Today is an unstructured one. This happens when life shifts and what I had planned to do is not what I am going to do. At these moments, I am faced with what the Buddhists would call groundlessness. Camus called it “terrible freedom” — freedom with the burden of responsibility.
I considered what to do after meditation. Nothing pressing came up, so the dogs and I went into the garden and I began moving rocks away from the bamboo. The bamboo needs dirt and mulch. It is not happy surrounded instead by stones that get too hot in the sun. I had realized this by listening over the months to the bamboo’s needs. It has taken me a long time to listen to plants, to animals. And it has taken me even longer to hear them.
As I moved the stones into a huge bucket, I saw half an earthworm peeking through the hard dirt. I had not killed it, but it was being very still. I sat and watched. As I mindfully moved the rocks around it, its little head popped up and looked around. Then, it dug deeper into the earth, nearly disappearing. I had never seen an earthworm dive into the earth. Then, I uncovered another part of the same little guy. His safe place was disappearing. I gently unearthed him and carried him to the part of the yard where there is dirt and mulch. Once I set him down, his tiny head raised up, sensed the new dirt and was off and digging. I felt great. I had listened to the plants and critters, speaking through the Jizo-nature inside me, and had mindfully responded – moving stones and not killing anything in the process.
Where freedom and groundlessness were once daunting and anxiety-producing, now there is stillness, curiosity and willingness to experience the moment. It has only been in sitting with Jizo for at least half an hour each morning that I have been able to be what I had tried knowing for so many years of study and trying. So many years of trying and failing, quitting meditation only to try again. Like the earth holds the earthworm, my Jizo holds me safely from within so that I may, in turn, hold my life, and sometimes hold the lives of others, in safe keeping.