There Is A Cloud Floating In This Sheet of Paper

14 01 2012

I’ve written here before about Thich Nhat Hahn and the zen of paper conservation.  Here is a lovely, simple meditation from his book Being Peace.

“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent on the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. Let us think of other things, like sunshine. Sunshine is very important because the forest cannot grow without sunshine, and we humans cannot grow without sunshine. So the logger needs sunshine in order to cut the tree, and the tree needs sunshine in order to be a tree. Therefore you can see sunshine in this sheet of paper. And if you look more deeply … you see not only the cloud and the sunshine in it, but that everything is here: the wheat that became the bread for the logger to eat, the logger’s father … the paper is full of everything, the entire cosmos. The presence of this tiny sheet of paper proves the presence of the whole cosmos.”

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4 responses

14 01 2012
Melissa

I often think of a piece of paper as a cosmos unto itself (as I think any book & paper conservator must), so I love this connection spiraling outward to the bigger cosmos. A cosmos inside a cosmos, the one proving the existence of the other. Thanks for sharing this!

15 01 2012
bethhellerconservation

Thanks, Melissa!

15 01 2012
Kevin

I like that. I really do. I just find it challenging to bring that level of awareness to my day-to-day work.Sometimes, there’s no clouds, no sunshine, just a crappy piece of acidic, brittle paper covered with tape. (Is there a cloud in tape?)

15 01 2012
bethhellerconservation

Ah, Kevin – I think there’s an oil slick in every piece of tape. Entirely different kind of meditation on how messed up everything can be. This might require punk rock or metal music in the background instead of singing bowls 🙂

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