November 11, 2014: See the Cloud on the Page?

~by Louis Templeman

Awareness that we are a unique part of the unity that is the universe leads us to greater compassion for ourselves and for all beings.

~Sister Stanislaus Kennedy

MS Hahn’s baby boy grew up to become a monk and philosopher who wisely taught us to see a cloud floating in a sheet of paper. After I became aware of his startling ideas I began to see paper differently. As I stared at the book in my hands I tried to see a cloud. It was not that challenging.

It is a challenge to find your shoes in a dark room but it’s a cinch once the light is turned on. In Hahn’s light I saw the cloud that sent the rain that nourished the fields where the pine grew which became paper which became a book. The very book I was reading.

In the pine forest I saw huge machines that harvest the pines, debark them, de-limb them and stack them in transport trucks that haul them to the paper mill. As I thought of the transfer trucks I thought of Ronnie, who, in his trucking career carried these huge trunks of pines for the pulp mill. I thought of the tobacco company that made the chew that usually bulged in his cheek. He wore a uniform. His truck had brakes, a diesel engine and glass in the windows.

For all these wonderful things there were creative people who were involved in creation and design. There were skilled craftsmen who made comfortable, rugged clothes and precision engine parts. There were tree farmers who patiently watched over acres of trees. Also, somewhere near that cloud were agricultural researchers who advised in keeping the trees disease free, as well as oversight on fertilization and farming techniques.

On a bookstore counter I saw a cash register which held the money I exchanged for the book I just purchased. In that cash register I saw the Earth and the mines that carve through her treasures to gather the metals that make the machinery and computer parts that were used to make the device that is the cash register.

Of course, the writers and printers and publisher of the book must be seen. In the air conditioning that cooled the store I saw the Scottish émigré to North Florida, John Gorrie, who was an early pioneer of air cooling technology.

I could see so many things in everything. All of it. All things. Everything. Everyone. All of this and all of that are all intermeshed in each.

As I see the cloud and all the other things and people on the page I begin to see so little space between me and them, me and you, me and the creation. I do not stand alone. I am not self-sufficient. I am a part of all. And, all is a part of me. In seeing the cloud I see creation and the Creator who humbles us by revealing we are part of all beneath our feet and also exalts us by lifting our eyes to the horizons, into the cloud and sunlit firmament, revealing we are part of that also. I see all that beauty and glory spinning within me when I see the cloud on the page.

If you were a poet you would see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there would be no rain, without rain the trees cannot grow and without trees we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist.

~Thich Nhat Hanh


Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D.

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