I sat on my front porch this morning, outside for the first time, and my zazen was attended by a pair of squirrels. I had set the timer for 30 minutes, and about halfway through a squirrel started crossing the yard about 30 feet in front of me. I rarely get the opportunity to observe them close-up because they don't come around when there's movement in the yard... so I cheated, and raised my eyes to watch him. Every time he took a couple of bounding steps, I would move my head a bit, and then be still when he raised up on his hind legs to check out the surroundings. Eventually he made his way under the bed of my truck, which was about 20 feet to my right in the driveway, and jumped up onto the rear axle, then climbed higher, into the bottom of the bed. I returned my eyes front & center, but could hear him scratching around in there for a while. I detected movement again and slowly turned my head- he had jumped down and started sniffing around the differential, lightly balancing himself by holding the axle with his paws. Then he came out behind the truck and was barked at by another squirrel in a tree above him. The two of them began a playful game of chase into the trees across from me at the edge of the woods, lightly jumping from one tree to another, sometimes balancing on twigs smaller than a pencil.
The sun had risen by this time, and come out from a low cloud, and since I was facing east, that was the end of squirrel-gazing. My left foot was dead asleep, so I checked the timer and saw that I had been sitting for 40 minutes- the volume on my cell phone was turned down, so I never heard the ding.
I'm reminded of yesterday's Jundo-Cast about the inter-relatedness of all things... the squirrels were an intimate and integral part of my sitting, as was the cold porch boards, the green grass, the worm-seeking robin, the greasy differential under the truck, the sun, the cloud, and the butterfly ten-thousand miles away.
For just a tiny part of a single moment, I felt that everything was one thing, just as every atom in an ice cube makes one ice cube... we are particles...
But that's not it at all. Maybe the squirrel knows how to explain it.