"All Beings Are Flowers Blooming In A Blooming Universe" Soen Nakagawa. I love this quote and have used it on a piece of art. I feel immersed in all things "gardeny" today. I am getting ready to spend 2 days at Glendale Gardens, Art & Music in the Garden with 62 other artists. I am particularly excited that I will be situated in my element, the Japanese Garden. It is quite gorgeous. The last ingredient I am hoping for is unrain, not necessarily sunshine, but unrain would be good. But alas as we know from many aspects of our practice, much of life is not within our control and we get to respond to what comes along. If it rains, it will not be the rain that causes me "to suffer" but my reaction to it.
It seems all things garden are around me. Yesterday we went with our little band of Buddhists to a talk at the Art Gallery on the religious nature of gardens in China & Japan. We had great fun, first eating at "Bliss", a local raw food restaurant and then heading over to the gallery. The presenter asked us to reflect for a moment on what the garden meant to us personally.
I love to garden and being a "generalist" rather than a detail person I am not so much into plant names and grand plans. I just love to get in there and muck about. I go for what pleases my eye and while I like colour I love things a bit spare and simple. But the garden for me is definitely a place to connect on a very personal level with nature; to feel the breeze and the sun and the earth under my finger nails. It is a place of peace and a solace, a place to contemplate. Strangely I love to pull weeds. I haven't had so much time for it this year but I used to love to pull the clover from the lawn by hand. (Some neighbours thought me quite mad for doing this.) But for me, weeding has always reminded me that our minds are a bit like gardens and as I weed, it reminds me to weed my mind of unwholesome thoughts, to cultivate what I want to grow there. And the spreading nature of clover reminds me of how we are all connected. Those are always thoughts that cross my mind as I weed and I find it one of those calming, pleasing activities.
And as I sat in meditation this morning the article on "Late Bloomers" by Malcolm Gladwell that appeared in the New Yorker some time ago, popped into my head. He relates it to the artistic process and it is a wonderful piece. Those of us who have come to art later in life can probably identify with his writing. Apparently the process of late bloomers differs vastly from early bloomers like Picasso. We tend to be more process oriented and take longer to explore and get around to the finished product. It's well worth a read.
And in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter if you bloom early or late, as long as you bloom. For me, blooming, in this context, simply means to become your authentic self, whoever that is, to explore your potential, to regard your life as an adventure. And of course in every adventure there are some untoward events, the canoe tips, you trip over a tree root, get bitten by wood ticks. This of course is life in the human realm, some sukkha, some dukkha. And we are all flowers blooming in this adventure garden. So many different colours and shapes and sizes. And it is fun to regard all the beautiful and strange, perplexing and exciting flowers we meet in this earthly garden, if only we can appreciate them for their particular foliage. Here's to another summer weekend in the garden. May your harvest be bountiful and may you enjoy what your adventure has to offer.