just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
July, 2022

Meditating on the Same Platform as Bees

Sunday, July 10th, 2022

One of my favorite sitting spot is in the forest looking at the sunrise. I can hear the birds, the frogs, the wind and the occasional passing car on the distant road. It’s a process of just putting attention to the breath, returning to the present moment and letting judgment go. No doubt, emotions arise and the work is to allow them and see how they change, forever letting thoughts go as they arise. Sitting with bees takes great awareness since they seem to be able to sense fear. When I was young we had the state’s largest cottonwood tree in our yard. My father’s high school friend was a beekeeper. One afternoon our yard was filled with bees that had been living in that tree without our awareness. We were terrified looking at the prospect of multiple stings. When the beekeeper and his children arrived they told us to relax and allow the bees to land on us. We thought they were crazy. Soon their bodies were covered with bees without incident. They encouraged us to stand with equanimity and allow the bees to be our friends. We, too, were covered with bees without being stung. This seems to be a primary goal in life, to hold equanimity in the face of perceived danger. Some have used the acronym for fear as “false expectations appearing real“. When we lose our balance, reacting from anger or fear, the action usually has collateral damage. Last night my son‘s dog was filled with anxiety from fireworks. He came to me with pleading eyes and barked loudly directly in my ear. Almost instinctively I slapped his head in anger. I felt awful. My wife looked at me and walked away in disgust. I later apologized for my actions, to my wife and to the dog. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time we lost equanimity and struck out in defense if we could see the collateral damage immediately? Wouldn’t it also be wonderful if we were like the bees knowing that if we stung we would die too? I believe we would come to better know that the damage we caused others we caused ourselves. There’s no doubt that when we take the life of another our lives are deeply impacted. Whether it’s the altered life of a homeowner who shoots an intruder, the policeman who takes a life of a perceived threat, or the combat soldier who is taking the life of a father, their lives are generally changed forever. The collateral damage is often mental distress, suicide, post traumatic stress syndrome, etc., the list goes on and on. Rarely can someone say I’m so glad I killed that person. I often wonder why the Divine didn’t help us in this matter by giving us one shot like the bee gets. If we knew that any time we shot someone taking their life we would lose ours as well the number of killings on this planet would be tremendously reduced. I suspect we would continue to have those with fundamentalist beliefs willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of their ideology. Whether it be kamikaze pilots, suicide bombers, or young children hoping to be initiated into a violent gang, murders and killings and wars would be radically diminished with the exception of the martyr/hero mind. I suspect we would see less violent murder and glorification of war in our media. I’m sure gun ownership would radically diminish. I suspect those who had guns would take it much more seriously training themselves in awareness to responsible use. Could it be the Japanese understood this with their very strict laws on gun ownership? I recently heard deaths from gun violence in that country were less than 10 a year while the United States has 45,000 deaths a year. When we look at our own personal safety being carried away by fear, by false expectations appearing real, it would seem our best barrier is to stay away from media that promotes fear and anger. It would seem our best defense is to practice awareness and equanimity in the presence of bees. And when mosquitoes arrive to suck the blood from the body it would seem best to apply repellent rather than trying to kill them all. This is what the practice of meditation on a beehive is about. I can only hope that if when we use lethal force it comes from love rather than fear. I can only hope that the police officer responding to a violent situation has a primary intention of establishing peace through skillful means rather than exerting lethal force as the parental authority figure entitled to take another life without consequence. When we can look at the mess it’s created from taking another life we may come to see that we are much like the bee that stings and then dies.

Can you imagine our medical system changing more and more to this strategy? Rather than fighting the cancer cells and challenging it to fight back, perhaps it’s better to educate the cancer cell to realize that when the whole body dies it will die too. Similarly, when humanity recognizes that are fighting each other leads us closer to our species annihilation, whether it be the release of a nuclear weapon, continuation of wars, ignoring of climate change and refugees, the dirtying of our water, or the uncontrolled weaponization and willingness to kill each other, our thought of “us versus them” is an illusion obstructing true healing and wholeness.  The bee is me.