On this, the third day of spring, the black dirt is rich with decay, fat worms wriggling in abundance. I minimize probing with the steel blade, not wishing to harm soft bellied friends ripening detritus and aerating the beds which I hope will yield food for my family’s table. Bending close to the ground, I witness the vigorous activity now emerging from winter’s darkness.
Tapping seeds one by one gently from the envelope, I pause to remember internal cultivation in the infinite fields of the mind: May all beings pull the destructive roots of ignorance, anger, and greed from within! May they plant positive seeds of kindness, love, compassion, joy, equanimity! May they harvest excellent and tasty crops, in all dimensions of reality – internal and external. Ah spring! The perennial opportunity to unfold our beauty and reach for the sky – our highest potential, with fragrant blossoms of virtue and perfect seeing.
If we would gather the finest harvest from this life, we must care for the soil and all beings – though some may be small and remote from our awareness, they loom large in the vast interconnected web of life. We must equally care for the fields of our minds, and all the seemingly small actions, words, thoughts and moods, drifting in and out on habitual breezes. Separately, they are easily dismissed. Strung together over eighty, ninety, one hundred years, they construct the arcs of our lives and verily send us on our way to the next world – each according to the trajectory of their virtue or lack.
Karma – at times cheapened in the contemporary vernacular by our materialistic society – e.g. “my karma ran over your dogma” – is no less than the foundational bedrock of our lives. It is the Newtonian principle of causality applied to the mind – something the Buddha first shared with human kind twenty-five hundred years ago.
The story of Milarepa, Tibet’s greatest saint, poignantly portrays the certainty with which evil deeds bring suffering and if one would transcend the vicious cycle of birth under the influence of ignorance, first one needs to acknowledge the harm – usually a painful process – and then determine to change, guided by new principles of living.
Milarepa was born into a wealthy family, but when his father dies, the uncle breaks his promise to care for his son’s inheritance, bringing great suffering to Milarepa’s mother. She asks her son to learn sorcery to avenge the evil actions of the uncle and Milarepa dutifully obeys, eventually succeeding in bringing death to many who participated in the persecution of his mother. Afterwards, Milarepa realizes he has only succeeded in making more enemies and forging a path directly to the hell realms as a karmic consequence of his deeds. He determines to change and the movie closes as he sets out on the path of virtue.
Both the book “The Life of Milarepa”, and the movie “Milarepa” are classics, the latter reportedly reducing His Holiness the Dalai Lama to tears while viewing it. May this be the season of virtue for all beings! Peace and Happy spring!