Monday, January 4, 2010

Gardening is Budo

Karate, as you know, originated in Okinawa and spread to Japan. Both countries noted for their farms and beautiful gardens. We can learn a lot from gardening just like we can from Budo, or the Martial Way.

In fact, there is an old saying on how Farming is Budo. Many of the old karate-ka were farmers and knew the earth well. I don't have a farm, but I do like to garden. This time of year I miss being out in the dirt, pulling weeds, watering and, yes, I even talk to my vegetables. Once, I swore a tomato talked to me...but that was back in the 70's.

Well, to stay on track. Gardening is Budo. It is about discovery, calming the spirit and seeing directly into our true nature. Our mind is like a garden. Stuff grows in it...even when we aren't trying. If you just dug up the earth and left it, in a few days the grass and weeds will begin to grow. When you plant vegetables or flowers, they begin to grow.

No matter what, stuff grows in your garden. Just like your mind. Whether you pay attention to it or not, stuff grows. Thoughts are always growing in the mind. Some are intentional, some are just random. Some are vegetables and flowers...some are weeds. Regardless, your mind is always growing thoughts....and just like a real garden it needs to be tended.

As I mentioned earlier, an untended garden grows weeds and grass. An untended mind grows suffering, delusion, ignorance and anger. Tend your garden by pulling the weeds and your vegetables will grow strong and tall. Tend your mind by pulling the suffering at its root and your bliss will grow. It is a matter of taking care of your garden and your mind.

For myself, tending the mind is accomplished via Zazen and mindfulness of everyday activity. Just being here. Zazen is the weeding of the garden of my mind so my vegies (bliss, happiness, compassion) can grow and give me food and life. Yes, we can learn a lot from gardening. In many ways, Gardening is Budo. I miss my garden...It's there, just waiting till the snow melts and the ground thaws.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. Very good analogy and very real - there is a book in that post.

  2. Thanks...I am always looking for book ideas. Guess I better get to writing.

  3. Check out the book: Gardening at the Dragons Gate.
    Great book on Zen and Gardening

  4. Gee . . I already started that book a couple of years ago guys ;-P

    As it happens, I grew up in a gardening family and worked in horticulture for a few years with my father, brother and nephews . . and I still enjoy gardening today. So, yes, I have written and posted very similar material in the past . . therefore I enjoyed this post immensely Shinzen . .

    . . I also used to meditate regularly everyday to weed the fertile soil of my mind. Now, having entered the natural state of be-ing, I simply sit and align my energies, do a few stretches and enter the moment; so to speak, especially after sleep.

    As you implied here, every activity is a moment to simply 'be' and 'do', without letting 'unhappiness/suffering in; and that is no easy task either, ha, ha!

    Thanks, and cheers for now :)

  5. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  6. Thanks for visiting marion...I love comments and feel free to partake in friendly zen banter as well. As you will notice there are a few of us that love to 'jaw' back and forth...again, Thanks.