It has been a busy year, and here we are in autumn.
People say it always takes at least a year or two to settle into a new home, and although that feels right, this home, and particularly the garden, has welcomed and blessed us. Covered in concrete and astroturf, we peeled bits away and discovered patches of marvellous soil which nurtured the hopeful seeds we sowed along with our old plants released from their restraining pots, giving us areas of abundance and delight, filled with flowers and vegetables which still, in October, keep giving. However we need to be patient as there is still so much to do; but we have made a start.
They say that gardening is all about getting the conditions right, starting with the soil, and this chimes with what we as humans need to thrive. Each plant needs to be understood so that it can be planted in the best soil, with the ideal position of light or shade and enough water and feed.
The key here is understanding. Unless we understand the plant, we can’t know what it needs each moment of each day, and so it won’t grow into the fullness of itself.
As humans we get fixated on the outer conditions we each feel we need to thrive. Money, position, house, car, etc, or else perfect parents and right schooling, or food and climate etc.
Much as there is obvious truth in some of this; right food and emotional support and a home to live in are deeply helpful for a more settled life, these are not the essential conditions for true spiritual flowering.
Spiritual flowering is not to do with the outer, it is an inner state of presence, the quality of which is uniquely our own, whether it is peace, bliss, wisdom or love, expressed in our own particular way. It frees us from limitations of the outer and the inner and allows us to flow with what is, each moment, whatever is happening. It doesn’t protect us from life’s challenges, but it releases us from the inner conflict they bring, allowing us to navigate the chaos of our present lives with grace and clarity, enriching our relationships with love.
To understand ourselves inwardly then, is the basis of finding the right soil and conditions we each need to grow.
We usually begin by resisting our present inner conditions which are based on our past experiences; all the pain, rage, fear and loneliness. We think these are the wrong conditions to be happy so we want to change them.
But inner spiritual freedom is about facing the human condition - with all its challenging aspects, however painful - within ourselves and in that facing, accepting and transforming.
And this is the key; we look at ourselves and our problems with the same conditioning which formed them, full of judgement and desires and opinions. We don’t see clearly.
The first step, and it is a vast step, is to look with love, with the energy of compassion, at our whole lives.
When we see through the eyes of freedom, with compassion, we realise that the conditions we were given in life, and which we still face now – however awful or difficult - are exactly the conditions we need to learn wisdom, humility, love.
But the huge shift is that now we are planted in the soil of compassion, not resistance or judgement, and our inner plant moves into the light of wisdom. We see that we were not meant to flower before this moment, as we were learning and growing, but now, with this first enormous step, we unfold into our spiritual truth.
Outwardly this may not look any different to before, but inwardly the whole landscape has changed and we are filled with the presence of love.