Since this is my favourite card in the Lojong for the Layperson cards, I figured I should explore it more in a separate post from yesterday. I like to ramble a bit through these cards and tease things out.
This time, practice the main points.
This image only gets more delicious. As I mentioned yesterday, this is a sundial (perfect for the Lojong slogan about time) with some Spanish moss and immature hickory nuts.
Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is seen in the southern US (where the author lives) as well as Mexico, Bermuda, Central and South America and the West Indies, and is naturalized in Australia and Polynesia.
The botanical name means “resembling lichen” but it isn’t really a moss or a lichen, it’s an angiosperm. The plant likes warm, humid conditions, and although it doesn’t kill trees, it slows their growth because it blocks light. I’ve seen it used by florists for decoration and crafts but it was used in years past as stuffing and filler or padding in various products. That reminds me that time also changes how we use things.
The unripe hickory nuts also remind me of time and seasons and growth periods in life. There are nearly 20 varieties of hickory trees in the world. Different moths feed on hickory, and the nuts are a bit like walnuts or pecans, but they are difficult to break open. I even saw one person mention that after the squirrels ate the nuts, the people collected the shells and burned them on the barbeque to provide flavour.
I understand from this card that every situation allows you an opportunity for practice, a way to apply the pretty thoughts. We might rush around and say we have no time, but every moment you live gives you time. I got Norman Fischer’s book of commentary for comparison and he titles the slogan This time get it right! A slightly different take on it, which is why I like commentaries on things.
What I liked in his idea was that, like many words in Buddhist teachings, they know we aren’t going to be perfect. Even if you fail at thinking about other people and being selfless, you can get it right next time. Time passes, the sun moves around the dial, but you can try again. Similar to the idea of befriending yourself, give yourself time to get it right.
Sundials are attractive, they are laid out with definitive points, all measured up, but if you don’t put the thing in the garden where the sun hits it, it’s merely a facade of time. Similarly, that filler, all that Spanish moss, all that thinking and analyzing, can block your light if you don’t get past it to act. It is by acting and growing that nuts ripen. You can’t grow if you don’t get light, so get outside and act.
This meandering idea of acting and being selfless…what if you try and do something right but do not act perfectly? So if you aren’t entirely selfless, you could take what’s left, the shells of the hickory nuts, and put them on the grill to provide flavour; a metaphor for practicing the main points but realizing that if you seemingly fail, or feel you aren’t improving, you still can act to bring some good.
All these ideas make sense. I want a poster of this image framed on my wall.