Category Archives: Spiritual Practice-Quaker & Buddhist

Farming as Spiritual Practice – Pulling a Shambhala Card

Farming as Spiritual Practice – Pulling a Shambhala Card

I am one of those meditators who use the cards she has received as gifts to assist in focusing her mind, meditations and actions. During the months prior to my impending move to Canada from Boulder, my mediation instructor met me each week in the Marpa House for meditation and instruction. It was after one of these that she introduced me to the Shambhala cards. It was interesting that during that time I picked four cards multiple times the primary one was “Overcome Fear”. I was in fact working to cultivate courage, the courage required to become an expatriate and move to another country, town and community and build a new world for myself. A friend who sometimes joined us on these meditation days gave me the Shambhala cards as a parting gift and they have been in my meditation space ever since.

My practice is to pull a card, the single card that pushes itself up out of the deck in some way to call the attention of my fingers. I do not use this as a daily practice, but usually when I am moving into a new period of meditation practice, season, or find in a meditation that some further guidance would be useful. After reading and contemplating the message, I leave that card out to review as necessary and to re-read prior to pulling another card.

Today, I reviewed the last card # 11 “Synchronize mind and body”. It proffered a deeper meaning and I experienced a deeper understanding of this message today than when I pulled it some weeks ago.

“When you are completely mindful in the present moment, mind and body are synchronized.” This is precisely why I believe that weeding my gardens and beds on the farm is a spiritual practice, because it is one of the few activities in which I do feel completely present. “Here, synchronizing mind and body is connected with developing fearlessness …. Being direct in relating to the phenomenal world. … You have a perfect right to be in this universe. You have looked and you have seen, and you don’t have to apologize for being born on this earth. You can uplift yourself and appreciate your existence as a human being. This discovery is the first glimpse of what is called the Great Easter Sun, which is the sun of human dignity, the sun of human power.”

It is difficult to explain but since I have realized my dream of living on a farm and stewarding the land, its orchards, gardens and fields, I feel as if I have become literally grounded. I have been cultivating the advice of a mentor organic farmer who says “Observe. This will teach you much about what the farm needs and wants”. It is here on the farm that I continue the cultivation of courage stepping into new areas of learning from driving and maneuvering a tractor to staying warm in the deep Canadian winter.

What is more true is that The Great Eastern Sun rises each day over Okanagan Mountain and is reflected in the deep waters of Okanagan Lake to the east and each day I get to experience the sun of human power, which is what has fueled me these past 8 years now both as a new farmer and a spiritual practitioner. Living on and stewarding Ravens View Farm has indeed synchronized my mind and body. But it has also deepened my awareness of and connection to the sacredness of the earth and its divinity.

The next card? # 21 “Daring to let go the warrior is great in friendliness.” This makes me wonder, “Are the cards an instruction or an affirmation?”

October 10, 2015

Musings on Pruning in Peachland on Ravens View Farm

Pruning in Peachland on Ravens View Farm.

With 45 old plum trees and 35 young peach trees on our small organic farm in the Okanagan, the month of March invites us outside to begin the process of cultivating the farm by pruning the orchard. We get to study each individual tree and consider its future health, productivity and hopefully shapeliness.  For a person who takes time to carefully consider each decision in order to make the best one, pruning takes practice and pruning has become a practice. I am practicing my ability to stay present in the moment, I am practicing my memory of the key principles of pruning, and I am practicing decision-making with every cut.  Mark has been fantastic at cutting the water sprouts and dead wood each year and ensuring the overall shapeliness with his artist’s eye.  However over time the ends of
the branches have begun to criss-cross and overlap because I have not tended to this refinement for the past several years.  So it is time and my turn to cut away the branches from underneath. With the meandering tendrils of fruiting wood intersecting, I am forced to determine what to cut and make sure I am not cutting more than the
recommended 1/3 each year.  At all times I am testing the branches for strength, because the greatest damage to our trees are the bears in the night who indiscriminately pull down on the branches until they break to feast on the fruit at their convenience. With this in mind I must add that I am pruning the tree for strength.  It is this final consideration that eases my mind when I wonder, have I cut too much?  I am remembering the words of our first pruning mentors who came the first winter with chain saw in hand and startled us by valiantly cutting away the large inner limbs that sheltered the rest of the tree from the valuable rays of the sun that ripens the fruit.  “Be Brave” they said.  With this refrain echoing in my mind I realize that pruning is a seasonal practice for cultivating courage.  

