Irrepressible Stories of the Nuns of Mount Jiri by Ven. Cheonjin
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Cabbage Worms and Kitchen Garden
Just like last year, a small kitchen garden was built to cultivate cabbages. Of course like the previous years we also made a small garden specifically for cabbage worms. This year we planted 7 for these small creatures. When we found worms on our side (humans) of the garden, we recited some mantras while carefully transferring them to their side of the garden.
<Cabbage garden and garden for worms>
<The left side is for humans and the right side is for worms.>
For those who have experience with planting cabbages, you are very well aware of how much worms like cabbages. However, we do not spray pesticides on these worms. This is not because we like to eat organic vegetables for better health. It is because we do not want to kill any living being so we could not bear to spray pesticides on them. In order to savage at least a half a cabbage leaf, we had to seek out an alternative to using pesticides. As an alternative, we chose to plant radishes and cabbages just for these worms.
In the corner of the garden, we planted more vegetables and we lifted these little creatures from the human side and place them in the garden for worms. If the worms were too small, there is a possibility for more injury so we waited until they become quite plump and carefully lifted and transferred them to their new home.
< Mouthwatering delights for the larvae>
But, we were not so comfortable with this form of forced migration. Even if they were receiving food, these insects did not get to choose their way. Even if it is a second best, we wanted to seek out for humans and other life to co-exist. In the case of our garden, its compact size has allowed us to build gardens without the commitment for economic profit.
<The leaves from the right side have turned into nests>
On the first day, more than 20 worms were found. We were quite worried whether they could all survive with only seven cabbages. When they began to have more voracious appetites we decided to widen the worm’s territory and apologetically transferred them to new plants.
Despite our worries, these little worms did not eat away at the center of the cabbage, but very discreetly ate away the outer layers of the cabbage. At first, 100 cabbages were planted. Therefore just with 7 cabbages we were able to save the rest with this “win-win situation.”
I read in the past “The Story of Old Monk Living in Odae Mountain (Written by Gwagyeng, Jeongwongyu translated, Bulgwang Publisher). There once was a Buddhist farmer who could not bear to kill insects with pesticides. So, he recited “The Great Dharani” 49 times and pouring its water on the plants. One may think this is the most absurd idea in this busy world. But, as a Buddhist we should show our compassionate nature and find various alternatives and practical solutions for real life situations. Through this we can gain a great amount of merit. If there are absolutely no other alternatives, let the insects know at least 3 days in advance of spraying and while spraying you could at least show your effort and recite the name of the Buddha or offer other mantras.
In order to imitate the Buddha’s compassionate heart and to positively influence our mind more, we should get connected to even the smallest living beings. It is due to lack of sincerity and devotion that we take life. We should not kill while making excuses that: we did not know any better or think that killing is ok because it is only a fly or just a mosquito, just an ant, or a cockroach. Every sentient being avoid death and not a single creature deserves to die. Our precious human life should be appreciated and we should not take pride or be arrogant living this fortunate human life. We should lead a life of dedication and make earnest wish for all sentient beings to attain enlightenment.
<Cabbage for worms survived the cold winter and beautiful flowers bloomed>