Hidden Opening

We created a small native plant garden in the side yard of our home. It is a wonderful expression of how desert plants require very little to survive. The plants do not like too much water and heaven forbid we should fertilize them! Best to leave them alone, as the horticulturists say. They have been blooming and reproducing just fine without our intervention for hundreds of thousands of years.

A new addition to our garden last year was a desert evening primrose (Oenothera cespitosa). This species particularly dislikes rich soil, preferring bare or rock-covered ground, shrubby scrub or chaparral. We wondered if our garden soil might be too generous. This year the plant was established enough to produce lots of foliage and blossoms. But the flowers only bloom in secret; they unfurl in the night. In the morning, we awaken to fragrant delicate white mandalas. When the blooming cycle is finished, the foliage eventually withers and disappears—as if no plant ever existed.

I think this is the way the Dharma opens to us. It secretly blossoms in our hearts but we must slow down and enter the silence to recognize its presence. The silence is not necessarily quiet. It is the vibrant space inside every moment, like the short pause between inhale and exhale. We inhale our experience and pause to reflect before exhaling our compassionate action. This natural liturgy is hidden in the subtle fragrance and bloom.

As long as our ego does not step in to offer unnecessary water and fertilizer (running off at the mouth and spouting crap?) we bloom out of sight while effortlessly offering our beauty and fragrance to benefit others. The most enlightened of our human species are rarely seen because they always blossom in the shadows of ordinary life and vanish without a trace. This is the way of a bodhisattva.

The bodhisattva in us manifests without a need to read a sacred Dharma text, but a text might arise in the lotus of our devotion. We do not need to practice meditation for the bud of awareness to open, but when we settle our mind a flower blooms. We inhale the sacred texts and practices as a recognition of nature’s way—the earth, water, fire, wind, and space of uncontrived wisdom. We then exhale our love…and disappear.

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