Musings on the Equinox March 2013

Equinox March 2013. An amazing day.
Master teachers and yogis advise their students and disciples to observe the phenomenal world.  When was the opportunity to ponder more inviting than on this spring’s equinox?  It is a day of balance when the amount of light is equal to the amount of darkness; the day that marks the beginning of spring.  And what marvellous weather did Mother Nature share with us to proclaim the change of seasons?  A dark cold cloudy morning just like
all the others that preceded it all winter long; then a break in the clouds and an incredible bright blue sky beaconing people to come outside! 

And then a snow squall and brilliant sunlight, and yet another snow squall and gorgeous blue skies, then corn snow bouncing off the still dormant earth, and again the blue skies of spring.  Wow! It was a day to celebrate the seasons, a day to let us know that things are changing, but not quite yet, a day to wonder about opposites, dark and light, sun and snow. One might consider this equinox as a dramatic display of opposing forces or one might consider how
perfectly planned this whirlwind of weather, bundled into one day, the equinox, was to encourage us to pay attention to our phenomenal world.   

Meditations on Fire

Meditations on Fire, January 19, 2012

As I sit once again in front of the wood stove contemplating
the fire, I witness the endless myriad of flames. I experience the many permutations of fire and all of the many words that describe it.  The flames, leaping, dancing, embers glowing, radiating, smoldering.  I see how the fire ignites, how it grows in intensity, how is simmers down.  I ponder the periodic flames that leap out of the end of a log intermittently as if to call my mind back to the object of contemplation.  Back to the breath, which in this case is the fire.
It warms me and I feel myself melting, but not quite enough to drop down into a deeper place of meditation.
But it keeps calling me back.  My 20 minutes are surely up, but still I sit, still I contemplate, still I sip my chai.  Feeling all my senses – sight, viewing the flames – sound, hearing the click click click of the fan atop the stove that tells me by its rapidity how hot the stove is – touch, my mug in my hand and the heat upon my face – taste is of chai.  My senses are awakened. And my body, as I visualize divine light coursing down my spinal column, ensuring that my body
is connected from the volcanic fire of the center of Gaia’s core to the light of the universe.  Oh my.  How my body craves this stillness, this
calm, a more awakened state.

And as I leave my meditation, I wonder as always, can I
bring this lovely state into my day?

I asked my meditation instructor what was the import of
meditating on fire and she simply said “impermanence”.

November 30, 2012

This fall I have been lighting the fire in the wood stove with old papers that I culled from my filing cabinet.  Each day I grab more papers and I sort them for good one side to reuse in my printer, paper clips or staples to be removed before I crumple the paper and lay it in the stove.  It took me several weeks to realize that I have been reviewing my life of the past 20 years.
Before my eyes and passing through my hands are: mortgages and insurance papers for two homes, designs for xeric gardens and architectural drawings for a renovation,  old pay stubs, checks
and bank statements, odd clippings and medical records, and more.  Cleaning out the files was a process of clearing and cleansing and creating more space.  This has become a process of letting go. Each morning I am burning away attachments to my life, my history and my memories.  

Reconciling Buddhist Practice within a Quaker Community

Meditations on Buddhism – Reconciling Buddhist Practice within a Quaker Community

Taking Refuge

Taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha . . . What does this mean to a person who identifies herself as a Quaker and who comes from a White Anglo Saxon Protestant background and sang in the choir of the family’s Episcopal church even after her parents left the church?

Taking refuge in the Buddha is taking refuge in the knowledge that we are spiritual beings. Just as all Christians have that of “God” in all of us and all Quakers are guided by our inner light and recognize the inner light of others so to we are all Buddhas.   Essentially this means we are all one regardless of our religious backgrounds and beliefs and in the end we are all spiritual beings.

Taking refuge in the Dharma is taking refuge in the teachings of Buddha and the masters and teachers who are instrumental in sharing knowledge of the practices that aid us in fully experiencing our humanity and understanding our path in this life time.

Taking refuge in the Sangha and taking refuge in a community of people who hold deep spiritual beliefs and hold the space for spiritual practice and understanding and support us on our path to realize ourselves. My Sangha is my Quaker Community.

Reconciling Buddhist Practice within a Quaker Community.