Robin Wall Kimmerer

‘”It’s our way,” (Lena) says, ” to take only what we need. I’ve always been told that you never take more than half.” Sometimes she doesn’t take any (sweetgrass) at all, but just comes here to check on the meadow, to see how the plants are doing. “Our teachings,” she says, “are very strong. They wouldn’t get handed on if they weren’t useful. The most important thing to remember is what my grandmother always said: ‘If we use a plant respectfully it will stay with us and flourish. If we ignore it, it will go away. If you don’t give it respect, it will leave us.'” The plants themselves have shown us this.’ (Braiding Sweetgrass)

‘If you go to Japan and visit Eiheiji monastery — before you enter the monastery you will see the small bridge called Hanshaku-kyo. “Hanshaku-kyo” means “Half-dipper Bridge.” Whenever Dogen Zenji used (dipped) water from the river, after he used half of it he returned the water to the river again without throwing it away. That is why we call that bridge Hanshaku-kyo — Half-dipper Bridge. In Eiheiji monastery when we wash our face we do not fill the basin. We just use 70% of the basin and after we wash it we do not throw the water away from the body. We empty the basin this way — toward the body. It means to respect the water. This kind of practice is not based on just economy. It may be pretty hard to understand why Dogen Zenji returned the water after he used half of it. This kind of practice is beyond our thinking. When we feel the beauty of the river, or water, we intuitively we do it in this way. That is our nature. But when our nature is covered by some economic idea you may think it doesn’t make any sense to return the water back to the river.’ (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind)

One thought on “Robin Wall Kimmerer

  1. My mum and the Native American Culture taught me how be frugal with maternal possessions and with how much one thinks of oneself. Buddhism also teaches me to wear a patched robe and beg for alms.


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