The garden, by Arnold Lobel

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Frej
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 9:16 am

The garden, by Arnold Lobel

Post by Frej » Sat May 06, 2017 9:21 am

I first heard it told by Jack Kornfield. Very insightful and funny and beautiful. :sage: oh and this is my first post.

Frog was in his garden.
Toad came walking by.
“What a fine garden you have, Frog,” he said.
“Yes,” said Frog. “It is very nice, but it was hard work.”
“I wish I had a garden,” said Toad.
“Here are some flower seeds. Plant them in the ground,” said Frog,
“and soon you will have a garden.”
“How soon?” asked Toad.
“Quite soon,” said Frog.
Toad ran home.
He planted the flower seeds.
“Now seeds,” said Toad, “start growing.”
Toad walked up and down a few times. The seeds did not start to grow.
Toad put his head close to the ground and said loudly, “Now seeds, start growing!”
The seeds did not start to grow.
Toad put his head very close to the ground and shouted,
“NOW SEEDS, START GROWING!”
Frog came running up the path.
“What is all this noise?” he asked.
“My seeds will not grow,” said Toad.
“You are shouting too much,” said Frog. “These poor seeds are afraid to grow.”
“My seeds are afraid to grow?” asked Toad.
“Of course,” said Frog. “Leave them alone for a few days.
Let the sun shine on them, let the rain fall on them. Soon your seeds will start to grow.”
That night Toad looked out of his window.
“Drat!” said Toad. “My seeds have not started to grow. They must be afraid of the dark.”
Toad went out to his garden with some candles.
“I will read the seeds a story,” said Toad. “Then they will not be afraid.”
Toad read a long story to his seeds.
All the next day Toad sang songs to his seeds.
And all the next day Toad read poems to his seeds.
And all the next day Toad played music for his seeds.
Toad looked at the ground.
The seeds still did not start to grow.
“What shall I do?” cried Toad.
“These must be the most frightened seeds in the whole world!”
Then Toad felt very tired, and he fell asleep.
“Toad, Toad, wake up,” said Frog. “Look at your garden!”
Toad looked at his garden.
Little green plants were coming up out of the ground.
“At last,” shouted Toad, “my seeds have stopped being afraid to grow!”
“And now you will have a nice garden too,” said Frog.
“Yes,” said Toad, but you were right, Frog. It was a very hard work.”
“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.”

JohnK
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Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:06 pm
Location: Tetons, Wyoming, USA

Re: The garden, by Arnold Lobel

Post by JohnK » Sat May 06, 2017 3:01 pm

Welcome, Frej. Thanks for that.
So, what was Toad's hard work?
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

Frej
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 9:16 am

Re: The garden, by Arnold Lobel

Post by Frej » Sat May 06, 2017 5:24 pm

Thank you. Well, I guess Toad only believed it was hard work because he made it a lot more difficult than it needed to be. It wasn't hard work in the sense of having to do or accomplish things. It was a lesson in trust, patience and right effort. For an eager and busy mind I guess that can seem like "very hard work".

I see a lot of myself in Toad and feel compassion for him and myself when reading this story. :toast:
“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.”

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Sam Vara
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Re: The garden, by Arnold Lobel

Post by Sam Vara » Sat May 06, 2017 8:21 pm

Welcome, Frej!

Many thanks for the story. I think it's also worth reflecting on the fact that Frog also said it was hard work. Those people who have already accomplished what we want to accomplish, who make it look so easy: they made mistakes too. Probably very similar to the ones that we ourselves are prone to make now.

Frej
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 9:16 am

Re: The garden, by Arnold Lobel

Post by Frej » Sun May 07, 2017 12:21 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Welcome, Frej!

Many thanks for the story. I think it's also worth reflecting on the fact that Frog also said it was hard work. Those people who have already accomplished what we want to accomplish, who make it look so easy: they made mistakes too. Probably very similar to the ones that we ourselves are prone to make now.
Thank you!

I agree! :roll:
“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.”

JohnK
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:06 pm
Location: Tetons, Wyoming, USA

Re: The garden, by Arnold Lobel

Post by JohnK » Sun May 07, 2017 6:02 pm

Hello again, Frej.
You said:
Frej wrote: :roll:
I could not tell who you were rolling your eyes about (perhaps it was "those people" SV mentioned and you quoted), but just in case it was me, I thought I would explain my post "So, what was Toad's hard work?"
I do my best to practice right speech here at DW, so I was not being facetious, sarcastic, critical, provocative, cute or implying anything more than the literal question about the story -- anything perceived beyond that would have been an add on. (Communication is hard enough; internet forums seem to make it even more challenging -- my not understanding the rolling eyes is just another example.)

