Working in the garden is central to spiritual practice at the Vermont Zen Center. In cultivating the land, uprooting weeds, and planting flowers and trees we are cultivating our lives: uprooting the unwanted habits which lead to greed and anger, and planting the seeds of wisdom, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Through the years of dedicated efforts of members and friends, our gardens are now a place of beauty and tranquility.
You should entreat trees and rocks to preach the Dharma, and you should ask rice fields and gardens for the truth. Ask pillars for the Dharma, and learn from hedges and walls. In earth, stones, sand, and pebbles, there is to be found the extremely inconceivable Mind which moves the sincere heart.
—Zen Master Dogen
Gardening Practice—Everyone Welcome!
The garden is a wonderful place to practice mindfulness and care—somewhere in the garden there is always a spot in need of our care and attention. Even if you haven’t worked here before, you are welcome to join us. Just let us know when you are available. You can e-mail Jhana Piché, Joan White, or Jim Kahle. We will find a time that works for you when one of us will also be here. Saturday—morning or afternoon—is an especially good day. We are flexible and very happy for company and help.
A garden is a miniature representation of heaven and earth, and nature is like a person who is a microcosm of the universe, even as a bee and a worm are. Even a little garden is a copy of great nature. By seeing the garden one can commune with great nature, entering into a full rapport with its innocence. One can have a pure and precious life living in this floating world.
—Zen Master Takuan Soho
Garden Director, Jhana Piché
Jhana, an ordained Buddhist priest, has been working in the Zen Center's gardens since the first day she came to the Center. Over the years she worked closely with Ti’an Callery and Joan White and is now dedicating much of her time to maintaining the Center’s gardens and teaching others to do the same. Jhana can be found outdoors nearly every day during the growing season and is always available to help others find their place and pace in the practice of Zen gardening.
Nourishing sentient beings—shrubs, trees, flowers, worms, insects and the very soil of home—such a welcome calmness for practice. Turning the soil, weeding, and planting with a gentle brush of hand—the heart of the garden.
Flower Gardener, Joan White
Joan White has extensive experience working in gardens. For years she has brought her expertise and magic touch to the Zen Center’s flower beds. With Joan's exceptional knowledge of all flowering plants, she has made our gardens a fragrant oasis for all living things.
No matter the season, the garden engages our attention, whether we are passing by or digging and planting. In spring and summer she dazzles our eyes with color and rouses our noses with the scent of blooms. Autumn leaves shuffle under our feet. Even in the dead of winter she calls to us: yellow willow and red maple buds, the wind whispering in the pines, tawny grasses scribbling in the snow. When we are present in the garden, it fills all our senses. This is nature, the great master, reminding us who we truly are.