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Several years back when I first started to consciously apply Buddhist mindfulness practices and teachings to my love of photography one of my grounding epiphanies occurred while exploring my then strong aversion to Columbines. Since that break through I’ve developed a fondness for a certain grouping of Columbines that I frequently visit.
Buddhism blends so perfectly with photography in how they are both life time practices and both teach the disciplines of patience, concentration, centering and finding places of stillness within; both celebrate the beauty and preciousness of life; and both reveal life’s fleeting nature.
Dawa’s explanation of how his Buddhist faith and practice helps him had lingered in my mind. The concepts were not new and yet for some reason they stuck with me more when I imagined them “spoken” in his style and voice.
Dawa found me sprawled out near the Columbines a few days later and sauntered over with a big smile and a bucket. I showed him a bit of what I was doing and how I play with flowers and light and the look in his eyes beamed just like any excited 5yr old’s face might and it hit me Dawa needs a macro lens and a tripod. Donations are accepted. Our deal is simple. He teaches me what he can about Buddhism and how he practices it and I teach him as much as I can about photographing flowers. Should be a snap. And would be if only…. But we are both sincere and earnest to share, to learn, and to teach. So I trust that what is needed will show up and land like a seed somewhere within each of us and “some where down the road, I don’t know exactly when,” bear fruit.
He began by telling me to gently push down anger, cruelty, jealousy, guilt, and pride and in their place to cultivate kindness, love, equality, and happiness. I was not sure what he meant by equality so he said: “I have a son, you have a son. I give my son a banana and I give your son a banana. All equal. All people are equal.”
Wow. What a concept. More to the point what a practice! Just imagine treating all people as equal….treating each person in our lives with kindness as if we were all of equal value all equally deserving….as if we were all one! I do believe Jesus and John Lennon both encouraged us to imagine and live as if “all were one.” Opps! There I go, getting swept up into the delusions of the universal a day dream believer..a what if kinda guy…a tendency that I share with….well everyone else.
So as the dharma wheel turns in everyone’s life, this past week it turned for me and there came about an opportunity to practice pushing down anger, jealousy and prideful emotions and the usual stories which accompany them. I paid attention, I explored and saw that anger was a smoke screen and jealousy was a mirror and pride was once more about to pull the trigger and down the road I would realize I had once more shot myself in the foot. Nature and necessity intervened. Tomo was barking at the door.
Tomo and I went for a walk and as she sniffed, pooped and ate some grass, I pondered how my pride had been wounded, my jealously inflamed and anger rising up to provide protection for my small and easily bruised ego self. I stopped – pausing to look around and take note of how beautiful this land and light is, and to breath and re-connect with my core and with the present moment, and I saw that I could just let if all go. I could just respond such that both myself and the other party each got a Banana Each given with equal kindness – with a realization that we are all intimately interconnected from a heart of generosity, compassion, and joy. The path forward was crystal clear and it was now time to play “duckie” with Tomo and hang out with the two favorite beings in my life.