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Pulling Weeds

Rev. John Iwohara

March 29, 2020

When doing Social Scientific research one of the first things you will learn is that, “correlation does not imply causality.” With that disclaimer I have come to notice that some of the nicest people I have met are also the people who seem to spend quite a bit of time pulling weeds from their gardens or lawns. Perhaps nice people also tend to be people who have a lot of patience, and weed pulling doesn't really have anything to do with it. Maybe it is all the time spent touching the earth that leads to a kinder heart and not necessarily have anything to do with weed pulling itself. Correlation does not imply causality. Whereas causality may not exist, in my experience the correlation is definitely there. A lot of really nice people often do spend a lot of time pulling weeds from their garden or lawns.

I was thinking of this when my yard got overrun by weeds (again) and I had to start pulling weeds en masse. If there is a causal relationship between pulling weeds and being nice, then I am a nice person only when I'm forced to be. Thinking about this possibility caused me to temporarily pause my weed pulling, but there were so many weeds that I could not pause for long. Instead, I began to think of all the nice people I have met over the years who would talk to me about their weed pulling. Doing this allowed me to smile at times even while caught up in the task of weed pulling.

I also began to wonder about some of the possible explanations for the correlation between being a nice person and weed pulling. While I was pulling weeds I was impressed at how quickly weeds grow. I had earlier seen the weeds beginning to form but thought I will get to them later. One rainfall and two days later the yard was inundated in weeds. How quickly weeds grow. As I began pulling the weeds I was reminded of how easily my heart can be overcome by negative thoughts. I complain about this. I complain about that. I easily get upset. I find myself wanting more. These thoughts pass through my mind so constantly that I sometimes fail to see these thoughts forming at all. Having these thoughts is so natural that I do not recognize them as being something I, myself, have created. Perhaps this is why people who pull weeds also tend to be such nice people. They are constantly reminded about the weeds in their hearts that they do not allow it to go out of control.

As for me, or the person who probably knows better but waits for the weeds to get out of control, I am relieved that the Vow of Amida Buddha recognizes me for who and what I am. Even while I let the weeds of my heart grow out of control, it is nice to know that the Buddha has the patience to pull out all the weeds of my heart and helps me to hear and say Namo Amida Butsu.