Martin LeFevre: The True Fountain of Youth
The True Fountain of Youth
Whether one calls it meditation, mindfulness, or simply awareness, learning the art of undivided observation is essential to staying inwardly alive and young in this decisive age.
The human brain, for tens and probably hundreds of thousands of years, has fostered an accumulative mind. It evolved to notice and store all the information about its surroundings that it could. From that storehouse, the mind forms useful knowledge and skills to exploit vastly different environments. No other animal on earth does this.
This accumulative tendency does not stop with useful information however. The brain records virtually all experiences, as well as every fear, hurt, and sorrow. That forms the content of individual and collective darkness.
Conditioning is not a given; the mind/brain has the capacity to remain young, pliable, and innocent. But one has to work arduously but playfully at it, or conditioning, and along with it the accumulation of ‘dark matter,’ steadily narrow the mind and limit the capacities of the brain.
A shift in consciousness begins the moment that the accumulative mind/brain begins to empty itself of the unnecessary content of memory. That includes images about oneself and others; automatic associations triggered by words, sounds, or smells; ideas and ideologies about ‘my family,’ ‘my town,’ and ‘my country.’ Most of this psychological content is divisive, and it delimits the potential of the human being, besides causing conflict and war.
For the mind’s habitual accumulative pattern to be reversed, and the emptying of the mind and heart to occur every day, the automatic mechanism of separation as ‘me’ has to end. There is no method to doing that; one simply has to energetically, but passively watch the movement of one’s own thoughts and emotions, and the habit of separating (the root of self-centeredness and selfishness) stops.
The fog had begun to burn off, then returned to wrap around the hills and linger over the fields. As it began to lift again, the mist refracted the light in such a way that every twig and leaf stood out with tremendous vividness.
Despite the earth-hugging blanket, the morning was mild, and there was little dampness or chill. I sat without discomfort under a huge sycamore, peering out over the fields toward the enshrouded canyon and foothills beyond town.
The visibility was about 150 meters. Suddenly for the first time in over a year, I saw a falcon, right at the edge of the fog. It flew 20 meters or so, and then hovered, repeating the pattern a half dozen times until it disappeared into the mist.
The sight of the falcon’s exquisitely graceful flight at the edge of the world produced a reverential feeling in me. Suddenly the things around me, which had appeared flat and colorless, came alive. It felt as though one was watching an ancient earth with the eyes of everyone who had ever felt its mystery.
The little creek, completely dry the last few months, is running full again. For the Native Americans who made this area their home (a member of a local tribe told me this area was a favorite ritual site), the return of the water would have been an important event. When we are deeply aware of the earth, and look with innocent eyes, we glimpse the land through the eyes of all people who lived and loved upon it.
Standing slowly and rising to my full height, the entire panorama lay before me. I was jerked back to 'reality' by the sight of three new ‘monster houses’ going up at the mouth of the canyon. This town has had the sense to preserve the canyon, but it has not seen fit to prevent the view of its most precious asset from becoming the private reserve of a wealthy few.
The welcome sun began to warm my back. It quickly dispelled the fog over the fields and hills. I stood still for a few more minutes, feeling grateful for having been given the capacity and time to receive such a benediction.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.