Joyously, Drunkenly, Divinely Aware

Chapter 5, Part 4

Perhaps, in the greater scheme of things, the Zero Point Field serves as a majestic signpost in the sky, just as the “Drinking Gourd” did for runaway slaves navigating by night on the Underground Railroad while the North Star pointed their way toward a terminus called freedom. Follow the Drinking Gourd! The spiritual energy given off by the Zero Point Field is our compass reading for true north.

Big Dipper

Follow the Drinking Gourd

The real question is how to tap into this lovely stuff that Thoreau called “generative energy.” I do it the way he did, by guzzling it down, raw and undiluted, in nature.

Like Thoreau, I look for spiritual energy in my own back yard, a kind of poor-man’s Walden Pond, numerous times each day. I just take a break from whatever I’m doing, step out my back door, inhale a few deep meditative breaths, and stand there, floating within the womb of perpetuity. It’s the perfect medicine for melancholy.

As Thoreau wrote, “There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of nature and has his senses still.”

If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the spiritual energy lighting upon my upturned brow as electrified dew. I’m always a wiser man for this encounter with the Zero Point Field and all the archival knowledge I might be drawing from it.

Each summer, my yard forms a grassy, overgrown copse shaded by its own canopy, a rustling Over-Soul of oak, maple, hemlock, shagbark hickory, and white pine trees. From my back door, l can peer through this shady nook into Harkness Pond, my own mini-Walden, 25 strides from the house.

By day, this modest body of water transforms into a tiny sea brimming with jitterbugging minnows, sunning turtles, sperming tadpoles, paddling muskrats, burping bullfrogs, and salmon-tinted newts floating in suspended animation. This miniscule ocean, like any crosshair of navigational coordinates in nature, exists only to be the center of the intelligent universe.

Above the radiated surface of Harkness Pond, iridescent red and blue dragonflies dogfight like World War I biplanes. Often, a flock of cedar waxwings will crowd noisily into the pond-side birch trees and flit across the bright, becalmed waters jerking gnats, flies, and midges out of thin air.

By night, my back yard turns into a choral symphony of wind chimes from ancient Tibetan monasteries, of peepers wheezing eternal messages, of mystic music gravitating from waltzing planets, of crickets plucking at zither strings, of cicadas beating out tone poems with inner tambourines. I often watch my pond and cherish this free program of celestial melody, moon shine, migrating stars, and the fireworks of glow-worms. The grandness and pageantry of the 1812 Overture pale by comparison to my back yard of any mid-summer’s eve.

If you want to exercise your own awareness of spiritual energy, go outside. Suck in the breezes. Wonder at the light. Wallow in the grasses. Gulp the air. Press the mulching leaves and rich soil to your nose. Marvel at the birdsong. Listen to the bullfrogs. Taste what’s on the wind. Laugh out loud. Gobble down the spiritual feeling. Reel boozily under the influence of sheer ecstasy!

“The aim of life is to live,” observed novelist Henry Miller, “and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, divinely aware.”

That’s why, many times each day, I halt whatever I’m doing to enjoy a moment of mind-boggling mindfulness. My ecstasy has the added benefit of making my neighbors suspect I’m a little touched. It’s the same kind of suspicion suffered, I gather, by Thoreau’s own passing neighbors when they noticed that “irresponsible idler” enjoying much the same tomfoolery at Walden Pond 165 years ago.

As Thoreau had already noted way back when, modern society works quite hard at turning reality on its head. “The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated,” wrote Thoreau in a section of Walden entitled “Higher Laws.” “We soon forget them. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little stardust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”

Such a fine madness, indeed, practiced by such a fine madman.

Natural mindfulness of nature and its seething spiritual energy is a wonder that transcends seasons. Quite early one morning during February, I spotted a pretty red fox. It was crossing the frozen, snow-packed Harkness Pond, back-dropped across the way by skeletal birches and the bare limbs of fountainy willow trees.

Red Fox

The red fox made me think about the interconnectedness of all things (photograph by Joel Sartore)

Unaware of being observed, the fox sat on the ice, using its shrubby tail as a meditation rug. It scratched under its chin in that dainty way foxes do. Then it pranced across the rest of the ice, leaving two perfectly coordinated lines of paw prints in the snow. That’s because red foxes “direct register,” meaning they plant their rear paws exactly into the prints just made by their front paws.

Glistening in the sun, this characteristic pattern of paw prints reminded me somehow of Halley’s Comet leaving a feathery bright tail behind it.

Just before the fox reached the northern edge of my pond, a noisy flock of crows spotted it and swooped down from the buttermilk-colored sky to mob the little canine with crow-barks and cat-calls. The fox took a quick glance over one shoulder at the dive-bombing birds and scampered into the shallow ravine carved out by Harkness Brook, where, a few months henceforth, that lovely wood duck couple would move in to nest. From that point, I could follow the fox’s escape only by the movement of the shadowy boo-birds intent on giving it the raspberries.

This scene made me think about the interconnectedness of all living things, linked by a complex weave of natural laws, instinctual messages, chemical signals from their DNA, intuitive perceptions, shivering energies, paranormal communications, and age-old conditioning.

How could the oneness of the universe escape anyone paying attention?

As mentioned earlier in my journal, Buddhists have a lovely term for such synchronicity: “interdependent origination.” To them, this, our connectivity, is the natural fallout from millennia of karma.

In the next section of Back to Walden, which is the last in this chapter on spiritual energy, I’ll show you how you can create your own web of interdependent origination every time you go for a walk. It’s every bit as easy as falling off a log, but not nearly so painful.