Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TILLING THE SPIRITUAL SOIL

I choose the analogy of planting and growing a garden because there are some great parallels between cultivating our gardens and cultivating our minds. There is not that much difference in preparing land for seed and preparing our minds or consciousness for a new idea.

What do you see when you look at a seed? Not much, it’s small, sometimes really small. Can you see what will grow by looking at it? No. the mystery is inside where we can’t see it. Have you ever come across some seeds and they have lost their packaging and we’re sitting there with them in our hand with a big question mark on our faces. What are they?

What do we think of when we see a seed? New life. Possibilities. Potential. Seeds hold all the information needed to reproduce itself. Amazing in such small form. However, a seed sitting in a package….is only a seed sitting in a package. It may be able to grow into a tomato or a lilac bush or even a great cedar, but that’s not going to happen unless someone plants it. That’s the first step. Planting it – but not just anywhere - if we want it to grow we will choose and create the best environment we can for it to take root and flourish.

For the most success they need to be put in an environment that will provide the maximum opportunity for growth. Soil, sunshine, rain, temperature, tending etc.

We play an active role in the planting, growth and development of a new plant.

A man passes a farmer on the road and looking at the man’s fields of plenty says, “Its wonderful what God has done”. The farmer looks at his fields and responds, “You should have seen what it looked like when only God was looking after it.”

Now for us, as growing spiritual brings, we are hopefully always planting new seeds in our minds. New ideas, new ways of being.

But how do we create or support the best environment we can for this seed to take roots and grow? The right environment is what we are interested in today.

We start with the Land. The land represents our consciousness. In the Bible when we read about the land or problems on the land or conquering new land – what we are really looking at is what is going on up here – in our consciousness. Problems, invaders, turmoil, harvest, drought, floods are all phases that we go through as we grow in our consciousness.

How do we prepare our minds and hearts – our land - for a new idea to take root and flourish? What can we do and what might we wish to refrain from doing?

The first step is preparing the soil.

If we were gardeners and were looking at starting a new garden bed – what do we do first? We have a look at what is already there. If the land has been neglected or dormant we may find rocks and weeds. And these are the two essential pieces that we are going to look at today. Rocks and weeds.

First the rocks. If we look at the analogy of the land being our mind or hearts – what do you think rocks might represent? Hard places. Solidified stuff. Places of protection. It might be time to pick up those rocks and have a close look. See if they are still serving a purpose in our lives.

For instance – I’ll use myself as an example. When I was in grade school I had a terrible time with the game of baseball. I could not hit a ball to save my life. After about three games I gave up on developing any skill around that, I avoided baseball all my life. So that might be one of the rocks in my garden. “I do not play baseball”. Now if I felt like that rock was interfering with my enjoyment of life – I might consider removing it from my garden.

When we recognize a hard place in us, something that we want to move – how can we approach it? Listen to the words of Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity: “Stumbling blocks at first may seem to be in the physical environment, but closer discernment reveals that they are primarily in the mind. Therefore, we should not put any additional weight into the already existing obstacles by filling them with the thoughtstuff of condemnation.”

You may have noticed rock or stone walls surrounding plots of land or gardens. They are serving a purpose there. Rocks are not bad – we just don’t want them in our growing space. We want to leave that space free for something else to grow. So when we come across a rock – something that is not helping us – we gently move it aside. Put it with the others, give it a new purpose.

Without condemnation. So, so important. Whenever we are making changes in our outlook, in our perception, in our attitudes – do it gently! Lovingly.

We don’t expect children to walk the first time they try – we support them as they stumble and we encourage them to keep trying. Be that kind and gentle to yourself! Loving and kind.

Next we have weeds. Weeds can be quite amazing really. Rocks don’t grow back where we have moved them from, but plants are different. They are often incredibly strong and hardy. Plants have an amazing capacity to recover and a very strong life force. Perhaps you have seen them growing in the cracks in pavement or on rocks with no soil.

When we bought a home in Victoria we were looking in the backyard and one of the things I noticed was this huge lump of green. Four feet wide, three feet high, about 12 feet long. Just green. When I looked closer I saw that it was bind weed or morning glories just heaped over and over but there was something underneath that was giving some shape to this mound. I dug in through and discovered – raspberries! This was a row of raspberries completely taken over by bind weed. Well I am a true lover of raspberries and I was so happy to have these in the yard. I got ready to go out and clean out the bed – and what happened is this. I would grab a piece and pull and pull and pull and then it would get caught up and I would pull and snap! Out comes the bind weed – with the raspberry cane. This happened a few times and I realized that if I kept up – I would have no bindweed and – I would have no raspberries! So the only way to extricate the bindweed without harming the raspberries was to gently and easily and slowly ease off or unwind every single strand. This took constant, careful monitoring for years.

So when we identify something in our minds, in our consciousness, that we see is not serving us any longer, we need to remove it. If we pull it out roughly – what happens – it breaks off. Or it leaves the roots – and you know what happens when the root stays – it grow again!

So again – we want to be gentle, loving, and careful as we wiggle those weeds out.

So if this weed – this behavior or attitude that has been a part of your life for a long time, may be quite strong and hardy. Its not going to let go without some time and attention.

Remove with consistency and love. With forgiveness and charity towards ourselves.

We have an inner intelligence, an inner knowing that gently and easily directs us in the right way. Trust that there is a divine power at work in your life, a partner in your garden that is helping you see what you want to change and what is worthy and producing good results in your life.

But when we remove something – what is the next step? Put something different in its place! We need to plant something in its place, otherwise – what happens? more weeds!

So as we prepare our minds for new ideas we want to remember to identify the rocks and weeds. And remove or move them gently and with care.

Look for the next lesson: Planting. How do we choose what to replace in our minds? If we have let go of some thought or belief that is not working for us – how do we make sure we don’t leave room for it to grow back?

Remember that we are co-creating with Divine Power. And as we align ourselves with God, with the good, with the best, that inner intelligence and guidance will help us make decisions.