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It was shortly after the devastating earthquakes had leveled dozens of villages  in Nepal when I returned to my favorite garden patch and ran into Dawa.  I knew his story of how for the past 10 years he’s lived and worked as the gardener at Blue Lake Ranch, an upscale B&B up the road a bit, to send all his money home to his wife for the house and garden plot they share in a village which no longer exists.  I know that he cannot return to Nepal to be there with her and for her and their children to come here is very expensive.

I asked him how we was and he “said not so good, the earthquakes have not stopped.”  He looked tired and the hair on his temples were a little grayer than I remembered from  last I saw him out amongst the Dahlias.  I could feel the heaviness of his heart and at the same time there was a sense of peace about him and the smile on his face was as genuine as ever, and I was curious and something propelled me to ask him: How does your Buddhist faith help you cope with all this now?

He looked at me, his face softened, his eyes twinkled again and he said: ” I do not go into memory much.  Memory does not help.  I do not think much of tomorrow as we do not know what tomorrow will bring….maybe sun shine maybe rain.  I see what I can do today and I do that – that is all I can do.”  Is that how you approach growing flowers too, I asked him.  “Yes,” he said, “you cultivate what you can each day and in time flowers will bloom or they will not and still you do what you can each day.”

I thanked him, he wondered off and I returned to the Columbines that first captured my heart back when I first started practicing beginner’s mind at the Ranch.  Let There be lightDawa’s simple words hit home in a way that reading a similar instruction from a book does not.

A few weeks later as I was driving through the greenest New Mexico landscape I have seen in my entire life, to a Buddhist retreat located at Vallecitos Mountain Ranch that little voice whispered “maybe Dawa could be your teacher?”  I paid attention and made note and  tucked it away as I came to the dirt road leading into 300,000 acres of Kit Carson National Forest and to refuge in noble silence for a few blessed days.  When that same thought arose upon leaving the retreat I knew I had to obey.  Two days later after returning home I saw Dawa in the garden and I asked him if he would teach me Buddhism.  He said he would.

This post serves as the background for my ongoing conversations with Dawa.  I need to write down / record what he shares with me somewhere anyway so I don’t forget, so I might as well blog so that others of the Sangha can benefit from what he tells me as well.  I am a few lessons behind and the next few posts will be to catch up.  I’ve shared some with my partner she thinks what Dawa  says is priceless….and a Dharma buddy say’s he’s a gem….all I know is he’s helping me blossom.