#1743 - Sunday, March 21, 2004
#1743 - Sunday, March 21, 2004 - Editor: Gloria Lee
To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
- Emily Dickinson
The Spirit of Gardening
Quotations, Poetry, and History for Gardeners and Lovers of the Green Way
Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo
All selections in this issue on Spring are from wandering in this vast garden...
just as it is,
as it is,
Flowers in bloom.
Nothing to add.
- Robert Aitken, Roshi, As it Is
When I see
Heaven and earth as
My own garden,
I live that moment
Outside the Universe.
- A Zen Harvest: Japanese Folk Zen Sayings, p. 53
Compiled and translated by Soiku Shigematsu
We learn from our gardens to deal with the most
urgent question of the time: How much is enough?
- Wendell Berry
In the third month of spring
the fruit is full on the enlightenment tree;
One night the flower blooms
and the whole world is fragrant.
- Dogen Zenji, 1200 - 1253
Rational Zen: The Mind of Dogen Zenji, p. 43
Translated and edited by Thomas Cleary
"Like a beautiful flower that is colorful but has no fragrance,
even well spoken words bear no fruit in one who does not put them into practice."
- The Buddha
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of
strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something
infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature— the assurance
that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.
- Rachel Carson
Step out onto the Planet.
Draw a circle a hundred feet round.
Inside the circle are
300 things nobody understands, and maybe
nobody's ever seen.
How many can you find?
- Lew Welch
From What Book, 1998, p. 124, Edited by Gary Gach
See with your eyes, hear
with your ears.
Nothing is hidden.
There is a reality even prior to heaven and earth;
Indeed, it has no form, much less a name;
Eyes fail to see it;
It has no voice for ears to detect;
To call it Mind or Buddha violates its nature,
For it then becomes like a visionary flower in the air;
It is not Mind, nor Buddha;
Absolutely quiet, and yet illuminating in a mysterious way,
It allows itself to be perceived only by the clear-eyed.
- Daio Kokushi, 1232 - 1308, On Zen
Manual of Zen Buddhism
A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
- Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton's Poetry: Emblems of a Sacred Season
Whenever learners or those beyond learning awaken the mind, for the first time they plant one buddha-nature. Working with the four elements and five clusters, if they practice sincerely they attain enlightenment. Working with plants, trees, fences and walls, if they practice sincerely they will attain enlightenment. This is because the four elements and five clusters and plants, trees, fences and walls are fellow students; because they are of the same essence, because they are the same mind and the same life, because they are the same body and the same mechanism.
- Dogen Zenji, Japanese Zen Buddhist Grand Master
Awakening the Unsurpassed Mind, #31
Translated by Thomas Cleary, Rational Zen: The Mind of Dogen Zenji
Vegetable Nirvana by Ito Jakuchu
A wee child toddling in a wonder world ... I prefer to their dogma my excursions into
the natural gardens where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of
birds, the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers.
If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.
The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting
and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as
possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don't
want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don't have
- Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, 1996, p. 101
There is more pleasure in making a garden than in contemplating a paradise.
- Anne Scott-James
The first act of awe, when man was struck with the beauty
or wonder of Nature, was the first spiritual experience.
- Henryk Skolimowski
If not ignored, nature will cultivate in the gardener a sense of
well-being and peace. The gardener may find deeper meaning
in life by paying attention to the parables of the garden. Nature
teaches quiet lessons to the gardener who chooses
to live within the paradigm of the garden.
- Norman H. Hansen
The Worth of Gardening
Beyond its practical aspects, gardening - be it of the soil or soul - can lead us on a
philosophical and spiritual exploration that is nothing less than a journey into the
depths of our own sacredness and the sacredness of all beings. After all, there must
be something more mystical beyond the garden gate, something that
satisfies the soul's attraction to beauty, peace, solace, and celebration.
- Christopher and Tricia McDowell, The Sanctuary Garden, 1998, p.13
Cortesia Sanctuary and Center
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through
which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
- George Washington Carver
God does not die on that day when we cease to believe in a personal
deity, but we die when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady
radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond
all reasoning. ... When the sense of the earth unites with the sense
of one's body, one becomes earth of the earth, a plant among plants,
an animal born from the soil and fertilizing it. In this union, the body
is confirmed in its pantheism.
- Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961)
It is this subtle dimension of understanding that marks the southwestern
Indian peoples from other religions and separates tribal peoples from the
world's religions. Somewhere in the planetary history religious expression
changed from participation in the sound, color and rhythm of nature to
the abstractions of man outside this context pleading for temporary respite
and hoping in the next life to return to the Garden.
- Vine Deloria, Jr., Frank Waters, Prophet and Explorer
The wind has settled, the blossoms have fallen;
Birds sing, the mountains grow dark --
This is the wondrous power of Buddhism.
- Ryokan, (1758-1831)
Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf
Translated by John Stevens
A haiku is not a poem, it is not literature; it is a hand becoming,
a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning
to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our
falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature. It is a way in
which the cold winter rain, the swallows of evening, even the very
day in its hotness, and the length of the night, become truly
alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and
- Haiku: Eastern Culture, 1949, Volume One, p. 243.
Translations and commentary by Reginald H. Blyth
For thirty years I have been in search of the swordsman;
Many a time have I watched the leaves decay
and the branches shoot!
Ever since I saw for once the peaches in bloom,
Not a shadow of doubt do I cherish.
- Ling-Yün and the Peach Blossoms
D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, 1953, 2nd Series, p. 145,
The road enters green mountains near evening's dark;
Beneath the white cherry trees, a Buddhist temple
Whose priest doesn't know what regret for spring's passing means-
Each stroke of his bell startles more blossoms into falling.
- Keijo Shurin
I praise those ancient Chinamen
Who left me a few words,
Usually a pointless joke or a silly question
A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the margin
of a quick splashed picture— bug, leaf,
caricature of a Teacher—
On paper held together now by little more than ink
& their own strength brushed momentarily over it
Their world and several others since
Gone to hell and a handbasket, they knew it—
Cheered as it whizzed by—
& conked out among the busted spring rain cherryblossom winejars
Happy to have saved us all.
- Philip Whalen, Hymnus ad Patrem Sinensis
You find a flower half-buried in leaves,
And in your eye its very fate resides.
Loving beauty, you caress the bloom;
Soon enough, you'll sweep petals from the floor.
Terrible to love the lovely so,
To count your own years, to say "I'm old,"
To see a flower half-buried in leaves
And come face to face with what you are.
- Han Shan, 630
Translated by Peter Stambler
Kasumi-ka kumo-ka.... asahi-ni niou
Cherry Blossoms, cherry blossoms.
On mountains, in villages.
As far as you can see.
They look like fog or clouds. They are fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms.
In full bloom.
~ ~ ~
Spring has again returned.
The Earth is like a child that knows many poems.
Many, O so many. For the hardship
of such long learning she receives the prize.
Strict was her teacher.
The white in the old man's beard pleases us.
Now, what to call green, to call blue,
we dare to ask: She knows, She knows!
- Rainer Marie Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, XXI
Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear
that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments,
not the composer.
- Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become,
I will always plant a large garden in the spring. Who can
resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from
participating in nature's rebirth?
- Edward Giobbi
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the
stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these
are some of the rewards of the simple life.
– John Burroughs
Botanists say that trees need the powerful March winds to flex
their trunks and main branches, so the sap is drawn up to
nourish the budding leaves. Perhaps we need the gales of life
in the same way, though we dislike enduring them.
- Jane Truax
Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment.
- Ellis Peters
Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"
- Robin Williams
O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve,
Just to watch the happy life of my green things growing.
- Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, Green Things Growing
I don't know what smell of wet earth or rotting leaves brought back my childhood
with a rush and all the happy days I had spent in a garden. Shall I ever forget that
day? It was the beginning of my real life, my coming of age as it were, and entering
into my kingdom. Early March, gray, quiet skies, and brown, quiet earth; leafless
and sad and lonely enough out there in the damp and silence, yet there I stood
feeling the same rapture of pure delight in the first breath of spring that I used to
as a child, and the five wasted years fell from me like a cloak, and the world was
full of hope, and I vowed myself then and there to nature and have been
happy ever since.
- Elizabeth von Arnim, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898