One day, Aniruddha, a poor farmer working in the fields spotted a holy man whom he deemed very hungry and even poorer than he and offered his only bowl of rice. This meant that the farmer would have nothing to eat that day. Aniruddha went back to his labors and forgot all about having given his rice away. Suddenly a rabbit hopped alongside the farmer and jumped on his back. The surprised farmer tried to brush it off but the rabbit wouldn’t budge. He shook it off, tried to knock it down, but the rabbit would not detach.
Confused and annoyed the farmer ran home to his wife, crying, “Get this rabbit off my back!” The wife was even more confused, because by this time the rabbit had turned into solid gold! She flipped the rabbit into the air and it hit the floor with an enormous crackling sound. One of its golden legs broke off but… another one magically grew in its place.
From that day on, whenever the farmer and his wife needed money, they would break off a piece of the golden rabbit and thereafter, Aniruddha was never poor. The Golden Rabbit was his reward for selflessly giving.
Aniruddha and the Golden Rabbit is a Jataka Tale, Collection of stories depicting the Buddha’s past lives showing behaviors leading to enlightenment. In these stories, the Buddha is often depicted as an animal)
The painting started with a coral colored ground and as I sat observing the luscious pigment, my chest swelled with joy. I felt a sense of optimism akin to seeing the sun rising over the horizon at the height of summer. Then, a blue second layer invited the fiery orange to dance. It was as if a vast and constantly moving sky was announcing the start of a magnificent day and inviting me and you to play. Lovely celestial music arose from the center of soft cottony pink rolls and bright yellow streamers heralded riots of laughter to the amusement of billowy lavender beings that seemed to grow out of the sea of fire.
I called the painting The Garden of Love and Compassion, as it reminded me of Aniruddha’s tale, and saw that our lives are like a garden. Whatever seeds we sow, with our thoughts, our beliefs and our actions will grow and blossom.
We can decide to grow seeds of compassion, embracing not only our foibles, but those of others whom we may perceive as hurting or bothering us, or we can pick to harvest the blossoms of fear, separateness and resentment.
We may choose to bring joy and understanding to whatever we are doing, or we can complain and blame others for our life situation.
We can decide to see through the eyes of love and kindness, or we can notice poverty and swiftly flee.
We may punish those who are less able by giving them even less, or we can share our wealth and like the farmer, shake the Golden Rabbit to keep sowing abundance at all levels and reap a deep sense of satisfaction.
We can see ourselves and others as Buddhas, or we can put on the goggles of enmity and embrace wars near and far.
Won’t you play with me in this beautiful garden and make your heart the fertile ground for more seeds of Love and Compassion? You can find the art by clicking on The Garden of Love and Compassion and harvest the blooms of Joy now and at any time of the year. Who knows, you may find a golden rabbit stuck on your back!
*Please note that this post has been edited and updated from the original one published in 2014. I felt compelled to re-read it first, then refresh it with new material and insights as an antidote to strong emotions I felt bubbling around me. May you enjoy the new version even more. Have a lovely week!