It’s August in British Columbia. This means forest fires.
It’s 2018. This means a province wide state of emergency. Again.
But unlike previous years when the flames stayed on the mainland, this year they have licked Vancouver Island too. Getting much closer to the valley I call home. The weather reports consistently state visibility readings as 2 miles in smoke. It’s quiet outside; sound dampened by the thick layer above us. People are staying indoors.
The headlines say our valley has one of the worst air quality reports on the planet right now.
I am grateful I have healthy lungs.
It’s smoky and hazy. Stagnant and still. Some say oppressive and eerie. I heard one person say apocalyptic. For many, fear has settled with the smoke. I watch the sun and the moon change their colours from vibrant orange to flaming red. The diffused smoke altering their appearance and blocking their light. Eerie perhaps, but I see beauty; a painter’s paradise in the midst of chaos and change. I feel the beauty and my heart opens to love and hope during this fiery transformation.
So why do I post this here?
Five (ish) years ago I was sitting on the floor at teachers’ training. Yuan Tze was talking about the different lenses we use to view life. It was blatantly obvious to me that I had spent a lifetime wearing the lens of safety. It was so thick I even had a university degree in it. For me in that moment, this was a humorous external reflection of my internal world. I decided then that I’d like to understand the world through a different lens.
I chose the lens of beauty.
I actively looked for beauty. Eventually it became what I saw first. I watched the world around me reflect these subtle changes. Along the way, I also learned about the relationship between fear and courage. My safety degree had been sitting on a mountain of fears. Some buried so deep that the memories stayed underground for 35 years. Terror seemed a more apt description. I moved through that fear of fear. Is fear gone? No. It’s still here to keep me safe from lions and forest fires and I will probably spend some time with the fear of pain next. But while I do that, I’ll have beauty sitting with me. I know it’s here now. It’s not a cognitive or external idea. I feel it spilling from my body; from my heart.
I am grateful for twice a day Tong Yuan practice.
This beauty, this 5 Xin, has been like the soft, gentle, sturdy embrace of a wise elder. The loving arms that hold a small child; the whispers of reassurance as the fear shudders through. The strong arms providing the courage a child has not yet had the life experience to develop. This wise elder knows about the relationship between courage and fear.
I think she also knows the relationship between courage and beauty; especially when it seems obscured by smoke.
Note to Reader
Some of the terms I use in this article come from the theories and practices of Ren Xue. I have used them when they are names or convey more meaning than a quick one word English translation.
Here is a brief description to provide some clarity for you:
Yuan Tze: the founder of Ren Xue
Tong Yuan: a still Yuan Qigong practice to grow heart consciousness. Its primary focus is on the 5 Xin.
Xin: the energetic heart
5 Xin: the key heart qualities of trust, openness, love, gratitude, and Gongjing (True Respect)