When I am at Plover Park I see many wonderful things. Sometimes I go home and write about them. Maybe you receive what I wrote in your email. Maybe you think, “Oh! It was so kind of Northside Jim to send me this story. I am so glad I know Northside Jim!” (laughs)
But the Northside Jim who was at Plover Park, the Northside Jim who later wrote about it, and the Northside Jim you hold in your mind when you read the story are not the same thing. They are unrelated. There was an experience of the park and the experiences of the story. You, or I, or Northside Jim, are unnecessary. They are extra.
In the same way, you may think, “Oh, Northside Jim went to the Piping Plover nest today. I wish he went to the coyote den instead.” But this is also a wrong understanding. There is no independent Northside Jim who could have gone to the coyote den instead. And there is no independent coyote den that Northside Jim could have gone to. There was only the Northside Jim at the Piping Plover nest. There is only the story being written or read. That is all. To separate these things and give them substance is incorrect. To believe in them substantially is delusion and the source of all suffering.
This is a difficult thing to understand, but it is absolutely true.
We get very excited about our identities. But the identity we usually speak of is not the same as I mean. In reality, there is only one identity. It is our deepest nature. And we all share it. Everything else is just ephemeral expressions of it. Tiny fragments. We mistakenly latch onto these fragments and attribute to them independent realities which they do not possess. We think, “Oh, I am this form and this color. You are that form and that color.” But this is very superficial. These things are not who we really are. It is impossible to truly appreciate or respect the endless variety of our expressions when we think in this way. And so we suffer.
Like watching the waves. You can get very lost in them. Some are very big and powerful. Some fizzle out before they get started. Some are tight with gorgeous shoulders. Some are very sloppy. But they are all water. They arise from it, and they fall back into it. Over and over. You can point at the wave. You can describe the wave. You can name the wave. But by the time you do, it is already gone. It is just water. It is always water. It is never not-water. So the waves are not so special. But the water is wonderful.
I never got to tell you the story of what happened to Myrtle the Piping Plover last year in Plover Park. It was a very sad story. Maybe I will share it with you soon. If you remember Myrtle, you might remember that she has many sad stories. Before we even knew these stories, we named her “Moaning Myrtle.”
I saw Myrtle yesterday. It was very exciting to see her again. It is very exciting to know she has returned to Plover Park.
But she looked sad to me, so I asked her directly, “Why are you so sad?”
Myrtle just stared at me like I was a monster. It was only later that I realized I should have asked her “Why do you appear sad to me?” Because sadness is never what we are. It is not something we could ever be. And even if we pretend that it is so, that sadness would fade away like all phenomenon and we’d have to start pretending that we were whatever else we were experiencing at the time.
So now if you take a long walk along the inlet at Barnegat Light, you might see Myrtle. If you don’t that is OK. Because Myrtle is still there with you.
You can identify her by the colored bands on her legs. They are black, yellow, red, and light blue. And when you see them you might remember that, while they identify her, they are not her identity.
And then… “Aha!”
You might experience the true magic of the Park. For a moment you might understand that in truth there is no Myrtle, there is no you, there is no Plover Park. There is only the infinite, eternal miracle of every moment of experience. And that’s the moment you will see who Myrtle really is, and will recognize that it is who you are too.
Believing in our independence is an illusion, and it is the hell that terrifies us.
Recognizing our interdependence is what is real, and it is heaven. It is what we are actually seeking in all of our activity.
And now I have to go to Plover Park. I believe I will find Myrtle’s first egg of the season. It will be a wonderful thing. Hopefully I will come home and write about it. Maybe you will receive it in your email and simply say “Oh!”
And hopefully neither of us will add anything extra.
Enjoy this short clip of Myrtle flashing in and out of the world. Her mate Giantsbane is just finishing scraping out a small nest for them with his small legs. He calls to her with excited whistles and then presents it to her with a magnificent and gracious fan of his tail.
If she approves, she should nip at his tail, yet she just hops out and runs off instead.
But there is no problem. Maybe that’s just because she is done with the courtship and ready to lay that egg.
Thank you for reading.