The peninsula currently known as San Francisco has had many names, and based on the number of indigenous tribes living in the area before the Spanish arrived, many more than I’ll be able to report. It’s been known as Yerba Buena and San Francisco, and, most tellingly, for its power as an incubator of creativity and innovation, the Chinese called it “The City of Gold.”
The California that enlivens the pages of history books and the California that we know still today has been built on the idea of pursuing one’s dreams, finding one’s fortune, and being both creative and innovative to do so. The gold that was discovered and gave rise to the Gold Rush of 1849 is still alive and well today. Though it may not manifest itself in shining nuggets emerging from the silts of the Yuba or American Fork Rivers, the energy of gold continues to flow down from the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains, gather in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, pass through the Carquinez Strait, face the gatekeeper of Mt. Tamalpais, pool in the San Francisco Bay itself, then pass by that mythic city on the shoreline of The Golden Gate on it’s way to rejoin the largest body of water on the planet.
What is the energy of gold and what is its relationship to creativity and innovation? The reason gold is revered cross culturally is that it seems to build a bridge between this world and some other. Look at the qualities represented by gold. To begin, gold accommodates. More than any other metal, its malleability allows it to take the shape of dense bars, treasured statues, or thin translucent sheets. Its ductility enables it to be drawn into long, threadlike pieces that can be woven into other materials. Gold also allows things to flow. Second only to silver, it is highly conductive to both heat and electricity. But unlike silver, it resists corrosion to air and moisture making it and enduring substance as well. Finally, gold is luminous. It has a particular shine and aura about it that have made it the delight of Egyptian pharaohs and newlyweds alike. It is a creative chameleon, a shape-shifting substance that is both useful and gorgeous.
The Golden Gate and The City of Gold on its shores, when framed in the quality of gold become something entirely different than simply just a gap in the landscape. It becomes the Bay Area’s final point of the manifest realm and the opening through which the qualities of accommodation, flow, endurance, and luminosity are allowed to pass. In other words, the City of Gold and the Golden Gate symbolize the Bay Area’s door between the Divine Ground and the phenomenal world. Simply by looking at them, a gap is inserted in our own minds; an empty space that allows the possibility of experiencing the world free from the confines of habitual thought patterns.
This week I will be camping one mile from the eastern border of King’s Canyon, in the headwaters of Kings Canyon and, by extension, the beginning of the great watershed that feed San Francisco and The Golden Gate their energetic power. For seven days and six nights I will be looking at the majestic peaks pictured in this post, Padmasambhava Peak on the right and Vajrayogini, a feminine anti-mountain, the V-shaped ridge gathering the heavens on the left. From this astounding unification of masculine and feminine energies captured in the landscape, I will ask, as I always do, for the well being of my wife and daughter, my friends and family, and that all beings enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness.
And from this astounding place, I make the aspiration that all of you whom I know and all of you whom I’m yet to know embrace your own innate creative capacities and bring your creative gifts into the world. Om ah hum!