Friday, August 31, 2018

Aloha Hummingbird

When we were in Hawai'i a couple of years ago, i bought a locally-made pillow that says, "Aloha served daily."

I love the idea of aloha being served daily. Aloha means much more than hello and farewell. Aloha feels friendly; aloha feels affectionate; aloha feels like welcome.

These mornings, i meditate on the deck for an hour at 6:00 a.m. Every morning i can hear a hummingbird whirring nearby. She comes to check out my pillow. It looks like flowers, but....

Welcome, dear hummingbird. And zip, away she goes. Aloha, my dear.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Monarch in Ochre

Image result for monarch butterflyAn abundance of monarch butterflies flutter around the flower garden this late summer.

The Buddha was a monarch (the prince of a small kingdom) before he left home at age 29 and became an ascetic wearing ochre robes.

Though very few of us would choose such a lifestyle, we can simplify our lives, especially when we recognize the stresses--large and small--of our busy lives.

We too have the possibility of transforming our minds from caterpillars to butterflies, which do not even have the same DNA as their previous incarnation.

It's a mystery.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Turkeys in the Lawn

Image result for wild turkey and poultsI glanced out the window and saw a mother turkey and ten poults slowly pecking their way through the grass. Good, i thought, they are eating ticks.

I was happy for the turkeys and happy for myself, but a bit too gleeful about the demise of the ticks.

As we delve down in our feelings of happiness, we can contemplate whether a certain situation is good for everyone concerned. Does my child's benefit cost another child something?

My happiness for the turkeys is perhaps mostly for my own benefit: fewer ticks. This sort of happiness looks like the real thing, but it has the tinge of self-interest. We could call it the "near enemy" because of its decoy nature.

On the other hand, this is Nature: turkeys eat ticks. And equanimity is accepting life as it is. Right here, right now. Without any opinions.

Monday, August 27, 2018


Image result for veronicastrumVeronicastrum is blooming now. It's one of the late summer plants that add color and interest to the garden when most other summer flowers are fading.

Its spikes of white racemes point heavenward, but i am always fascinated by the whorl of 5 leaves around the stem.

This 5-pointed star of leaves reminds me of the 5 precepts--the guiding star of my daily thoughts, words, and deeds.

The first precept is to do no harm--to anyone or to any being.

The second precept is to refrain from taking that which is not offered. Yes, that means not stealing, but it is also a more nuanced guidance.

The third precept is to refrain from sexual and sensual misconduct. This instruction too can be deepened to refraining from flirting, and thereby acting as a trustworthy person.

The fourth precept is to speak truthfully and helpfully--gently and straightforwardly.

And finally, keeping the mind clear, which is no small task nowadays.

I take these precepts every morning to remind myself to act honorably in the world. And what do you know? When the mind isn't bothered by little, tiny misconducts, the mind settles easily into meditation and flowers.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Refuge from the Storm

I stopped at the Farmers Market in St Albans, Vermont on my way to vacation on Lake Champlain and again when i was returning from the lake. Both times i bought birdhouses. A creative woodworker named Ron puts together some really inventive birdhouses. I liked the one that looks like a tree cavity. (Notice the shelf mushroom perch.) What a lovely refuge for a bird or some other creature.

Where do you take refuge from the storms of life?

Friends are the first place i go--usually Dharma friends. I can talk through the distress of the moment. My friends encourage me to keep my mind and my intention on the high road. They discourage me from snarky remarks. Thank you, dear friends.

Another refuge is the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. The Dharma lays out an ingenious path. And the Buddha's response is, "See for yourself. Don't take my word for it." (Don't take my word for it either. :)

It's tempting to take refuge in the internet, TV, shopping, food, or your other favorite addiction. But the refuges that stand the test of time are Dharma friends, the Dharma, and, if it's not a stretch for you, the Buddha. The Buddha beckons us to see for ourselves.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Loose Strife

Image result for loosestrifeI did find 3 weeds to pull here at the vacation house on the lake. Down on the beach, i pulled up 3 plants of the invasive purple loosestrife.

"Oh, but it's so pretty," more than one gardener has said to me. "I'll keep an eye on it."

Keep an eye on 3 million seeds per plant?

Listen to the name again, my dear: loose - strife. Strife means conflict, discord, and opposition. Why would anyone want to let strife loose in their garden?

Oh, this loose strife has such a lovely disguise. Perhaps not unlike the opinions and judgments we let loose toward friends and family. Ouch, that hurt.

"Oh, they're just a wuss if they can't take it," we rationalize.

Once we have loosed strife into the world, we are the owners of our actions. We cannot retract our words.

Our tender hearts are kind and friendly. Pull those strife-causing opinions, and don't let them go to seed.

Remember your intentions: We want to harvest calmness and happiness.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Vacation from My Garden

I'm relaxing at the lake this week. The vacation house has a lawn, a few trees, and a view of the lake. Ahhh. So relaxing.

The flower gardens consist of 2 flower pots on the deck. That's it. There's not a single weed for me to pull. And i have to admit, it's pretty relaxing not to have to be at the mercy of pleasant and unpleasant. It's pretty relaxing to simply relax into is-ness. The lake is lapping. The breeze is blowing. That's all.

As much as i love my gardens, it is very relaxing to have a vacation from looking at them.