Meditation this morning in our garden in Montreuil. Sitting in a red metal chair facing explosive flourishing of what we call « nature » – innumerable flowers in bloom whose names I don’t know, lush grasses, short shrubs and ferns, delicate young saplings, stronger older trees, some towering, others smaller yet grandly standing tall – fig, pine, apple, fir…

Surprised, and touched, by a young bamboo shoot (in the picture above) that seems to have shot up out of nowhere overnight amid yellow blossoms and rose bushes. What an expression of fullness! Moved almost to tears by an Italian laurel plant just beside me, its pale yellow flowers newly opened and so full of life. I suddenly feel that there is not « nature » and « me, » realize that like the abundant plants and singing birds and hot, brilliant sun, like the drifting clouds and polluted Parisian air, I am just another part of the whole that we deluded humans call « nature, » believing that we are separate from it. All is so clearly interconnected. All is so clearly beyond the grasp of my thinking mind. All is so clearly mystery and love. Sadness arises: What are we doing to the planet?

The words of the Zen master Robert Aitken come to mind (actually these words have been inspiring me for weeks): « Our task [as Zen practitioners] is not to clear up the mystery but to make the mystery clear. »

Later, during a Skype interview with a student, my alarm rings at 12h noon. We stop talking and sit together, hundreds of miles apart, for a minute of silence. The mystery then becomes clear again.

As I write this, I have all of you in mind and heart. We are 51 participants in this retreat, in at least 10 countries, on 3 continents. I’m grateful for the presence of each one of you as we delve into this mystery of our lives together. Please share with us some words about your day.