Near the end of Monday’s retreat we stepped outside for kinhin, walking meditation. Instead of walking in lock-step formation as is customary at Zen centres, we each went off in separate directions. “Aim for an object: a tree, a shrub, a clump of flowers, or the fountain over there,” I suggested. “Walk slowly, with attention on the sole of your feet. Inhale as you lift a foot, exhale as you place it. Take time. When you reach the object, stand still for a while and look at what’s before you.
See what is there! Standing upright, inspect and take in as much information as possible: shapes, colours, spaces in between, moisture, things that move and those that seem solid. All the while, notice your breath, in-breath and out-breath, again and again. Become aware — be mindful — of whatever arises inside and in front of you. After a little while, bow and turn to walk towards the next object.”
Once the bell announced the end of the exercise, we gathered on a bench and chairs barely dry from the first rain in weeks. “What did you see?” I invited. The leaves of the tree rustled in the wind above me, it felt as if a wave of energy washed over me, said one.
I walked towards the flower bed, the scent of lavender drawing me there. I stood — couldn’t help to pinch a blossom and look at it very closely. Tiny bugs were crawling in and out of the little flowers, offered another.
I saw a raindrop suspended from the branch of the elm tree, someone said, I saw leaves and the sky magnified upside down, something to do with optics. I felt like a child making a discovery.
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.
~Japanese Zen master Dogen Zenji (1200-1253)
Further reading on walking and meditating: Coleman, M. (2006). Awake in the wild: mindfulness in nature as a path to self-discovery. New World Library. image: http://www.estatevaults.com.