As Spring unfolds, my joy in all this budding and flowering takes me back to Jukai, the taking of the precepts last year and how on my return I walked into the garden and felt so connected to all the unfurling and budding and blossoming. This year I was eager for the signs – I carefully watched the early budding of the dog roses, the hazels, the slow growth of buds on the pear and apples, the flowering of damson and blackthorn and I took and take great delight in the early nesting behaviours of the birds, the birdsong and the territorial arguments of the young male blackbirds and on the first warm days the appearance of the first small flying insects. Everything is so alive. For some weeks now I have been spotting bumblebee queens, searching for nesting sites and nectar from the early flowers – red tailed, white tailed and carder have all been about. I have been taking a weekly walk down to the old curling pond to check for frogspawn – I presume too much and succumb to expectancy – a whole realm of thought around will it be like last year, will I hear the sound of frogs, will they all be writhing there in the pond, after all it is spring, they should be there, and then more thought on my past and collecting tadpoles for the tank in class as a child, the delight in seeing them grow and transform and so on… – so far I have spotted none, but Suzie (the dog) and I have encountered a couple of frogs on the path. Spring seems to me to be about emergence, unravelling, unfurling, flowering and awakening. Yesterday at dusk the dog and I walked to the burn under a near full moon and found myself thinking about the significance of Spring and the moon for Buddhists – on emergence and enlightenment and impermanence, then dropped these thoughts and stood, just being within it.
Last week, by chance, I picked up a book I have not looked at for a while – Norman Fischer’s Magnolias All at Once. I really like his, on his own admission, rather free translation/commentary of Dogen’s Uji linked with the poems of Lselie Scalapino ( a dear friend of his who had died recently and to whose memory the book is dedicated – they were both great admirers of Uji). I opened the book at a page where spring is considered.
The time being flows. But do not mistake this for movement from place to place like a rain cloud journeying from east to west pressured by the wind. Nor is it unmoving. The entire world is movement, there is nothing but flow.
It is like spring. In spring many things arise and flourish – the flowing beauty of constant fluctuation. In spring everything is spring – there is no place outside spring that spring could flow to or from which it has emerged. In spring there is nothing excluded from spring yet nothing can be found called spring. Spring doesn’t arrive from someplace else or depart to another location when it is gone. Spring simply flows. In the same way, you flow – you should study this well.
Spring flows throughout spring. There is no corner of spring that doesn’t flow as spring. But you can’t find flow or something that flows. Yet spring occurs somehow – spring flows as spring, flow flows as spring, all life is springtime life. This is what we need to appreciate, this is how we need to live. Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, examine this.
When you do, you will see that there is no objective world outside or inside you – there is no vastness that encompasses you. There are no eons of time behind or before you. Your time being is neither inside nor outside. It is neither here nor elsewhere. It is not small or large. It is sufficient. To appreciate this is to appreciate the buddha way.
With thankfulness and appreciation