Sunday, May 26, 2013


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I'm getting a late start on planting my flowers and seedlings this year, but I think it's better late than never when it comes to flowers. There is such beauty in their colors and elegance--and in the very fact that they grow. Being a city person at heart, it never ceases to astound me that a living, breathing plant can sprout from a dry, tiny, seemingly lifeless seed. Watching them grow--and witnessing spring in general--is a reminder that we live in a magical world, full of beauty and abundance.

I love all flowers, but my favorite ones seem to be the tall, delicate ones that sway in the winds: Cosmos, Columbine, Dahlia, Flowering Maple and Nicotania to name a few. There's something stoic about these tall, feminine flowers--the way they yield so gracefully and reverently the elements, and always reach their faces to the sun. I guess I aspire to be like that, too. I want to radiate beauty (yes, that's shallow) even though in the past I've allowed myself to get knocked about a bit.

Anyway, I am here to write about sacred gardening. Last weekend my friend Mukti and I held a small ceremony for the Yamuna River, and to commence the ceremony she burned an Agni Hotra fire as we recited the Gayatri mantra. I don't have enough room in this post to describe the Agni Hotra (for more info visit but the most astonishing thing Mukti told me is that the Agni Hotra fire (and its smoke and ash) all have the power to neutralize pollution, purify our water, nullify the effects of toxins and heavy metals in our bodies, and basically heal Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. Teachers from the Vruksa Ayurveda lineage are now encouraging everyone on the planet to start conducting Agni Hotra ceremonies. The world needs it desperately. So now, thanks to Mukti, I shall start doing do myself.

This morning, I took some of the sacred Agni Hotra ash and mixed it into my seedling soil. I also mixed some into the soil of my herb garden. This--I am told--will not only help my plants to grow rapidly, but it will help transform my herbs (which were admittedly purchased at a nursery that uses pesticides) back into natural, organic plants. How amazing is that? (Maybe there is a way to combat the devastating evils of Monsanto after all.)
I am told that the seedlings will sprout three times as quickly, so I'll keep you posted on that.

As an aside, I have always recited mantras while gardening, because years ago I learned that the mantras would benefit the life force of the plants. You've all heard of the "talking to plants" practice. Well, I talk to mine in Tibetan, through the mantra Om Mani Peme Hum. (In Sanskrit one chants Om Mani Padme Hum. Slight distinction which must be made.) 

 The Dalai Lama himself has said that all beings will benefit from this mantra--and this includes plants.Neglected plants can be revived.  Infested plants can develop stronger "immune systems"--thus rejecting the insects or diseases that are afflicting them.
I'm serious. I've watched it happen.

Anyway, today I decided to add the Gayatri mantra to my gardening-with-mantras mix.  I did this primarily because this is the mantra which accompanies the Agni Hotra ceremony. But the Gayatri mantra is also one of the oldest and most powerful mantras of our time, and in the Western world it known primarily as a "chakra-purifier." This mantra is also very good for the brain and the intellect. For our plant friends, this mantra helps them to assimilate the sun and--as said above--protects them from toxins and impurities. Pretty powerful, right?

For those who don't know the Gayatri Mantra:
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat
I know people who play mantras inside the house all day long (myself included) so that our plants, animals and homes can absorb the powerful healing vibrations. I even know a woman who hangs a speaker in her trees on sunny days and blasts crystal singing bowl music so that her trees can hear the mantras, too. Luckily she lives in Woodstock, NY, so her neighbors don't mind.

Here's a sample of OM MANI PEME HUM chanted in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist melody.

Here's a nice version of GAYATRI from Deva Premal.

I don't want to come across as someone who is pushing Buddhist and/or Hindu belief systems onto all gardeners of the world. Whatever your tradition--Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, Jain, etc--I am sure you have a special prayer, hymn, or mantra that brings your comfort.

Try playing these mantras for your plants and animals for a few hours--either while you are gardening or while you are out. They'll love you for it. I mean, they already do love you. But they'll appreciate knowing how much you love them back.

Oh--I should also add that hanging prayer flags (Tibetan, Celtic, Chakra) above your gardens will help your plants as well. Or wind-chimes. Or any sacred symbol. Why do you think the concept of garden statues came into being? I don't think their origins were purely decorative. I think there is a larger meaning to those St. Francis, Virgin Mary, and/or Diana statues we see in many modern gardens. Perhaps even those garden gnomes serve a sacred purpose. :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

THE CHLOE CHRONICLES, Part IX - The City Slicker Visits the Country Vet

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

There's nothing like taking a cool, refreshing shower after a sweaty walk with the dog. Right? I love that feeling of satisfaction that our dogs--and our bodies--are well-exercised. Now I'm ready to start the day on a fresh note, and the dog is ready for a nice snooze. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Back in 2003, I worked as a decorative painter at the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya at Shambhala Mountain Center--a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center near Boulder, Colorado. This was before the time of Facebook or blogs--and even digital cameras seemed to be a novelty. Thus, I was never able to really record the kind of work that I did there. Plus, I was in rather a haze, from having recently left my marriage and having dove into Buddhist practice and meditation full-time. So I just did my work, painting tiny decorative molds of auspicious Buddhist symbols and images.  Painting those molds felt very rewarding--plain and simple and pure. Which was just what I needed at the time. We were always in the moment, because at that center we were taught to see every action as a practice. Thus, we never felt the need to record our actions anyway. These days, people are broadcasting their every move on Facebook.  That doesn't really give one a chance to be in the moment, now does it? :)
Anyway, I haven't seen the Great Stupa since 2003, nor did I ever get to see my "artwork" installed on the columns and walls, but recently I decided to troll for some images on the web. Thus--to my delight--I found this picture of Sakyong Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama standing near one of the columns.

Joshua Mulder, the master sculptor and art director at the Stupa, used to tell me that working on the Stupa would accumulate great merit and help purify my karma for many lifetimes, and I often forget that fact. It's so easy to get caught up in the obstacles of daily life and forget how one is truly blessed.

So I am so tickled to see these images. Even though I played only a small part in this magnificent endeavor, I feel thrilled and honored.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (holder of the Shambhala lineage) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2006. See our decorative molds to the left. This image comes from

A close-up shot of some of the molds, which I found at

The Stupa itself--isn't she beautiful? Image from