Thursday, August 15, 2019

Gardening for Bear

A bear wandered into my meditation at 6:45 this morning. I opened my eyes just as he walked out of the woods and across the lawn. He meandered over to the hobblebush at the other edge of the lawn, and breakfasted on some hobblebush berries.

I have heard of bee and butterfly gardens, but i didn't realize i have a bear garden.

Sometimes, our minds are too welcoming for our particular bear-of-a-problem. In his sermon on dealing with distracting thoughts, the Buddha outlines 5 methods. The first is to change the subject. Another way to say this is "substitute the opposite." "The opposite" is usually a form of kindness--metta or compassion or gratitude. Choose your kindness now, so that the next time that bear-of-a-problem wanders into your mind, you'll be ready to feed yourself some kindness.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Rocky Soil

Image result for garden rocky soil
I have visited my sister in northern Idaho each year for 15 years. This visit, she took me to her neighbor's garden, and Barb explained to me that her entire lawn is rocks. No wonder everyone has raised beds or a dozen flower pots brimming with flowers--or vegetables. Gardeners being who they are, some homes do have a small flowerbed beside the driveway or near the front door, but really, the rocks prevail.

Another of my sister's gardening friends Carolyn said she didn't have rocks; she had clay about four inches down. Her flowerbeds were slightly more extensive, surrounding her deck, but there were those raised beds and flowerpots again.

Some of us plant our meditation practice in rocky soil where it's difficult to make it grow. When our friends proceed along the path of "eat, drink, and be merry," it's hard to find support for following the 8-fold path of Wise View, Wise Attention, Wise Action, Wise Speech, and Wise Mindfulness, to name a few.

Here's a verse from the Buddha:

Life is swept along, next-to-nothing its span.
For one swept to old age no shelters exist.
Perceiving this danger in death,
one should drop the world's bait and look for peace.

     Saṃyutta Nikāya 1.100

Let's look for peace in the sanctuary of our garden, and follow our heart's true intention.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Gardeners of the Spirit

Image result for seedling

Help us to be the always hopeful

Gardeners of the spirit
Who know that without darkness
Nothing comes to birth
As without light
Nothing flowers. 

(from A Grain of Mustard Seed by Kali)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Clear Seeing

The teacher at the retreat talks bout sati-sampajanna. Sati means mindfulness. Usually sampajanna is translated as “clear comprehension,” but I’m trying to expand my sense of the word. Sometimes it’s referred to as “seeing and knowing” things as they really are.

English has a huge vocabulary for the material world, but it’s rather poverty-stricken when it comes to words that describe the inner world and the spiritual world.  Just think. Until just  25 years ago, we didn’t have the words metta, loving kindness, and self-compassion in the dictionary. The words Dharma, karma, and mindfulness were known only to a select few; now they are the n common usage.

Sam- means  whole or complete, though it’s often translated at “right” meaning proper. The ending -nna is the same as our word know. (In Greek, gnosis.)  Now the question is: Which kind of knowing?Eskimos May have 28 words for snow, but English has only one word know to cover many shades of meaning.

As I contemplate this, my personal translation of sampajanna becomes “complete knowing.”

Hmmm. I walk down to the end of the driveway, and there is beautiful Mount St. Helens with a blanket of snow on top of her two rounded peaks. On this clear day, I can clearly see. And knowing (which kind?) is omnipresent.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Aging Maple Leaf

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the understory for the 200-foot tall firs and cedars is alder, oak, and big leaf maple. The leaves of the big leaf maple are big, sometimes really big.

A big maple leaf drifted down to the welcome mat outside the door to my single room. The first day it was beautiful yellow with green veins; the next day it faded a bit. Then it wilted, and now it’s dry and crinkly.

Welcome, aging!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

A Spritz of Metta

My chore at the retreat center is to wipe the dining tables after dinner and then spritz them with three puffs of mild bleach water.

During meditation, I realize I feel like I’ve been spritzed with loving kindness. Ahh. Deep cleaning without the scrubbing.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Lone Robin Calls

Jut after sunset, a lone robin sends her distress call for more than half an hour. I can hear her flying from here to there, but the dark woods reveals no specifics.

Last evening at this time, two robins were distressed while an owl perched nearby.

A lone robin sends her SOS. I can do nothing

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Thistle Puffs

Little white cottony fluffs of thistle seeds float on the breeze, meandering up and up and over. floating any which way. Each tiny thistle seed attached to one silky puff, which has no opinion about where it’s going.

Content with life as it is.