Monday, January 30, 2012

Measuring My Days by the Buddha in the Garden

Measuring My Days by the Buddha in the Garden

My husband granted me a wish two years ago. He purchased a "garden Buddha" for me.

I'd fancied a Hotei Buddha because the garden is such a happy place for me, and I wanted a Buddha who was just as joyous.

In case you'd like a little history on him:

"The celestial Buddha named Hotei or Pu-Tai is best known as the jolly Laughing Buddha. In China, he is known as the Loving or Friendly One ...

He has become a deity of contentment and abundance. His large protruding stomach and jolly smile have given him the common designation "Laughing Buddha."The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack (that which never empties) which is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. He is patron of the weak, poor and children."

So here you see my happy Hotei in the summer, in the garden's prime. I placed him in the center of the garden, strategically facing my kitchen window, so that when I am cooking or doing dishes I can bask in his mirth. Hotei makes me laugh.

And he also invites me to never forget my JOY, my gratitude for the life I have been given—even with its potholes and pitfalls. As the Buddha taught, I believe life is GOOD, no matter what.

Summer is my best time of year, being a July-sun-and-sand sort of gal. It's easy to be happy in the summer.

And then Fall came.

I started to worry about my garden Buddha. Everything was dying and fading around him. There was no "real" beauty to honor him anymore. Traditionally, when statues of the Buddha are indoors, we show respect by offering fresh flowers, if possible.

I thought about this for awhile and then realized, if I was truly a student of the Buddha I would be just fine with the presence of death and decay. The Buddha was. It was a growing edge for me to see him sitting peacefully day after day, all the beauty gone. Once I got used to this fact, I celebrated the Buddha's perpetual happiness with things as they are ... death and all. I strive to feel the same.

I also noticed how faded his head was becoming from the bright sun. And how scratched he was from the birds in the garden sitting on him. Should I bring Hotei inside and protect him from the elements and creatures? I decided not. This Buddha would be alright with the hot sun and playful birds. He would be accepting of what is.

And now it is winter. And, if truth by told, I do not love winter. The snows have come and I hole in. In previous years I removed my Buddha from his garden home and stored him in the garage for safety. This year a voice said to leave him be. 'Remember, he will be just fine wherever he is and you can be too ...'

Each day as I stand at the kitchen sink doing dishes, I spend a few moments with my garden Buddha. I marvel at his resilience and willingness to be with life as it is. He teaches me in this way and I measure my own growth by his enduring presence.

The heavy snows that fell today finally cleared and when I looked out the window I discovered that Buddha was now wearing a bib, a body bib of snow. How amusing he looked! Despite the frigid covering, his hand could still be seen, a mudra offering blessings of peace and ease. I simply had to pull on my boots and climb the drifts to take a picture of him.

Isn't he precious? Doesn't he make you smile?

The snows will be here for a few more months and I'll continue to measure my inner growth by the seasons that pass. Hotei will be the indicator of how I'm doing; how able I am to live in the present moment with life as it is; how willing I am to let go and live fully in the present, a delicate tightrope walk between regretting, disliking, accepting, and hoping for an early spring. 

"Be here now," he invites. So I am.

Someone else is here in the garden too. She's holding up well under the snows. I thought you'd enjoy seeing her. I appreciate her presence here. I'm confident the Buddha does too.


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1 comment:

mermaid said...

I really appreciate this post Jan, especially today!

Just came back from the SRMC Sacred Feminine retreat and I feel so much fatigue, irritation, and have this cough!

'As the Buddha taught, I believe life is GOOD, no matter what.'

I guess the metta, karuna, and mudita that surround us during challenging times help us to stand on the ground of upekkha, adorned with flowers or covered in snow!