Meditating, Contemplating, Relaxing in the Garden,
Viewing the Garden, Garden Furniture, Silent Sitting, Garden Seats and Chairs
Spirituality and Gardening, Mysticism and Gardens, Seated Meditation

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Compiled by Mike Garofalo

Quotations for Gardeners, Walkers, and Lovers of the Green Way
Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California




"Sitting in your garden is a feat to be worked at with unflagging determination and single-mindedness - for what gardener worth his salt sits down.  I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden."
-  Mirabel Osler


"Don't go outside your house to see flowers.
My friend, don't bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens."
-  Robert Bly, The Kabir Book


Simply Garden Furniture


"Life is a child playing around your feet, a tool you hold firmly in your grip, a bench you sit down upon in the evening, in your garden."
-   Jean Anouilh


"Have you ever noticed how few sitting places you find in private gardens?  How seldom the versatility and importance of benches is considered?  True gardeners, with their peerless taste, dexterity and inspired planting, never stop ...  To sit is almost an offence, a sign of depravity and an outrage towards every felicitous refinement that has gone into making a garden."
-  Mirabel Osler


"Rocks pray to," said Grandad.  "Pebbles and boulders and old weathered hills.  They are still and silent, and those are two important ways to pray."
-  Douglas Wood, Grandad's Prayers of the Earth.


"The green metal chair is an indispensable piece of equipment.  As Farmer Bagley said,   "How can you grow anything without a chair?  How else are you going to see what's going on?"
-  William Longgood 



"Watermelons and Zen students
grow pretty much the same way.
Long periods of sitting
till they ripen and grow
all juicy inside, but
when you knock them on the head
to see if they're ready -
sound's like nothing's going on."
-  Peter Levitt, 100 Butterflies



"You are sitting on the earth and you realize that this earth deserves you and you deserve this earth.  You are there - fully, personally, genuinely."
-  Chogyam Trungpa



"Teach us to care and not to care.
Teach us to sit still."
-  T.S. Eliot



"She went, however, and they sauntered about together many a half hour in Mr. Grant's shrubbery, the weather being unusually mild for the time of year, and venturing sometimes even to sit down on one of the benches now comparatively unsheltered, remaining there perhaps till, in the midst of some tender ejaculation of Fanny's on the sweets of so protracted an autumn, they were forced by the sudden swell of a cold gust shaking down the last few yellow leaves about them, to jump up and walk for warmth."
-  Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814



"Tell you what I like the best --
'Long about knee-deep in June,
'Bout the time strawberries melts
On the vine, -- some afternoon
Like to jes' git out and rest,
And not work at nothin' else!"
-  James Witcomb Riley, Knee Deep in June



"Spend the afternoon.  You can't take it with you."
-  Annie Dillard



"You do not need to leave your room.  Remain sitting at your table and listen.  Do not even listen, simply wait.  Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.  The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice,
it will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
-  Franz Kafka



"The seated lotus postures are an amazing way to go into meditation, or simply just to take a moment to ground oneself."
Christy Turlington   



"To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment."
-  Jane Austen 



"I like a view but I like to sit with my back turned to it."
Gertrude Stein



"I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room."
-  Blaise Pascal




Months and Seasons
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Compiled by Mike Garofalo




















"Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin.  It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity."
-  Thomas Merton



"Sit quietly
focus and forget
rest with the great achievement.
The ancient child asks
"what is the great achievement?"
It is beyond description in any language
it can only be felt intuitively
it can only be expressed intuitively. 
Engage a loose, alert, and aware
body, mind, and sound
then look into the formless
and perceive no thing.
See yourself as a sphere
small at first
growing to encompass
the vastness of infinite space. 
Sit quietly
focus and forget then
in a state of ease and rest
secure the truth of the great achievement.
Employing the truth will not exhaust its power
when it seems exhausted it is really abundant
and while human art will die at the hands of utility
the great achievement is beyond being useful.
Great straightness is curved and crooked
great intelligence is raw and silly
great words are simple and naturally awkward. 
Engaged movement drives out the frozen cold
mindful stillness subdues the frenzied heart.
Sit quietly
summon order from the void
that guides the ordering of the universe."
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 45, Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006 



"These forms are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind.
To take this posture is itself to have the right state of mind.
There is no need to obtain some special state of mind."
-  Shunryu Suzuki



"You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Do not even wait, be still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you
to be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
-  Frantz Kafka



"Yan Hui saw Confucius again and said, "I have made progress."
"What do you mean?" asked Confucius.
"I sit and forget everything."
Confucius was alarmed and asked, "What do you mean by sitting down and forgetting everything?"
Yan Hui replied, "I leave behind my body, perception and knowledge.  Detached from both material form and mind. 
I become one with that which penetrates all things.  This I call sitting and forgetting everything."
Confucius said, "If you are one with that which penetrates all things you will be free from partiality.  If you are
transformed thus you have become evanescent.  You are truly a worthy man.  I ask to follow your steps."
Zhuangzi, Book 6, Translated by Hyun Hochsmann and Yang Guorong, 2007, p. 123. 



