Friday, August 26, 2011
Tending the Seed
He set another parable before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches."
Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some an hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
A few examples of Jesus mentioning seeds as compared to spiritual development. His disciples ask him why he teaches in parables, and he tells them that the parables are for the purpose of allowing only those who genuinely follow him to understand his word. He also tells his disciples that the number who will understand his words are very, very few.
To see a fully awakened person, a Buddha, is so rare that it is like seeing an udumbara flower. In the Tu Hieu Monastery in Hue, there is a scroll which says: "The udumbara flower, although fallen from the stem, is still fragrant." Just as the fragrance of the udumbara flower cannot be destroyed, our capacity for enlightenment is always present. The Buddha taught that everyone is a Buddha, everyone is an udumbara flower.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Both Jesus and the Buddha have taught that each of us has a bit of potential inside us - like a seed - that with proper tending can grow and burst forth the kingdom of God (enlightenment) within us. Both have taught that in order for this to happen, we have to cast off our trappings and desires of the physical world. Just as the Udumbara flower is inside the fruit of the fig and is rarely seen, our seed of potential is buried within us and wrapped up so tightly that we only occasionally hear it's whispers.
But like the fruit of the fig, we can peel away the layers wrapped around our potential, the seed of the soul, so that it can flourish within us.
Giving everything up and becoming an enlightened being sounds like a gigantic task - and frankly, it is. However as with any goal one could have, there is always a starting point, and small steps that can be taken towards the whole goal. It's not something you can do all at once, so it is better to focus on single, smaller tasks first, and you will find that as your seed begins to bloom, the next steps will make themselves obvious.
How does one start on the path?
Just being here - reading this - you've already begun. Even if you scoff at these ideas and walk away from the subject, the words you read are already imprinted on your mind and when you are ready, you'll seek this knowledge out again.
You see, your soul - the real real you is paying attention right now. It's hiding within you, trying to tell you "Please hear me!" and it gets louder each time you touch upon a fragment of the truth. Even if you stop reading at this moment, it is going to latch on to this bit of information within your mind and it is going to cause it to take root, to grow.
Buddhism teaches mindfulness - paying complete attention to your task at hand, noticing how your body feels as you do the task, noticing where your mind tries to go as you work at your task, noticing the beauty of every detail of what you are doing. This mindfulness is about learning observation - because observation is one of the keys to enlightenment.
All knowledge, all knowing, comes from our souls - when we "learn" something, we aren't adding new information to our memory banks, we're opening up channels and pathways to knowledge we already had access to but did not know how to reach. Through learning, we remember the things we've already known. It is possible to tell whether something you are learning is absolute truth or human truth, by listening for the ping or echo within your soul.
If you've ever had the sensation of knowing someone before you knew them, it is like that feeling. In a way, it's also similar to the feeling of deja vu (and probably related to it). It's reading something and have the sensation that you know it in a way that goes beyond simple understanding. As if it is a part of you you haven't seen in a while.
It's the aha! moment - having knowledge spring forth from somewhere you cannot name. For artists, writers, poets, and songwriters, it is those moments when a piece of work comes to us unannounced and complete - the idea is already fully formed and just appears within our minds. Those pieces of knowledge, those ideas - they come directly from our soul. That, is how you can start to feel your soul within you and begin to understand the quality of its presence.
Once you have a grasp of the way it feels when your soul communicates with you, you can use the concept of mindfulness to listen for it more often. If you are going about a task in a mindful manner, you will be better able to hear what your soul is trying to tell you.
Developing this interal dialogue between your mind and your soul (because they are indeed two seperate things) will assist you in making further progress in developing and maturing your soul-seed so that it can one day blossom and transform your conciousness to a higher order.
This is truely what it means to know thyself.