Forgiveness, Part 2 - Part of it, anyway!

Please forgive me for straying so far from the usual rhythm of my posts. It’s been a busy spring so far! Yes, there’s been the usual pruning, transplanting, brush removal and garden preparation. Unfortunately, though, I’ve also had to cut down a forty foot tall bald cypress tree whose roots had breached the sewer line, causing it to clog and begin to buckle. It was difficult work, and solemn, too – both for the fact that it was dangerous for me, and for the fact that I was ending the life of something just as it was beginning to bud again.


Cutting short the life of anything is not something that I relish doing. I hope the tree forgives me, likewise the animals and humans that enjoyed its beauty, shade, and shelter. I’ve managed to forgive myself, I think, both for cutting the tree down now and for not being mindful enough regarding my choice of where to plant it in the first place. We can never count on being forgiven, though – at least we Buddhists can’t. There's always the karma of past words, deeds, and intentions acting in the present moment in ways that we rarely fully understand. All we can do is ask for forgiveness as we embrace the task of clarifying our lives in this present moment. In this regard, forgiveness has a prominent place in Zen practice, even if not specifically referred to by name. Consider the Verse of Repentance as it appears in Okumura’s Living By Vow, for instance:

All the karma ever created by me since of old

Through greed, anger, and self-delusion

Which has no beginning,

Born of my body, speech, and thought

I now make full repentance of it


Whether they be plants or animals, relationships or possibilities, we cut short the lives of many things as we go about the process of living our lives. In solemnity, let’s ask for forgiveness – from others and ourselves. In joyousness, let’s embrace the task of clarifying both our actions and our intentions in this present moment.

Please look for the "remainder"of Part 2 soon!


Okumura, S. (2012). Living by vow: A practical introduction to eight essential Zen chants and texts. (D. Ellison, Ed.) Wisdom Publications.


Image Credits

Bald Cypress image courtesy of Mindy Newman via:

Copyright 2013 by Mark Frank


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. An anonymous reader stated that "these deciduous tree's real name is Couroupita guianensis. It is cultivated in many places in the world but are native to Central and South American rainforests."


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