Sunday, December 1, 2013

Slugs and Snails and the Sanctity of Life

Slugs and Snails and the Sanctity of Life -  Tullulah's Teachings

 Oh dear, after such a good start (see previous post transformation and tomatoes! ) I’m in Tullulah’s bad books.  She had been quietly chuffed that she had been a source of inspiration not only to me but countless others, thanks to my new Peace and Lovage blog. However, when we were ordering supplies for the allotment and I included slug pellets , she became inflamed to an even brighter red and asked me angrily whether I thought the sanctity of life – the basis of Buddhist teachings-  applied to some sentient beings and not others.  

Well, I had to admit that I’d felt a bit guilty in the past for using pellets, knowing that it’s not only the slugs and snails that are killed but that the food chain is affected too - and, therefore, birds and hedgehogs.  But I reasoned, I didn’t use that many really, surely the few I used wouldn’t make a big difference.

 Tullulah soon disillusioned me of this deluded notion, explaining that in life there exists an invisible and delicate thread of life which connects us with everything and everything with everything else.   She informed  me that our hedgehogs have been decimated over recent years, from 36 million in the 1950s to less than a million today.  “How terrible”, I cried, “I shall never use slug pellets again.  I love hedgehogs so much. “ 

 She pointed out archly, that this was an opportunity to put into practice my understanding of the transformation process that I had written about only a month ago and that I could transform this particular poison into medicine (both literally and metaphorically) by financially supporting the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital.

Well, of course, I was overjoyed to think I could make amends and make a positive contribution and I vowed to send £40 which pleased her and me.  So, I thought I was doing well for one day, but Tullulah hadn’t finished with me and asked me something about the workings of life – just when I was getting ready to go out to a gig!  When I said I hadn’t spent a lot of time on the matter, she suggested I read an extract from ‘Life an Enigma, a Precious Jewel’ by Daisaku Ikeda. I scribbled a note in my diary to do both tasks in the week : 


Did I do them, you may ask?   I’m pleased to say, YES (although I only sent £30 to Tiggywinkles Hospital as I just had to have the red and black coat I’d seen which was £10. It was in the Heart Foundation Charity shop, though, so thought it’d be ok).  And as for the extract, wow, I was blown away by it and want to share it with you on Tulullah’s behalf.   It’s amazing and poetic.

 “Life is photosynthesis-that marvellous process whereby plants absorb the energy of the sun and use it to transform water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and organic compounds. Life is the nitrogen cycle – microscopic parasites drawing their energy from the roots of plants, fixing atmospheric nitrogen, and converting it into nourishing compounds.  Life is the blossoming of flowers in the spring, the ripening of fruit in the fall, the rhythm of the earth and of nature.  Life is the cry of cicadas, signalling the end of summer, migratory birds swinging south in a transparent autumn sky, fish frolicking in a stream. Life is the joy beautiful music instills in us, the thrilling sight of a mountain peak reddened by the rising sun, the myriad combinations and permutations of visible and invisible phenomena.  Life is all things.”  -   Daisaku Ikeda ‘Life An Enigma, a Precious Jewel’.

Must dash and pack, I’m off to Edinburgh for two weeks, so I’ll be in touch on my return.  Tc and in the meantime,
keeeeeep chanting,  Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,   Poppy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

In Praise of the Tomato

In Praise of the Tomato
Who would have thought that this wee fruit with its humble beginnings as a weed in South America would have inspired me and helped my development as a human being.  But ‘it is so and they so’, as the folk song goes and so I am very pleased to introduce Ms.Tullulah, my inspiration.

Background:  I live in Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK.  I have the good fortune to be both an allotmenteer and a Buddhist practitioner, the combination of which brings me enjoyment, fun, satisfaction and challenge.  It also gives me plenty of food to eat and food for thought .  My current thinking is focused on the process of transformation, as illustrated by Tullulah who I will  return to soon, and how by attending to the small, seemingly ordinary things we can bring about positive changes in ourselves and our environment.
Take 77 Sunset Strip, our allotment plot, for example.  Five years ago, we stood waist high in brambles and grass with hardly a worm to be seen, only bits of old carpets and blue plastic.  Now we have a pond with frogs and have attracted bees and butterflies with a variety of herbs such as lavender, lovage, borage, angelica, fennel and comfrey and there’s loads of worms.  On a hot summer’s day, enveloped by the scent of lavender and the lazy droning of the bees, I ask for nothing more.  (It’s a different story in the winter!)  At least I can think that amidst the suffering and destruction in the world, I’m part of nature’s creative process and making a positive contribution to our wild life and environment.
I was recently picking the last of the tomatoes, admiring them - some red, some green, shiny and smooth on their trusses - and wondering about the ripening process.  How did Tullulah become the red, juicy, sweet thing we see today? 
A Buddhist explanation says that an unripened, green tomato on a sunny window sill will quickly ripen and turn red just as it is.  A ripe and unripe tomato are not the same and yet the change takes place within the same fruit.
Although external factors are involved, the important point is that the tomato contains the inherent potential for this change to come about.
In the same way, as part of nature, the life of an ordinary human being itself contains the inherent potential for transformation and for enlightenment.
 I am learning that this process of positive transformation and enlightenment is not an esoteric, other worldly affair;  it means living in the real world with the awareness that within me (and each of us) is the courage, determination, compassion, creativity and wisdom to transform my life for the better and by doing so, create a better world.   I know that by applying myself with perseverance and determination, I can do this and receive great benefits in the process.   We can overcome our fears, obstacles and negativity and achieve our own unique potential, becoming happy and fulfilled just as we are, just like Tullulah.
I would like to dedicate this blog to tomatoes, generally and to Tulullah, specifically.  (Will I ever be able to eat a tomato sandwich again?)
A special thanks to Milo, Fabian and their successful C.A.K.E recipe for bloggers without which, I know for a FACT,  I would not have written and published my first blog. Thank you so much for inspiring me to transform my fears and doubts into the courage to share what’s in my heart.

Notes:   It is an everyday event to see tomatoes in all our supermarkets and noble greengrocers- the few that remain- yet this fruit, cultivated by the Aztecs, did not become popular or widely available in the UK until the mid 19th century, having previously been thought of as poisonous to eat. The tomato is also known as the love apple, or ‘pomme d’amour’ possibly because of its aphrodisiacal qualities.