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Life is peachy, or why I enjoy this photo

October 17, 2012

A friend sent me this photo recently and at first I simply admired it because it seems to give off a smell of peach and they look so juicy and delicious that it made my mouth water.“What a great photo” I thought, “perhaps for a food book”.

Then I began to turn my mind to what I would like to write about next on my blog.

“Put this to one side”, I said to myself, “think about Dharma!”

Looking for Dharma or Peaches?

Starting a new blog is a funny experience, recently I find myself watching my mind and feelings like a cat hunting for mice. Always looking for a nice juicy Dharma experience to scurry out so I can catch it. Something really useful and profound would be great. But to be honest, today was actually rather steady and peaceful. Which is great, but when you practice Dharma, you almost look forward to problems and difficulties (almost!) because they teach so much; so although this might sound strange I was verging on the disappointed! What would I write in my blog?

In the meantime, enjoying my pleasant day, the thought of these peaches kept coming back to me, and time and time again I put them to one side, trying to leave space in my mind for an idea or experience I could share.

I meet a dead rat

So I let it be,and whilst walking the dogs tonight I began to turn over my experiences of the day, all the people I had seen, the happy, the sad, old young, the beautiful and less so, trying to make sense of it all and find an idea, until suddenly I stopped. There at the side of  the path was a dead rat. It was in a cage where I imagine someone trapped it, then threw it out, perhaps leaving it to die in that cold lonely field where it now lay stiff wet and cold.

I have to be honest, on seeing the rat I felt in equal parts revulsion and compassion, looking back now my heart breaks for it, but in the moment I had to make a little effort to let the compassion get the better of me, and then I  said some mantra’s and prayers over it, dedicating them to its good rebirth and protection and blessings of the Buddhas.

But the revulsion was there too, and it made me wish to be very distinct and separate from this rat, like I wanted to run. I felt actually a little frightened and fragile. Whilst the compassion made me feel connected and strong and brave.

As I looked at the rat I knew that my feeling of revulsion could never make me happy, run now and when will the running end? At the heart of that feeling is a mind which seeks the impossible, Isolation From Everything Unpleasant! and in that attitude is the root of loneliness, I saw how it is this mind which makes us feel alone, not any physical separation. Thats why the busiest places are often the loneliest, the most anonymous.

Rats or Peaches?

Buddha teaches that we are all completely dependent on one another, long before a scientist coined the phrase “butterfly effect” Buddha was teaching the total interconnectedness of everything. In Universal Compassion, Geshe Kelsang describes living beings as being;

“Like parts of one body united in the wish to free from suffering” and he asks,

“If the foot has a thorn in it, does the hand refuse to help?” 

Put another way, is it in the interest of the hand to refuse?

Geshe-la advises that we should watch are mind throughout the day to discover for ourselves how so many of our unpleasant feelings (also known as suffering) are associated with the wish to be separated from something we don’t like. Then we can understand  that it is this impossible wish which is the basis for suffering, not the thing we feel stimulates it, and whats worse, that its not only impossible to fulfill but the pursuit of it will leave you exhausted. Buddha likened it to trying to quench our thirst by drinking salt water.

Me, the rat, the peach and Dharma, are one

So Buddha’s solution is to do the opposite, embrace our connectedness. And its fascinating to feel the difference. First of all your sense of your own importance diminishes, and that feels great! Like a weight lifted off your shoulders; just imagine not worrying so much what people think of you or about making mistakes.

Once you see how we depend on one another people become more interesting too, so you are less often bored, and you feel closer to them. You actually start to have  the early shoots of love, of compassion. And whats more, they are feelings born from a realistic view, because you really are connected to all those people; you really do depend on them (even the bad ones, the scary ones!) for your life and your identity. So, those good feelings of love and compassion are rooted in firm ground, and if nurtured they will grow and become stronger and in turn so will you or I.

Dharma in a Peach

Which brings me back to why I love this photo. I suddenly realised that in this photo was everything I needed to understand to practice dharma. I also realised, again! that Dharma is what’s right in front of me, everything is dharma and you actually miss it if you go searching for it!

Just look at those Peaches!

Copyright Leonida 2012

What do you see? Each one of them has a story, traveling miles on a lorry from the little Italian field where they they bloomed and ripened.  Every mark had a cause, the touch of a hand or the knocks of nature, the storms and sunshine and wind that buffeted us, shook these lovelies and left their mark, their goodness and energy.

I see the farmers and their families, little communities earning a living from fields cleared and tended over many generations. So many loves and sorrows must have played out beneath those peach trees.  The soil itself was made fertile by insects and mice digging it, aerating it, turning it over. I look at these peaches and see thousands of lives.

And then the sweet smell, imagine it!

The goodness.

Its not just me that enjoys those little beauties, that poor little rat would have loved to fill his tummy with those juicy morsels. And i’m reminded of our kinship, with the rat, the birds, the farmers; not separate but parts of the one body. All that life, it fills them with another goodness too, kindness. Also of course, what was in the photographer’s heart? What made them choose to make this image?

I feel connected and grateful to all these living beings form all over the world that have given me such an opportunity right here and now for such thoughts and feelings.

The Peachy Heart of Dharma – what do you think?

So that it is why I love this photo. Because rather than being a distraction, its actually the heart of dharma practice. In fact there is so much more to see when you look at them but I tried to spare you too much purple prose and bad puns! But i’d love to hear what you think of when you see this picture, and how it relates to your dharma practice, or put another way, your practice of making life meaningful.

Thank you once again for reading – with no readers, is there really a blog? 😉

From → Relationships

  1. The peaches reminded me of how rotten samsara is. We have this generic image of samsara being a pleasure garden, one juicy peach – but when you really look at it it is rot and decay, tarted up by the deceit of temporary pleasures.

    • Dear Miri – thats also a valid way to look at them. Are you able to use that view to reduce the causes of unhappiness in your mind? I’d love to hear more. Thanks for your comment, much appreciated 🙂

  2. Anon permalink

    Wow!What a beautiful teaching!The Dharma Jewels are scattered abundantly everywhere..we only have to open our eyes.xxxxx

    • That is very kind of you! I hope you find it useful. And its very true about keeping our eyes open:))

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