"Sit quietly, doing nothing,
spring comes, and the grass grows by itself."
-  A Zen saying



"Meditation is not contemplation either because it is not thinking at all -- consistent, inconsistent, crazy, sane. It is not thinking at all; it is witnessing. It is just sitting silently deep within yourself, looking at whatsoever is happening inside and outside both. Outside there is traffic noise, inside there is also traffic noise -- the traffic in the head. So many thoughts -- trucks and buses of thoughts and trains and airplanes of thoughts, rushing in every direction. But you are simply sitting aloof, unconcerned, watching everything with no evaluation."
-  Osho 



"Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous - to poetry.  But it also gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd."
-  Thomas Mann



"For the time being, well past noon, God, I ask that you above all leave me alone, that I might just sit here in the leaf shade, beside this wall with its swallow-thrown shadows and the easy, unmended thoughts time affords me: these solid forms of pots, flush with zinnias, and the sun patch fading          where the grass snake glides unknotted.  

a hallow tree
the beginning
of dusk"
-  Michael McClintock, Afternoon Garden



"Where does my fist go when I open my hand,
Where does my lap go when I stand up?"
-  Alan Watts




Gardening at the Dragon's Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated Worlds by Wendy Johnson
The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation by the Findhorn Community
The Inward Garden: Creating a Place of Beauty and Meaning by Julie Messervy 
A Garden's Promise: Spiritual Reflections on Growing from the Heart by Judith Couchman 
The Soul Garden: Creating Garden Spaces for Inner Growth and Spiritual Renewal by Donald Norfork 
The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer
Landscape as Spirit: Creating a Contemplative Garden by Martin Hakubai Mosko
Sacred Circle Garden by Karen and Mike Garofalo
Sacred Gardens by Michel and Judy Marcellot
Spiritual Gardening: Creating Sacred Space Outdoors by Peg Streep
Gardens for the Soul: Designing Outdoor Spaces Using Ancient Symbols and Healing Plants by Pamela Woods 







"As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens."
-  Stephen Graham, The Gentle Art of Tramping



"Sitting is the gateway of truth to total liberation."
-  Dogen



"I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand
or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait."
-   Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855, I Celebrate Myself, Line 413



"So let's start by just being aware of the world around us. Look out there at the sky, and just relax your mind; let your mind and the sky mingle. Notice the clouds floating by. Notice that this takes no effort on your part. Your present awareness, in which these clouds are floating, is very simple, very easy, effortless, spontaneous. You simply notice that there is an effortless awareness of the clouds. The same is true of those trees, and those birds, and those rocks. You simply and effortlessly witness them.  Look now at the sensations in your own body. You can be aware of whatever bodily feelings are present-perhaps pressure where you are sitting, perhaps warmth in your tummy, maybe tightness in your neck. But even if these feelings are tight and tense, you can easily be aware of them. These feelings arise in your present awareness, and that awareness is very simple, easy, effortless, spontaneous. You simply and effortlessly witness them.  Look at the thoughts arising in your mind. You might notice various images, symbols, concepts, desires, hopes and fears, all spontaneously arising in your awareness. They arise, stay a bit, and pass. These thoughts and feelings arise in your present awareness, and that awareness is very simple, effortless, spontaneous. You simply and effortlessly witness them.  So notice: you can see the clouds float by because you are not those clouds-you are the witness of those clouds. You can feel bodily feelings because you are not those feelings-you are the witness of those feelings. You can see thoughts float by because you are not those thoughts-you are the witness of those thoughts. Spontaneously and naturally, these things all arise, on their own, in your present, effortless awareness."
-  Ken Wilbur, So Who Are You 



"We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up."
-  Phyllis Diller 



"No thought, no action, no movement, total stillness: only thus can one manifest the true nature and law of things from within and unconsciously, and at last become one with heaven and earth."
-  Lao Tsu



"The first level of stillness is about being with yourself in order to know yourself. This is accomplished by being wide awake and aware as you deliberately relax into yourself. The idea is to consciously enter into a state wherein you temporarily suspend everything you think you know about who you are, including anything you have ever been taught, and simply be attentive to what's going on right there where you are. You practice being quiet, both physically and mentally, as you pay attention to the sensations in your body, the various thoughts in your mind, and your current experience of being conscious and alive. You practice simple body-mind awareness, being conscious of the moment you are now in, and thereby experience with clarity the energy of you. You consciously experience yourself as you actually are. In this way you open yourself to a new, truer, less distorted experience of you and the world."
- Erich Schiffmann, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, 1996, p. 7. 



"Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm."
-  Robert Louis Stevenson



"The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat."
-  Jules Renard



"He lacks much who has no aptitude for idleness."
-  Louise Beebe Wilder



Simply Garden Furniture



"A bit stiff and sore
we sip water in the shade;
our day's gardening done,
admiring what we've made."
-  Mike Garofalo, Cuttings - Haiku and Short Poems



"A garden is a private world or it is nothing."
-  Eleanor Perenyi



"The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him - that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free."
-  Swami Vivekananda



"As evening approached, I came down from the heights of the island, and I liked then to go and sit on the shingle in some secluded spot by the lake; there the noise of the waves and the movement of the water, taking hold of my senses and driving all other agitation from my soul, would plunge me into delicious reverie in which night often stole upon me unawares."
-  Jean Jacques Rosseau



"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."
-  Henry David Thoreau



"The mind can only stand what the butt can endure."
-  Author Unknown



"What an elder sees sitting; the young can't see standing."
-  Gustave Flaubert 



"To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders."
-  Lao Tzu



"I say to people who care for people who are dying, if you really love that person and want to help them, be with them when their end comes close. Sit with them - you don't even have to talk. You don't have to do anything but really be there with them."
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross  



"Meditation, witnessing, silently sitting and looking at the mind, will be of much help. Not forcing, simply sitting and looking. Not doing much, just watching as one watches birds flying in the sky. Just Lying down on the ground and watching, nothing to do, indifferent. Not your concern really, where they are going; they are going on their own."
-  Osho 



"In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard seat
And birds and flowers once more to greet ..."
-  William Wordsworth



"This magnificent butterfly finds a little heap of dirt and sits still on it; but man will never on his heap of mud keep still…"
-  Joseph Conrad



When Priest Yaoshan was sitting in meditation a monk asked,
“What do you think about, sitting in steadfast composure?” 
Yaoshan said, “I think not thinking.” 
The monk said, “How do you think not thinking?” 
Yaoshan said, “Non-thinking.” 



"For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that
the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild beasts may eat.  You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and
with your olive orchard."
Bible, Exodus 23.10-11



"You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room."
-  Dr. Seuss



"Profoundly serene is also called Zuo Wang (Sitting and Forgetting, or Sitting in Abstraction.)  The terms 'Profoundly Serene,' 'Sit in Abstraction,' and 'Lofty Tranquillity' are all ancient expressions of detachment. Thus the Han History has, "Laozi was profoundly serene" and Huainanzi has, "The way of heaven is profoundly serene, without fixed form or pattern"; Zhuangzi relates Yan Hui telling Confucius he feels better because he can just "sit in abstraction."  Literati artists continued to call on these expressions to describe the attitude they should have when creating works of art."
Profoundly Serene  



"It is futile to travel to other dusty countries thus forsaking your own seat.  If your first step is false, you will immediately stumble.  All you have to do is cease from erudition, withdrawn within and reflect upon yourself.  Should you be able to cast off body and mind naturally, the Buddha Mind will immediately manifest itself.  If you want to find it quickly, you must start at once."
-  Master Eihei Dogen, 1227, Funkanzazengi (Rules for Meditation). 



"I have never practiced sitting cross-legged nor do I meditate.  My work is what I do and always involves writing materials,
chairs, and tables.  Before I get to it, I do some exercises for my back and I water the plants, of which I have about two hundred."
-  John Cage



“Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.”
-  Garrison Keillor



"Four-fifths of all our troubles would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still."
Calvin Coolidge  



"To tell you the truth, my tenants have a notion that I am atheistically inclined, by putting up heathen statues and writing on them certain words in an unknown language.  They immediately suspected me for a papist, and my statues had been demolished, my woods burnt and my throat cut had not I suddenly placed a seat under a holly bush with this plain inscription, "Sit Down and Welcome."  I have assured them that all the Latin mottoes are to this purpose, and that in places where they cannot sit down, I
have desired them in the old Norman dialect to go to the lodge, and drink whiskey."
-   Lord John Orrey (1707-1762), Letters



