In late summer, the Monastery creek supplies an abundance of wild blackberries for the enjoyment of birds and monks alike. A favorite activity when spring rains have been plentiful is to wade in the creek picking blackberries, eating some and bringing the rest up to share with the community. The first time I ever tasted the Monastery creek blackberries, I noticed something I’d never realized before: each blackberry tastes the same and at the same time, unique. Each one tastes like a blackberry, but also like itself. No two were exactly the same – they varied in sweetness, plumpness, juiciness, and texture. Unlike, say, fast food french fries, each berry offered the flavor of its species while possessing its own unique essence. Since that marvelous discovery, I’ve found the same phenomenon in every fruit and vegetable from Brussels sprouts to watermelon. This realization, lo those years ago, continues to sustain my love affair with fruits and vegetables.
I’m reminded of Martha Graham’s wonderful quote:
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.
How delightful that nothing blocks the life force of each and every blackberry from its unique expression in the world! What an inspiring example of everything possessing its own flavor of Buddha-nature. If we want to project onto these dear blackberry friends, we can see how silly it would be for them to feel bad, guilty, or ashamed for being “too tart, too sweet, or not plump enough.” From our human vantage point, we can see each berry’s perfection in its own right and how desperately we would want to correct their error and convince them of their unique perfection and goodness.
Through great good fortune, we have Awareness practice and wise people like the Guide and Martha Graham to offer us this truth about ourselves. That we, like everything, are the Buddha.