A Garden of Dhamma
A reflection on practice by Marcia Rose
It’s Autumn. Time for harvesting, and time to prune back & clear out all that has concluded its innate cycle of flowering & fruiting. It’s also time to replant the edibles that fare well in cooling temperatures, so that my home grown nurturance continues on into late Fall. Replanting is a practice of metta for myself, by which I mean taking care of myself wisely & happily… though not necessarily so easily these days because of the physical labor involved.
And of course, early Autumn brings the great joy of imbibing the wholesome & tasty nurturance that harvest season offers. This evening for dinner, I sauteed four different vegetables, picked just moments before from the garden, then poured three local eggs on top & allowed it all to simmer slowly. Joy is an essential aspect of our practice. Without it liberation remains at bay.
As I come towards the end of my 77th year of life, the work of growing food & flowers has evolved more & more into a deep & sometimes even a profound aspect of my Dhamma practice. One piece of this has been my decision to grow two crops for my ‘old age‘…. planting two crops that will return on their own year after year. Now I will have asparagus & strawberries to eat, even when I’m not up to the work of planting food each year. So yes, acknowledging & accepting in a deep way that I’m getting to be an old woman, and responding to this inevitability by planting a part of my garden for my nurturance in old age.
This year I have asked myself, ‘What is the Dhamma of a flower?‘ Is it not the same as it is for you & me? The poppies this season were particularly magnificent. These exquisite blossoms live just briefly. One must take them into the heart fully when they are in bloom, because they return to the earth in moments, it seems. This in turn offers nurturance, first for the heart/mind & then to the soil, and also a deep practice in relinquishing any clinging to the uplift & delight we experience in the presence of great beauty. I found myself observing each of the mammoth red poppies many times during the day or two that it offered up its vibrant & amazing beauty. For soon this fleeting beauty would be followed by that flower losing its brilliant color, its shape slowly collapsing & crumbling into itself & then falling petal by petal to the ground.
Each year, I experience awe & great respect for this practice of Dhamma gardening, as I receive its ever new & deepening Dhamma truths & fruits with heartful gratitude.
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