A father once took his young daughter to a nearby old growth forest. He knew that the stillness and beauty of the massive trees would work their enchantment on her, as it had always done upon him. And he was right; her little heart was at home in the quiet depths of these ancient trees. All was well for the first several moments, but then something broke into the peace of the place.
As they walked farther into the forest, he could see that his daughter was becoming overwhelmed. She would be looking at a particular tree when the sun would pass behind a cloud, giving rise to a great shadow that would move through the woods. Everywhere dark shapes stretched out, as if to touch her, and then the light would shift, creating motion somewhere else. On and off went this shadow show, so that one minute she would be absolutely captured with enthusiasm for the beauty of the light, and the next minute she would be scared by the encroaching shadows.
As her emotional state escalated, her father realized that her limited understanding was not enough to correct the developing negative condition within her. And so, taking action before she became any more frightened, he took his little girl by the hand.
“Come on, sweetheart,” he said, and they walked back out of the forest and headed for the place where he knew a special lesson awaited her.
They walked hand-in-hand for twenty minutes or so, got outside the trees, and climbed a gentle hill to its crest where they could get a panoramic view of the forest. They sat down on the edge of the little bluff together and quietly looked down on the woods spread out beneath them. What a magical sight!
The little girl saw dozens of shadows caused by the clouds as they moved beneath the sun, even as she saw that the sunlight passing over the crown of the forest would create tree shadows within the woods that reached out and then raced back into nothingness.
She saw the whole of the forest and its invisible relationship with the world around it. Wordlessly, she realized that no event happened by itself. And most importantly, from her new vantage point, none of the things that had troubled her within the forest troubled her now. She grew very still. Peace returned to her. Her new view of reality had granted her this gift. From that day on, whenever they went to the woods, she was no longer afraid.
We, too, have within us a new, higher vantage point — a very special part of ourselves within which we may be at peace regardless of what goes on around us. This yet-to-be realized state of ourselves may be called conscious self-awareness. Through its power, instead of being pulled down into painful identification with the passing shadows of life, we can discover a life in a peace far above the reach of any fear.