Sunday, July 1, 2018

Goldfinch onYellow Mullein

Image result for goldfinch on mulleinThis morning, while meditating on the deck, i opened my eyes to see a goldfinch perched on top of a 6-foot tall mullein.

When i say "mullein," you are probably thinking Isn't that a roadside weed? 

Even weeds can have beautiful cousins.  The mullein in my garden has yellow flowers that are an inch in diameter. It’s a cadelbra mullein so it doesn’t have just a single stalk of flowers but has several branching offshoots.

The advantage to our weedy thoughts is that they form the basis for our compassion. We know how it feels to lose a loved one, to be surprised by a scary disease, to rail against divorce. So when a friend or acquaintance pours out their suffering, we can sit still with them, and say “Yes.” Not yes that we agree with their stressful thoughts, but yes to the sound of suffering, yes to the feel of fury, yes to the pain of the body.

We ourselves know the stress of those weedy thoughts and can offer the comfort of our presence.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

I Trapped A Groundhog

I went to my vegetable garden yesterday to plant some beans and was startled by a brown furball rushing out of the weeds to the opposite side of the garden (more weeds).

Just last week, the gardener had put up a new fence with 1/4-inch holes, so i knew the groundhog (aka woodchuck) wasn't going through the fence. I looked at the gate, and sure enough, it had come under the gate.

Two weeks ago i bought a groundhog Havaheart trap, but couldn't figure out where to put it. I ran back to the house, got the trap and some watermelon slices out of the fridge to bait it with. I placed it inside the garden, on the ground in front of the gate. Thirty minutes later, a groundhog was inside it.

Like the groundhog, we dig our way into our confined lives and assume that's all there is. We can be fairly happy (or not) in our routine lives. There is a possibility of escape--in Zen it's called the gateless gate.

I released the groundhog 5 miles away from home in a town forest.


Friday, June 29, 2018

We Croak

Image result for wecroak
A bullfrog in my tiny fishpond croaks about once a minute in his basso profundo voice as if he is tick-tocking off time to remind me that life is passing by.

I have a WeCroak app on my smartphone. It peeps 5 times a day to remind me that i am going to die. When i look at the app, there's a new quote about death or dying or life.

The heedful do not die. 
The heedless are as if dead already.
Dhammapada 21

I am keeping my eye on the pulse of life.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

It's Raining. It's Pouring.

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It's raining. It's pouring. It would be a good day for snoring, especially since i'm still recuperating from jet lag.

Okay. I admit it. I've already taken a 10-minute nap while i was meditating this morning. There's something so soothing about the sound of rain. Zzzzz.

Drowsiness during meditation is a hindrance. I've set our intention to be mindfully aware, but then delicious drowsiness sneaks up. Oh, i have my excuses. I woke up at 3:15 this morning. Still, i don't want to sleepwalk through life.

Wake up. Wake up to your one and only life.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Chipmunks in the Stone Wall

I have a little garden bed right in front of a stone wall. When the wall was first built a few years ago, i thought the little south-facing bed would be perfect for hot weather crops such as peppers and eggplants. It turns out the stone wall is a perfect home for chipmunks, and chipmunks eat pepper plants.

For the past three or four years, i've tried putting milk carton "collars" around the pepper plants with mixed success (read: many failures).

Oh, how many times do i fight the current of Life, trying to row in the direction I want to go.

This summer, i give up. I surrender my garden bed to the chipmunks. After all, i do enjoy watching them dash and dart here and there.

I'm planting Russian sage in this hot spot of a micro-climate. The peppers and eggplants are going somewhere else--farther away from the home of the chipmunks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I'm Looking Over a 4-Leaf Clover

When i was a child, every Sunday afternoon, after Sunday dinner, my grandmother and i would walk around our house looking for 4-leaf clovers. I still have the knack of finding them. Today i put a flat down on the grass and voila! A 4-leaf clover was staring up at me.

Today is Wesak, the full moon that celebrates the Buddha's awakening. It's a good time to take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, and take refuge in the Sangha.

According to the Dhammapada:
One who takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, sees the Four Noble Truths:
  1. Suffering, 
  2. the Cause of Suffering, 
  3. the Cessation of Suffering,
  4. and the 8-fold Noble Path which leads to the Cessation of Suffering.

These are the 4 Truths that will bring us more "luck" than any 4-leaf clover.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Awareness of Forget-Me-Nots

Forget-me-nots form a sky-blue cloud floating on several of my flower beds. The dashes of color--purple money plant, the white bells of leucojum--poke out above the ground-hugging blue cloud. Naturally enough, our attention focuses on the taller red tulip or yellow daffodil or purple money plant. This is a gardener's definition of attention.

That blue haze at the base of the garden represents our peripheral awareness. While we focus on the beautiful, the different, the unique, we are also aware of bird song, cool breeze, and that blue haze of forget-me-nots.

Try this in your meditation. Spend one period of meditation simply noticing how the mind works. Hearing, seeing, feeling are all happening in the background, then the mind is drawn to something or other (probably a thought) and focuses on that.

Smile. You've just succeeded at noticing the difference between attention and awareness.