compost 2

This life of practice is challenging.  The almost three weeks we spent away from home and garden had serious consequences.  As you can see the lettuce has “shot” – I’ve never seen lettuce flowers; they’re very cute.  The tomatoes succumbed to the heavy rains and intense heat; we’ll be lucky to get a dozen or so from the boxes.  We got one meal of green beans and yellow squash.  The bean plants and two baseball bat-sized squash are destined for the compost pile.

The other types of squash however are running rampant.

I’d planted spaghetti and crookneck squash which didn’t seem to have taken before we left.  And here they are shoving around the roses.

I love an orderly life – I love an orderly garden which to me is external proof of an equally orderly internal environment.  Apparently, my desires are not on the agenda this go around.  Or perhaps, it’s a clear message that my internal life needs a Master Gardener.

Practice sends me the same message.  I tend to get very organized and obsessive about making it pretty.  And then, some part of life takes me away and what was once pretty becomes wild and unruly.  Or it becomes a psychological bully that insists everyone’s way has to give way to my Way.  That’s the time when two really important practices come into play – both in gardening and the guck stuff.

Let go.  Order is subtle.  Things tend to follow a path that isn’t immediately evident.

Compost.  Everything gets 10, 000 chances.

When I first starting sitting, order had to be forced out of chaos – in the room, in the mind, in the body.  I haven’t quite let go of my need for order.  I’m just not as ruthless about it, I hope.  At the same time, the discipline grows out of skilfully illuminating each so that the other comes into relief.

I mentioned to Carole at ZenDotStudio that I’ve never been successful at composting.  That’s true in a gardening way; it’s also true in a practice way.  Managing impatience for change and a desire for permanence is tricky.  And when they sit on that cushion with me, it gets crowded and precarious.  So I’m learning how to prune away what isn’t necessary in this moment, what has yielded its fruit, what has shot to flower.  These go in a pile for the worms and bacteria to transform.  They are more powerful and skillful at that than I.

Thank you for practising,


8 thoughts on “compost 2

  1. This post resonates deeply with me but maybe for different reason than yours. I love order. I love pretty. But life is messy. Life is not always in favour of my preferences and I can expend a lot of energy trying to “get” them. At a recent art workshop the wise instructor pointed out my need for pretty. It gets in the way of creating deeper work. So fear and laziness are probably what motivate my attachment to the orderly. Ah now there is good compost to work with. There is nothing wrong with pretty or order, simply my attachment to it and how that gets in the way of living life as it is and going deeper. Thanks for the call to compost.

    • I’m scared that I’m starting to love pink… :-O

      That need for pretty or order is what stops me in the same way as the refrain: When we retire…

      Thanks for the inspiration to get back to composting!

  2. I’m good with pink, good with pretty. I do love order, which is perhaps why I study in the Zen tradition rather than the Tibetan tradition. I’m also good with compost, well-rotted or not. I love the worms.

    Susann and I are working through the “garden conflict” that arose in the first years of our marriage. It’s good practice.

    The life of practice . . . and the practice of life.

  3. i love order too… Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at my “work space’! Sometimes when I experience an internal shift of some kind, there is a corresponding shift in my immediate environment in the form of organizing and creating order, that comes from a place of wholeness – that reflects the wholeness within. And other times my need for “order” is really a hidden need for control – rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic for instance. 🙂 Kind of like the Mighty Mouse syndrome in disguise – trying to rescue my life. I have also found that changing my venue for “sitting” has helped. From zafu to window 🙂 Sometimes we have to trick the mind and then “letting go” happens.

  4. I really like your analogies between gardening and practice.
    Also, Buddha 85 is incredible!
    The strokes has amazing depth, they really look like they’re popping off the page!

    • Thank you, Joseph. buddha85 is on canvas… my first attempt at sponge painting and using a special ink sludge (i.e., I forgot to clean the ink stone and the ink in it dried to a thick goop!).

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