For most of us, the opportunity to spend time in the natural world is rare and fleeting. If we are fortunate, we may enjoy regular walks in the park or by the sea. We may get out of town on the occasional weekend. The very lucky get to go on Mindful Safari to Africa!
But what if we were to live in the wild the whole time? Most of us would miss our creature comforts far too much to even contemplate such an existence. But it is fascinating to encounter the minds of people who do.
A friend who visited Mongolia last year told me an intriguing tale. Mongolia is a very large, land-locked country with just 3 million inhabitants, many of whom still live very close to nature. My friend went on a pony trek with a group of Mongolians. A party of 16 in total, they included several rugged Europeans, including him.
Late one afternoon, deciding it was time to find a place to settle, one of the Mongolians remembered a farm he’d visited in the past where they might find some shelter. The group headed in that direction, eventually coming to a few wooden buildings in the middle of nowhere.
My friend joined the leader of the trek who walked towards the buildings to ask permission to stay. What he found, after being shown into the modest family home astonished him: there was an abundance of freshly made dumplings on the table and a large pot of stew on the fire. Not only were the trekkers welcome to stay the night, the woman of the house had made them dinner.
But how had she known to expect them?
The woman shrugged modestly when asked. On waking up that morning, she said, she had envisaged a group of 16 people coming over the mountain, including several “big foreign men”. So she had made them a meal.
Living close to nature seems to have the effect of settling the mind. Most of us are so used to living in such an agitated mental snow globe that we can scarcely imagine what it would be like to enjoy sky-like serenity. We believe certain qualities, like clairvoyance, to be “supernatural,” but this view may reflect our own mental handicap more than anything else.
My Tibetan lama, Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden, often used to hold up the palm of his hand, only a pin-prick of light showing between thumb and forefinger, and tell us to ‘abandon having a mind the size of a sesame seed.’
The true nature of our mind really is boundless, radiant and blissful, with qualities beyond what most of us can even conceive. Spending time in the natural world can sometimes provide what we need to awaken to our own, inner nature. And to let go of the burden of false duality which separates the two.
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(Tranquil image of the lodge on the river courtesy of www.goodsafariguide.com).