Tuesday, February 05, 2013

How To Talk To A Stone

Saturday was a beautiful day to go hiking so I put my camera in my backpack and headed to the Petroglyph National Monument not far from my house. The dramatic volcanic landscape offers an abundance of textures for the lens to capture.

Side note: Buddhists often compare the quality of consciousness with texture. For example, the smooth mind of the Bodhisattva is compared to the finest silk. What is the quality of consciousness that I will find among the rough volcanic rock?

I also placed in my backpack a book that I am studying. It is titled "Three Texts On Consciousness Only" by Vasubandhu, an Indian Buddhist scholar monk of the fourth century. "Consciousness Only" is a Buddhist school of philosophical thought. It teaches a method to gain enlightenment, freedom and peace. 
Walking in this volcanic landscape I contemplate what it must be like to realize the truth of this teaching. 

Can I be present in the moment without being fooled by my own projections of what I believe to be objectively real and external?

Is the volcanic rock objectively real? Is it as real as my self? Does the stone have a consciousness? If so, does it have a voice that can be heard? 

The natural smoothness of this particular stone seems to hide its true nature. It remains silent to me. Is that because it desires not to interact with me? Or do I choose to ignore the intelligence of this stone and not listen to it? 

I move on down the trail. I meet a different rock that seems more friendly. I sense that this rock does have a story to tell me, so I stop, observe and listen. The stone asks that I slow down my thoughts and listen more closely. I get a glimpse of the stone's deep intelligence. 

I practice patience and slow my thoughts down using meditation on my breath. Now I clearly hear the stone sing a song of its long journey. The song reveals how it came to this place to be here with me. 

As I listen, the stone's story connects me to the warm heart of the Earth, the radiance of the Sun, the openness of the Sky, the strength of the Waters and the vibrant activity of all living creatures. The song refreshes and energizes me.

Oh look, there are chipmunks playing among the stones.

Ancient humans long ago have responded to the stone's song in the unique way that humans know how; with tools and symbols. 

Even though I vibrate at a different frequency than the stone, I realize that the stone is not different than my self. The stone and I are interdependent, we are not separate entities. We travel a common path. 

A bird walks quickly across the stone. The stone travels slowly, but no less deliberately.

The trail of the bird becomes a part of a shared story between human and stone.

The human carving the stone is sometimes aware that the stone is listening to the human. What a great gift to be able to talk to a stone. 

Or is this carving a deception? Are we really just talking to our self? Is the song of the stone only imagined? 

The act of carving symbols into the stone itself becomes symbolic of the fact that human nature is quite special. 

The tools that humans make and wield, our control over animals and plants, and our ability to create symbols all mark humans as unique, separate and superior to this simple stone. 

Instead of talking with stones humans have turned their attention to the symbols they have carved onto the stone. The symbols themselves have become a source of fascination. Are not the symbols just as real as stone? 

Perhaps the concepts that cross the human mind are even more real than the symbols that cross the stone. 

Humans act as if their ability to conceptualize is more precious than even the rarest stone. 

No longer does the song of the stone bring humans joy. The stones fall silent.

The stone has become an object separate from the human observer. It exists externally as the representation of a class of mineral resulting from a series of physical processes over time. Humans have replaced the song of the stone with the story that science has written.  

Humans live, breathe, reproduce, think and create. We mine stones for their raw materials.

Silicon is the most plentiful element on earth it is found in sand. When wind and water carve patterns in stone they create sand.

Silicon is used to create computer chips. Humans create crucibles as hot as a volcano to melt silicon into pure ingots. The ingots are sliced thin into silicon wafers. Humans etch (carve) extremely small patterns onto the silicon wafers to create silicon chips. The small patterns of lines and rectangles are carved into the silicon chip using light and chemicals. The silicon chips become the brains of computers, communication devices and cell phones.

Humans imbed silicon computer chips into just about everything now. Humans call this adding intelligence to a device. In reality, humans have added tiny stones they have carved with light and chemicals to control the device.

Why is it that humans believe stones are dead and dumb, but when humans add a tiny silicon chip to something, then we call it smart?

Phones were invented so humans could talk with other humans. Phones were dumb devices. Lately, humans have added silicon chips to phones and they are now called smart phones.

Humans no longer have the patience to talk to stones. Instead humans love to talk and text on their cell phones. 

The stone still exists. It is just no longer alive to us. Humans define what is dead and what is alive and stones have been deemed rightfully dead.

The stone fits into a conceptual box that humans use to segregate and categorize all dead things. Humans believe that they are completely separate entities from the stone.

Humans conceptualize, and with symbols, create complex tools. The computer is one of the most complex tools. The computer is much better at recording thoughts than stone carvings.

The power of the human mind, mathematics, scientific formulas and computers is very great. Humans have designed an awesome array of tools to extract raw materials from the earth and create machines, cars, computers, smart phones and cities.

Tools are dead things, but some humans believe that one day the computer will evolve into a living, conscious entitty. If humans can carve the right pattern into a small enough space on a silicon chip, they believe the silicon will gain consciousness.

Although humans believe that stones are dead and do not have intelligence, some stones are ground, refined and melted to make computer chips. Perhaps humans of the future can breathe life into these computer chips and stones will attain sentience. Then humans can talk to stones at the frequency of vibration they are comfortable with.

When I meet other humans in the city, sometimes they ask me what I do for a living. I talk, I conceptualize and I write symbols. I record my thoughts on computers and tablets made from silicon chips.

Sometimes I slow my thoughts down, I practice patience, I vibrate at a higher frequency and then I am able to talk with stones.

Life in the city can be stressful. Every now and then I take a trip outside of the city to be with nature. I find that it is a good stress reliever to re-connect with nature. 

I recently took a trip to the Petroglyph National Monument to see how primitive people carved records of their thoughts on stones.

"Consciousness Only" is a Buddhist school of philosophical thought. It teaches a method to gain enlightenment, freedom and peace.

Three Texts On Consciousness Only was written by Vasubandhu, an Indian Buddhist scholar monk of the fourth century. These texts propound the idea that all things believed by the ordinary person to be objective realities outside mind are in truth mere mental constructs. These teachings include the doctrine of emptiness. The texts explain how the cognition of things becomes distorted in humans through the process of conceptualization, false imagination, and discrimination. The texts provide instruction on how to restore the mind to its innate purity and clarity, once more capable of seeing things as they truly are, undistorted by delusion and error.

With Buddhist teachings I have learned how to talk with stones.

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