Thursday, July 14, 2022
HomeZenI am going to Maintain You Alive

I am going to Maintain You Alive


In a few weeks, I am going to have my one-year anniversary of dwelling on a homestead.  And I can say with full honesty that I really like this life.  Rising meals and caring for animals is rewarding.  

Watching the land develop and shrink all year long is academic.  And being surrounded by nature is nourishing.

That mentioned, there have been challenges and arduous classes.  I feel I could have killed my tractor.  Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to go away fuel in it over the winter.  And several other timber have fallen down in our again pasture.  So, these will should be limbed and quartered in some unspecified time in the future.

An important problem (and lesson) got here early final yr once I was working within the backyard.  I used to be coping with an infestation of striped cucumber beetles that have been threatening to destroy our squash vegetation.  this was after coping with slugs that threatened to destroy our bean crops and gypsy moths that threatened to eat our collard greens.

As I stood there baking underneath the summer season solar, rigorously spraying every tender leaf with soapy water within the hope that it could hold the beetles away, I spotted that the whole lot on earth wished to kill my backyard.

The neighborhood cats wished to dig up my greens, the bugs wished to eat them.  And the solar wished to rob my backyard beds of water.  Because the gardener, it was my job to maintain these issues from taking place.  I needed to hold the backyard alive.

I realized this lesson once more once I introduced chickens on the property.  After I first bought them they have been puffballs, I may barely inform one from one other.  However they grew shortly, creating feathers and personalities.  Finally, it was time for them to go away the security of my barn.

And that is the place the issues began.  It seems everybody likes to eat chickens.  Possums, raccoons, weasels, hawks, canines, cats; something with enamel or talons is a hazard to my birds.  

So, I constructed them a coop, and I constructed them a hen run.  The chainlink fence that enclosed their run to maintain canines out was bolstered with a layer of hen wire to guard them from raccoons.  Then extra hen wire was put excessive to maintain the hawks out.  

I even nailed down the fencing with backyard staples to make sure that nothing may dig beneath.  My birds reside comfortably inside an iron dome that might require wire cutters and opposable thumbs to breach  However it’s not sufficient.

It is not sufficient as a result of chickens do not do nicely within the warmth.  Their inner physique temperature is 105 levels, and their feathers are like winter coats that they can not take off. If the out of doors temperature goes above 85 levels, their in peril of warmth exhaustion.  So, my summer season was spent placing ice cubes of their water to maintain them cool and feeding them watermelon to maintain them hydrated.

The issues continued into the winter months.  I went out two, generally thrice a day to switch their frozen water with the liquid form.  I weatherproofed their coop and run with heavy tarps.  Chilly temperatures aren’t a hazard to the birds, however they should be stored out of the wind and rain.  In addition they want a gradual provide of dry bedding to make sure they do not get frostbite on their toes.

Sooner or later, once I needed to chip ice off of the hen coop’s door earlier than I may open it, I spotted the whole lot on earth desires to kill my birds.  Animals need to eat them, the solar desires to cook dinner them, and the snow desires to freeze them.  Because the hen keeper, It was my job to maintain that from taking place.  I needed to hold the chickens alive.

The identical is true of the cats, my household, and each dwelling factor on this homestead.  For every of them, I need to stand within the hole; inserting my physique between them and a world that wishes to do them hurt.

Thus, the trail of a homesteader is like the trail of a Bodhisattva

When Buddha first laid out the trail to enlightenment, he taught the Sravaka and the Pratyekabuddha dharmas.  The previous centered on strict monastic self-discipline inside the confines of a Buddhist group.  And the latter centered on meditative coaching; achieved in isolation.

In each circumstances, the first aim was to comprehend enlightenment as shortly as potential to finish the non-public struggling of the practitioner.

Late in life, Buddha taught the trail of the Bodhisattva.  Explaining that the dharmas of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas may solely get us to the cusp of full enlightenment.  If a practitioner desires to comprehend full, full enlightenment, Annutarra Samyak Sambodhi, they need to grow to be a Bodhisattva.

A Bodhisattva is a being who vows to comprehend enlightenment for the categorical function of saving different sentient beings from struggling.  so, whereas their very own happiness actually enters the equation, it’s the happiness of others that drives a Bodhisattva to stroll the Buddhist path.

To an out of doors observer, this will likely seem to be an odd course of occasions.  Why would Buddha hassle educating the Sravaka and Pratyekabuddha dharmas if solely the Bodhisattva realizes full enlightenment?  The reason being easy.  

The journey of a Bodhisattva is tough, it requires a robust private apply.  Greater than that, it is unimaginable as a result of even because the Bodhisattvas work to save lots of all beings from struggling, they perceive that there the place at all times be extra struggling to work via, and extra beings to save lots of.

In Vasubandhu’s Treatise on the Bodhisattva Vow, it is described on this manner:

If beings have been to return to an finish, then and solely then would my vows then come to an finish.  Nevertheless, beings are really limitless.  subsequently these nice vows of mine shall additionally by no means come to an finish.

What’s lovely about this passage is the extent of dedication it describes.  Bodhisattvas perceive that there’ll at all times be beings who are suffering on the planet.  So, they reply with a promise; that they’re going to by no means cease working to finish that struggling.

However what does struggling appear like?  How can we codify the Bodhisattva vow, in order that it is helpful in each day life?

Merely put, struggling is the pile of soiled dishes within the sink.  It is the driveway that is buried underneath two toes of snow, it is the sick youngster that wakes up crying each two hours.  

And the work of a Bodhisattva is to deal with that struggling; wash the dishes, shovel the snow, consolation the kid with the data that it is solely a matter of time earlier than the dishes are soiled, the driveway is roofed, and the kid is sick once more.

As people, we reside in a world bent on destroying the whole lot we love.  As Buddhists, we wrap our arms across the issues we love; preserving them secure, preserving them alive for so long as we are able to.  

Once we do that, once we stroll the trail of a Bodhisattva, satisfaction shouldn’t be discovered within the completion of our work.  Fairly, satisfaction and a way of success come from our willingness to do the work again and again. 

I take into consideration this as I am going about my work on the homestead.

I do know I am combating a dropping battle.  I do know there’ll come a day when my backyard beds are rotted, when nothing grows in them however weeds.  

I do know there’ll come a day when my chickens die, when my physique is simply too previous and feeble to guard them from this world.  I do know I will fail.

However that day will not be in the present day. As we speak, I am going to stroll the Bodhisattva path.  As we speak, I am going to wrap my arms round my chickens, my backyard, my household.

I am going to wrap my arms round all dwelling issues.  And when the world makes an attempt to do them hurt, I am going to inform them, “Don’t fret, I am going to hold you alive”.

Namu Amida Butsu

 For those who loved this essay, you may love my books!


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