"Unlike the Inner Smile, which employs a positive embrace to dissolve fixed perception, zuowang initially employs a negative method in the sense of releasing what is unwanted. The main difference is the Inner Smile stays heart-centered, whereas zuowang does not use ongoing heart-focus. The phrase fasting the heart-mind was made famous by Zhuangzi in 2nd century B.C.E. and later popularized by Sima Chengzhens classic Zuowang lun in the 8th-century (Kohn 1987). Today zuowang's "sitting in forgetfulness survives as a staple of modern Chinese Daoist meditators and their acolytes in the West (Rinaldini 2008; Phillips 2008). Zuowang practice helps the adept to surrender to the impersonal qi-field of heaven and earth. But it does not necessarily integrate human heartedness. Zuowang likely inspired Chan Buddhist sitting in emptiness, which can feel a bit cold, too mental or impersonal for some Westerners. Yet Daoist zuowang differs from Chan methods and their Japanese Zen Buddhist offspring in that attaining absolute emptiness is not the goal. In zuowang the emphasis is more on process, on cultivating spontaneity and openness to ever-changing currents of the qi-field. The dissolving of the heart-mind is achieved by allowing each thought, feeling or sensation to manifest without resistance, and then surrender it to the larger flow of the qi-field to be creatively transformed.  Eventually an unperturbed yet engaged state of mind is achieved. So zuowang ultimately shifts from release of the negative to a positive embrace of spontaneity and wu wei.  Robinet astutely points out in her preface to Kohns translation of the Zuowang lun that the process goes beyond qigong, which grants only longevity. Zuowang is a method of salvation, and as such is actually preparatory for higher alchemy practice. Zuowang is a double dissolving, first of the contents of the heart-mind and then of the minds method of dissolving itself."
-   Michael Winn, Daoist Methods of Dissolving the Heart-Mind.



"Be a spot on the ground where nothing is growing, where something might be planted, a seed, from the Absolute."
-  Rumi 



"Surely ruminating and lolling, squandering slivers of time as you ponder on this or that plant; perching about the place on seats chosen for their essential and individual quality, are other whole aspects of being a gardener.  Why shouldn't we?  We sit in other people's gardens, why not in our own."
-  Mirabel Osler, The Garden Bench



"I wake up some mornings and sit and have my coffee and look out at my beautiful garden, and I go, 'Remember how good this is. Because you can lose it.'"
Jim Carrey



"What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!  Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.  It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.  As long as it talks I am going to listen."
-  Thomas Merton



"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
-  Winston Churchill



"A foundational Daoist meditation practice centers on clarity, stillness, and emptiness. One sits in a comfortable position either on a cushion or in a chair, and begins to draw the senses inward, to withdraw from the world of sensory phenomena and habitual reactivity. The spine is erect, and the crown of the head and coccyx relax away from each other. One allows breathing to be natural, for respiration to find its own rhythm. The hands are either placed palms down on the knees or joined in front of the navel in a Daoist mudra position. With the tip of the tongue touching the upper palate, one focuses on emptying and stilling. The ears listen to the center of the head. With the eyelids hanging and the eyes slightly open, the gaze rests on the tip of the nose. Then the gaze extends down the front centerline of the body to rest on the lower elixir field (lower abdomen). One allows emotional and intellectual activity to become stilled and to dissipate naturally. Over time, stillness deepens and clarity increases. In Daoism, this practice is often referred to as "entering stillness" (rujing 入靜), "guarding the One” (shouyi 守一), "quiet sitting" (jingzuo 靜坐), "sitting-in-forgetfulness" (zuowang 坐忘), or "fasting the heart-mind" (xinzhai 心齋). For those beginning Daoist meditation, daily practice in the morning and in the evening, lasting from twenty to forty minutes is recommended. Of these various parameters, commitment to daily practice is most important."
-   Daoist Meditation, The Daoist Foundation 



"Strictly speaking, any effort we make is not good for our practice because it creates waves in our mind.  It is impossible, however, to attain absolute calmness of our mind without any effort.  We must make some effort, but we must forget ourselves in the effort we make.  In this realm there is no subjectivity or objectivity.  Our mind is just calm, without even any awareness.  In this unawareness, every effort and every idea and thought will vanish.  So it is necessary for us to encourage ourselves and to make an effort up to the last moment, when all effort disappears."
-  Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind



"Come into my garden,
Relax in a chair;
Don't let your heart harden,
Let wind touch your hair."
Come Sit in My Garden



"To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment."
-  Jane Austen



"Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind."
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow





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