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Posts tagged ‘organic’

Not Very Zen

From Everyone Needs Therapy
by Therapy Doc
21 October 2014

Warning: Do not read if you have issues with insect deaths at the hands of bullying humans. Also, apologies in advance if this post offends any religion, be it mine or yours, I’m really sorry. It is all intended in good fun.

The story goes* that I graduated high school a semester early, but the University of Illinois didn’t accept early admissions. My parents made higher education sound more appealing than a K-Mart job, so taking six introductory liberal arts classes at Roosevelt University managed to kill the time.

I took public transportation downtown.

One day a young man with frizzy sideburns and bluejeans sat down next to me on the train. Within seconds he started to mumble, or maybe chant. He did this for awhile, then seemingly satisfied, stopped. As he fished inside his backpack for a book, I asked what that was about. He told me that he learned a mantra from a Zen master, and chanting the mantra made him calm and happy.

“Would you like to have my mantra, too?” he asked.

“Sure!”

It isn’t every day that someone gives you a mantra, so I wrote it down. We didn’t have Google to translate in those days, so the experience had an element of danger and excitement. Now, whenever I pass the mantra on as a cognitive behavioral self-relaxation tool, I sense this excitement with others, too, but add a warning: Before taking on this mantra, check out the meaning. Humming most things is relaxing, too.

But here you go. It is freeware.

nam-myoho-renge-kyo

I repeated those words until they burned their way into my memory, but found the process, and the mantra, boring. So that was the end of that. Suggesting mindfulness training, on well-scrutinized occasions, is as close as it gets to Buddhism in my life.

Zen+MasterExcept that once in awhile I get a random book in the mail from someone like Gabriel Constans who loves it. Gabriel requested a blog review in the most charming fashion, a promise that my karma will improve, certainly, if I open the book, and who doesn’t need good karma?

The title, Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: the Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire, indicates that Mr. Constans is associating with too many people of the tribe. That, or I don’t know much about Buddhist names. But he is a psychologist and sincere, so there you go.

Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba is an abbess and an ageless satirist, so it is likely the book is entirely satire, but because I didn’t finish it, I can’t say quite yet. But many a true word is said in jest, and not understanding much about Buddhism, the pages, to me, are a mystery wrapped in an enigma, which is a part of the book’s charm. The other part is that any book with short chapters, some as short as only a paragraph or a single page, at most two or three, is very appealing to those of us who are asleep before the head hits the pillow.

To broaden our perspective on Buddhism, here is a snippet about Master Tova (Mistress Toshiba) and her reaction to fishermen using worms for bait.

Let the Worms Go

There was no difference between one life and another to Mistress Toshiba. She respected all with equanimity, love, and tender care. . . . her compassion for worms . . . legendary.

The nuns were were walking with their Mistress, on their way to market to sell their organic vegetables, when they passed some fishermen who were taking worms out of a bucket, putting them on their hooks, and casting them into the river.

To make a short story shorter, the Mistress knocks over the bucket, setting the worms free, and proceeds to convince the angry fishermen that they are on the wrong track, killing worms. She offers up her organic vegetables as a substitute for fish. We’re not sure how this will effect her spiritual ecosystem, but are lead to believe that the cosmos is much better if worms can just be worms.

The story makes me feel guilty. Because here I am, powerless when insects cross my path. I smash them.

Note the astronomical difference between my reaction to a turtle a few weeks ago, and yesterday’s response, now old news, to the Asian Lady Beetle.

Riding my bike along the river, I happened to look down to where the sidewalk meets the grass. There lurked a huge turtle determining whether or not to cross. Huge turtles are not something we see in Chicago, not unless we visit the zoo. We see raccoons and skunks, deer, coyotes and the cursed geese, but not turtles. It made me happy, seeing something new, but I didn’t stop to take a picture, couldn’t risk being late for work.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, after I attempted genocide on Asian Lady Beetles, FD, vacuum hose in hand, gently chastising me: “For someone who professes to like nature, you had no trouble attempting to eliminate an entire species. The beetles would have died on their own in a day or two.”

And what if they had not?

Read complete post and much more at Everyone Needs Therapy.

In Your Own Backyard

The Five Stages of Garden-Talk
by Meredith Greene
March 13, 2013

Read this and other stories at GardenGreene.

