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Friday, June 05, 2015

Through the eastern window

 I am weeding, which is a two-part process. Some weeds I know the chickens are fond of, so I cut or pull them and make a pile to take to the poultry zones. The rest I "chop and drop." Here you can see some chopping about to commence, while a bundle of amaranth rests in the trellis till I'm done and can be transported to the henyards.

When we arrived here two decades ago, there was a ratty pie cherry tree near the street with a number of dead branches. It has been featured in this blog a number of times and may be a friend to long-time readers. This year it has ripening cherries a little over two weeks ahead of schedule.

I thought I would do some cutting back but it was fourteen years before I did anything about it, during which the tree generously fruited every year, one big pie's worth. We didn't always get these, due to a thing: if you wait for the day that you will get the most and ripest cherries, the birds will strip it the preceding afternoon.

I pollarded the tree in 2007, after discovering two whips right below where I wanted to make the cut. Got some good firewood and since then the tree has responded nicely, with plenty of cherries after about a two year layover.

In the late afternoon I mowed the courtyard with the push reel mower and tied up some vines, then covered the last four south and west facing windows with burlap for the summer heat. After that, Toto and I went out to the zendo to visit our quiet friend.

We rang the bell, did some silent sitting, and rang the bell again.

What I think about when I think about the religions is that the core message, when the texts that some of them have (suggesting to kill or discriminate against those who are different or hold different views) are taken away, is to do no harm.

No religion, or shall I say, no form of pietism (in which one or more gods, spirits or realms are held to be superior to other beings or places) is required to come to that conclusion. One need not be obedient or subordinate to any being or realm to conclude that what is right and decorous is to do no harm. You may work within any religious framework or none at all.

My son tells me that "none at all" is best where Occam's Razor is concerned. I get that. I also think that in Zen we have a framework within which there is room for "none at all."

The lists of suggestions to be found in Buddhism toward following and staying on a path to non-harm are, I think, handy and a basis for good training. I suspect it can be helpful to sit still and bring my best available attention to that core, and so I'm investigating -- seeking confirmation as to the utility of a practice which for decades I admired from, as it were, afar.

We left some water in one dish and some vetch flowers in the other and tiptoed away. A pair of towhees watched the whole business through the eastern window.


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