Yūgen 幽玄

Yugen, a beautiful word of Japanese origin, describing the feeling of an intense, deep consciousness of the Universe.  An awareness so profound that it arises emotions beyond the description of words. Zeami’s poetics bring forth the imagery of Yugen. “To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of the wild geese seen and lost among the clouds. And subtle shadows of bamboo on bamboo.”

At the end of September 2018, I was driving down Wildlife Rd in Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. As I leisurely traveled down the red dirt road, I remember the feeling of awe and excitement as I looked to my left and saw the largest brief of American pelicans I had ever seen. There were hundreds of massive white pelicans lining the shoreline. As I got out of the my Jeep, a few birds took off in into the sky setting off this cascade of flight. My heart felt as if it was going to burst as I observed these massive birds with nine foot wingspans soar in squadrons, effortlessly in the stunning blue sky. The sound their feathers created as they moved through the air is something that cannot be described, just heard. Tears came to my eyes as I suddenly felt overwhelmed with a profound sense of unity with the Divine. We are not separate, but one.

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