Photo of the Day: Turtles Having Fun!

~ Keep Cool Today Amidst the 90 Degree Temps ~

The Phelps fountain, also known as the “turtle” fountain,
at Lyndale Park by Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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This fountain was moved from its former downtown Gateway site in 1962-63 when the perennial garden that surrounds it was built. It is located on the east side of the garden. The Heffelfinger fountain lies to the west of the Phelps fountain. Further west lies the Rose Gardens, the second oldest rose garden in the United States. Other places to see at Lyndale Park are the Peace Garden and the Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary. The picturesque setting of these gardens is frequently used for wedding ceremonies and photography shoots.

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I Found Heaven on Oahu

H E A V E N ~ O N ~ E A R T H

Today I came across a blog with a writer’s workshop. Instructions:

Post a picture and a description that fits into this quote for you:
“How far to heaven? Just open your eyes and look. You are in heaven” -Shankar

I find heavenly people, places and more all around me each day. Still, one place came to mind for me when I read about this workshop exercise. Oahu. More specifically, The Byodi-In Temple at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. The photo above shows the temple, set amidst the trees and hills to the side and the mountain to the back. Water flows in front of the temple.  This is an ideal setting in Feng Shui. The mountain at the back and the hills to the sides represent protection. The water in front brings prosperity and abundance. I felt an incredible peace here.

The Magnificent Byodo-In Temple translates to “Temple of Equality — not to discriminate” and is home to Amida, a golden Buddha unique to the entire world.

This Buddha is thought to be the largest figure carved since ancient times. It towers more than 18 feet and is an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.

The Bell House, above, contains a five-foot high, three-ton brass bell called bon-sho (sacred bell). It closely resembles the bell hanging in an identical Bell House at the Uji Byodo-In. The tone of the bell sounds a message of deep calm and peace and is said to cleanse the mind of evil and temptation. The resonant sound of the bell travels for some distance so one hears it while walking through the temple and along the grounds. The bell is customarily rung before one enters the temple to spread the eternal teachings of Buddha. I made a short video of the bell being rung when I visited and I listen to it with regularity.

The Byodo-In was built entirely without nails and is a scale replica of a temple at Uji Japan that was constructed over 900 years ago. It is built to represent the mystical phoenix with its wings upheld by pillars of stone. Folklore tells of the phoenix arising from the ashes to reflect promises of hope and renewal. Isn’t that a heavenly thought?
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Architectural example of building with no nails.

This is the view from inside the temple with the water in front.

This is a meditation space on the grounds.

A view from the meditation area.

This, then, was one experience I had of heaven on earth.
It was all too short a visit. I’d return in a heartbeat.

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More on the Writer’s Workshop:

Mama's Losin' It

Promoting Peace with Plants

Flowers in Wall

21st Annual Friends School Plant Sale

May 7, 8,and 9, 2010
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand
Free Admission — Free Parking

Friday 11:00 a.m.—8:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m.—6:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 Noon—4:00 p.m. (Sunday is half-price day for plants)

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Ready to work on your gardens? How would you like to have an opportunity to view over 2,300 varieties of plants to cover all your landscaping needs? You can do just this at the Friends School Plant Sale.

This huge plant sale offers all manner of plants:

  • Herbs
  • Perennials
  • Annuals (including hanging baskets and indoor plants)
  • Climbing plants
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit (Satsuma mandarin oranges and Persian Limes)
  • Shrubs and Trees
  • Roses
  • Native Wild Flowers
  • Grasses
  • Succulents
  • Water plants
  • Rare and Unusual Plants

This year they will also have handmade garden containers made by artists in Morocco, Tunisia and India. Sale catalogs are available at libraries, coffee shops and natural food co-ops in Minneapolis and Saint Paul (while supplies last). Shopping carts will be available but as there are always more shoppers than carts it’s a good idea to bring your own wagon, cart, stroller and the like for transporting your plants as you shop.

Plants and trees beautify your home.

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For those that are interested, the sale is a fundraiser. “The money is used for scholarships at Friends School of Minnesota, a kindergarten through 8th grade Quaker school in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. Friends School is committed to making sure it is financially accessible to any family, regardless of need.” The school “meets children’s intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs in an environment that nurtures their social consciousness.”  They offer a K-8 program where academic studies are supported by peaceful forms of conflict resolution.

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A Little Zen Goes a Long Way

Como's Japanese Garden in Saint Paul Minnesota

Como’s Japanese Garden Opens for Summer Season

This garden, on the grounds of St. Paul’s Como Park, was created by renowned landscape designer Masami Matsuda from Nagasaki, Japan. The garden opens today, May 1st, and remains open through September 30th. It is a blend of East and West with its ancient Japanese design principles and its hardy Minnesota plants, trees and shrubs. (For more on the blending of East and West, see the bottom of this post.)

Taking a little time out from our busy lives is both healthy and inspiring. Could you use a little more Zen in your life? Here are some definitions of Zen:

Zen, also known as Zen Buddhism:

  1. A school of Mahayana Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through faith and devotion and that is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. 
  2. a Japanese school, of 12th-century Chinese origin, teaching that contemplation of one’s essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment.
  3. a Buddhist doctrine that enlightenment can be attained through direct intuitive insight.
  4. a state of sudden spiritual enlightenment.

These quotes strike me as appropriate for the topic of gardens:

We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.  —Taoist Proverb

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.   —Buddha

If you’ve never visited Como Park, I do recommend making the trip to see it. This Japanese Garden is just one part of an extensive park that includes a conservatory, a zoo, an orchid house, a bonsai garden, art sculptures, a restored antique carousel, a miniature golf course, a lakeside pavilion with music and food, and more.  As one Chinese proverb says:

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.

Como Park Japanese Garden

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Venture forth, find a little zen and experience joy. For more information on Como Park, click the link below:

Como Ordway Memorial Japanese Garden

Lantern at Japanese Garden at Como Park in St. Paul, MN

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Question: What is the True Definition of Zen?
Answer: I Don’t Know.

Zen Meditation Stories
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Constellation Earth, Statue by Paul T. Granlund
Constellation Earth, Statue by Paul T. Granlund

This sculpture at Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates Nagasaki’s sister-city relationship with Saint Paul, Minnesota. Saint Paul is the oldest sister city in Japan, dating back to 1955. Perhaps if we all find a little more Zen in our lives, the world at large and our own little worlds at home can experience more peace.

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