  If he gets half a chance, we are well aware that he will sieze one by the throat and make bunny mincemeat out of it, but we have a large portion of our yard securely fenced for our dogs, and hopefully he will never get to act out that particular fantasy.  But he is definitely enthralled by the idea, and the bunnies seem to realize he cannot get to them, because they hop near the fence while he stands there, tail wagging, and barks his head off (fortunately we live in the country, and there are no neighbors nearby to complain about this).  He tells that bunny in no uncertain terms what his plans are for it if he gets half a chance, and the bunny laughs in his face, saying “Come on!  Show me what you got!  Make my bunny day!”  A bunne idée.  By the way, he gets a good bit of practice with our cat, Sita, who loves nothing more than to taunt him at a much closer range, knowing that even if they are approximately the same size, she is one who is faster than he.  Spud simply loves this, but he knows that if he goes too far, she has twenty sharp ways to defend herself.

respect-the-claw

Meantime, by the time I got out to the porch for my second round of porch-rocking of the morning, the dogs were frolicking together, and in-between Spud bringing the ball to me to throw (and then snatching it out of my grasp… he just doesn’t get it!), I looked out over my “view,” which includes a fenced pasture with too few trees (we’re working on that, but may not be around long enough to appreciate the resulting shade), the shed that needs work and the distant trees and pond that edge our property.  I have to admit it:  sometimes I do not appreciate this view.  I am distracted by all the work the shed needs (and the house), I think that it is time to pick up dog poop, and that the grass needs mowing (all husbandly chores, I am grateful to say).  But this morning, the light of the sun took my attention, as it always will if my ego is not out of proportion, and there were enough luminous clouds to filter the light between my lashes as I was taught to do on my retreat with Pir Vilayat many years ago, in the French Alps, so as not to burn my retina.  Now THERE was a view.  But this is about my own homely view, and this morning I saw that the same sky that is over my head is the same sky that was in those mountains, or by the ocean which is my all-time favorite view.  I breathe the same air, however polluted, as the rishis in the Himalayas breathe, or the whales spouting in whatever sea we care to consider.  If I look deeply enough into the core elements of any phenomena, there is the same perfection of Being, right there gift-wrapped and ready to be opened, ready to be assimilated.

Today, I have the good sense to be grateful.

P.S.

The following is not my Westie, but I was prompted to do a search in Google Images, where I often steal photos, of Westies chasing bunnies.  Hopefully the proud owner of this Westie and her or his bunny will not mind my sharing it.  I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to let Spud get this close to a bunny, but obviously this Westie has a special relationship with this rabbit.

Life Being Lived

CLF - Olmstead Parks

And yet, though we strain

against the deadening grip

of daily necessity, I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it, then?

Is it the things themselves,

or something waiting inside them,

like an unplanned melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?

Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers

interweaving their fragrances,

or streets, as they wind through time?  — Rilke

Recently I received, from a well-known academic and Muslim here in Chapel Hill, a blanket criticism of American Sufis, pointing out that “we” do not understand the true meaning of Sufism, but veil our understanding within the bias of  “our” Western capitalistic world view.  He gave, as an example, Deepak Chopra who, he says, charges $5,000 for a weekend seminar.  The implication is that real Sufis are not materialistic, and do not practice the kind of engaged spirituality he believes is the correct way of life for a true Sufi.

Well.  Where do I start?

First of all, I wasn’t aware that Deepak Chopra bills himself as a Sufi.  Second, I was not aware that he is an American, but I will admit I do not know, because his words do not attract me, nor does his being.  Third, I object to blanket statements about any group, particularly from a noted academic who ought to be capable of more critical thinking.  Finally, I am not aware that the practice of Sufism means that one is “this” or “that” or holds a particular world view . . . and I find it astonishing that someone who is supposed to be an “expert” on such matters would make such an irresponsible statement.

As for me, I just sit on my porch and watch the birds and listen to the trees.  It seems to me that the trees know where they stand, and the birds refuse to favor one position over another, and thus they demonstrate, for me, the meaning of the word Allah.  I will say one thing about “we” American Sufis:  sometimes we can be rather naive and uninformed about the Islamic framework in which Sufism has become known to the Western world, but it seems to me that such constructs are really only the “basket that carries the flowers,” and I think the essence is available to us all, regardless of our station in life or our political views or our geographic location in space and time.  I was reminded, recently, by my new favorite book, Physicians of the Heart (see below) that the word Allah is derived from the Arabic verb waliha, which means to love passionately, intensely, totally:   “crazy love.”

That’s it.

The teacher who brought me up told stories about the rishis in the Himalayas, the Desert Fathers, the Yogis and the Madzubs, the Chassids, the contemplatives of all the varied ways to illumination  who refuse to “join the club (or the “old boys’ network”),” those ones who refuse to believe the lies, those ones who hold the world up in space, who keep it spinning, wobbling, staggering along because they say Allah . . . and leave “them” to their devices.  And Allah is a name that can be called in many, many ways . . .

Let us not forget:  in the Al and La of Allah are the words yes and no.  The rest is just excuses.


The highest good is like water.

Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.
In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In daily life, be competent.
In action, be aware of the time and the season.

No fight: No blame.  

Tao te Ching