The mindful approach. To be a mindful gardener we may not like what the slugs and snails do but we need not hate or rage. In Theravada Buddhism it is taught that the antidote to anger is compassion and loving kindness. Not the easiest of asks but when we accept that anger is toxic not just to the spirit but to the body, which it floods with a stressful chemistry. In mindfulness we learn to master our emotions or at least not have them dominate us.
I will admit I am not quite at the stage of extending loving compassion to the slugs and snails that devour my seedlings – though I want to be of Buddha mind and Krishna consciousness. I do however acknowledge that they are only operating within their nature – feeding and living – there is no malice in it. There is no need for a sense of injustice or anger. It is just the nature of the garden. It is just the nature of life – there are things beyond your control, bad things happen – we cannot internalize everything that does not go to plan or to our peace of mind. we don’t have to ride the storm or the tsunami of negative emotion; we can bring compassion to our self and move on to the next moment.
Anger, doubt, regret – all the disrupting sentiments are just sentiments – they are not you, they are not of I or mine. They are transitory, if you let them transit on. If you transition to a different now. Slugs and snail eat. We garden. Life goes on.
Transmutation. Anger can be motivation. I know that on the spiritual path ego and anger are seen as evils. I dispute. It is the context. Ok egotism can go, but you can’t obliterate the self fully, you still need some self for self-respect. The letting go is not of any semblance of self it rather with letting go of self-identification with aggression, greed, emotional pain and other suffering. It is transcending the moment – that is going to heaven, that is reaching nirvana – that is the journey and the afterlife or shush I say that is the next stage of life.
Anger is problematic but it often stems from what we perceive as an injustice and that hints at a will to right the situation but we can stand in front the tank not drive it, we can love bomb not blow up. We can overcome.
Anger is a human trait and so if it’s good enough for evolution to retain than it has some value. I do not mean aggression, I mean a sense of justice or outrage at injustice or true evils. anger is the sensation we experience when something offends, if the smirk of a colleague angers – work on that. If slavery, persecution or prejudice offends you then get to work on that – vote, campaign, boycott, speak up.
So if those slugs are still bothering you into rage or clenched teeth then be motivated by it – make the beer trap, buy the grit, protect the plants. Turn the negative experience into impetus towards a more positive experience. This is the alchemy of the soul. There is more to made than precious metals.
Garden contemplation: Overcome one’s self then overcome all else.