Getting A Little Help

I recently started one of my most ambitious building projects to date; a green house.  When it’s completed it will house some of the vegetables that need extra protection from pests like squash and zucchini as well as providing a space for us grow crops during times when there’s a danger of frost.

The project is going well, but it’s required a massive amount of learning on my part. It seems like every day I have to adjust my plans based on some new bit of information.

For example, I was terrified early on when I began framing the walls and realized the structure was a bit floppy. It stood up without issue, but a hard push on one of the corners caused the walls to wobble back and forth.

In a standard house, the plywood and sheet rock that is placed over the wall studs provides needed rigidity to the structure.  However, because I’m building a green house, which will be covered in 6 mil plastic sheeting, I don’t have that option.

Ply wood and sheet rock may be good for holding up a house, but they wouldn’t let much light into the green house!

So, I must rely on other methods to add stability to the structure; namely angle braces. Through the strategic use of braces, I’m able to attach the frame to the foundation and add sturdiness to the walls of my green house.

This gives the structure the strength it needs to stand up to heavy winds, and it allows light to enter, so my future crops can flourish.

Image from Sensei Alex Kakuyo

As Buddhists, we work to build a life in the same way that a carpenter might build a green house. We struggle, make plans, and try to treat the people around us with kindness and respect.

But this is a harsh world that we live in. And the winds are suffering are constantly blowing.  If we’re not careful they’ll knock us down, and all of our hardwork will fall to ruin.

It can be tempting try and weather the storm alone because we live in a culture that values individuality and shames people who ask for help.

But Buddhism teaches that all sentient beings are interconnected. Whether we ask for it, or not, we are always receiving help from a host of other beings. It might be the farmer who grows our food or the neighbor that picks up our newspaper when we leave for vacation.

That said, in especially hard times it’s wise to dig a bit deeper, and reach out directly to the Buddha for help. In this way, we brace ourselves against mishaps in the same way that a carpenter braces the walls of a house.

There are many ways to do this, but the simplest is through the practice of Buddhist liturgy.  When we engage in seated meditation, study Buddhist scripture, and do prostrations in front of our altar we reach inside of ourselves and grab onto something solid that will hold us up when life tries to knock us down.

Namu Amida Butsu

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