Friday, September 05, 2014

Life and death

a moth crosses paths
with a roving blackbird
life and death

A  few thoughts I wanted to add to this haiku I posted yesterday.

Sometime ago, I was in the beans patch and something, quick as a flashing sword, flew past me, dived into the bean bushes and flew out. Much to my surprise, it was a blackbird with a struggling moth in its beak. It perched itself in the fence and proceeded to flick its head vigorously from side to side, perhaps in an attempt to hasten the moth’s demise. I don’t exactly know why it did this, but it seemed, to my human reasoning, that if it opened its beak to gulp it down, the moth, sensing release, would fly away. Then, when the moth stopped fluttering, it vanished down the bird’s throat in a series of gulps.

I must admit to being disturbed by this drama of the moth’s death. To gardeners, moths are important pollinators and are considered beneficial. But that is human reasoning, flawed as always. After I wrote the haiku, I looked at the scenario a bit more detachedly.

The moth died, but in death, did it not give life to the bird? Because of its death, the bird continues to live. So, life itself hasn’t ceased, it has just been transferred from one form to another. The cycle of life didn’t break, it just kept going, the moth living on as the bird. It is because of our human attachment to form and its apparent separateness that death causes us so much grief.

The other human fallacy that I harboured was the classification of ‘living’ and ‘non-living’ things. Science’s definition of ‘life’ is the ability to ingest, digest (as in food) and reproduce. By this definition things like water and sunlight are ‘non-living’ things. But without them, all life would cease to exist. We take in water (as part of out ingestion and digestion) and a hefty percentage of us comprises water, and while it is in us, it is considered ‘living’ but as soon as it exits our systems, it goes back to ‘non-living’. A bit unfair, from water’s point of view :) Not that it cares...:(

You wouldn’t consider a piece of iron ‘living’ yet small traces of iron is utterly essential to human life. The sand on the beach looks ‘non-living’, yet silicon in the human body contributes to health. So, could science’s definition of ‘life’ be called accurate? Or, is such a classification even necessary?

Life goes on seamlessly, with forms disappearing into one another, elements getting in and out of systems. From this point of view, the illusion of separation tends to get hazy. What emerges is the view that the whole universe (living and non-living, seen and unseen) is a vast, seamless, unending ocean of intelligence, in which waves arise, dimly seen as forms, they ride the crest and dissolve back into the ocean. A moth wave rises and melds into a bird wave. Human waves arise and dissolve. The whole is alive and is Life itself. In this scheme of things, there is no death. There is only Life and it is infinite.

And yes, we are that intelligence, not separate, but One. Briefly self-aware, as we ride the human wave.