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, 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. Absorbed in the garden we loosen the normal tight ties of ordered time and plans; attending to what is at hand creates the mental space to receive that which is new to us. While many people, not least myself, seek wild lands 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.


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. 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 (https://terebess.hu/zen/dogen/EiheiKoroku.pdf) is the “Extensive Record”, a large collection of his sayings.


Saturday 21st September 2019

Murphy on duty

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