We bought the house from a dentist and his partner who was somebody well known in jurisprudence (I’m not even sure I know what that means). Anyhow neither seemed the sort of guy who would go in for yoga or meditation or any of these Eastern practices which we in the West treat with such reverence as being superior ways to understand the world and the part we play in it. Sitting cross-legged for hours at a time and mumbling OMMMMMMM deep down every couple of seconds or so never seemed to me the most practical way of dealing with life’s pesky problems.
The question was should we get rid of it, move it, keep it where it was. I thought of it as not ours, not us, but a foreign deity imposed by a departed dentist and his jurisprudent partner; Moira (who had recently started Thursday Yoga classes at the University) thought of it as quite nice really and reminded me that the shortest distance between two points was not necessarily a straight line and that since she did most of the garden work anyway the Buddha should stay where it was. If that was all right with me.
And that is how the dentist’s Buddha became Moira’s Buddha and came between us. If I moved it a foot or two to prune a rose bush or whatever, the next time I went into the garden, the Buddha had moved back to its original position. If I turned it to face nor-nor west, next day it would have swivelled its gaze back to the mystic East. I started to talk to Moira about it but she frowned, lifted an admonishing finger and shook her head. “Let’s not talk about it, ” she said. ” I know you don’t like it but let’s not quarrel about it. If you don’t mind.The shortest distance between – ”
” Okay, O wise one, ” I interrupted. ” Okay, Grasshopper. Okay.”
I became quite grumpy. I know I did. Moira, bless her, didn’t complain about my moodiness but that somehow made me grumpier than ever.
Then I had a brainwave. I bought another Buddha, not quite so serene as the dentist’s but looking as if he knew a thing or two about giving your common or garden djinn a pretty hard time of it. I didn’t know quite what my game plan was – I think I thought I was starting a Buddha war and that my Buddha would turn up trumps. Moira just shook her pretty head as she usually does when I embark on a new idea and let me get on with it as, god bless her, she usually does.. I put the Buddhas side by side on a bare patch of earth. They stayed put.
Time passed. We changed. The earth changed. The garden and our two resident Buddhas changed. In a funny sort of way they cancelled each other out. The garden became for us a haven of peace, a place for coming closer together yet remaining infinitely apart, independent yet together; no man (or woman) is an island sort of stuff. If we found ourselves quarreling we would simply step out into the garden, stand in front of BUDDHA ONE and BUDDHA ALSO ONE, bow, press palms together, make the deep down sound and wait for the bad waves between us to subside. Which they invariably did.
New Age gods can sometimes be the answer to age-old problems.