In my garden now, weeds have sprung up everywhere, which is surprising considering the dry summer heat. But in my absence, friends have said, it rained and then the sun was out and then it rained again. Perfect weather for growth, unfortunately for the weeds as well. I find myself knee-deep in weeds every morning, sorting out the wanted from the unwanted. The creepers that wind around the healthy plants, the ground-covering tendrils of light green weeds, the invasive finger-grass that winds its way even over cement. I pull, tug, dig until they are eliminated. I know there will be roots left in the ground for them to surface again, but an initial clearing is needed to actually see the beauty of the plants that were smothered by them. Very soon, the rose bushes with ready to burst buds emerged, the peonies that were lost below a jungle of creepers surfaced. I found a small avocado tree, the seed of which had silently germinated below the soil. The echinacea almost breathed a sigh a relief as I pulled back the weeds that had completely overshadowed it. Hemerocallis sprang its deep orange flowers towards the sun facing the heat and light with a bold intensity. Every weed I took off revealed a treasure below.
Of course, gardening is labour, a labour of love, but labour, nonetheless. The same is true for any spiritual work that one pursues. In these very strange days we find ourselves in, where the abnormal has become normal, it is more so true that we need to find alternate ways to navigate these waters. Sorting thought from situation is a simple but effective method to discover an inner calm. Just like removing weeds, distancing thoughts from the situations helps in revealing something very deep within us. Many of us find ourselves in situations that are dictated by outside sources over which we have no control, be it confinement in small spaces, lack of contact with family and friends, anxiousness over job and money, personal strife or unhappiness. Externally regulated situations cannot be modified and changed as we wish but we always have a choice to see how we deal with them.
Eckart Tolle has a very simple way of separating thought from the situation. He advises to acknowledge the challenge we find ourselves in, but instead of labelling it as good, bad, frustrating, terrible, we simply observe our surroundings we find ourselves in. Maybe observe the room we are in, the table we sit at, the window which opens to the sky outside. Perhaps we hear the birds on the neighbouring tree. We may see wispy clouds that float across the sky. In doing this, we give our thinking mind a break and cultivate presence. And being in the present moment is the gateway to awakened consciousness. We start shedding excess baggage, so to speak. Our thoughts that were so important once now begin to rest and we let our consciousness blossom. In doing so, the situation loses the gravity and slowly but surely it cannot dictate how we feel anymore. We start removing the weeds to discover the lovely flowers that were always there but we were blind too. Being in the presence is after all, the only truth we have. The past is gone, the future is uncertain, we can only live in the present moment. And learning to be at ease right now, right here is a way to discover life as it blossoms within us.
For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. – Shakespeare, Hamlet