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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stone Buddhas


It looks like the peppermint oil soap misted onto the kale has saved it, just barely. From a distance the greens don't look too bad, but from up close the older leaves are fine green lacework. But the flea beetles are gone, who knows where.

I gather the worst leaves and give them to the residents of the poultry moat. I'm also delivering to them a fair amount of zucchini, sliced, some comfrey, and bunches of seeded grapes. I stand companionably among them, munching my own grapes (the seedless ones). The chickens are quickly done with theirs and gather round my feet, waiting for the ones that get away. 

The not-so-bad leaves are carried to the dehydrator. They're a bit too tattered to interest the people in my life, but dried, crumbled almost to a powder, and stored in a jar close to the soup-making and bread-baking, they'll find their uses.


It's hot out, 97F yesterday and 94F today, and smoke from the fires has settled in the valley. An old firefighter, I tend to think the wood smoke smells like money, but I was step-tested out of that line of work three decades ago. I know breathing the smoke's not good for me now (if it ever was) and so I wear a mask when out of the house.


My shadow is tinged with red. Heat waves shimmer on the street beyond our place. Behind the heat waves there's a curtain of brown -- can't see to the other end. Maybe I shouldn't stay out too long.

I'm here to pick tomatoes, but I'm getting distracted. A couple of ears of corn would be nice at dinner, some of the pumpkins have turned, the gourds are ready, and as usual there are zukes -- half for us, half for the birdyard.

I pile my winnings around the stone Buddha and bow before bringing them in.


To make this kind of Buddha all you need is three rocks in three sizes. Find a nice place -- I've turned up a terracotta dish among the rhubarb plants for a platform -- set down the big one, then the middle sized one, then the little bitty one, in a bit of a balancing act.

There's no actual need to do this, of course; I'm one with everything, so why single out some rocks and put pietistic freight on them, neh? My son saw the rockpile in the rhubarb patch, immediately kenned what I was up to, and said, "why don't ya put a soup can there and bow to that? You're looking for trouble."

We laughed.

I'm old now; sixty-five. I might need reminders of stuff. Three rocks can be the legs, body and head of Shakyamuni or any bodhisattva or practitioner of zazen -- all of the above. I'm reminded of my commitment to spend some time sitting. And I appreciate that, so I bow.

Three rocks can also be the Three Refuges.
I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dharma.
I take refuge in the Sangha.
Sometimes the Buddha is the bottom rock, upholding the Dharma (the four great truths, the eight great ways, and the five right doings), which upholds the Sangha (the community of those living the Dharma). 

And maybe the Buddha is the little head rock, the one that falls off sometimes when a busy gopher tunnels by. Many a budding Buddha falls off the Dharma from time to time, but the Sangha waits, rock-steady for that Buddha's return.

There's a rock stack on the bureau in my bedroom, and for the life of me I can't find the Buddha's head, which fell when I went to get a pair of socks. Rolled into a corner somewhere, and is enjoying a stint as a spider's web anchor, perhaps.

Or, the rock stack can serve as a reminder of Permaculture's three ethics.
Earth Care
People Care
Fair Share
Well, that's all right, too. I mean about falling rocks. Sometimes I flub earth care, as when I drive the truck to town, having chosen to live too far away to ride a bike. Or I flub fair share, as when I dip the serving spoon one too many times into the nicest dish.

But it's good to have the reminder right there, three stones doing what stones do, which is remain rock steady.

So, out in the zendo, my day in the kitchen garden and the garden kitchen done, I pull up a bench and sit, imitating the stone buddha that I've stacked on the side table that serves as an altar.


I take refuge in enlightenment and earth care.
I take refuge in right doing and people care.
I take refuge in mindfulness and fair share.
Something like that.

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