The view rolls away from my house like a pine green double-knot, hand-woven runner. It slides over the mountain sides, into valleys, over hillocks. Its green edge frays at the sea. All around, crickets chirp deliriously, and the forest throbs with their mantra. Beyond that is the tap tap tap of a woodpecker as it digs into the great pine over-head. A light breeze pushes up the land. It plays with the marigolds and the basil turning their leaves like windmills. I inhale. It’s pine sap that I smell.
I pull on a rope. The hammock swings to and fro over my small natural pool. I close my eyes. The thoughts uncoil in the space.
Heaven. This is heaven. I have everything I could ever want. All many people want.This is heaven on Earth, and I created it. With my mind. With my hands. With my heart and soul. With my land. And with a little help from something else I really don’t understand, something I will perhaps erroneously term the light of inspired action.
Humankind is so powerful. We have the power within us to create almost anything: Heaven, hell, mediocrity, beauty, castles, mud palaces, concrete boxes, slums. We are wellsprings of such infinite potential, oceans of wonder and mystery. How is it that we have allowed ourselves to be taken in by the superficial and the addictive, the gross and the empty, the negative and the ugly? And if we are really this powerful, how is it so many humans are not creating what they want? Are they flawed? Are they unlucky? Are they simply the bottom of the positive thinking class?
Positive thinking evangelists will have us believe that to create anything we want, all we have to do is imagine it, affirm it, believe it. And to a certain extent it's true. But in my personal experience, it's not enough. And I rate my personal experience highly, because it’s the only window to reality I have. Yes, I’ve seen that our perception of the world transforms it. And I can attest that a positive, can-do attitude goes a long way to creating amazing things. But it’s only half of the story. What’s the other half?
There is a skew in worldview particularly prevalent in the West that we are in control. This control 'freakism' has pervaded all manner of new age dogmas, despite their protests against it. In the philosophy of positive thinking, we have ideas and then ‘imprint’ them on reality – as if reality were
a lifeless object with nothing better to do than entertain our arrogance. It’s another case of subject object relations, and it’s based on a faulty premise, the premise being our subjective superiority. But life isn’t a territory to be conquered. It’s a dance. And as any tango teacher will tell you, in that dance, the leader follows, while the follower leads.
This is perhaps the most fascinating lesson my time on this land has taught me. It isn’t creation, it’s co-creation. My imagination whirrs. Ideas bloom. I feel excited and passionate. I want to build something; a nice gazebo to sit in, for example. I believe I can. But before I so much as open the tool shed, I’ve learned the most crucial step in the process. I wait. I walk about the land. I listen.
We are so busy speaking and trying to etch our plans and ideas on the world at large, we have forgotten to listen. We have forgotten that life and the Earth and other people are not objects but subjects in their own right. I listen while I’m watering the vegetables. I listen when I walk aimlessly around my property. I listen in the morning and as the sun goes down. I listen at night. One of the most valuable aspects of meditation is the creation of a space in which to listen. One listens to oneself, to thoughts, to feelings, to the birds, to the wind, to that mysterious ground from where it all seems to come. One becomes sensitive and open. Synchronistic events are also a type of listening. Life is communicating with us, are we hearing her? We may return to the ways of the Shaman with animals, feathers, shells, flowers - all signs marking our path.
I engage in this process of listening throughout anything I do. Is the task easy? Is it flowing? Or am I battling non-stop? Am I getting scratched or hurt or pushed away? Or am I beckoned to come closer? Is life helping or hindering me?
If the light of inspired action is behind an idea, it’s the easiest most fulfilling thing in the world. If it’s not? You may as well stop right now. I have learned, to my own cost and that of others, that while drive and self-belief can indeed create impressive structures, they are generally miserable and unrewarding. These are the ideologies of utopia that wreck the heaven of now. They are what most wars are being fought over, internal and external.
Want to create paradise here on Earth? Yes, think positively. If you don’t believe it’s even possible, it’s never going to happen. Imagine it. Feel it. Have faith in it. This is crucial to manifesting anything.
And then press pause. Look around. And sense whether the hand of reality is coming to meet you. Because that hand is your link to the universe, and without it you’re nothing but a random blip stabbing vaguely in the direction of future pleasure. With it you’re a God or Goddess forging paradise right here and now.
Atulya K Bingham
Sick of the screen?
You can now get a beautiful, illustrated paperback edition of Mud Mountain.
"Beautifully written and inspiring." The Owner Builder Magazine.
Want to follow my journey?