Our neighbour came over with his backhoe to pull a few stumps of the scrub maples we had cut down last year and earlier this Spring. Dave wields the backhoe like a Japanese chef in a teppanyaki steakhouse. These roots ran well under the septic bed causing some momentary concern as they were being dragged out.
I always thought of the mental roots of defilements to be somewhat more graceful. Little tendrils that wound around the nerve centers of self-control and appetite. Seeing these roots lying naked, shaved from the friction of being pulled through the earth, I felt a deep clutching in my belly as I realized that some of my “seeds of delusion” may have flourished with roots much larger, deeper, and more entangled through necessary areas of desire than I had believed possible. It explains why I find myself constantly tripping up on these vast networks that run through the underground in my survival brain.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Understanding Our Mind:
Seeds of delusion give rise
to the internal formations of craving and afflictions.
These forces animate our consciousness
as mind and body manifest themselves.
…(O)ne of the names given to the store consciousness is “store for the attachment to a self.” This has to do with Manas. Manas is the energy of ignorance, thirst, and craving. It arises from the store consciousness and turns back to grasp a part of the store consciousness…. Manas grasps on to the image it has created and clings to it as its object. That portion of store consciousness that is grasped by manas loses its freedom. Our mind is enslaved when it is picked up and embraced as a “self” by manas… It is a kind of love affair. In fact, manas is described as “love of self.” It is really attachment to self. Manas is “the lover,” store consciousness is the beloved, the nature of their love is attachment – and suffering is the result.
This weekend was a case study of a love affair with deeply-rooted afflictions. Somewhere along the way, I was seduced by the delusion that the back-breaking work in the gardens was pointless and the world would drive by never knowing such great beauty lay just beyond the trees. It became a menage `a million with a few other things about me, you, the universe, cats, dogs, and grain beetles. But I must be more skilled with my internal backhoe than I think because the roots let go fairly quickly and lust for the image of pointlessness shut off like a TV screen in a thunderstorm.
We went out and built the Welcome Well which I’ve been wanting for years, cleaned up the vegetable boxes for next weekend’s planting, weeded the woodland and rose gardens, and mowed the yard – twice. I got to play with my chainsaw – a traditional Mother’s Day gift that I got a bit late this year… and oh, it slices sweet with a tigress purr.
So much for suffering… unless you count the hundred of tiny thorn-tips embedded in my hands.
Here’s a little slide show of the gardens as they look this week.
Thank you for practicing,