offering light to the soul

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Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, does not begin to describe the complex system of rules, artistic principles, and symbolic meaning found in this art form. By observing the beauty and quietude of nature; the play of opposites, of yin and yang; and the asymmetrical balance of line, mass, and empty space, the ikebana practitioner strives to incorporate peace, harmony, reverence, and a feeling of centeredness into his or her arrangement and into daily life. The connection with nature, and the pursuit of the spiritual through ikebana, a word that literally means ‘living flowers,’ is the greater study of ‘Kado,’ the Way of Flowers. It is my turn to offer flowers to the Buddha. I head to the flower market to see what inspires for this week’s ikebana arrangements. I will offer flowers to Buddha Shakyamuni, Tar, Avalokiteshvara, and all the other buddhas, bodhisattavas, Dharma protectors, and lineage holders of our Buddhist tradition while remembering that holy beings are not the true recipients of our offerings. Buddhas, already full of love and light and joy, do not need our gifts of flowers to be happy. Why then do we take such care of them? We offer flowers to express our gratitude, but also to practice generosity, to steep our minds in the act of letting go, of giving to others. We offer to make our own minds pure, as pure as the ‘Sheer Bliss’ rose, its delicate petals a mere blush of color; or the silvery pink Japanese anemone, so fine as to be nearly ethereal. We offer to create favorable causes for ourselves and others, to create a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere so that our minds will become calm. We offer flowers to accumulate positive energy or merit: the favorable karma we need to propel our darkened deluded minds toward higher states, to enlightenment. In our devotional prayers we sing, ‘Beautiful flowers, petals, and garlands finely arranged, covering the ground and filling the sky….’ and imagine countless offering goddesses back into our heart. This ritual creates positive karmic imprints in our mind, and beautiful feelings of love and generosity; these in turn help us to experience everything as pleasant. With a pleasant feeling at our heart we no longer attach to anger or hatred, but instead move toward love and compassion. We can then go one step further and transform our kind or virtuous actions into flowers and mentally offer them to the buddhas……Joan D. Stamm

this subtle sensitivity to the beauty that emerges without sight, without awareness, without the futile ego, soothes us, drips around our hearts like warm, golden honey…..it is our nature…..the space of infinite beingness….we do not ‘do’ here….we alight into the orb of intuitive patience……may you behold one stem so lightly in your hand, it evaporates into suchness……

The warmth has come. Now, in early-summer, I can go into the garden with bare feet and shoulders. Stripped down, I can live without the usual layers. I see how thirsty the ground is, even this early in the season. I realize how thirsty I am- deeply, inwardly thirsty. All around me I feel powerful urges. Urges to grow and develop hum in the air. Is that what we mean by urgency? The ground shouts for water. Leaves turn eagerly towards the sun. Roots dig into soil. All wait hungrily to be given. The deep urge in our souls wants grounding, needs light, longs for living water, too. We cannot grow on our own any more than any plant in nature can. At the core we know that of our own selves we can do nothing. We are only what we are given, what we are able to receive and return. Fundamentally we are beggars. Every living thing in this world is a beggar. Summer is a fullness born of need. How wonderfully strange and freeing it is to accept this basic poverty. It makes for mutual acceptance of a fundamental emptiness. It makes us understand that we are part of the whole and therefore one with it. Isn’t our task then to wait in dignity upon what brings us life and so to wait upon each other? In lush abundance how relieving it is to be stripped down to essentials, to the bare truth that we are small, insignificant, and precious. This is what is real. To this essential poverty all is given….Gunilla Norris

the intimate….born of blooming

Let the subtle flow

of energy lead.

Be the freedom and

magnificence you

believed could only

be achieved through

years of struggle.

Allow the movement

and the moment to

unfold you petal by

petal until you are

wide open- the

flower of truth in

unselfconscious

full bloom.

…..Danna Faulds

4 thoughts on “offering light to the soul

  1. We should consider how life takes care of itself, our hair grows, breath comes and goes, with never a conscious thought. Ikebana is allowing ourselves to slow down and take in the simple truth of life growing into love … May flowers bloom in your life today …

    • the idea of offering flowers to the soul is sweet simplicity defined….a sincere connection to our own elegant power……..a spark and a bloom to you today g.f.s….

  2. Without light, still the blossoms break…….leaning into shadows of the moon. Let us wake within the darkness, aware of just this – the beauty that needs not notice. Lovely as expected, blue. ~ Bobbie

    • …and the petals lilt ever so slightly, holding space for the wind, where wings alight……and remember….fairies live in the shadows, under leaves and the cool, loamy wood….to nest is to know ourselves a little better, to know kindness a little deeper…..may the flowers smile and pull you down deep Bobbie…..

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