About 20 years ago, a local spiritual teacher spoke to us of all the difficulty, all the darkness, all the pain we encounter in this life. It is a universal experience: none is exempt from it. This teacher offered a beautiful metaphor for how best to accept and understand this basic truth the Buddha emphasized 2,500 years ago.
She stated that all this messiness, all this trouble, is just like compost. With it, she said, we can grow beautiful roses. To expand beyond her metaphor, our life is a field. All kinds of things grow in this field, and we are responsible for most of them. We may believe the weeds that grow there from time to time, or even the blight that infects the healthy plants, are not of our making.
And to some extent, we may be correct. But this question isn’t really even relevant. If we wish the field -representing our life, mind and heart – to become lush, verdant, productive… we must be responsible for all that comes about there.
It isn’t about self blame. It’s about what we have the ability to choose, or to change. If a farmer finds tares growing in his wheat field, he simply sets about removing the weeds, tilling, fertilizing and watering the soil to feed the wheat, and remaining vigilant to spot further weeds that may come up to spoil his crop. He doesn’t blame himself, the weeds, or even the conditions that allow the weeds to come.
He simply cultivates his field in such a way that the desired conditions come about…
Our life, our mind, our heart …. together, these comprise our field. Beyond the merely personal sphere, the world is also our field. Together, we are all farmers in this wider field. Our personal fields are part and parcel of this larger parcel of land.
We can wisely choose to maintain our personal fields in synchrony with all those who also farm their personal sphere with love and wisdom.
There is a spiritual practice called Ziraat, derived from an old Persian word meaning “agriculture”. It refers to the system created by Sufi Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, which integrates our reverence for the natural world with our interior, spiritual domain, and teaches us how this metaphor – that of cultivating the earth – can inform our spiritual life and insights..
“Ziraat uses the symbols and dynamic processes of agriculture as ways of describing the inner life, and as ways of finding a bridge between the spiritual and material worlds.”
Inayat Khan conceived this idea just before he passed away, therefore it was not well developed in his time. But the seeds of what he began have been cultivated and developed for many decades now, by those who carry on his message, and the Way of Ziraat.
Vakil Forest Shomer, founder of Inside Passage Seeds, holds the Ziraat concentration for the Sufi Ruhaniat International. He was introduced to this path 40 years ago by his spiritual teacher, Pir Moineddin Carl Jablonski, former head of the Sufi Ruhaniat International.
Recently my partner and I received introductory teachings from Vakil. My friend is a gardener. I love to garden, but haven’t done nearly enough of it in this lifetime.
But we are both committed to cultivation on all levels – whether it be tilling physical soil, or the soil of our life, heart, and mind.
That field is fertile for farming.