I like things to fit in boxes, neat tidy and organized boxes. Along with the promise of higher than usual yields in smaller space, the appeal of Square Foot Gardening was the wonderful geometric effect that is so sensual.
This picture on the left is of my first year of obsession with matrix layouts. Green beans all in little 1′ x 1′ subplots. If my practice life were this easy to design, I’d be giving away dharmic fruit by the truckloads!
The picture on the right is this year’s efforts at reclaiming my SqFG from two years of bad weather and neglect. It is a good thing I have so much practice trying to salvages relationships which don’t lend themselves to clear cut boundaries or soft rich ground that gives up the tangle growth of weeds, twigs and (ugh) cat poop. The two hours it took to clean up these two boxes gave me a good run at reflecting on how much I demand of relationships – in the beginning, the middle and the ending.
In the commentary of The Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Diamond Sutra Thich Nhat Hanh writes,
When there is a mature relationship between people, there is always compassion and forgiveness. In our life, we need others to see and recognize us so we feel supported. How much more do we need the Buddha to see us! On our path of service, there are moments of pain and loneliness but when we know that the Buddha sees and knows us, we feel a great surge of energy and firm determination to carry on.
The Buddha who sees me is my own wisdom vision shining the light on my true nature. It always brings me back to what is really in need of letting go – ideas and concepts of how I want it to be. When relationships fracture, I find myself waiting for the “fruit of practice” by which I mean I am waiting for the other to see me with compassion and to forgive my unskillfulness. Ah, there’s that waiting again!
If I shine the light on my actions, it does seem I am making the other responsible for easing my suffering. In some cases, this may even be a way I have of avoiding doing my own work of embodying compassion and forgiveness. Perhaps I wait for compassion and forgiveness to appear like the Beloved robed in glowing white because that is my idiosyncratic concept of what it should look like. And while occupied with my narrow vision, I miss the true nature of compassion and forgiveness: doing what I must do in this moment with no thought given to the limited time, space, and form.
“Why? Because that kind of person is not caught up in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span. They are not caught up in the idea of a dharma or the idea of a non-dharma. They are not caught up in the notion that this is a sign and that is not a sign. Why? If you are caught up in the idea of a dharma, you are also caught up in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span. If you are caught up in the idea that there is no dharma, you are still caught up in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span.”
The garden (real and metaphoric of my demands of relationships) is a morass of concepts and ideas after a year of neglect. Although I see it as magnificent in Ultimate Reality, in this Historical reality, it is a tangled mess. So, good tools for digging deep help. Frank calls these my Ninja trowels. Why would my relationship with my gardens be any different from other relationships? When so much has been neglected, so many weeds given free rein, it is going to take determination, steadiness and a new vision to clear the path.
So as I wait for the Beloved to appear, I show up each day, tools in hand, ready to do what I must do.
Thank you for practicing,