A practical lesson in the garden

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After having passed my test, Wolfgang invited me to stay at his place in Germany for the weekend so that he could begin sharing his experiences with me. I was very excited, and this excitement was perhaps boosted by the fact that I had just obtained my master’s degree and was completely free from responsibilities and duties: free to fully focus on my personal development.

The weekend itself was wonderful and I have a number of great memories of it. There is one situation in particular that I want to share in this article. My understanding of spirituality had been, unbeknown to me, completely theoretical before this transpired, and the situation kick-started my movement towards becoming very practical about spirituality.

Wolfgang’s house has a relatively spacious garden surrounding it. He has built many nice things in that garden, such as a small bathhouse and a meditation place built around a fire pit where a handful of people can sit together (in fact, I was initiated by him at that meditation place in that weekend!).

One of the activities that Wolfgang did with me was gardening. He was giving me instructions to observe and feel which parts of the plants and trees were suffering or dying and to prune those parts. He also gave me some instructions to collect all dead plants and branches on different stacks, and to throw these stacks away later.

While I was doing my work, he had gone back inside the house to spend some time with his wife. After about an hour or two he said from inside the house: “Ilyaz, dinner is ready!” I happily went inside to have the meal. After we had eaten, I made myself comfortable, retreated to my room and did some resting and reading.

The next morning, when I came down, Wolfgang said with a semi-stern voice: “Come stand next to me at the window and see the mess you’ve created.” I was not quite sure what he was talking about, but when I reached there he showed me that there were a number of stacks with dead plants and flowers that I had forgotten to throw away! They were still lying there in his garden! There was no anger in him, but it was clear to me that he wanted me to know that there was something quite significant to learn from this.

Then he said: “The mess in the garden is a reflection of the mess in your mind. Be practical.”

This is how I learned my first lesson about the relationship between our mind (internal states) and our surroundings (external reality). The lesson itself was so practical that I simply cannot forget it. It has been a great help to me, and I have been turning increasingly practical ever since.

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