DHARMA IN EVERYDAY LIFE
IS FLOWER OR GARBAGE
By Nhất Quán
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
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
- 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
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
- The bad should be transformed as soon as
possible, do not continue, garbage must be used to nourish
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
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
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
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
- There is a realm of happiness without
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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