An Unplanned Symphony: the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, Part 1

By Martin Ogle

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth with Martin Ogle, September 11-13, 2015 — click here to learn more

To me, time is one of the most basic and profound ways we humans fit in with—and estrange ourselves from—the rest of Nature. Because of our intense awareness of the future and our ability to abstractly place ourselves there, we are blessed with unique abilities and also uniquely cursed with worry, the inability to enjoy the present, and a host of other related mental burdens. In a story called “The Shear Pin” (from my book In the Eye of the Hawk), I muse about our ability and need to inhabit two worlds of time: the “here and now” of the pre-human (and non-human) world as well as our abstracted, human worlds of past and future.

The following excerpt from “The Shear Pin” finds me stranded in the wide waters of the Bush River and Chesapeake Bay during my duties as an eagle researcher. I am on a small boat whose propeller has struck a hard object and come to a stop. The shear pin—a small, metal piece designed to break when the propeller hits an object that would otherwise damage the engine—has, indeed, broken and I’ve found that there are no spares in the boat. After several minutes of great frustration at being delayed from my work and feeling that my time was being wasted, I begin to settle in to a different time scale. The story concludes in the next blog post (coming soon) with additional thoughts on the rhythms of our living earth.

* The following is excerpted from In the Eye of the Hawk by Martin Ogle, 2012 

The to-and-fro of a boat on the waves and the feeling of wind on the face have the ability to speak if one listens. The slow, constant arc of the sun and the unpredictable billowing of clouds are part of this language. The cries of birds and popping sounds of fish at the surface, and the deep, underlying silence . . . The language speaks in terms of everything and in terms of nothing. It demands to be heard by all of Life, and yet it is all of Life, and has not a care. It is an unplanned symphony. The pastel pinks and oranges, ghost-like forms far off in the mist, tension and release – they all have the ability to speak if one listens. But rarely do we listen. Rarely do we afford ourselves the opportunity to listen. We are in a hurry, caught up in a wave of time.

The wind gusts came and went, producing a rhythm of waves lapping against the hull of the boat. Faster, then slower, faster, then slower. My breathing followed suit and a little later, my mind sensed a connection. The Chesapeake was breathing! Its breath flowed in and out of the river, capturing and controlling my breath, until I thought about it. The treetops, ablaze with sunlight, distracted me, and my breathing returned to the rhythm of the wind. My mind recalled bright, fiery scenes of a mountain forest ablaze with fire, not sunlight. Water lapping against the boat doused the memory. Faster, then slower, faster, then slower—the Chesapeake was breathing! It was alive! Subconsciously, I rejoiced and reveled in the possibility. Time disappeared.

Late Field

The language of the earth is like fresh water to a person lost on the salty sea. A long draw on the canteen is a pleasurable release from the powerful thirst that beckons. But, in time, the water, laden with other elements of our bodies, flows back out and is used by the rest of Life. Likewise, the fast-flowing rivers meet the tide and circulate, eventually becoming one with the ocean. Does the Bay experience pleasure? Does it have a thirst? Earth speaks with timelessness; there is movement and there is change, but in ever-recurring moments. Rivers flow and the clouds form in a never-ending cycle of ever-recurring moments. The self-awareness that produces knowledge of time is a tangent to the circular language of the earth. Timelessness creates an unplanned symphony; self-awareness writes one for orchestra and soloist.

Time had disappeared as had my self-awareness. My body was adrift on a river of water and my mind on a river of unconsciousness flowing directly from the earth itself. It was like being in a dream where you realize the dream, but haven’t identified yourself as the dreamer. I enjoyed Life as I unconsciously joined with it. The sunshine came and went, highlighting the waves, the veins on my hands, and the texture of the floor of the boat. And then from the floor of the boat came a tiny, shiny reflection that burned itself into my mind, and everything changed.

To be continued…

Join Martin Ogle for a weekend retreat — Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, September 11-13, 2015 at SMC — click here to learn more

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Martin-OgleMartin Ogle holds degrees in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State and Virginia Tech. He was Chief Naturalist for the No. Virginia Regional Park Authority 1985 – 2012. He received the 2010 Krupsaw Award for Non-Traditional Teaching – The annual award of the Washington Academy of Sciences for outstanding teaching in informal and non-academic settings. Mr. Ogle promotes a widespread understanding of the Gaia Paradigm through his workshops, programs and writings. He and his family moved to Louisville, CO in 2012 where he started Entrepreneurial Earth, LLC. Mr. Ogle was born and raised much of his younger life in South Korea.

