Digging into Samsara

I find working in the garden a good way to direct my energy. It seems good for the planet and definitely brings joy to me and Tarn—as well as the neighborhood. It is not always easy, especially when moving rocks and digging sod. On this day, I am removing a large patch of grass from beneath a juniper. The lawn does not really like it here and we can cap off another sprinkler head in our irrigation system. We are gradually reducing our water use by removing areas of lawn.

But the grass under this juniper is very stubborn. It resists being pulled up as it is enmeshed within tendrils of tree roots. I have to use the broad blade of a pick axe to chop through the mass. The juniper roots do not want to give up their cushy circumstances. It is like they know they are going to lose some of their frequent watering and are clinging to the situation, although I doubt whether it will notice the water loss in the long run. Junipers are desert trees after all. But the symbolism is not lost on me. How often do I cling to a situation I do not need? How much excess do we employ to give us a cushy existence? 

For instance, junipers are notorious water suckers. When they encroach on an open grassland, the grass soon dies and the junipers take over. Sounds like human impacts on the planet. We need to be more mindful of our use of precious natural resources and It will take a lot of work to give up our habits. When we get used to using something and set up the infrastructure to deliver it, it takes all the more work to dismantle it. Just like my 68-year-old body is screaming after a day of hard labor in pursuit of a bit of resource conservation.

This metaphor also mirrors our use of mental energy. Since we become so inured to our habits of mind, it takes some skill and sweat to dig into that sod and liberate it from the tendrils of samsara. This frees our inner resources to be spent more wisely in the service of compassion for all beings.

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