So, as I was reading the story (thanks again, I did enjoy it), I was getting what was for me the big point about patience and gradual growth. I was perceiving the reading of stories and poems and playing music as fairly enjoyable activities. So, when I got to the last line, I was a bit surprised and reminded of the other theme -- hard work -- which, being the final phrase of the story, emphasized it's importance. So I quite literally was wondering about it; it seemed that the hard work might have been the outer work of reading and playing music or it could have been the inner work of dealing with the impatience and stressing out. What was Toad talking about? What was Toad referring to? Because I saw the reading and playing music as enjoyable, I certainly had my impression as to what was the hard work, but I thought I would ask your take on it. After giving it a bit more thought, especially at the metaphoric level, i think it is BOTH: daily practice and overcoming habits of mind (such as impatience) -- working together.
I certainly did not suggest that hard work was not necessary.

This may have been a totally unnecessary clarification, but that's okay.
Again, welcome and best wishes on the path.

Edit: Another thing I noticed on second reading of the story is that Toad got tired and then things happened -- reminds me of the Ajahn Chah metaphor of carrying a big rock around and not letting go in spite of hearing of the benefits of doing so. But then it becomes unbearable, one lets go, and now one directly knows the benefit of letting go (of self-absorption). Interesting. My sutta reading suggests that letting go is conditioned by insight, where Ajahn Chah seems to be saying one can just get exhausted -- maybe exhaustion can provide a glimpse (retreat experience?), whereas a full on letting go requires insight. Just some more wondering.
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

Frej
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 9:16 am

Re: The garden, by Arnold Lobel

Post by Frej » Sun May 07, 2017 7:41 pm

JohnK wrote:Hello again, Frej.
You said:
Frej wrote: :roll:
I could not tell who you were rolling your eyes about (perhaps it was "those people" SV mentioned and you quoted), but just in case it was me, I thought I would explain my post "So, what was Toad's hard work?"
I do my best to practice right speech here at DW, so I was not being facetious, sarcastic, critical, provocative, cute or implying anything more than the literal question about the story -- anything perceived beyond that would have been an add on. (Communication is hard enough; internet forums seem to make it even more challenging -- my not understanding the rolling eyes is just another example.)

So, as I was reading the story (thanks again, I did enjoy it), I was getting what was for me the big point about patience and gradual growth. I was perceiving the reading of stories and poems and playing music as fairly enjoyable activities. So, when I got to the last line, I was a bit surprised and reminded of the other theme -- hard work -- which, being the final phrase of the story, emphasized it's importance. So I quite literally was wondering about it; it seemed that the hard work might have been the outer work of reading and playing music or it could have been the inner work of dealing with the impatience and stressing out. What was Toad talking about? What was Toad referring to? Because I saw the reading and playing music as enjoyable, I certainly had my impression as to what was the hard work, but I thought I would ask your take on it. After giving it a bit more thought, especially at the metaphoric level, i think it is BOTH: daily practice and overcoming habits of mind (such as impatience) -- working together.
I certainly did not suggest that hard work was not necessary.

This may have been a totally unnecessary clarification, but that's okay.
Again, welcome and best wishes on the path.

Edit: Another thing I noticed on second reading of the story is that Toad got tired and then things happened -- reminds me of the Ajahn Chah metaphor of carrying a big rock around and not letting go in spite of hearing of the benefits of doing so. But then it becomes unbearable, one lets go, and now one directly knows the benefit of letting go (of self-absorption). Interesting. My sutta reading suggests that letting go is conditioned by insight, where Ajahn Chah seems to be saying one can just get exhausted -- maybe exhaustion can provide a glimpse (retreat experience?), whereas a full on letting go requires insight. Just some more wondering.
Oh! I chose the rolling eyes smiley because I thought it looked thoughtful or ponderous. Didn't mean to roll my eyes at anyone. And I interpreted your question in the straight forward way. :smile:

It's true that Toad seems almost to enjoy the work, that is his reading, singing etc. He doesn't express frustration while doing it, only in between in disappointment. I guess the real hard work is the emotional strain and turmoil he goes through desiring and coveting a garden like Frog's, and having that desire constantly frustrated. And the frustrated desire leads to doubt for Toad, maybe even aversion ("Drat!"). And doubt leads to wavering intention, effort and a lack of trust. So maybe we can see him as having a wrong view and wrong effort, fighting the five hindrances, believing it is his practical labor and constant controlling and evaluation which will make the garden grow.

And in the end, as you pointed out, he lets go and falls asleep. Had he kept on his "hard work", he would soon enough have dug up the seeds to see how they felt, killing them. So you could say it is the letting go that makes the garden grow because without it Toad would have killed it with his impatience, lack of trust, wrong view and wavering intention and effort.

I find this very interesting. Sometimes we believe it is the hard work that will give us the results. Like strenous formal meditation or studying the literature. But more often than not, to me at least, it is our unwavering intention (sowing seeds), right effort (not becoming compulsive) and equanimity (patience and trust) which moves us forward in our practice. And if any of the hindrances arise or we start wavering it is the letting go and surrendering.

Love the simile with the rock and letting go! Much truth in that. We let go when we have suffered enough.
“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.”

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