Rediscovering the Place of Nature

By Martin Ogle

Martin Ogle recently lead  the weekend program”Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth” and is one of the main organizers of the Four Seasons Program.

Martin Ogle

Martin Ogle

The weekend retreat, “Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth,” was a delightful experience for me.  It not only provided the opportunity to share ideas of profound interest to me, but also to learn from the perspectives of a marvelous group of participants and from the land and history of Shambhala Mountain Center:  A long-time Shambalian and genetics professor offered insights into the synergy of science and spirituality.  Artists and poets shared moving reflections on the beauty and mystery of the land.  And, the symbolism of the Great Stupa blended seamlessly with our inquiry into how our human lives can be in synchronicity or discord with the rhythms of nature.  I believe these insights – and the retreat’s purpose of re-discovering the pace of Nature in scientific, spiritual and mindful ways – set a marvelous foundation for SMC’s Four Seasons Program.

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Photo by Greg Smith

The name,”Four Seasons Program,” itself, provides powerful links between exploring and celebrating the land of SMC and the ongoing inquiry into the nature of the human mind.  The circle and four directions motif, found in the Buddhist Mandala (and Stupa), is a universal symbol that reflects our human relationship to Earth and the Universe.  The labrynths of the British Isles, the Hopi Earth Mother symbol and Zia Sun Symbol are other examples.  There is a real need for the traditional lessons of basic goodness and mindfulness that SMC has provided for decades.  Couched in the context of our human relationship to our living planet, these lessons take on even greater significance. ​

To learn more about the Four Seasons Program and view some upcoming retreats in this series, please click here.

Deepening Our Connection: SMC’s Land Steward on the Four Seasons Program

By Jared Leveille

Jared Leveille is the Land Steward of Shambhala Mountain Center.  

Jared Leveille

Jared Leveille

2014 is an exciting year for environmentally based programming, and it got off to a great start in March with Martin Ogle‘s program “Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth“.  As a participant of the weekend, I was thrilled to help engage the group in closer observation of the land as we explored storytelling, solo observation points in nature, art, symbology and journaling.  The Gaia Theory- which describes the earth as a single living system depending upon a myriad of contributory relationships, interactions and processes shares an interesting common thread with a major tenet of Buddhist philosophy- interdependence- which surmises that all phenomena, human life included, exists in mutual dependence upon one another.  Among the group were scientists, educators, environmentalists and nature lovers and each one of us had something important and relevant to share over the weekend, which seemed to support the ideas we were delving into.

Exploring Trees and Wildflowers‘, our next program in the Four Seasons series, will be held in June and will be hosted by a trio of teachers who each have a unique and profound connection to the natural world.  This program will have more of a bioregional flair, and we will be examining plant communities that flourish here on our 700 acre property, as well as learning about some of their cultural and historical uses.

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Photo by Greg Smith

In developing a series of environmental programs here at Shambhala Mountain Center, we hope to rekindle a sense of respect and reverence for the earth, as well as renew the delight and freshness we feel when we can deepen our connection and understanding.  When I am out on the land, everything I encounter, whether it be a newly emerged wildflower, a rushing creek, or a dead pine tree, is a teaching.  Before we can help our world, first we all must find ways to develop a more profound relationship, a kinship, with the natural environment.  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche joyfully reminds us – “Look.  This is your world!  You can’t not look.  There is no other world.  This is your world; it is your feast.  You inherited this; you inherited these eyeballs; you inherited this world of color.  Look at the greatness of the whole thing.  Look!  Don’t hesitate – look!  Open your eyes.  Don’t blink, and look, look – look further.”

To learn more about the SMC land, and keep up with what the natural world is up to, follow Jared’s Friends of the Land page on Facebook. 

Mind, Body, Earth: We Are Part of A Living System (AUDIO)

 

Martin Ogle will be leading Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, March 21-23

In this interview, Naturalist Martin Ogle discusses Gaia Theory, which is the idea that Earth and everything on the surface of Earth–water, air, rock, and organisms–together form a living system. The minds and bodies of human beings, he says, are a powerful component.

For more from Martin Olge, check out his two part series on our blog: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth–part 1 and part 2

We hope that you enjoy this interview. If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the interview below.