Riffing on metaphors this morning, I was inspired by the thought of gardening.
It’s a great metaphor base. It’s natural, there’s inherent growth, there is both work to be done and patience to be embraced. It is about tending, about nurturing, about discerning and about transformation.
Let’s get our hands dirty. How fertile are the conditions in which to grow that which in you can bloom to fruition; and will that fruit nourish, sustain, support or at least make more beautiful this existence? Otherwise, what are we growing?
And, what can we learn? I do garden; in the physical world, we grow a lot of our food out front in my rapidly diminishing lawn that we’re slowly converting to raised-bed container gardens. We get a lot of yield in a pretty tight space and I’ve learned a lot.
First, we started out small to make sure it was sustainable. We didn’t set some lofty goal of turning our entire front yard into a garden in one year. We built three raised frames, improved the dirt, and grew easy things that would contribute back to the soil, amended with compost and then let it play out. We didn’t get a lot to eat, but we didn’t waste, either. Not our time, our resources or our efforts. Indeed, we built confidence and a foundation to move forward and the next year, built more frames, made more compost, grew more variety while keeping our original winners and learned some more.
We had to plant seeds, we had to pull weeds. Both will grow in fertile ground, so discernment is really important. When you’re thinning the rows, the new sprout and fresh weeds are right next to one another. We must know in clarity which to favor, which to finish. We need the rainstorms, and the muggy days, and the too hot days, and all the between. Some plants need the cold to snap them awake, some need the deep heat to build their sweetness; what they get is not what they want, but what they need. They don’t fear the dark, they don’t chastise the sun, and they don’t berate the rain. They live in the fluidity of the experience, and each effort informs the fruit.
And, when it comes time to harvest, we must wait for the ripening. Not too early when the sweetness and the maturity have not formed; not too hesitant when it’s already begun the natural decline back to it’s base form or indeed, at some points, all of the material that is the plant does go back into becoming the next plants fertile soil. Something always has to die for something else to be born.
So, how is your garden, or perhaps even more to the point, what kind of steward of your garden are you? Is it only a sunshine garden; all flowers, no leafy greens; when you get to it or in discipline; overgrown with weeds or rotting on the vine? Just enquire, and then dig in.
If the work is in your own garden and the fruits of the labor are what you desire, then get in a relationship with yourself:
1. Plant seeds (bij): virtue, good words and deeds, excellent plans, lofty goals
2. Pull weeds (samskaras): ruts, places in the garden that aren’t tended where doubts, shame, reticence, and routine take over
3. Accept what comes (lila): rain, shine, cold, warmth, wind, calm
4. Make what needs to happen happen (karma): work, discipline, right-actions, and conscious activism
5. Be intentional (sankalpa): purpose, service, nourishment, focus
6. Bring zeal (tapas): austerity, passion, change-making, catalytic force
7. Surrender (isvaripranidhana): let go, things die, the natural trajectory of growth is dissipation, decomposition
8. Discern (svadhyaya): watch what happens, learn, study the actions that lead to the end desired, and examine the failures in order to create success
9. Overall, tend well to yourself: take care, take time, dig in deep, get dirty, feel tired after great work, ripen what nourishes, enjoy the sweetness of what you’ve brought to fruition.
And, above all, give thanks and praise!
Editor: Tanya L. Markul