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What can I do?

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    • #3573

      In the late summer sun I filled our dusky pink wheelbarrow with stone and brick from the pile of rubble at the side of the coach house. I pushed the barrow around to the other side of the coach house, down some steps and lifted the stone and brick into a gabion.

      Gabions are those big wire cages you sometimes see filled with stone, holding back embankments alongside motorways. We were using ours to give some extra support to a garden wall, but mainly as a tidy way of managing all of the rubble left over from the building project.

      This was the last push to fill the gabion. I worked through the afternoon and finally wired the top closed. Now complete, it had the shape of a squashed jelly cube, bulging a little at the sides and not quite flat on top. Not perfect, but good enough and with its own kind of beauty. I’d lost track of how many man hours it took to fill.

      I wandered back to the rubble heap. Even after all of that work, it didn’t look any smaller.

      I felt a little like the Buddhist saint Milarepa, whose teacher Marpa instructed him to build a tower, and then take it down and build another one over there, and then take that down and build another one over there…

      Eventually Marpa let him leave one up, and Milarepa went on to become an enlightened Buddha. That’s a story for another time. It was the sense of – what difference has all of this work made – that I was resonating with.

      Sometimes we can’t see the results of the effort that we make. At times like that I try to remember that Buddhism teaches that it’s good to do good. That good prevails. When we plant good seeds we do not always get to see when and where they flower, but we are invited to trust in that flowering.

      Love given to the world stays in the world.

      Sometimes when I look at the world, and my part in it, it feels a little like moving those bricks and stones: we are in a time of ecological crisis, the living world is dying around us; society is polarised along political and social lines and conflict continues around the world. In the face of all that what difference can I make?

      We can continue to act in loving ways, trusting that love stays in the world.

      Knowing that I am in receipt of the great love of the Buddhas supports me to act. Loving action is not the way to Buddha, it is the great gift we receive as our refuge deepens.

      The more rooted I am in my own spiritual practice, the easier taking good action becomes. Faith doesn’t take away my grief at the loss I encounter in the natural world, but I know that I am loved in the midst of that grief. Love is something we pass on, and the more we pass it on, the more is given to us.


    • #3574

      Namo Amida Bu.

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