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Gardening today and I felt like I was getting in touch with the Buddhist who lives inside of me. Buddhism teaches that the way we live our lives and safeguarding our environment are closely connected. Both of these endeavors ask us to overcome the forces of greed and hate that live inside each of us. There is an intimate relationship between the world and ourselves which means that when we properly care for ourselves we will care for the world, and when we do what’s best for the world, we benefit ourselves. I was spraying for the weeds that come up around the paving stones along my backyard pathway. Using vinegar mixed with salt (or Epsom salt) and dish detergent I diligently sprayed the weeds and/or pulled them out with my fingers. Bella lay in the sun at the backyard gate to protect me from “all sorts of dangers”!! I hated that the vinegar seemed to sting the earthworms and drive them out, so I tried to move them back to some soil that was untouched by the vinegar mix. The ants that were affected did not get so much of my compassion!
Taking care of this little piece of land on Ivy Lane gives me great pleasure. It’s not always easy; there are some things that I can’t do which require help, but being outside digging in the dirt on a warm day is a joy. A friend gave me “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World”. It is written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. In 2015 he Dalai Lama and Tutu met in Dharamsala, India (where His Holiness lives in exile) to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 8th birthday. Both of these men have known and borne great sorrows in their lives through years spent in exile and the soul destroying experience of violent oppression. Yet, in the midst of their personal sufferings they remain joy filled in a childlike and infectious way. They write this in their introduction:
“No dark fate determines the future”. We do. Each day and each moment we are able to create and re-create our lives and the very quality of human life on our planet. This is the power we wield. Lasting happiness cannot be found in the pursuit of any goal or achievement. It does not reside in fortune or fame. It resides only in the human mind and heart…”
I thought about these words today as I played with planting flowers, which will ultimately die . Life is about creating and recreating. It is about, I believe, reflecting the nature of the One in whose image we are created. I believe the nature of God is creative. When we care for ourselves and one another, and care for creation we are mirrors of the God who lives and who loves us.