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Martin LeFevre: The Earth Is a Mirror

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

The Earth Is a Mirror

It’s a day that will reach nearly 45 degrees Celsius. There is a feeling, while walking in the late morning through the brown grass in the canyon beyond town, which is at once exhilarating and enervating. One cannot help but appreciate the essential things of life—water, greenery, and protection from the sun’s relentless rays.

Dark volcanic cliffs loom high above, and buzzards circle on the updrafts. Woodpeckers dart in and out of the plentiful valley oaks that dot the hillsides. The hour-long hike is marked by stupendous views of two gorges on the return trail high above the creek. A hundred meters straight down and hundreds of meters out, one of the sheer-sided gorges fans out, invitingly lined with beech trees and deep pools. The other chasm is a wild stretch of huge rocks--pillow lava--the leavings of Lassen Volcanic Peak during one of its ancient eruptions.

Completing the loop, I waste no time clambering down the rocky path, replacing hiking boots with water sandals, and easing myself into a placid stretch of the stream. The delight is beyond pleasure, a sensory, sensual immersion in the cool creek. Though the water is only waste deep, no Olympic pool could afford a better swim.

After a sandwich while sitting on white rocks under a hot sun, I sit in the shade for an hour and watch the movement of life outside, and the movement of thought within. A family of deer—a buck with a fine set of horns, a healthy-looking doe, and two spotted fawns—quietly and carefully come down to the water. They all drink, while the buck stands watch in the stream. Though I thought the overhanging branches concealed my presence, they spot me, and stare for some minutes, apparently curious.

Just as the past gives way to the present, and the meditative state begins, the largest and brightest swallowtail butterfly I’ve ever seen begins to feed on some fennel an arm’s length away. Its perfectly symmetrical tiger stripes and manta ray tail are astonishingly beautiful, and evoke profound wonder at nature’s boundless beauty, while the palpable fragility of the butterfly elicits a deep feeling of reverence.

In the meditative state, one is no longer chasing after an ever-receding goal, but simply and fully aware in the present moment. But what happens to the brain during authentically meditative states? I feel that the brain cells that contain the storehouse of the past are held in abeyance. Not out of will or effort or any form of discipline, but simply in the act of attending to the movement of thought.

Attention gathers strength through passive observation, and then acts like a laser, burning through the accretions of thought-consciousness. The process does not depend on time; indeed, it can only begin when all habits and patterns of becoming cease. Ending will and effort permit attention to gather intensity in the brain, which in turn ends psychological time.

Normally, experience is mediated by memories, images, and words, but when awareness effortlessly holds the movement of the past in abeyance, there is direct perception of what is, outwardly and inwardly. The brain that automatically throws forth the past (as words, images, associations, and emotional reactions) is essentially quiet. Sensory perception is unfiltered by memory. One is then able to look at anything as it is, and from this quality of observation flows insight.

The key point is that awakening authentically meditative states, and inducing the radical shift in consciousness that is urgently needed for human survival, is completely non-volitional. Nature, which is utterly indifferent to humans, is crucial to the process of transformation because if one knows how to look, and is self-knowing, the earth is a mirror enabling the brain to gather and focus light on the movement of consciousness within one.

There is no such thing as ‘my consciousness;’ there is only human consciousness as it is moving and manifesting in the individual or group at the present time. That entire movement can and must come to an end in one, at least temporarily and regularly.

Humankind appears to be at the limit of tens of thousands of years of accumulative thought-consciousness. Clearly, the earth, and the human spirit, cannot take much more of ‘man.’

As strange as it sounds in this insanely violent world, joy is the very essence of life. When one ends thought, through attending to the entire movement of consciousness within oneself (which includes the emotional storehouse as well), one comes into contact with an infinite wellspring of joy.


- 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: The author welcomes comments.

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