Monday, May 9, 2011

Dalai Lama and Gardening Weekend

Hi Everyone! I'm back from my little gardening/break from writing weekend. It was quite fun I have to say. Saturday morning, my mother and I took our annual trip to the local Quaker grade school's plant sale. In 22 years, it's grown from a tiny fundraiser in the backyard of the school, into a three day extravaganza held at the State Fair grounds. Between 9am and around 1pm, when we left to go home, there had already been about 1500 people through the doors. And this was the second day of the sale! The school has been fortunate you might say.

I had planted some greens and few cold season veggies earlier in April, but the winter dragged on this year, and it's really only been in the past week that we have had temperatures safe enough for putting the lions share of new plants in.

And yet, there were some familiar face greeting me as I turned over the soil. Patches of mint. Oregano. Chives. Bee balm. Some berry bushes bursting with new leaves. A whole lot of nettle (which I make medicine with). And dandelions. Another medicine plant friend. Even though I know some of this stuff will come back each year, it's often surprising to me how - even with the worst of winters - some things reappear much larger and more bountiful than the previous year. As if to say "I don't care about the cold; just keep growing."

For some reason, that makes me think of the Dalai Lama, who I saw speak yesterday at the University of Minnesota (photo above). Most of his speech was pretty simple. Be compassionate. More people are paying attention to how our hearts are developing and the way our minds work, and this trend needs to continue. Education institutions need to be more deliberate in helping people learn to train their minds. Religious and secular people need to work together more, because we are all responsible for the world together.

I'd also forgotten how funny the guy is. He cracked jokes about his bald head, and was quite jolly about receiving a U of M visor, which you can see him wearing in the photo.

However, one thing that struck me was story he related about speaking with Queen Elizabeth's mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, back in 1996. Having been born in 1900, the Dalai Lama felt she would have a unique perspective as someone who had lived through the entire 20th century. He asked her "Do you think the world is getting better or worse?" And without hesitation, she said "better." The Dalai Lama went on to comment how issues like human rights weren't even on the table back in 1900, and now are the concern of millions of people around the world. And how in the middle of the century, people were getting together to create nuclear weapons, and now you have efforts around the world to stop nuclear production and reduce nuclear stockpiles - even amongst nations like the U.S. and Russia.

For all the miserable stuff going on, it does help to take a long view, to see how things are unfolding across centuries worth of time. So, I appreciated that expansiveness, which is a good counterbalance to day to day considerations. Both are valuable, but without each other, it's easy to get lost.

So, I hope you all had a good weekend. May life spring forth in your corner of the world this day!

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