Monday, April 25, 2011

Skillful Means

We are having some turbulent times here lately. In the midst of all the changes happening now and preparing for those coming in the future, I took a little time out of it all. On Saturday, I took a workshop in ikebana (the way of flowers). On the face of it, stepping out of the craziness to arrange flowers may seem like a cliche - is there be anything less necessary than beautifully arranged flowers? But I loved every moment of it and it felt like the exactly right thing to be doing at that moment in time.

The instructor was wonderful and she really inspired me to move past ideas of just using cut flowers purchased at florists but to find materials in the everyday world that are cast aside and overlooked. I especially loved that it was so unapologetically about just making a beautiful arrangement. She showed us images of some ikebana that were quite moving, but I loved that there was nothing being asked of the whole endeavor except to be beautiful. I'm hooked.

I look forward to making some arrangements from the flowers that are bursting out right in our backyard. The lilacs are in full bloom.

I wish you could smell them. Heavenly.

Then, on Sunday, Finn, Lucy and I went up to the Monastery so they could participate in their Zen Teens program. I realize as I write that sentence that it sounds like it was as simple as just piling into the car and driving upstate. There was some resistance. However, my faith in the two people who run the program was deep. I knew that, if I could just get them up there, the rest would fall into place. I used all manner of upaya (skillful means) and some decidedly less than skillful means to convince them to just come and try it once. The aforementioned faith was rewarded. Lucy declared, "Zen Teens: two thumbs up!" and Finn actually let the words, "That was fun" pass his lips.

There was no reason to believe that we would have a great weekend and every reason to believe that it would be challenging. Instead, it was lovely. I think I will go stick my nose in the lilacs now.


Taos Sunflower said...

I have always thought studying floral arranging would be perfect cross training for all that we do. I'll look forward to reading more as you pursue this.

OfTroy said...

do zen teens still get chocolate from the easter bunny?

Patti Blaine said...

Continue to be beautiful.

Jan Morrison said...

I took an ikebana course at Buddhist seminary. I loved it and would like to do it again. Truly a wonderful contemplative practice. But instead I'm learning how to make socks - yay!
My step-daughter has become hooked on the dharma. I love it.
Those lilacs are gorgeous! My old lilac bush is still bare and I might give up on it this year - we moved it about four years ago and I'm sick of its sulky behaviour. there I said it. The word veri is squat. ha!

Robyn said...


The whole Easter Bunny thing has been quite a source of discussion! Fortunately, the Monastery solved it for us by having a combined Buddha's birthday/Easter party. Everyone was happy!

Robyn said...

Jan - those lilacs can be fussy! My mom, who has the strongest green thumb of anyone I know, spent my whole childhood trying to convince one to bloom but it never did. The one we have here has good years and bad years but this seems to be an especially good year. I think the fact that it was a good cold winter here is helping all the spring flowers.

And hooray for handknit socks!