Pema Chodron is a favorite of mine. And in a moment of whimsy, I bought a workshop of hers online, The Freedom To Choose Something Different. In it she talks about watering the seeds of karma. It is a theme that percolates zen teachings quite frequently, and one that gives me great peace.
In my favorite book Paradise in Plain Sight, Lessons from a Zen Garden by Karen Maezen Miller, there are plentiful references to weeds, sunlight, water and growth. The basic idea is that we water the good. We nurture the good just as the earth nurtures our gardens, and that we cultivate what we grow by the attention, love and care we give to things. Pema Chodron talks at length about choosing not to water the seeds of negativity because they cause pain and suffering.
So, seeds that cause suffering in our lives should not be watered. And I think as we grow and journey through our lives, we can look around us and see evidence of the plants that we have watered along the way. In these darkest hours of my life, I have been looking around and seeing beautiful plants in my garden. They are everywhere– raising me up, holding me aloft, loving me and providing me with strength and beauty where I could see none.
These plants are mowing my lawn without my asking. They are bringing me dinners and calling me regularly. Coming to visit from out of state. Sending me flowers. Texting me with inspirational quotes every day. Bringing me beer and sitting on the couch with me. They have walked for miles with me and sat listening and encouraging me without flinching. Their kindness has enveloped my home in a tight cocoon of friendship. There are times when I picture a baby water buffalo in the center of a circle of adult water buffalos. They face out and away, forming a protective barrier from danger. They have stood by and protected me and loved me when I found myself completely unloveable. My children and I have been wrapped up in the warm quilt of their love and it is the most soothing and comforting thing I have ever experienced.
These friends who are really so much more than that word can convey have been my net, my pillow, my shoulder, my family, my life. Not only have they brought me such security and peace in a terrifying and devastating time, they have helped me to see that some of the seeds I have watered in my life have been good. More than good.
As I said a long time ago about zen, it is always here. Always shedding light and bringing peace. I just have to be awake enough to see it. I am awake. I see it. Here it is.