PATIENCE – The Dharma of a Mid-Summer Garden
A reflection on practice by Marcia Rose
What is the Dharma of my mid-summer garden? Lately I’ve asked myself and the garden this question many times over. Each morning and early evening, as I slowly walk through and diligently work in the garden, with deep care and interest I also mindfully observe the abundance of growing and constantly changing greenery, vegetables, blossoms, flowers and fruit. This riotous multicolored display spreading through my mid-summer garden here in northern New Mexico offers the perfect laboratory for practice, right in the midst of ‘the way of all things.’
One morning , with deep joy I behold a bursting pink rose bud. A few days later the flower has opened fully and is already wilting and changing color around the edges. I notice a subtle tug in my heart , and then the relaxed receptivity of ‘ Yes, and this too just does what comes naturally to all of us.’
On a slow evening walk through the garden I clearly see that the green tomatoes are half an inch bigger than a few days ago, but there’s still no sign of red on their skin. There are four more green strawberries and the Kabocha squash is a quarter inch larger than the other day. I notice a momentary and very subtle contraction in the heart and mind…quickly followed by the internal Dharma wisdom saying, “Patience, all happens in good time.” The apples are turning red, but still too small to pick. Deep red beets poke up slightly from the ground. “Should I pick beets for dinner? No, not yet. They need more time to grow.” The lettuce and peas are exquisitely ready and waiting…a clear “yes for dinner” comes through this time.
A primary Dharma lesson harvested each day from this garden is ‘patience.’ Repeatedly I learn that patience blossoms in a heart and mind that are rooted in quietude, serenity, openness, care and peace. I and all the growing things in the garden are by nature ‘hastening slowly,’ and I understand more deeply the words ‘patience is the highest form of devotion.’
I imbibe and digest these garden Dharma lessons… into my meditation practice and out in to my relationship with the larger and often challenging current world we live in.
The Buddha used the word ‘forbearance’ as a description of patience…meaning a heart and mind rooted in the qualities of receptivity, unconditional acceptance and softness. This ‘forbearance’ allows us to open to and be fully present in each moment with respect, dignity and humility. We patiently honor the moment…no matter what we are facing in our mind, heart and body…no matter what’s coming to us from the world around us. My mid-summer garden Dharma practice helps me come to know in a deeply experiential way the great advantage of this ‘forbearance.’ It offers great benefit for the whole of our life, as well as great benefit in relationship to our meditation practice, as the heart/mind develops towards deeper and more mature concentration and wisdom.
As we practice and live more patiently, as we become more ‘still and wide’ while at the same time determined and diligent in and with our practice, it is inevitable that we will experience an increase of calm, tranquility, joy, peace, fearlessness and understanding/wisdom within our practice and within our life as a whole. It’s inevitable that there will be a continued blossoming of kind-heartedness and a growing ability to live a compassionate and beneficial life.
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