shining the light

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,


6 thoughts on “shining the light

  1. In my gardening and spiritual life there are tools also. In both cases they are very simple tools. Tools that can come with me wherever I go. Portable, at hand, and ready to use. I must remember that the tools are only an extension of my body and mind. The growing and ripening exists within the seeds planted, I have no control over that.

  2. This is soooo powerful and is stirring things up in me that have laid dormant for a while. In need of “Buddha vision” – love that! I feel a blog coming on…

    And just this little note for your heart – The Beloved waits for YOU – “love waiting”! The Beloved is already there – no trowels necessary – just awareness turning toward that Light that is already shining 🙂 (Hope that doesn’t sound too mystical…)

    Heart Smiles – Christine

  3. Helmut, I’m envisioning a Dharmic Swiss Army knife! An Avalokiteshvara special! Thây talks about nourishing the seeds that are beneficial and not the ones that are not. But ultimately, we really have little control over how a seed manifests – having seen some pretty weird things sprout from seeds!

    Christine, write that blog! Re: the Beloved waiting… darn, really? Sounds like Hubby! “You were waiting for me? But I was waiting for YOU!” Mystic away; I love it!

    OK… I’m leaving tonight for a training program so enjoy the rest of the week’s post and have a great weekend!

  4. Well, this is very timely. I’m in the midst of a deep struggle with my concepts, ideas and attachments, as the relate to a long-time friend. This friend has persisted over the life of our acquaintance to cheat on his wife, both emotionally and physically. Many of us have tried to support, counsel and threaten this person to clean up his act, but as yet he hasn’t made that decision. (I think it’s a decision – that’s one of my *ideas.*)

    It’s at the point that I wonder if I can remain this person’s friend. He tells me things that he has not told his wife and that are material to their relationship. I feel like I’m forced to collude.

    So how to I offer the greatest compassion and forgiveness to this person?

    What I want is to end the friendship – it feels so polluted. But that might just be *my* *idea* about friendship.

    So I continue to sit and feel my way through this. We’ll see….

  5. Love your little Zen square gardening plot and your analogy. I think we can’t deal with the weeds until we see them and sometimes we have to look long and hard before we can distinguish the weeds from the veg. At first they all look the same. It is a refining process I think. And then we figure out the best approach for that particular weed. Can we shear it off with a hoe or does it need to be carefully dug out by the root. If we are not familiar with that particular weed I think we just get out the ninja tools and make our best guess. Life really is a lot like a science experiment.

    Great post. I always love garden analogies and what better time of year for one than Spring. I’m going off to dig into the compost!

  6. Barry, I ended a long-term friendship because I could no longer contain the toxic effects. It was not just the unhealthy exchanges but also the fallout – I found myself becoming someone I didn’t like but who was more congruent with having a friend of that “flavour.” Abuse is not just between people; it is also what we do to ourselves in order to make the theme of the relationship less cognitively dissonant. The greater compassion sometimes is to stop protecting the person from consequences which only encourages their delusional life. It took a lot of sitting with myself though… 😦

    ZdS, so true. Sometimes I have to let the green stuff grow before I can discern the weeds from the plants. Then again, there are lupines and calendula in the main garden that are now officially declared weeds! 🙂

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