In search of the bees (and being)


A video reboot of the ‘Ten Bulls of Zen’ created by Rashid and Chinmaya.

… one morning in a meadow on a pale sunburst of primroses
I see a honeybee. They still exist!

Words and images by Rashid Maxwell
Film and music by Chinmaya Dunster
First published by The Culturium on their FB page

In Search of the Bees and of Being

In Search of the Bees 1


In the Festival of More and More we have every possible attraction to distract us. Yet we know there is something missing.
Let’s call it the bees.
At first they are just backdrop: vital that they pollinate one third of all we eat, a half-remembered nuisance on the picnic, painful when they sting.
In the warm lavender days, they are absent. I push aside my mental thickets, look for swarms and who to blame.

In Search of the Bees 2


I travel deep into the mountains, seek them in vast fields of monoculture and the well-intentioned gardens of suburbia; I join movements and campaigns – desire and fear are always at my elbow.

In Search of the Bees 3


The search is arduous – I give up many times. I find that finding them is not achieved by anything I do.
Thus one morning in a meadow, on a pale sun-burst of primroses, I see a honeybee.
They still exist!

In Search of the Bees 4


Is there a colony of honeybees in some nearby, secret spot? My job, my pension and my worldly worries are forgotten.
I drift beneath the skylark’s sun-stitched melody when from a nearby bluebell wood I hear their hum.
Suddenly I see the swarm, a glistening drape of darkness hidden in plain view. I hear bees act with both collective and with separate intelligence.
How magnificent! How enviable! How terrifying.

In Search of the Bees 5


How can I aid these casualties of human foolishness? I have no training, only a sincere intent.
By great good fortune someone passes by who shows me how to improvise a basket made of straw and unfolds to me something of the mystery of honeybees.
I cannot contain my delight.

In Search of the Bees 6


Under his clear guidance I spread my coat out on the grass. Next I shake the swarm into the basket then place it upside down upon the jacket, propped open with a stick.
Nothing fails like success.
Half the bees are flying free. Where is the queen, their silent heart? My guide points to her still settled on the branch. ‘Sit and watch,’ he says. ‘Watch everything.’ He leaves me to it.
Hours pass: delight becomes despair.

In Search of the Bees 7


Slowly, slowly the bees come together, clustered again on the branch.
When they are settled I risk a more purposeful shake.
I have the whole swarm and am stung on the face and neck.
The bee-master calls to improve or reprove my practice.

In Search of the Bees 8


I sit watching the day become murmuring night. Moonlight pales the woollen darkness.
The bees contented hum and the river’s joyous song permeate this fragrant world: they draw me into harmony with all that is.

In Search of the Bees 9


Back home, the basket is discarded. The swarm is honoured with gratitude and the very best hive. Bees attract bees: The garden blooms with the colours of light.
‘Watch everything,’ he says. So I sit and watch.
This watching dissolves me into the bees.
Failure and success vanish. Even fear of death has disappeared.
Only the watching remains.

In Search of the Bees 10


The vivid years slide by.
The less I meddle the more the bees thrive. Their limpid golden honey nourishes the neighbourhood.
I am in the world and I am pure being.


Rashid is a painter and poet, keeps bees, designs buildings and landscapes for sacred use.


Chinmaya Dunster is a recording artist, composer and sarod player, now based in England.

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