View Full Version : The Middle Way: Ozz Zen Garden Pt. 2.

April 2nd, 2007, 05:36 AM
Sorry for the delay in getting this post up. My computer had a conniption and collapsed. I?m now $380 poorer. But the computer is at least working again. Thank you for your patience.
The meditation continues?. Here is where I let the themes of the garden speak.
The river that runs through the garden and drops away is a reminder of life ?, the gentle meanders, the turbulent twists and turns, the dropping away to a further level which is out of sight????. Reminders of our ups and downs in life Similarly, the coloured pebbles are symbolic reminders of the good and bad times we encounter. The lighter stones are happier times, the joyful times when life is running smoothly for us. The darker stones represent those times of unhappiness, sadness, dissatisfaction, or dukkha. The different coloured stones run randomly along the river course, so we don?t really know what is waiting round the corner in our travels, and the twists and turns of the river are determined by the earth itself, by the seasons, by the universe. Too often we expect what is always changing to be graspable and predictable. Our prejudices and addictions are patterns that arise from the fear of a fluid world. Because we mistakenly take what is always changing to be permanent, we suffer.

There is a tale in the Herrmann Hesse story of Buddha when he is with a ferryman on a river. The ferryman says to Buddha ? I am no scholar. I do not know how to talk or how to think. I only know how to listen and how to be respectful. I am only a ferryman and my task is to take people across this river. I have taken many across, and for all of them my river has been nothing but an obstacle on their journey.? For a very few, perhaps four or five, the river stopped being an obstacle. They heard its voice, they listened to it and the river became sacred to them as it has to me.? Siddhartha (Buddha) also learned how to listen to the river, how to listen with a still heart, with an expectant, open soul, without passion, without desire, without opinion, without judgement.
One evening Buddha asked the ferryman ?Have you learned from the river the secret that there is no time?? The ferryman replied with a bright smile.. :?Yes, the river is everywhere at once ? at its source, at its mouth, by the waterfall, by the ferry crossing, in the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains ? everywhere at the same time. And that for it there is only the present, not the shadow called the future.? Buddha replied ? That is it, and when I learned that, I looked at my life, and it too was a river.?

The river is also symbolic of the Rainbow Serpent. The rainbow serpent is a major mythological being for Aboriginal people across Australia. It is represented as a large, snake-like creature, whose Dreaming track is always associated with watercourses such as billabongs, rivers, creeks and lagoons. It is the protector of the land, its people, and the source of all life. However, it can also be a destructive force if it is not properly respected. The Rainbow Serpent is a consistent theme in Aboriginal painting and has been found in rock art up to 6000 years old. The Aboriginal Dreamtime is over 20,000 years old. And Buddhism is only 2,700 years old !
No matter what your leanings, just contemplate for a moment on this wonderful Dreamtime story, and the affinity and respect the people have with and for their environment. So although preceding Buddhism by many thousands of years, I felt that part of the Dreamtime should be included in my Buddhist garden, out of respect and appreciation of the rich and wonderful Aboriginal culture that has been all but decimated since European settlement of Australia.

The five stones (one is flat, almost hidden by the groundcover Callistemon, ) represent two things. One is the Great Dividing Range, which runs the whole length of this vast continent ? virtually separating the narrow, eastern fertile coastal fringe from the much drier, arid, desolate interior. The stones are so arranged that by taking the centre point of each stone you get the constellation of the Southern Cross. Pass your gaze from the stones to the sky and you see those familiar stars which have guided mariners for hundreds of years, and reminding me that I too am part of the never-ending, indescribable universe.

The beautiful little ground hugging bush which covers the stone representing Epsilon, the smallest star in the constellation, is a very rare and endangered species of Callistemon, or bottlebrush. I had seen it in the nursery and always passed it by ? it was obviously stressed and dying. I finally bought it as I have ?SUCKER? written across my forehead. But , it had a Zenny twisted look about it, and I knew if it lived, it would have an honoured place in my garden. It lived. And thrived. And produces beautiful flowers.

The seat is a piece of railway sleeper from the Old Ghan Railway which ran through the desert from Adelaide to Oodnadatta, then on to Alice Springs. It reminds me of the toil and suffering of the fettlers who put up the line and tried to maintain it against the ravages of nature, and our futility in our schemes to try to control things. Nature and the desert won. A new line runs a similar route, but on more solid ground a hundred miles distant. You wouldn?t believe me getting it back 2,000 kilometres in my little Subaru station wagon. That is worth a story on it?s own. (anyone been to the Pink Roadhouse?)

The stones on which it rests are rejects from the stonemason. They split the ?wrong? way. ?Perfect? I said. ?Just what I wanted. I don?t want artificial symmetry?. Stuart gave them to me for nothing. A further reminder of the kindness and generosity that is within us all.

