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A view of a large pool in the garden at The Crinan.

The Garden

A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.

Dogen Zenji (c. 1240)


In our gardens two realms meet. Dogen expresses this with great simplicity. What is human, what we desire and plan, meets that which was here before us, Bust of Peter Scott at the WWT reserve in southern Scotland. Problematically the noumena might be that which is here when we are not. that about which we often have no comprehension, let alone any control. This is what gives gardening the special place it has in many of our lives. Gardening allows us, in an accessible unthreatening way, to be brought back to that which is not human. An arctic fox face on. The idea of 'the other' is valuable in philosophy, this page takes it up. Absorbed in the garden we loosen the normal tight ties of ordered time and plans; attending Fisherman tending his net on Madras beach. Attention seems to be an important conduit for us in many parts of life. to what is at hand creates the mental space to receive that which is new to us. An arctic fox on the distant horizon. On the boundary between what is known and what is not known. While many people, not least myself, seek wilderness The main glacier on the south coast of Iceland reaching the sea. Might it be that gardens play the same role as wild lands in our lives. for this same end, such extremes belie what is an immediate and normal relationship to that which is ‘other’, part of which by convention we sometimes circumspectly call nature. Two lambs looking out from behind a tree. The dual aspect of nature, environment and our inner selves, have a long history.

Dogen Zenji (Zen master Dogen, 1200 - 1253) was the founder of Soto Buddhism in Japan. He left a vast corpus of writing; so tracing this unattributed quote is a problem. Easily accessible as a PDF from the internet ( is the “Extensive Record”, a large collection of his sayings.

The picture is from Enid Innes’s garden created from a bleak hillside at The Crinan, by Creetown, in Southern Scotland. The photograph was taken in the spring of 2019.

Above hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 21st September 2019

Murphy on duty to this site