Shodo Harada

Source: Shodo Harada

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Wildseed Zen at Gilmerton Kitchen Garden

Wildseed Zen at Gilmerton Kitchen Garden, Athelstaneford, East Lothian.

 

Saturday 26th August from 10 until 1. Open to all.

 

In recognition of the positive benefits of nature to the health and well being of all, Wildseed Zen aims to organize seasonal gatherings in gardens and wild places, The Gilmerton Kitchen Garden gathering will be introductory and consist of –

Introduction and greeting, explanation of the session and practices

Zazen – 30 minute ‘just sitting’ meditation

Kinhin and mindful walking.

Talk and feedback

Samu – simple garden tasks and explanation.

Zazen – 30 minute ‘just sitting’ meditation.

Samu – taking down of tent and clean up.

 

Wildseed Zen can be found on Facebook, Twitter and in a WordPress Blog. Please note much of the initial, rather expansive thinking has been simplified down to organizing simple sessions of practice and connection to nature.

 

There is no fee but Dana can be given and will go towards the development of Wildseed Zen and to Growing Matters at Gilmerton Kitchen Garden (a charity that supports the growing and development of the walled garden which offers garden therapy and a place to learn and grow to anyone who feels they might benefit from it.)

Please register for the session or ask any questions by emailing wildseedzen@gmail.com. There will be room for a maximum of ten people.

 

 

 

Forest Bathing

A recent online video looks at the practice of ‘Forest bathing’ in Japan and at what science and research has to say about its benefits. It seems that shinrin-yoku helps boost our immune systems through the absorption oils (phytonicides) that trees emit. Research has shown that forests lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and can also reduce depression. None of these results from research will be all that surprising to many of us who seek out and work in nature. In walking and working in the ’natural world’ I feel a deep connection with it and sense our deep interconnectedness with all things.

 

Last Saturday I entered the hut and sat zazen – aware from time to time of rain patter, pigeon calls and the scents of a rainy day. But so much else was occurring. The phrase ‘to be actualised by the myriad things’ kept cropping up…and as the ‘I’ part of me lessened and I merged more with the flow, it seemed to describe that state. And made me return to the full quote from Dogen:

‘To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualised by the myriad things. When actualised by myriad things, your body and mind, as well as the body and mind of others drop away. No trace of realisation remains, and this no trace continues endlessly.”

 

I have been working on this quote for some time in zen practice and attempting to gradually uncover its meaning.

 

Later the dog and I took off in the car and we drove to Byres Hill seeking a good walk that would shelter us a little from the rain. We had a short steep climb up through the trees and into the mist, with cattle on the surrounding hills lowing. I love this walk and in the mist and rain it has a beautiful quality of timelessness and the ever changing of space in shimmering silver greys, the tree forms glisten and the rain brings out all the colour in the bark. There are some uprooted ash trees there that are such interesting forms, sprouting and branchings reaching up into the light from the toppled trunks. At times the self is lost and there is simply the movement of limbs, the in and out of breaths and a low background awareness of the scents, sights smells and sounds. We pass under dripping oaks and round and up to the tower and I begin to think again about interconnection within the whole, about impermanence, but no thought is necessary – it is all as it is. Everything is occurring at all kinds of levels and it is impossible to make sense of this by rationalizing and thinking. We need to be it – to be at one with the universe without rationalizing and explanation seems to be the way.

We zig zag back down the slippery path to the car and in the car park I am aware of our reluctance to leave the wood and all it holds. But then maybe that walk in the wood, that bit of forest bathing, is simply a reminder that Buddha nature is always present and we just need to tap into it.

 

‘Remain solitary without dependency and drop off all of reality. Mixed together with the ten thousand forms, be clear and apparent. Eminent and vigorous on each bit of ground, be like the moon stamped on the water, flowing but not flowing. Like the wind in the sky, move but do not move. Having become thoroughly like this, when you proceed, in mean alleys do not ride on a golden horse; when turning back, wear tattered robes.’ (Extensive Record, discourse 316)

 

In gassho