I woke this morning and went out for a cigarette, as is my habit.
Lately, smoking to me is a moment of absolute privacy. My fiancee hates smoke and insists the children should not be near me while I do so. This provides me time that is mine and mine alone. A moment when I am rejected by the social unit I spend all of my time in, and given that most of my friends are non-smokers, this is carried to wherever I am.
This morning, this illusion of absolute privacy and possession of that time was shattered.
As I smoked and used the quiet time to reflect on my life and where it may go, I ashed on the cement of the patio without thought. I found my attention drawn to a bug so tiny it would normally escape my notice. Somehow, my ash must have struck the diminutive winged insect and damaged it's body. Whether it was too hot, too heavy, or whatever, the wings of the bug did not work. I watched it struggle and stagger about on the ground, wrestling with other bits of ash, pebbles so small I would not even consider them, and chips of wood. I was overcome with a feeling of pity for this small creature in this large world, and considered doing something to help it.
Perhaps I could heal it somehow? Maybe I could move it to a bush. Is the bush it's home and food? What does it eat? What do I know about this bug that I could actually make any effective decisions to improve its lot? Maybe I should just kill it and end it's misery?
Not finding any answers, I decided to merely bear witness. I followed it around the patio, and realized that it would die exposed to the world as it was without any flight. I watched it find shelter underneath the arc of a bicycle tire and felt a flash of hope. Protected from it's environment, here it could heal whatever ailed it and continue it's small life.
As I thought this, I watched it suddenly lift from the ground an inch on a vertical plane, its body rotating as it did so. I realized suddenly that a spider had lowered a thread and wrapped it deftly in it and was lifting it up. I resisted the urge to intervene and saw a spider even tinier then it shimmy down the thread and bite it.
The unidentified winged insect tinier then the cuticle of my pinky nail died in moments.
It didnt come to me in an obvious fashion, in the way I prefer it. It wasnt an avalanche or explosion, my head didnt ring and the world didnt spin, but the soft breath of glorious epiphany stole mine regardless.
The life and death of things follow a pattern, and my thought that I could preserve or end the creature was typical of human arrogance. If I saved it or killed it, I would not be acting of my own accord, freeing it from the vagaries of fortune. I would merely be an agent of the organizing principle surrounding the life and death of things, as my initial act of ashing demonstrated.
We are part of that cycle, and our every thought and action upholds it and contributes to it. We are tools for the natural flow of the universe. A fish may as well think itself free from the ocean when it enters a submerged cave.
I realize that there is no moment of privacy for me, and there is no time that is my time. Every moment of my life, I am a cog in the great clockwork of the infinite. I need not ever worry about stepping or straying from a path, because my will is not my own.
There is no control. There is no freedom. There is only surrender to what has always been true, independent of my awareness and acceptance.
There will be no great triumph over the course of my life for me, no moment where I am ascended and liberated from the mundane. It is not mine to choose, only to be aware of, because it is not through an act of my will that I will live or die.
Whether I like it or not, I will be an agent of the principles that organize life and experience, a witless pawn playing his part. By simply existing I am participating.
Enlightenment comes in surrender and acceptance, and the liberation is from dissatisfaction and desire to control anything or make it other then what it is.