“This dew-like life will fade away”—Dogen
“Truly, to be whole is to return”—Daodejing
The only truth that exists is found deep in the forest,
When the rush of the stream, swollen with spring rain,
Drowns out the noise of the mind and the human world beyond.
The proud, defiant self melts into oblivion,
In the fires of the morning sun,
When dawn breaks over the mountains in the distance
And bathes the forest in radiant light.
A stillness rises like mist among the ancient trees,
Soft beds of moss like an ocean of emerald green,
The thick, musty odor of decaying leaves.
Wandering among rotten tree trunks,
And vast expanses of red and white mushrooms,
I step within the threshold,
The world beyond recedes and fades,
I lose myself and join the spirit of the forest.
Obliterated, the fragments of my consciousness
Merge and mingle with the rough bark,
The rich, pungent humus,
The gently swaying ferns.
Forgotten thoughts, whispers, secrets
Flow through the veins of the forest
And I find the ancient home of my soul in the roots below.
And beneath the lonesome pines I find the shadow of my soul,
The shadow that walks beside me.
In that peace, there is a solidifying, a coming together
Of a galaxy of warring factions, paradoxes, and contradictions.
The soul united within itself, disparate pieces growing together,
A psyche restored.
For the breath of humanity is not a solitary thing,
It is co-created among the breath of the world.
Spirits come and go within us,
As bits of our soul dissipate and radiate outward,
So to do we gather spirits within ourselves,
And we become a myriad.
For in the forest we know that soul is a force,
A force that does not originate within the self,
The soul is constituted broadly, throughout existence.
The spirit within is not a free thing, unconditioned.
No, my spirit is shaped by the spirit of things.
The soul of the world becomes embodied in us.
We must accept that our unique divinity has been formed
By the agency and intention of vast arbitrary power and forces.
We do not know who we are,
“Being is a field of force.”
The spirits, gods, and demons of the primordial world,
Having spent aeons shaping and guiding us,
Now reside within us.
What we call the soul of the self is no more
Than the accumulation of millions of years worth
Of psychic entities that have co-mingled in us.
In the forest, the lost pieces of ourselves
Are reunited with those spirits that stayed behind,
Those who retained their individuality and still stalk
Through the trees in the grim moonlight.
If there are any gods left for us to invoke,
They are found among the forests and groves.
Banished from everyday life, their hands can no longer be felt upon our lives
And our souls, which were never separate from the gods,
Grow lonely, stagnant, and foul.
Whatever possibility remains for succor for this poor, wounded spirit of humanity,
Is found is those haunted woods.
I cross the boundary of stone,
I integrate and coalesce once again.
Enshrined in the wholeness of my soul,
I return to the world.