Friday, June 19, 2009

The One Seat

I just returned from my garden, where I had a bit of a tussle with an old hose and hose carrier that decided they didn't want to behave by my standards. Found myself covered with water and mud, and filled with irritation as I tried to fix the connector hose, which had broken off the carrier. It's long overdue to be retired, just as the chair in the photo above is I suppose. But who decides such things? And why? What is the motivation for rejecting old objects like this, just because they don't fit the pattern we want them to fit?

Bending over to remove the plants I had deemed unworthy of continuing, I thought of how curious it all is - this picking and choosing we seem to love to do. Sure, the now tall, lush tomato bush certainly has more value and appeal to me than the Canadian thistles that kept threatening to snuff it out. But what about those thistles? What is their one seat amongst all this?

I have what most would describe as a very weedy garden. Not that I don't pluck, but that I don't pluck as often as most do. Partly, this is out of awareness of the medicinial value of many of our weeds, as well as the plain beauty of some for which I have no "use" at all. Like those thistles. Unlike their cousins the milk thistle, these Canadian thistles don't seem to of much value to us humans. But take a close look at them sometime if you ever get a chance. I admire their toughness, their resistance to drought and their sheer willingness to grow tall and wide. And anyone getting close won't miss their thorniness, which bends and twists the plant's leaves in all sorts of interesting shapes. Certainly, they aren't what you want your foot to land on when you step, but then again, the poke I received this afternoon was enough for me to drop the fussing about the hose.

So, where do they fit in? Where is their one seat in this world? Or maybe it's better to ask where is our one seat in this world? Your seat? Mine?

When you sit to do your meditation, do you view that place as yours? Or are you one of those who claim to be beyond such thoughts, seeing this seat as a temporary place of being?

I think both of those answers miss the mark a bit.

Back to the thistles for a moment. When I view the garden as "mine," I'm more apt to remove every last "invader" that arrives in the soil. And when I say I'm beyond such thoughts, everything is suffocated by the few plants that can invade well and take over.

There's something about this crusty old chair that reminds me to not be so fast to have an answer. It sits in my garden, year after year, getting rustier and less attractive. Covered with snow in the winter; covered with vines in the summer. Sometimes, I sit on it. Other times, I don't. Visitors aren't so keen on it I think; even the neighbor's cat skips along past it without even a glancing consideration at the seat.

Sometimes, it's the very things that cease to have a function or value in our lives that can most teach us to be present in this world. But even if they teach us nothing, what about that? How can we move past the need for something, or someone else, to be of function or value to us?

I believe that when you are able to take your one seat, then the root of all of these questions will be clear.


Kris said...

Perhaps by investigating our interconnectedness, interdependence, by realizing self and other are one whole. The "need for someone else to be of function or value" rises out of the fear that we, ourselves are without function or value— it's the prick of the thistle, a cry for communion with the ultimate. "Need" is desire, dukka showing the wholeness of duality, showing us "our one seat"— the verb called Life, a simultaneous letting go and receiving. To be without function or value is ultimate freedom, infinite potential... er somthin like that.

Nathan said...

"The "need for someone else to be of function or value" rises out of the fear that we, ourselves are without function or value..." Hmm, yes, I can see this.

And definite, this kind of need is based on a craving mind, and is different, for example, from a need for water or food when thirsty or hungry.

Thanks for the comments Kris. Hope you're doing well.