Friday, April 15, 2011

One Thing Doesn't Stand Against Another

I have been painting, not on canvas, not on cradled panels, no paper involved. No Buddhas, no abstract marks, just swaths of green paint, the colour of Martha Stewart's fancy chicken eggs. Painting walls, struggling with the application of eco friendly paint that doesn't quite cover like that old toxic stuff. But it's done now, the zendo painted, from it's deep purply brown that stole light from the room, to a gentle green that calls the forest in at the windows.

I like the feeling of small accomplishments, a room painted, a meal prepared for visiting friends, a feeling somehow of making this place home, cleaning, tidying, bringing order, becoming the caretakers and grateful dwellers of this place.

We have been working to get the inside things done in the hope that the sun will soon shine and call us out to spend whole days in the great outdoors, the dream of pale sun deprived northerners before summer arrives. We burned that last of some old branches, paying attention to the burn ban that took effect today even though the ground still sucks at your boots at the far end of the pond. Other branches will get composted in piles in the woods. Always honest work to do in the country, work that employs muscles and organs and quiets the mind. An opportunity to hear the towhees screech, see an eagle fly overhead, watch a deer loaf in the meadow.

And while all the work and pretty making is fine, it is important to know, I remind myself, that I can never really control life, by creating a facade of order. I can never stop the movement of the shifting and changing nature of life by trying to arrange things in ways that please me. Trees fall, roofs leak, muscles get pulled. And yet this doesn't negate me working to create beauty or enjoying the pleasing look of a pile of brush removed from a grassy knoll. One thing does not stand against the other. In fact knowing that things will change, that things can turn in ways that may not please me, helps me when the inevitable happens. I am not so surprised. I may still be rattled, but I don't ask, why me, why now?

I am reading a wonderful little book on karma called "Kamma and the End of Kamma" (kamma is the Pali for the Sanskrit, karma) by Ajahn Sucitto. Here's a nice little quote from the book as I head off to read some more of it. I am filling it with underlines and undoubtedly I will share more wise bits as the days go on: "... Because I can't hold onto what I want and can't get away from what I don't want, the underlying mood of self is restless and unfulfilled. I keep trying to find the good state... but this one isn't quite it. Thus there is dis-ease. Liberation from this dis-ease and stress is thus synonymous with Awakening out of the dissatisfied self."


  1. I don't know if you knew this or not, but you blog is being copied verbatim and not attributed to you.

    Some others like Nathan's Dangerous Harvests and The Zennist have been copied there as well.

  2. Oh my to read your lovely post and then to read the above comment. what does it mean?

    There is such satisfaction on making our living spaces hum the way we like. yours is beautiful. but there is the broken hearted warrior thing. we all know that change happens yet we still go on making life the best we can. thanks for the reminder.

  3. So very beautiful. Your words, the gentle greens, the generous sunlight.

    You're inspiring me at so many levels!


  4. I really needed to hear this right now. Sometimes life reminds me I can't control everything and that I need to live more in the moment and learn from the "tree even when it falls".

    I love the colors you've chosen for your zendo. It's a beautiful interior from floor to ceiling.

  5. Thanks, Adam. I didn't know this. Slightly disturbing. It's a blogger site so I will report it. Good practice n'est pas? In a generous moment, I thought perhaps it is an aggregator site and they haven't figured out how to post credit? But always to be realistic and take appropriate action. There doesn't seem to be a way to contact this bloggerl

    Suki - I love that, "the broken hearted warrior" Describes our position, doesn't it. Sounds very much like a Chogyam Trungpa description.

    Genju - Thanks and thanks for posting for me on

    Gallery Juana - So easy to forget that we're not the directors of this show and that can cause us a lot of grief sometimes.

  6. "one does not stand against the other" - beautiful way to put it, reminding me that the "spiritual" and mundane, the inner and the outer, do not oppose one another, but that everything is in harmony - like the Tao. Your space is calming/harmonizing just seeing the photos - harmonizing the inner and the outer. I am green with envy :) (sorry couldn't resist that one...) Your words are also wonderful reminders that creating order is not in order to control, but that there is harmony in creating order that allows Life to emerge and flow...

    I love the gentle way you bring this teaching. It inspires and encourage me to keep going here. Thanks

  7. What a nice post - I felt like I was reading a poem! Time to get back to the island and the reno's.

    "Genju - Thanks and thanks for posting for me on" You were kidding, right?

    Genju kindly pointed out to me today that I was facebook friends with Buddharocks (I'm not even sure how it happened) and I have since unfriended them/it.

  8. In case anyone wants to e-mail Buddharocks, go here:

    They are using an RSS feed, which just picks up the content. I also learned it's pretty impossible to block an RSS feed, so perhaps pestering the blog owner and/or reporting the content are the best options.

  9. MeANderi - "One thing doesn't stand against the other" is a phrase my Zen teacher often used when things seemed like opposites but weren't. It is very helpful, isn't it.

    David - Yes, come spend time on this delicious island! And perhaps I wasn't clear; Lynette went to Buddharocks and posted that they were using my content without permission.

    Nathan - thanks for the email address. In truth I am a total luddite about most of this. I have let blogger and adsense know what's up as this seemed appropriate to me. I will email br as well.

    I have a little post idea up my sleeve too that seems a bit like fun.

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  10. Your soft green space brings the outdoors in--it's lovely! We are sprucing up our kitchen, so I sketch on paper & canvas, play with cloth & beads when I can. Your current reading strikes a chord as well. I had a "grumpy" moment just before the weekend--me being momentarily silly in being dissatisfied... it was all about "me" ;o) So very sorry your blog has been ripped off! I hope the matter will be resolve and you will still be here.

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  12. We have been looking for that color of green for our living room for AGES. What did you use?

  13. I would LOVE to know what paint color this is?