Lily and I have been making flyers and organizing our September 22nd Dance of Universal Peace in East Sound, Orcas Island. Our voyage has a direction beside that which the winds take us.
From the vantage point of the Doctor’s Office coffee shop (it was an actual doctor’s office), I watch all manner of craft and float planes enter and depart Friday Harbor. Old Hand lies anchored in 9 fathoms off the Oceanographic laboratories on the north east shore.
We are leaving later today for either Spencer Spit or Fisherman’s Bay on the north end of Lopez Island before our event. it’s not really our event, but part of a tradition-a spiritual community that exists all over the world.
Here’s Lily leading a song/dance she wrote based on the Amitabha meditation. I may have gotten a little to free with the effects, but you can maybe get the jist of it.
A few years ago I was engaged in the Buddhist practice of Amitabha visualization. Amitabha is the western Buddha of infinite light. It is taught that if we practice his mantra and visualize Amitabha’s Pureland as made up of insubstantial, jewels of luminous light, we can visit his peaceful Pureland in our dreams. This is of immense benefit for readying us for a peaceful death and helps us navigate the dangerous pathways of the bardo.
It is also said that, ultimately, this very samsaric realm we inhabit is no different from the blessed Pureland.
Once, as I slept in my studio on a Spring night, I dreamed I flew over a desert landscape chanting the Tibetan version of Amitabha’s mantra: Om ami dewa hri. I flew over a bombed out village and saw scenes of bloody violence and suffering. I thought: Strange, themantra doesn’t seem to be working. This is no blessed pure land but a vision of pure hell. I chanted the mantra with more intensity: Om ami dewa hri, om amidewa hri. But all I saw was hellish torment and fighting. All I heard was the sound of screams, gunfire and explosions. Finally, the dream faded and I woke in my studio where all was peaceful and quiet. The only sound was the singing of birds. I lifted myself to see, outside the window, the cherry tree sending forth radiant blossoms in a lovely vision of luminous, rainbow colored jewels of light.
George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).