The Word Press Daily Post Photo Challenge states: “As we sift through fleeting status updates, toss yet another egg carton in the recycling bin, and watch as seasons change around the world, it can seem like life is made of constant change.”
Well, isn’t it?
And maybe, to step outside of constant change is to see constant continuation. Thich Nhat Hahn doesn’t celebrate his birthday, he calls it a “continuation day”.
If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. To be born means that something which did not exist comes into existence. But the day we are “born” is not our beginning. It is a day of continuation. But that should not make us less happy when we celebrate our “Happy Continuation Day.” Since we are never born, how can we cease to be? This is what the Heart Sutra reveals to us. When we have tangible experience of non-birth and non-death, we know ourselves beyond duality. The meditation on “no separate self” is one way to pass through the gate of birth and death. Your hand proves that you have never been born and you will never die. The thread of life has never been interrupted from time without beginning until now. Previous generations, all the way back to single cell beings, are present in your hand at this moment. You can observe and experience this. Your hand is always available as a subject for meditation.
–Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
Continuation and endurance are kindred concepts. It’s not about effort, it’s about the flow of life: life to life.
And now, for my illustration. Sequoia sempervirens, the coastal redwood. Amongst the oldest living things on earth, the species includes the tallest living trees on the planet. This particular tree is located in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, about 25 miles from the house I lived in as a high school student, where my brother lives now. It’s nicknamed The Grandfather.
If these trees continue to exist in 50 years, they may exist for a thousand. If they’re gone in 10 years, they’ll be gone forever. Redwoods reproduce by seed cone and asexually through lignotubers, called ‘burls’. Redwood burls are beautiful swirls of richly colored wood when they are sliced open. Unfortunately, poachers take these burls for decorative furniture and cut off the reproductive possibilities. Here’s an article describing how 2 men were arrested and charged for poaching redwood burls in a National Park.
What will endure for the next generation? How do I choose my path, living in continuation and protecting continuation in all life on our interconnected planet?
© 2014, essay and photograph, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved