Life progresses through cycles within cycles of creation and dissolution. Layers of meaning overlap our sense of place and time. Right now, at Sunrise Ranch, the cycle of explosive summertime activity is transforming with unknown mysterious offerings of change. We are experiencing the fruition of the garden and the impending sleep of the plants. We are turning the wheel of dharma to the fall season.
The word dharma comes from the Sanskrit language and itself has layers of meaning. It means the smallest moment of experience and it also means the Truth of Being. When capitalized, it represents the spoken and written words of spiritual philosophy. The Truth celebrates the reality that each person has the means to wake up from the illusion of living as ONLY a limited, flawed being—that we can wake to the heart understanding of the absolute inseparable greater self which hosts our physical universe. Truth by any other name smells as sweet.
As we gain perspective on our experiences, it is easier to see the logical patterns that comprise larger cycles of time such as the seasons, but we often miss the smaller cycles of our day. We might overlook the circadian rhythms and bio-rhythms of morning, afternoon, and evening that surprise us as our energy rises and falls. We may see the cycle of a job (beginning/middle/end) or of a relationship (courting/ understanding/loving) but miss the cycle that takes place when we sit down with a troubled friend and go through the patterns of reflection, feeling, thought and word that occur as that conversation rises and falls. I find that my life is so much richer when I am involved in appreciating the large and the smaller cycles simultaneously.
Our cycles often move through a familiar evolution—we experience something new, it jostles our heart, we come to understand it at some level and act on it either in thought, word, or deed and then it changes/dissolves into the next cycle. If we are aware of how these periods are interacting we might find time to celebrate the completion of the cycle before moving into the mystery and wonderful potential of the next grand experiment. Often, sadly, we are involved in so many cycles overlapping that by the time we notice one is completing, we are in steps 1 through 3 of two or three more cycles, more wheels of dharma rolling us down the highway of our life.
I was thinking on this subject the other day. I had a moment to sit and breathe and appreciate the many overlapping layers of my life process as it was blooming like the seed designs of a giant sunflower—a complicated Fibonacci spiral. The Fibonacci spiral is an ancient sacred geometry also known as the golden ratio and it informed centuries of thinkers and alchemist trying to decipher the larger truths in smaller cycles. All of our moments of inspiration, feeling, thought, word and deed seem strung together like such a seed necklace, seemingly separate yet connected in a vital sense. When I was pondering this truth the world reminded me of my place in it with heralds of bird song, the waft of the breeze, and the ticking of mortal time with my heartbeat.
It led to this poem, Cycles.
Life starts from itself, burgeoned from the infinitely small and dense.
In spring the shoot’s fleshy receptors fly upwards reaching
And returning from heaven
Within the air sounds of songbirds, the swagger of lusty instinct and a spring shower of immortality
Lilting over the translucent membranes of young leaves, the trill and seductive arpeggio of lark and robin warm the blood
The strut and furtive tail wags vibrate in the air, pheromones, if seen would be blindingly bright.
It is as if time could not wait to burst into the present.
By summer we have tasted our calf love, upgraded our nests
The satiated songs of the blackbird and nervous warnings of chickadee echo against warm tree trunks
Insects distract us with troublesome details
And the hours of the day are dried in the sun
Life has a long past now and we gladly waste our moments.
Along with a shorter day comes the irritations of loss
Now our young loves have forgotten the mystery
And the Jay’s and Magpies share squabbles in brittle foliage
We are taking life so seriously, as our plans change—the feasts growing thin
All the wasted time seems precious as it drains the green out of the leaves.
Life turns its corner with the mournful and critical crow as it flees the winds
Sinking deeply into a soil that will soon frost, we might wish to repent, but time
Is generous and allows the soft and rich decay.
All along we could have soared above the fray, with the eye of a raptor
The invitation holds for us in the gentle orange sun glancing off the forest canopy
It is a gift
This gentle rolling landscape revealing its treasures, rejoicing in its skeleton.
We are the repository of the green protected by the gray
A message from the pre-verbal that willingly exposes the meaning of time
The deeper the drop of our dense wave
Into the earth and up to the darkness embracing the stars.
The sooner we can trigger the next
Of immeasurable Being.
May you have the time to listen to the soundtrack of your cycles and continue to turn that wheel of Dharma towards a deeper and more fulfilling truth.
Atom Terpening has over 30 years of experience as a software and database developer and project manager in the healthcare and non-profit, association-management industries. Most recently he worked as the Corporate Information Officer of a company, CMI, that manages membership and events for non-profit health care associations. Atom is a proud father of two grown children and a new granddaughter named Ziggy, and he has spent most of his adult life developing a practice of awakened consciousness through mindfulness, heartfulness and appreciation for the miracle of life.