A white crescent moon floated in a barely brightening sky edged with wisps and swirls turning the faintest pink when I went walking this morning, still in the land of my youth. Canada geese and ducks lifted off from a lagoon and flocks of squawking crows flew down from the rounded brown hillsides that are such a contrast to Kauai's jagged green peaks. In the distance, I watched a hawk whirl suddenly and dive, perhaps scoring its first meal of the day.
I've been attending a conference on Science and Nonduality while also visiting some of the Sonoma and Marin County beaches and redwood groves that have always shone as bright spots in my childhood memories. They're more beautiful than I remembered, though my childhood home, now occupied by others, is much smaller than I recalled. I haven't been in this area since 1979, and while some parts have changed beyond recognition, others are much the same, like me.
My head is filled with facts, speculations, musings, theories, contemplations -- some of them my own, some of them voiced by others. We're all trying to make some sense out of the world and our places in it as we wrestle with such weighty concerns as the nature of time, existence, reality, and how to blend -- and for some, whether to blend -- a spiritual practice with activism.
Even in a conference devoted to exploring nonduality, we take sides: some advocate engaging fully in life, while others tend toward passivity, taking the position that nothing we do matters in a universe where free will is an illusion. I'm far more inclined toward the former than the latter, though thinking more in terms of how to effect change without simultaneously beating my head against a brick wall.
It will take a while for me to sift through it all, but a few things I've heard stick with me, earning a special, easy-to-find place in my notebook:
"It takes a lot of courage to live in the world today and not just be a dream head, totally asleep."
"Denial, as in don't even know I am lying."
And my favorite: "It's important for people to know there's another reality besides the official one."