A surprising number of folks in my nearer social circles do not know much about gardening. Certainly, they can browse the colorful annuals on display at the large home store and likewise can stick them in the sunny spots twice a year whilst waving at passing neighbors. Most can even pull a weed or two as well as set a mean schedule on the automated sprinklers but, somehow, the simplest aspects of organic vegetable and herb gardening elude them.

images

In calling on neighbors, and speaking with extended family members over the years, I’ve come to predict the various expressions that ensue when the conversation invariably shifts to growing food. These facial indications rather line up like the five stages of grief, but instead of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance I see Surprised, Confused, Mildly Interested, Incredulous and Overwhelmed. Getting food out of your own backyard is considered by many to be just too darn complicated.

One of my children usually let the ‘cat’ out of the bag in playing with the smaller versions of the other adults in the room. Some time during the course of the visit a child runs over, their faces alight and eyes shining, tugging at the arm/dress/leg of their owner and say something akin to:

“They grow strawberries in their backyard! And tomatoes! They get to pick them and eat them! Can we grow those, too?”

“From the mouths of babes,” I murmur, watching as the parent’s face slides into the first stage.

“How can you possibly find the time to garden?” Surprised then asks of me.

Now, when I was younger–upon being asked this question–I used to launch into a succinct and factual spiel outlining the amount of time that the average American spends in front of television set every day. I would then point out that it was a better use of time to turn over compost and chase after hordes of insidious snails with pale clouds of ditomacheous earth. Oddly, this set of facts seemed to inspire little but denial, anger and depression. Now, I simply focus my argument on Money.

“Do you go to the gym?” I ask. Confused nods in the affirmative, an answer more often than not a complete fabrication. “Did you know,” I continue, “that a couple of hours of vigorous gardening is comparable to spending the same amount of time at the gym?” No, they didn’t know that, but it sounds pretty good. Confused is quickly replaced with Mildly Interested as I go on to list just how much money my family saves over a given winter season by not having to buy my fresh herbs at the store. ($300-$400)

“That is a big savings,” Incredulous returns. “But it ‘s such a lot of work. How do I even get started?”

Here it gets a little tricky. Too much pushing and the average consumer will balk and return to safer subjects, such as waxing poetic on how their favorite washed-up celebrity weathered Trump’s Board room the previous night. Too much information up front and they’ll leap to the Overwhelmed stage too quickly. Too many dire predictions about rising food costs and the Environment and they’ll tune you out AND lump you in with some odd group they heard about on the news that anoint themselves with carrots and say they can raise goats that defecate copper bullion.

Nostalgia has proven to be the most powerful argument of all. Most folks harbor—way back in the warm recesses of their memory—lingering scents, sights and tastes of fresh produce partaken of as a child. It might be the ripe, red raspberries they picked in a grandmother’s arbor. It may be that luscious purple plum that they bit into one hot summer day. It may be a cool clump of sweet, green grapes that can be recalled, even now, with frank fondness. That same wide-eyed wonder, that propelled their offspring to run over and inquire of our garden, still lives on in them even if they are currently unaware of it. It is a useful tool to help lever the conversation away from the precarious Edge of Unconcern and back into the Realm of Feasibility, and is relatively easy to make contact with.

I show them pictures. (see blog header)

“These are some of the tomatoes we harvested last year,” I say, sliding one full-color image after another over the screen.

“Omigawd! Those look delicious!”

“We get about two-hundred pounds every season, all without pesticides.”

“Are those artichokes?!”

“Yep. They were especially good picked young, pared and sauteed with garlic and olive oil.”

“And you still have time to write books?” This question is best answered with a small shrug and a half-smile.

“My kids help me out a lot, but I like the exercise. These are the strawberries…”

“Wow… look at those! I bet that’s nice to have just out your back door.”

“Not as nice as this basil,” I tell them, going to the next picture.

From there the questions tend to get more sincere. Once folks realize that you can actually raise food on a city lot without having to spent a fortune–or work on it 24/7–they find that other hobbies don’t really cut it. Most parents already wonder how they can encourage their kids to get outside a bit more and move around, and when my oldest daughter walks over and launches into a short monolog on the how one can induce thriving vermiculture with an old plastic tub and leftover coffee grounds, they’re sold.

“Families have been growing food together for millenniums,” I conclude. “It’s a proven method of keeping active, and–as my grandfather used to tell us–’if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’” My grandfather had a rock garden in the high desert–and a cement patio for a back yard–but some information can be safely omitted.

Read entire story and more at GardenGreene.

Meredith Greene is an author, book reviewer and freelance writer.

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