The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Saturday, July 24, 2010

One afternoon, trudging up yet another hill in San Francisco on my way back from the market, I came upon this cluster of flowers growing between the cracks in the sidewalk.
They were just so robust and fresh, dancing in the breeze, I had to photograph them.
I put my bags down and started snapping away, until a hand reached into the flowers framed in my viewfinder.
Yes, a hand.
Someone was plucking garbage from amongst the flowers--bits of trash, newspaper and a bottle cap.
Unknowingly, they were removing part of what made the scene so endearing.
I liked the fact that gorgeous flowers and "yucky" trash existed together so harmoniously. I liked the juxtaposition of what we commonly call lovely and ugly, and the fact of their value implied by one another.
Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.*
I stepped back, and looked at the person attached to the hand--a young, hopeful looking man, perhaps in his 30s, with a gallant look on his face and smile around his mouth.
"Let me just get rid of this trash for you." He hurriedly brushed things aside and then said, "There!"
I thanked him.
What else could I do? I muttered something about liking the flowers growing up through the crack, in front of a garage door no less, and went back to photographing.
Moments later, when I had finished, I looked for my helper, but he had vanished. No where to be seen. Unless he had gone into the house 2 doors down, he could not have disappeared so quickly. But I never heard a door open and close, and since he was on foot, I don't know how he could have gotten up or down the hill so fast.
I gathered my bags and walked on, thinking surly I would see him around the corner. But there was no one.
Sometimes when such things happen, I want to think, "Whoa, an angel was in my midst!", but the truth may just be that he walked faster than I do, he was young after all.
But what if he was an angel? Do they bend down to gather the garbage at your feet, to beautify your view?

*from The Heart Sutra

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