I spent much of today on my own, some of it writing and some of it doing light work in the Aphrodite field. I walked across there at the end of a grey morning. At this time of year the path is full of tiny violets - an Aphrodite flower. As I entered the field the sun came out. It was like a welcome. I feel a great satisfaction seeing the domain of the goddess slowly becoming beautiful. It is, inherently, one of the most lovely spots on our land and bringing out its atmosphere and character feels to be a holy task, not to mention that when the sun comes out and one lies in the grass looking up at blue sky and passing clouds it is a quite exquisite feeling.
When one is alone one's mind roams over many things, some relevant to one's own life - how much physical effort is good for me and how much is too much?, some to do with current affairs - is the USA edging toward self-destruct? how long will Angela Merkel survive as leader of Germany? will the UK leave the EU? some to do with Dharma - what will I do as tomorrow's daily teaching? what is Dogen really saying in Genjo Koan? the relationship between the vision of a Pure land and creating a holy domain here on earth - in this field, even.
An important message of the Dharma and of the Tao seems to me to be to respond rather than impose; to work with, rather than against, most of the time. For sure there are times when one should draw a line and say no, but here in this field there is a world already given by Nature. It would not be right to come in with a plan drawn up in a distant office, pull down all the trees and uproot the natural vegetation, build walls and then import new plants. Perhaps that is how it has to be done in city centres, but here, deep in the country, it seems wiser to go and see what has already been given and try to bring out the inherent beauty.
On the edge of this field, for instance there are several large oak trees. To begin with, at the beginning of this year, one could not get near them for undergrowth. By a certain amount of clearing it has been possible to bring some of them into view. Their amazing shapes are now on display and it is possible to sit beneath them or even in them, and enjoy the art that nature has worked. In the centre of the field was another thicket. Again by clearing some but not too much the may trees have been brought into view creating a kind of holy precinct. At one side of the field there is an old drainage culvert covered with worn stone. Perhaps eventually we shall move some of that stone over to the central area and see what we can make by exploiting the character of the stones. The work of lifting stone is too much for me at the moment, but visions form. they form out of some kind of alchemy between ourselves and what Nature provides.