Bud of Awakening

The little dwarf weeping willow outside our front door has had a rough winter so far. Not because of the weather, it has been quite mellow as winters go, but because the mule deer seem to like eating it. The bucks also like to spar with the tree, severely shredding the bark. I was wondering if it would survive to leaf out in the spring. 

This morning, however, as I gaze through the window in the dawning light, I notice little patches of white on the ends of branches. I walk outside to examine more closely and see unmistakeable fuzzy buds dotting the ends of bare twigs. This is unusually early in the season, but I suspect the little tree wants to get a head start recuperating from the trauma of winter and antlers. Or maybe it wants to teach me about resilience. Nature always teaches about resilience.

The little fuzzy buds also mirror the meaning of the word ‘buddha’ which is a past participle of the Sanskrit seed syllable budh: to awake, to know, to perceive. In the plant world, the word ‘bud’ comes from the Middle English budde: bud or seed pod. Some etymologists suggest a connection between budde and buddha, as the origins of budde get a bit hazy. It does not matter. I think the link is obvious. When we awaken to the true nature of our awareness, it opens like a flower bud.

But back to this moment. The willow bud is a buddha teaching me. It echos the wisdom inherent in natural phenomena: whatever happens creates an opportunity for growth. Awakening is always possible, even amidst the harshest of experiences. And, just like a flower, the bud effortlessly turns into a blossom and offers its fragrance to everyone equally.

The teachings of Buddha are this simple.

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