Gardening from the Higher Perspective
The Open Temple of Buddha Nature

  In most monastic settings the most important jobs are given to the least important people. Gardening is the personification of Buddhism in action:
  • 1. The Soil represents the fertile ground of the Buddha Mind.
  • 2. The Sangha is in the community of plants
  • 3. The Dhamma as the expression of wisdom is the collective environment we call The Open Temple of Buddha Nature - The Garden.

The various practices of Buddhism are exemplified in our garden practice. The Buddha Nature that permeates all things is both still, being ever present, and also totally empty; void.

If we see the garden as the mind then:

  • 1. Paths are represent the clear ways to enlightenment.
  • 2. The condition of the soil represents the state of our Karma.
  • 3. The plantings represent both fruitful and blossoming ideas, and perennial and dying concepts.
  • 4. Seasons represent the fluctuations of the mind.

    Peace and serenity are always associated with gardening and when we walk with intent (walking meditation) we should be aware of those on our journey who need our attention, whether self or other as personified in the garden.

    Mindful weeding is attention with purpose and this will help us clear our own overgrown patches . . .

    All monastic gardens are an expression of the innate wisdom of the community and visitors. What you see is a reflection of yourself.

    We care for the garden through the practice of Metta - not just for others but for each plant and rock. If something is out of place we move it. If a plant cries out for attention, we give it - without fuss, without demand for reward. It is our sacred duty to give help before it is asked for and to demand no recompense.

    For the gardens will grow, will develop in accordance with those who aid and care. What do we care for but our many Buddha selves in the environment of the garden?

    The 4 Noble Truths of Gardening

    1. All gardens need perfecting
    Change, transition and evolution always exist in the garden. The imperfection moves towards a further impermanence that again needs attention.

    2. The reason why
    The cause of this continual dissatisfaction is the craving for a better environment. The desire for an unattainable goal, the creation of paradise or nirvana.

    3. The way to improve
    By understanding the nature of this constant turmoil and need for further evolution we see a means of satisfaction and acceptance open up.

    4. The means to improve
    Understanding that perfection is unattainable but realisable, we implement the 8 fold path to come to terms with our own dissatisfaction, transforming our lives and being through the practice of gardening . . .


The 8 Fold Path of Gardening

  Right Understanding
  Practice is always through choice. Gardening is the intention to improve. Anyone who does not understand the necessity of gardening as a service to the community and ultimately to themselves needs to meditate (preferably whilst engaged in a task) on the nature of walls, obstacles, hedging etc. which are barriers to be overcome.
  Right Mindedness
  In gardening the internal mind dialogue is replaced by the external Buddha in Nature. By focusing on being attentive to gardening we are turning inside out the nature of mind. When we can garden without thought we are approaching our practice with Right Mindedness.
  Right Communication
  Speech is one form of communication. All expression and all manifestation talks to us and we respond. What we say in our mind to this, is our speech - if we do not like this we must change it. Right speech is then the attention to our thoughts expression. In gardening it is our communication with nature, our commitment to growth and improvement that shows that actions speak louder than words.
  Right Action
  Gardening is activity. The more active we are in gardening - the quieter our minds become. This is quite often the opposite of meditation where our body is still but there many be much mental activity. Action is not only what is done but more importantly how. Anything done with an aim of perfection becomes an expression of the best we are capable of.
  Right Living
  Gardening is an expression of both Samsara and nirvana. In its interplay exists the whole realms of experience. When we for a time work as gardeners, we are engaged in the Boddisattva Vow to relinquish our own good for all sentient beings down to each blade of grass.
  Right Effort
  Through choice we ask ourselves to do more than we want or think we are able or capable of. This is very important as time goes on we find ourselves doing more and more. Sitting meditation becomes easier through practice Similarly gardening tasks that seem less enjoyable become easier until all aspects of gardening are seen in a non differential way.
  Right Attentiveness
  A distracted mind is destructive to the individual. An attentive and open mind, gives attention to being and action. This practice of bringing into the present, underlies much Buddhist Mystic training.
  Right Concentration
  Focusing on a gardening job is one of the best mind practices We sweep away extraneous thoughts - allowing them to gently dissipate. Focusing on our task and breath, we become better able to be efficient in all areas of our life. We do what we are doing - we give focus and attentive awareness to this.
  • Praise to the Buddha
  • Praise to the Dhamma
  • Praise to the Sangha