Love’s Garden explores the spiritual dimension of being in a relationship. The authors share stories from their own life and offer clear and useful exercises to illustrate how Buddhist principles can help couples navigate difficulties and misunderstandings to deepen their commitment to each other and to their spiritual practice. Love’s Garden is a perfect guide to help cultivate love in all of our relationships.
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This book is written directly from their hearts to ours and will encourage everyone who reads it to cultivate their own seeds of love and bring their love into full bloom.—Andre Watts, classical pianist
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us to recognize the presence of another. If you are not here, how can you recognize another? With the practice of mindfulness, happiness will present itself right away. Our practice of mindfulness is a celebration of life.”
From the Introduction:
We offer you three golden keys. The first key is to start from where you are. Wherever you are today is exactly the perfect place to begin. Your life is already a beautiful and an incredible journey. Trust where you are on your journey and trust in your own timing.
The second key is that you already have everything you need to succeed as partners. You have all the heart, courage, wisdom and tools you need to create a beautiful partnership. They lie within you. These stories and practices are to help ignite and nourish this inner wisdom and knowing.
The third key is the metaphor of the garden for the soul of a marriage. By the use of the word soul, we acknowledge the mystery, depth and greatness of your partnership. In human history, a garden is a place of beauty, of work and of contemplation. From ancient times, the garden has served as a metaphor for paradise, beauty and the nature of living things.
This key encourages you both to discover your own soul’s garden, a remarkable place, full of the seeds of all time. This is a chance to come home to yourselves and to your relationship in a very deep way and learn to become a wise gardener. Use the stories, tools and principles to make your garden grow to offer beauty, sanity and protection to yourselves and the world.
From Chapter 1:
The Three Energies
The simple ability to pay attention to the world as we find it may be at the heart of a soulful life worth living.—David Whyte
Buddhist teachings acknowledge that the purpose of our daily life is to generate three kinds of energies. The energies are mindfulness, concentration and insight. The purpose of mindfulness is simply to recognize, or mere recognition. For example, when we sit, we know that we are sitting. When we walk, we know that we are walking. When we are aware that we are alive, we know that we are alive. When we are frustrated, we know we are frustrated. When we are being difficult, we know we are being difficult.
The energies of mindfulness, concentration and insight are also called the three learnings. The word “learning” in the Buddhist context is different from a Western notion of learning. A more Western idea of learning is to increase the intellect or to accumulate knowledge. The use of the word learning here means to practice, to train, to experience a daily practice. We value the openness and freshness of the beginner’s mind and not the mind of the master or expert. We are reminded to continually, with each breath and step, to begin anew.
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us to recognize the presence of another. If you are not here, how can you recognize another? With the practice of mindfulness, happiness will present itself right away. Our practice of mindfulness is a celebration of life, a festival. Life can reveal herself right way. Thich Nhat Hanh is always encouraging his students to make our practice lighter and easier. There is freedom in the present moment, in being available for each breath, and in being available for life.
Mindfulness contains concentration and insight. It is like the nested Russian dolls. They all are in each other. If we pay attention, we have mindfulness. As our mindfulness strengthens, we experience concentration. This concentration brings about insight. Concentration and insight are not two different things. Within concentration is insight. We don’t use concentration to look for insight. Concentration gives rise to insight. It is natural. If there is insight and concentration, there is mindfulness. They are all within each other. “Breathing in, I become aware that I am breathing in” is a kind of enlightenment. We don’t need to look very far. It is there, just like that. Naturally.
Our mind is a field and the seeds that we sow each day are very valuable. We do have a field and a plow—this is thee practice of mindfulness, concentration and insight. With each breath, each step, we can taste liberation. This is not just wishful thinking. This is our experience.