Last, the stone on which the Buddha sits. It comes from mission ruins at Arltunga, about 80 miles from Alice Springs in central Australia. The mission was built because the gist of the story is that in WWII Aboriginals in Alice Springs were rounded up and moved to this remote, desolate and inhospitable desert area on a flimsy pretext. The RC sisters who had been looking after their welfare in Alice Springs followed them, built a mission from the gibber and cared for them. The full story is longer and nastier. At least there was a well there which provided a meagre water supply.
Then about 1954 the mission was abandoned and a wonderful mission township was built closer to Alice Springs. The nuns had to leave as the town was to be self governed. That whole township has now become a sad tale of alcohol abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and complete breakdown of community pride. Yet high on the cliff behind the township stands a huge cross, a reminder of the charity and compassion of those good sisters.
So, Lord Buddha sits on a stone from a mission built with compassion in Central Australia, shaded by a gum tree, contemplating the kindness and selflessness of those sisters who worked in dreadful conditions to help their fellow sufferers.
Finally the small sandstone pond captures rainwater from the roof and provides fresh water for various creatures. The reeds are a reminder of the cycle of life; they die back every autumn and miraculously come back to life the following spring.
So, from all this I hope there are some contemplations and meditations for you, and I hope there is something in this to give you a soft smile of understanding.

Attached files /converted_files/7607=849-attachment.jpg (http://www.mywayout.org/VB4/images/converted_files/7607=849-attachment.jpg) /converted_files/7607=850-attachment.jpg (http://www.mywayout.org/VB4/images/converted_files/7607=850-attachment.jpg) /converted_files/7607=851-attachment.jpg (http://www.mywayout.org/VB4/images/converted_files/7607=851-attachment.jpg) /converted_files/7607=852-attachment.jpg (http://www.mywayout.org/VB4/images/converted_files/7607=852-attachment.jpg) /converted_files/7607=853-attachment.jpg (http://www.mywayout.org/VB4/images/converted_files/7607=853-attachment.jpg)

April 2nd, 2007, 06:09 AM
Rags, what a beautiful and inspiring post... I was going to say how I envy you, but envy is the wrong word, instead, I am so happy for you living with a garden like that... I am now looking out the patio windows onto my back garden and thinking, hmm, where to begin my transformation, but alas, the garden is a small one by your standards, but I may take a corner and do something with that..

I like as well how everything has a history and a story attached to it, you know, you didn't just go to the garden centre and buy a job lot, a lot of thought and planning went into the building of the garden, it must bring you so much pleasure..

My workshop on Raj Yoga Meditation finished last week and the lady taking the class, Jagruti, has weekly meditations at her home so that is where I shall be tonight.. They last for about one hour, and tonight I shall hold an image of your garden in my mind and slowly travel through it..

Now that I am doing daily meditation I am amazed how much more tranquil but at the same time how strong and positive I feel.. Even my colleagues at work are starting to notice the change in me... Also, the inner turmoil, which was part of my life for such a long time no longer exists, I see things differently now and am a much more calmer person..

Thank you so much Rags for opening this particular door,

With metta,
Louise xx

April 2nd, 2007, 06:15 AM
Dear Irish,
Thank you so much for your thoughts.
Meditation is great isn't it. You can do it anywheer too. On the bus or train, in a waiting room. And a great one is meditating on washing up. It really works. I'll telyou about it sometime soon. I have to get to bed now.
With much Metta, Fran

April 2nd, 2007, 06:36 AM
Talking about meditation, yesterday I got home from work it was a nice sunny afternoon so I went for a walk for about an hour.. Now at one time this would have been unheard of, normally I would have sat and had a doze for an hour or even two... So I go for this walk and in my coat pocket I had this crystal its called Peitersite, a beautiful dark brown and orange colour with specks of shiny blue, I just held it in my hand as I walked, the way some Greek men hold their worry beads, and I concentrated on the feel of that stone, the smoothness, the shape and the little sharp corner it had... I tried to keep a picture of it in my mind as I slowly turned it round and round in my hand.. By the time I got home I felt so well and relaxed, it was wonderful, so yes Rags, I agree, meditation is great...

April 2nd, 2007, 09:02 AM
Oh Rags, that's divine.


April 2nd, 2007, 10:48 AM
I love it!


April 2nd, 2007, 06:35 PM
Hey Cashy and Katie,
Thanks. I hope you are able to get some ideas to think upon from the tales of the garden....there's a lot in there.
In a few days I'll put up Buddha's words on loving-kindness, and a meditation to go with it.

April 2nd, 2007, 06:42 PM
I love it Rags!
You have inspired me. I'm an avid gardener as it is, but reading your post has made me think .....I'll be making a little zen garden of my own when I settle into a new place. It will help me heal.


April 2nd, 2007, 07:13 PM
Ah Katie,
Good on you! It can be as big or small as you want it to be. And I'm sure you too will be able to introduce many threads of ideas to your garden. Please keep in touch and post progress photos.
If you don't have a garden at the moment, a beautiful pot plant will do. I may just do a miniature thread on that. Give me a day to compose my thoughts and I'll pop one up.

April 2nd, 2007, 11:45 PM
Oh Rags,
I have over 250 ft of perrenial border right now, but sadly my home is for sale :upset: Ah well, I will make a fresh start by bringing small clumps of my current garden to my new abode...wherever that may be.