Switzerland: Up here on the 7th floor of the building, windows look out both at the back and at the front. Light enters the apartment from both sides. They call it, traversant. Quite nice but not something you’d notice unless, maybe, if you are a practicing Buddhist and you ‘notice’ things more than other people? That’s how it was for me this morning, doing walking meditation jonkrom from one window to the other: 35 paces in a straight line, then turn around and walk back.
I start the walking meditation path at the West side of the apartment and the balcony (where the pigeons are roosting [Link to: Birds on the Balcony 4]). Walking slowly and mindfully away from the balcony, through the hallway and into the bedroom, then to the window and I’m at the East side of the building. Pause there for a moment, look out the window, and I see the rays of the rising sun behind the apartment building opposite. I turn around with my back to the rising sun and walk back the way I came, through the hallway, into the main room and straight on to the window and I’m looking out at the balcony again. Pigeons look at me curiously. Pause for a second and turn around and go back. Walking forwards and backwards like this, watching the movements of the body, is the essence of walking meditation.
Every time I walk to the East side, where the sun is rising, I notice it’s getting a bit brighter but I don’t think too much about this at first. The whole of my side of the building is presently in the shadow created by the sun behind that building out there. Slowly stepping out my 35 paces forwards and 35 paces back to this point and returning to this window, it becomes obvious: the shadow is diminishing and the sun is in my eyes. I pause there at the end of the jonkrom path on that East side, turn around and walk back to the West side. The sun is beginning to shine in the window along the direction of my walking path and a shadow is cast by my legs walking. This is an amusing discovery and concentration falls away from the jonkrom so I stop to consider what’s happening.
The sun is now shining all the way through the apartment to the front window. It seems to be happening very quickly. How is it that I didn’t notice this before? It must be, at this time of the year, the sun is at a lower angle in the Northern Hemisphere? The sunbeam extends all along my meditation path; a brilliant band of sunlight with illuminated specks of dust caught floating in the air, all the way straight through to the front balcony on the West side. It is in full sunlight, lit from the back of the house all the way through and out to merge with the sunlight in this side – it’s as if the building is suddenly not here.
Standing there with my back to the sun and looking out the West side of the building, in the direction of the path of sunshine, I can see the shadow of the building cast on the ground outside and on the building opposite. I should be able to see where I am in the shadow… and after a while studying this, I’m able to identify the window where I’m standing. I can see a small shape of light in the large shadow.
The sunshine is passing through the whole building and, standing there in the sunbeam, it seems as if the sun shines through me; permeates the mass of the building and everything in it through all the corridors and window apertures. The building and everything in it is engulfed in light – everything suddenly immersed in a great flood of light passing through; a distinct sense of transparency; a nothingness of being.
The phenomenon lasts for a little while then the sunbeam moves out of range and the apartment returns to its normal level of light.