My First Week At Banyan Grove

Posted by Fabrizio on Nov 20, 2017
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It’s been a little over a week now since I started my residency at Banyan Grove. My experience so far can be summed up by one word: polarity. There has been fullness and emptiness - I’ve witnessed this property full of people during the first Awakin Circle the day after we moved in, and since then I’ve been mostly alone with my one house-mate, Joserra. There has been sound and silence - Joserra has been silent since Wednesday, so much of the time the only sounds I hear are my own. There has been activity and stillness - this house is still undergoing some minor renos and repairs and updates, and so at times there are workers being very active and noisy, and when they leave, there is a palpable tranquility. There has been warm and cold - until today, the heat was only working upstairs, creating two very distinct climate zones.

Mindfully running my hand along the handrail while going downstairs was like feeling a giant thermometer revealing the difference between the warm upstairs and the cold downstairs, but more importantly it was a reminder that everything is along a continuum. We may experience them as one extreme or the other, but if we are sensitive and aware, we can see that all of existence is a manifestation of the infinite creative process inherent in the Universe, and any fixed point is a construct of our mind. We may describe it as one thing, but that’s mostly out of convenience and concision. And it all too often leaves out the rest of the story. We may see the canopy of a tree, and mistake it for the whole experience of “tree” at the expense of recognizing the roots, and indeed the soil, the water, the air, etc.

All this to say, what I am experiencing at Banyan Grove as I settle in is not just what I acquire through my five senses. It’s not just the beautifully-built house, or the unfinished zendo, or the interactions with many or one, or the beautiful mist in the trees and scent in the breeze, or the mostly unfurnished spaces, or the gardens that need tending, or the stove that needs cleaning, or the Earth flag flying, or the leaves gently falling, or the hummingbirds hovering, or the WiFi that needs figuring.

It’s all of that, and so much more.

I am never far from the feeling of awe at the generosity this property represents: the miracle of its conception 20 years ago without the conceivers even knowing... the potential it holds to serve so many... the responsibility I feel to nurture it in its infancy... the gratitude I experience in being a participant in this experiment in kindness...

I see it all. I see it at once. I see it at One, even.

There’s a story in Kashmir Shaivism that tells of the origin of the Universe as being the result Supreme Consciousness wanting to experience something of itself that it can’t, unless it originates the concept of duality first. And so One becomes Two, and goes about delighting in its own creativity, for the sake of being creative.

That’s about how I feel when I am here. This is creativity. And it’s endless. I create a vision of the future in my mind, and I too find it delightful. I see these gardens full of edibles and flowers. I see pilgrims walking the paths and contemplating the pond. I see these rooms full of people trying to make the best of the world by uncovering the best in themselves. I see this community engaged in the well-being of this place, because it feels so much a part of this place. I see it thriving, and indeed radiating outwards in ripples that travel to the farthest corners of the Earth.

I also see the wonder in the faces of those who will come here in perhaps five years time, when all the effort in getting this place fully operational will be as invisible as the roots of a tree. They will delight in the blossoms, and taste of its fruit, and will surely come away thinking the sweet nectar is what healed their hearts. But I will know better, because I tended to the roots and the soil.

And I have not been the recipient of a greater honor in my life.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ~Nelson Henderson

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Comments (7)

  • Michaele Premet-Rosen wrote ...

    Grateful for your beautiful sharing here. I hope one day I can travel there.

  • Birju Pandya wrote ...

    what a reflection! thank you for the poetry of your words :)

  • Guri Mehta wrote ...

    Such a beautiful reflection Fab. It's a gift to read your writing. Thank you.

  • Ari wrote ...

    I, too, see this future Fab (albeit, not as eloquently as you). I was so curious about these month long residencies when the idea was shared. What would people do there at an unfinished project with few people around them. The answer is, it seems, is they would be. And in being so fully, your presence will be a transmission of love and wisdom that plants seeds that will fruit in many unknown but miraculous ways. Thank you for reminding me of the seeds being planted in this garden we call Banyan Grove.

  • Aryae Coopersmith wrote ...

    Thank you Fab for your service and your being. I hold the image of you being held in the polarity of emptiness & fullness. :)

  • Audrey wrote ...

    Wow, Fab, thank you for the gift of these reflections, and your incredible presence and heart of service at Banyan Grove!

  • Piro wrote ...

    Hi Fab, the depth of reflection and the beauty of your writing touched me. And I have been blessed by your presence, and in getting to share the natural beauty of the San Geronimo Valley which enfolds the Banyan Grove in its infancy, with you and all enfolded in it. I am thrilled that the area I've called home, the land I dearly love, has chosen to host this actual physical space of Service Space. May it be nurtured by the sincere presence such as yours, to become a beacon of hope and light for the future, hopefully inviting in the presence of the people in the immediate community. Thank you for your presence.