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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
29 much and can hold such deep roots. These roots reach down into the whole community. When our roots reach down deeply into the sangha, our roots begin to draw nutrients from the sangha body to increase our own strength and keep us standing upright. When the three roots of faith, prac- tice, and community support have fed us deeply, then we will be solid both alone and in our relationships. We will not just survive; we will flourish. No violent storm can throw us. Often in our daily lives, we are just focused on survival. But fidelity is not a question of survival. It is one of vitality. Two Gardens You have two gardens: your own gar- den and that of your beloved. First, you have to take care of your own garden and master the art of gardening. In each one of us there are flowers and garbage. The garbage is the anger, fear, discrimi- nation, and jealousy within us. If you water the garbage, you will strengthen the negative seeds. If you water the flow- ers of compassion, understanding, and love, you will strengthen the positive seeds. What you grow is up to you. If you don’t know how to practice selective watering in your own garden, then you won’t have enough wisdom to help water the flowers in the garden of your beloved. In cultivating your own garden well, you also help to cultivate their garden. Even a week of practice can make a big difference. You can do it. Every time you practice walking mindfully, invest- ing your mind and body in every step, you are taking your situation in hand. Every time you breathe in and know you are breathing in, every time you breathe out and smile to your out-breath, you Thich NhaT haNh is a Vietnamese Zen master, scholar, author, poet, and peace activist. he founded the Order of interbeing, a community of monastics and laypeople with monasteries and practice centers around the world. he is currently on a teaching tour of North america (for information visit tnhtour.org). This article is from his new book, Fidelity, published by Parallax Press. A Wedding Blessing Vipassana teacher eric Kolvig presents a blessing for marriage and commitment ceremonies. Here is my wish for you in your mar- riage: May you take refuge in each other as a strong sangha of two. I wish you deep, sustaining love for each other. But as rare as authentic love is, helping someone to be or become free is even rarer. If you make such mutual help the organizing principle of your life together, then authentic love and all other goodness will flow and purify between you as a natural result. The greatest test of your helping each other to be or become free is likely to be losing each other. As surely as this wedding joins you, death or estrangement will part you. I hope that you will never take for granted what can never be taken for granted. If you know in your hearts every day that you will lose each other, then you can cut away attachment with the fierce cour- age of the fox that chews off its own leg to free itself from the trap. If you know for certain this approaching loss, perhaps every day you can thank each other for the invaluable gift of that day together. Perhaps this knowing will help you live gratefully and urgently together in the present moment. And perhaps dwelling deeply in the present will even allow you to see that separation is only illu- sion, that no loss is possible, and that you are bringing each other home. —From Inquiring Mind, Spring 2011 are yourself, you are your own master, and you are the gardener in your own garden. We are relying on you to take good care of your garden, so that you can help your beloved to take care of theirs. If you have a difficult relationship, and you want to make peace with the other person, you have to go home to yourself. Go home to your garden and cultivate the flowers of peace, compas- sion, understanding, and joy. Only after that can you come to your partner and be patient and compassionate. When we commit to another person, we make a promise to grow together, sharing the fruit and progress of prac- tice. It is our responsibility to take care of each other. Every time the other per- son does something in the direction of change and growth, we should show our appreciation. If you have been together with your partner for some years, you may have the impression that you know every- thing about this person. But that isn’t true. Scientists can study a speck of dust for years, and they still don’t claim to understand everything about it. If a speck of dust is that complex, how can you know everything about another person? Your partner needs your atten- tion and your watering of their positive seeds. Without that attention, your rela- tionship will wither. We have to learn the art of creating happiness. If during your childhood, you saw your parents do things that created happiness in the family, you already know what to do. But many of us didn’t have these role models. The problem is not one of being wrong or right, but one of being more or less skill- ful. Living together is an art. Even with a lot of goodwill, we can still make the photo Nate cHoNgsiriwataNa ricHardfriday