By Nhat Quan


Flowers are a symbol of beauty, aroma, and freshness, so everyone wants to look, love and cherish.
And garbage is dirty, smelly, so few people pay attention and just want to remove or eliminate or alienate as far as possible.
While the garbage was suffering from losses like that, it still silently accepted to contribute to the best of life. The job of garbage is to turn into fertilizer, help gardeners cultivate flower beds, vegetable gardens, gourds and many other green fruit trees, flowering, and fruiting. On the other hand, because farmers know how to use organic fertilizers and limit the use of chemical fertilizers to grow crops, vegetables and fruits are added with nutritious and good health for humans.
Therefore, in another aspect, garbage is not necessarily a mess, ugly need to be removed, but must be cherished because the garbage is capable, silently contributing positively to human life.
Similarly, in our minds there are two basic characteristics of flowers and garbage:
- We have good qualities like goodness, diligence, gentleness, loveliness, forgiveness, sympathy and help for those who encounter difficult and needy circumstances. That positive point represents a fresh, beautiful flower that is inherent in every human being. And when our mind is soft, peaceful and true happiness, it is the flower of our inner soul that blooms and radiates the fragrance.
- In contrast, when mindful of greed, sadness, fear, jealousy, reproach, selfishness, that garden of mind is growing many kinds of weeds and garbage.
Therefore, cultivators must know how to take care of their mind garden so that each day the flowers, and the fruits of love, understanding, and live help ... be exuberant, blossom and radiate the fragrance.
Beauty and goodness need to be discovered as soon as possible and maintained for as long as possible. Because this is a method of nurturing happiness and wisdom. We have wisdom, but if we are not nourished our wisdom will be eclipsed. As Master Shen Tu once said:
- The mind is a shining mirror
Every day needs to clean.
Because we have cultivation and study, we have some wisdom. That insight helps us to know what to do and what not to do, so we can create happiness for ourselves and for people in the present moment. That insight is very important, it has its life, that life is long or short, depending on us. Today we have a little insight but if it is not nourished it will overshadow, possibly die prematurely. Just like mirrors must be cleaned every day, which means listening to the teacher, sitting meditation is to wipe the mirror of wisdom so that our wisdom becomes more and more bright. Just like we cut a flower, we want to keep the flower for a long time, every day we have to watch the water in the vase or watch the air for the flower to breathe. If you cut the flower and throw it on the floor, the flower can only live for less than 24 hours. The art of growing flowers has two aspects:
- Keeping flowers for long.
- Know how to turn garbage into flowers again when flowers have become garbage.
The process of turning garbage into flowers is an ongoing process, as when we see garbage, we have to make it in time to make fertilizer to continue growing flowers. Similarly, as if we have defilements that exist, we must identify and promptly transfer those troubles into happiness. We have to handle flowers and treat garbage:
- Handling flowers is to care for flowers for a long time,
- Handling garbage is knowing how to compost garbage and turning garbage back into flowers.
A good gardener never goes against that principle. Cultivators are gardeners and our gardens are mind gardens. The mind also has flowers and rubbish so we have to cultivate wisdom and happiness. When garbage appears, we must take care of garbage and turn garbage into flowers.
We thought that when we first cultivated, we were in misery and confusion, which means we are garbage. When we practice, we are in the realm of happiness, the realms of wisdom and we will often be in that realm, we will forever leave the realm of suffering. But in fact suffering and happiness interact with each other, so it does not mean that garbage cannot become flowers and flowers cannot become garbage again.
Flowers can turn into the garbage again. A joy or happiness, too, because all are impermanent. Impermanence is a hallmark of Buddha Dharma (one of the Three Dharma Seals). Which teachings go against impermanence, non-self and Nirvana, that doctrine is not truly Buddhist teachings. Suffering and happiness are like garbage and flowers, they are impermanent. So flowers can become rubbish and garbage still retains its ability to turn into flowers. When garbage has become a flower, defilements have become Bodhi and then we are farewell to garbage, eternal afflictions. In fact, every flower must become garbage. If you are a clever gardener you will not be afraid when flowers become garbage, because we know that there are flowers in the garbage and we will turn them into flowers again.
To see the garbage is the flower. Flowers and garbage are two different entities, but the meaning is still the same, as the suffering makes happiness, negativity is Bodhi. So, we need to return to ourselves to take care of the flower of the soul that is blooming and adding flavor. That is when our minds are wandering, adventuring in a certain way, return to ourselves and be fully present with what is in the present.
Whenever the current body, mind, and circumstances are combined, we will clearly see the relationship between ourselves and life, between garbage and flowers. From there, we no longer hate, avoid or eliminate anything, because we have learned how to turn garbage into flowers, suffering, and unhappiness to become peaceful and happy.
Therefore, compost is essential and important for flowers, as well as suffering for human life. Because in our minds there is also a lot of afflicting rubbish such as greed, anger, reproach, fear, envy, discrimination, boredom, etc. These negative seeds are hidden in the mind Ours, when qualified, will appear and dominate human life, creating many miseries and insecurities.
