On occasion, I have had the privilege to fly from Vancouver to Tofino on a small propeller plane. One of those planes that made you wonder if they had serviced in the last few years, and ask how people can travel on these on a daily basis without a proper skydiving training and an eject button under the arm of their seat. Once, I decided to go on a particular rainy and windy day, hoping that things would clear up by the time I boarded the plane.
They did not.
As we were taxiing on the runway and prepped for take off, the wind howled with unrelenting ferocity. It was strong enough to vibrate the wing I was staring at, which was firmly attached to the body of the small plane I was about to embark into the skies with. I began to wonder if I had told someone to take care of my cat in the case of my untimely departure from this physical world.
And the rain. The rain was a sheet of darkness, falling from a seemingly endless well in the sky, making sure that nothing was left dry in the whole coastal part of the province. If you have never experienced the atypical west coast winter day, you must feel the relentlessness of it at least once in order to appreciate the sunny beaches you may prefer to frequent.
”Where is the sun? Where has my beautiful sun gone? ” I thought, knowing full well that we would not see the sun for another 3 months at least.
We took off from the runway with uncertainty, and I could feel the tension of the 9 other passengers mount as they held their breathes for=times that could compete with professional underwater divers. As we flew higher and higher, approaching the source of all this destruction and violence, the plane would drop suddenly, or shift sideways as if skating on an ice rink. It was at this point that I realized the futility the seat belt would pose in saving me from a sudden loss of engine or encounter with an unseen mountain.
As this noise and violence was taking over more and more of my mind, we broke through the cloud, and I saw beauty. I saw the sun behind the clouds, and realized that it had been there the whole time. There was nothing different about the sun. In all its constant life giving warmth and radiant bliss, it had waited for us to break through the darkness below. It was rising, just above the horizon, and was reflecting off the snowy mountain peeks of British Columbian mountains. The light glimmered off the rain drops collected on the wing, magnifying the feeling of peace and serenity after the violence of the seemingly un-ending take off.
In the time leading up to this moment, I had forgotten that the sun hadn’t really disappeared. The clouds merely blocked the sun from my vision.
In the same way, clouds of our immediate experience often prevent us from accessing the innate purity of our selves. The clarity of focus and vision that arise when we set down the noise of the day-to-day to take time to remember what we are really thinking and feeling.
Guatama Buddha, the man on whose teachings Buddhism was founded, taught mainly to see through the inauthentic aspects of our created daily lives so that our real potential, in all its compassion and loving bliss, can shine forth at all times, like the warmest sun above the coldest of clouds.
If you perceive the world as rainy and cloudy, it will be that way for you, in all of its glorious suffering. If you remember that the radiant warmth of the sun is waiting behind the clouds, peace will begin to seep into everything your days bring to you.