Brian Griffith

This category contains 8 posts

Mama Ndolo’s Garden

For many modern people, a garden is a personal statement. It shows the owner’s relation with the earth like a wardrobe shows the wearer’s relation to society. The exploding growth of the gardening business suggests a popular dream, and the dream is of nature and culture growing together. Evan Eisenburg comments that, “For some people, … Continue reading

China’s Women Behind the World

China’s Women Behind the World Like peasants in medieval Europe, the “superstitious” villagers of ancient China believed that everything was alive. To them, the streams, forests, mountains, or shorelines seemed enchanted like the landscapes of ancient Japan. In the days of humanity’s childhood, the world seemed vibrant with spirits of majestic power and beauty, be … Continue reading

The Female Heroes of Tibetan Buddhism

As in India and China, traditional Buddhism in Tibet was a heavily patriarchal religion that included a host of goddesses. Female seekers of enlightenment operated under social handicaps. As the Tibetan princess Trompa Gyen reportedly complained to her guru, Our minds seek virtue in the dharma, but girls are not free to follow it. Rather … Continue reading

The Wars Around Me

I live in a big city condominium with security guards, where no pets are allowed except for fish or birds. So I’ve settled for keeping two goldfish, both of them named “Freddie.” One of our neighbors lets her parakeets fly around her apartment despite the danger of bird droppings. That pretty well sums up the … Continue reading

The Devil’s Environment

When the harmattan wind blows south from the Sahara, it spreads a veil of dust over West Africa and out to the mid-Atlantic. This is a drying wind off the desert, which often seems to suck the moisture from any living thing in its path. At times it rises to gale force, with heat like … Continue reading

The Chemical War for a Clean Environment

The legal bans on the worst “Gaia killer” pesticides such as DDT spurred the pest control industry to innovate a stream of better-targeted chemical weapons, or at least ones that break down faster in the environment. Then, though the pesticides and herbicides might kill masses of helpful creatures with friendly fire, these poisons would degrade … Continue reading

Spiritual Teachers of the Opposite Sex

In longstanding Daoist tradition it was necessary, or at least helpful, for spiritual teachers and students to be of the opposite sex. So we commonly find female masters guiding men, and male masters teaching women. Some legends say the Yellow Emperor sought wisdom from “the Dark Lady” on Tai Mountain. Then Emperor Yu took instruction … Continue reading

Domesticating the Local Beasts

When we talk about animals being “tame,” it could simply mean that we have decent, neighborly relations, rather than fear-filled mutual hostility. Maybe domesticating animals began with simple friendliness, as with the Russian beekeeper whose son said, “He liked bees, and they liked him. He would go to the hives without his shirt. He wasn’t … Continue reading