The Lesser Vehicle

The Lesser Vehicle
The Lesser Vehicle

Hinayana is a Sanskrit term literally meaning the smaller or lesser vehicle. So how does this affect me, the average spiritual seeker you might ask? I’ll give you a simple yet crystal clear example, none of that finger pointing at the moon stuff.

Yesterday I was at the Strasburg Rail Road where hundreds of people gathered to ride Thomas the train. Compared with the larger steam engines, Thomas was clearly the lesser vehicle (no offense intended).

Or so I thought until I saw this miniature steam engine which actually runs on coal. There seemed to be a serious debate going on, probably about the vehicles or paths known as Hinayana, Mahayana and Tantrayana Buddhism.

Chögyam Trungpa once said: “We must begin our practice by walking the narrow path of simplicity, the Hinayana path, before we can walk upon the open highway of compassionate action, the Mahayana path.”

I didn’t ask if this lesser vehicle was headed for the open highway of compassionate action, but with all those little train fans running around I think it probably was.

Out of a compost heap, a sunflower blooms

First Sunflower
First Sunflower

So I’m driving around this morning thinking about Zeno’s Paradox of the tortoise and Achilles, when out of the corner of my eye I see the first sunflower of the season.

Back in April I discovered that from the withered tree, a flower does indeed bloom, but this was different, kinda-sorta. There, in a compost heap in front of an Amish barn was a single, beautiful four foot sunflower all alone smiling at the clouds.

I took several photos trying to find the best composition, but eventually decided to get up close and personal. What better way to celebrate the first day of summer than with an amazing flower growing up in the middle of dead grass and weeds?

Now if I can just find a tortoise to race that will give me a head start I can rest easy, once I win.

Breakfast with the Dead

Breakfast with the Dead
Breakfast with the Dead

“The Master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings. He knows that he is going to die, and he has nothing left to hold on to; no illusions in his mind, no resistance in his body.

He doesn’t think about his actions; they flow from the core of his being. He holds nothing back from life; therefore he is ready for death, as a man is ready for sleep after a good day’s work.” Tao Te Ching

Note: the Master may be ready but I’m not.

Yes Poppy

Pink Poppies
Pink Poppies

I was driving down to the lake yesterday when I saw a group of pink flowers in what was either a construction site or a dump. I pulled in to take a closer look when a guy in a pickup truck rolled down the gravel path in a cloud of dust and parked behind me.

He walked up to my window and asked if I had a problem. Maybe it was because I was parked in front of a locked gate with a huge private property sign, or maybe he was actually interested in my problems.

For some reason, rather than tell him I wanted to take photos of the flowers I told him I was checking my voicemail. That seemed to satisfy him and he left me with the poppies and several yellow finches that appreciate this kind of thing as much as I do.

Later I realized I could have said something witty like “The difficult problems in life always start off being simple,” by Lao Tzu. But I didn’t want to take a chance on pissing him off with all those flowers and birds waiting for me.

Voices of Freedom

Little Big Horse
Little Big Horse

“I was quite happy in my new place, and if there was one thing that I missed, it must not be thought I was discontented; all who had to do with me were good, and I had a light airy stable and the best of food.

What more could I want? Why, liberty!” Black Beauty

When the Student Is Ready the Teacher Will Appear

Water Lily and Dragonfly
Water Lily and Dragonfly

I was experimenting with my new Sony A6000 and ended up at a scout camp with a beautiful pond. I saw that the water lilies had started to bloom and rushed over to take a few photos.

They were only three or four feet from shore, but with my kit lens I just couldn’t get close enough. Then I heard a high pitched voice and realized it was the dragonfly hovering around the flower.

He said: “Get in the water you wimp!” I really didn’t want to take a chance on drowning my brand new camera but for some reason I listened. I rolled up my jeans, waded in and prayed the tripod wouldn’t sink into the mud.

After a while I figured I should quit while I was ahead, and got out when he spoke again. This time he said: “Now get your other camera, its better for close ups.” He was right and we both knew it, so I did.

I took about sixty more photos and was ready to call it a day when he started again. He rambled on about ISO, metering, composition and exposure and made some good points, but soon he started to sound really annoying in that whiny fly voice so I left.

Note: if you meet the teacher at the pond, think twice about blindly following his advice, especially if he’s a bug.