However, if we know how to cultivate, practice and transform, those disturbing garbage will become pure and fragrant flowers and spread the fragrance to give to life. On the contrary, if we do not know how to fertilize, water the flowers every day, it is very quickly wilted and destroyed. For humans, too, there are many times when we are happy with our loved ones and are loved and cherished by people who love us. But if we still remain indifferent and don't know how to care for and cherish what we have, then one day, happiness will automatically take off and leave the emptiness, loneliness, and sadness. This truth has been happening, if not quickly awakened to transformation, it is inevitable to be insecure and fall apart.
Please emphasize:
- The bad should be transformed as soon as possible, do not continue, garbage must be used to nourish flowers immediately.
The image of flowers and garbage in Buddhism is also used as an example of enlightenment and confusion. Usually, we think that enlightenment has nothing to do with confusion and tends to separate enlightenment from confusion. But really, enlightenment is from the confusion. If there is no confusion, there is no enlightenment. Just as right and left of a problem, right and left interrelated. This is because of that, the other is because of this. Must see for that. So, someone said that I didn't want to end the cycle of reincarnation, I only accepted liberation, not seeing the correlation. In the tendency to choose flowers or garbage, the Patriarchs repeatedly said:
- Pure land lies right in the mind. Pure mind, this realm naturally becomes pure land.
As a profound Buddha learner, we must see it. People often fear and hate suffering so they seek to escape suffering. So people dream of a realm without suffering and call it the Pure Land, a realm without suffering and all happiness. That is the general tendency of all people, the tendency to flee this misery to seek another realm without suffering. So Pure Land can be a creation of our minds. It is a human necessity. But saying so does not mean that the Pure Land is a bogus realm. Pure land is real but not as we think.
Again, the Pure Land is real, that is the place of understanding and love. That is where people know how to use suffering to create happiness. We need understanding and love, so we hope for Pure Land. Where there is understanding and love, the place is less miserable. In order to understand this, we must reflect the interrelationship between garbage and flowers, between afflictions and bodhi, we see that there is suffering in order to understand that there is love, and there is mud to have a lotus. Suffering teaches us to understand and love. Suffering has its use, we grow up and become human beings because of suffering, we learn from suffering.
The Buddhist practice is not to run away from suffering but to identify and look deeply into suffering. Even in the basic doctrine of Buddhism, we have seen the attitude of Buddhism not to run away from suffering but to stop, to bring suffering and look deeply into it. We look deeply into suffering to see the cause, the root of suffering, which is the First Noble Truth, which is suffering.
There is a common saying, but few understand it:
- Afflictions are Bodhi.
Defilements are moods of suffering, which are unwholesome minds. If you want to find Bodhi, you must use those afflictions to transform, otherwise, you cannot have Bodhi. That is the doctrinal interaction between enlightenment and confusion.
In the tendency to choose is flower or garbage. Of course, we choose flowers, so all the afflictions, all that is present in the world, in our body and mind, we must accept all to transform. Don't run away to find another one, to find a pure land, some realm somewhere far away. Thus, it is right to follow the Buddha's path. We think that the Pure Land lies in the West and goes to find a realm in the West without knowing that the West is also in the East. Western and Eastern are interrelated.
We cannot escape what we hate, we can only turn hate into love. Just like when gardening, you know how to turn garbage into flowers. The afflictions, painful circumstances that we must accept, must embrace and transform into peacefulness, happiness, liberation. Enlightenment and confusion are interactions with each other. Enlightenment lies in the confusion. Bodhi is in defilements.
Recognizing this we will see the difference between Buddhism and a large number of other religions. Buddha taught us to accept what is now and here, even for now and here that contains suffering and afflictions. If we don't accept it, we lose what we are looking for because enlightenment is made of confusion, happiness is made of suffering, Truthfulness is made of Samsara.
As a Buddhist, we are not afraid of garbage, because when we have garbage we turn garbage into flowers. But when there are flowers, we cherish the flower and don't let it become garbage too soon. Also, while practicing when facing suffering we are not afraid, because of suffering, we turn suffering into understanding and compassion. We can dispel the illusion:
- There is a realm of happiness without suffering.
Because we do not recognize the valuable and practical lesson from suffering, so we dream of a realm without suffering, then we lack the ability to transform the suffering of ourselves as well as sympathy and it is not possible to share the love for those who encounter tragic circumstances.
In short, living in this life, there is no one who wants difficulties to happen to them, but not so that everyone is as desired. To know, from rich and noble to impoverished, needy, there are pain or suffering, more or less, that is the truth. However, if you know how to nurture and keep your mind calm and clear, you won't get stuck in whatever conditions happen to you.
When the pure seeing discovers false perceptions, calculation of ego, greed, anger, and ignorance, then you are free to look at the beauty of life without being dependent on ideas of desires, possessing or hating anything in this world. Thereby, we understand all phenomena, things in this universe are always changing and new. We cannot hold or expect anything for ourselves. Our work can and must be done in contact with the reality now and here.
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