Monday, June 02, 2008

Sraddha


New plantings in the backyard: proof that I do possess a smidgen of belief, or sraddha.

As I was digging these rootings of pachysandra into the ground, into which I'd first dug a few large buckets of really rich soil from the bottom of the compost heap, I was thinking that you can't garden without a whole apparatus of beliefs supporting the activity. First and foremost, that the earth is going to turn on its axis and bring warmer weather to help the plant grow. And that the weather cycle will hopefully (there's that word again) bring rain, too; even better, light rain showers on the same day that you plant the seeds into the ground. And that the carrot peelings and coffee grounds and watermelon rinds and fall leaves will undergo an alchemical process over the winter and become the perfect fertilizer. And that the plants will do what they've done every other year since antiquity: they'll photosynthesize and feed and grow and then feed us, or cover the ground, or feed the animals who feed us (well, not me, except for the pigs and bacon, but that's another post.)

My study of the Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali is helping this slow, sideways amble toward belief. Patanjali, who must have been a very wise person, keeps his discussion of faith and a supreme being in very neutral terms. My favorite definition is in the 26th sutra: faith derives from connection to a source of knowledge, what Patanjali calls, in the translation by TKV Desikachar, the "ultimate Teacher. . . .the Source of guidance for all teachers, past, present and future."

As I'm accustoming myself to being self-employed, I'm holding onto this definition. When I waver - which can happen many times in one day when you are back working from home and the last time that you did this was when you were writing your dissertation - for two long years - (talk about bad samskara, or patterns that you DON'T want to repeat), I remind myself that my teachers believe in me and in my ability to teach, and that even if my little mind is fussing - that things will be okay.
Patience is another meaning for sraddha, which comes in handy with gardening and in bringing up a new dog. That ripping sound behind me as I'm writing this all-will-be-well post? The dog, chewing off a strip of cloth from the slip covered chair behind me. And last week's obedience class was the anticpated controlled insanity that I'd expected. My favorite moment was during the play time at the end, when the terrier in the group discovered that he could jump up onto the sofas, be taller than all the other dogs, and then launch himself into space with his mouth wide open and teeth bared.

No comments: