The Seeds of the Mind
At least once every spring, I try to turn my attention to this wonderful reflection on seeds by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Your mind is like a piece of land planted with many different kinds of seeds: seeds of joy, peace, mindfulness, understanding, and love; seeds of craving, anger, fear, hate, and forgetfulness. These wholesome and unwholesome seeds are always there, sleeping in the soil of your mind. The quality of your life depends on the seeds you water. If you plant tomato seeds in your gardens, tomatoes will grow. Just so, if you water a seed of peace in your mind, peace will grow. When the seeds of happiness in you are watered, you will become happy. When the seed of anger in you is watered, you will become angry. The seeds that are watered frequently are those that will grow strong.”
This seems obviously, and beautifully, true; it is also worth considering further. The work of “mind-gardening” takes time and patience, just like real gardening. If we are compassionate to someone, it does not necessarily mean that person will instantly be compassionate to us. Likewise, if we try to sow peace in our lives, we may nevertheless read the news and hear that war is busy at work in our world. Patience! This mind-gardening will flower into good outcomes, if we stick with it.
For one thing, we will gradually become more compassionate, peaceful, mindful, and loving over time. This in itself is a great blessing, in itself ample reward for the practice of mindfulness. But there’s more, much more: these seeds of mindfulness plant good effects in the lives of others, too. The peace, wisdom and love can and do help those around us. We have all been the beneficiary of the kind act of someone else, or simply noticed someone else’s peaceful nature and had our own spirit elevated. Our kindnesses rub off on one another.
So let’s keep at the planting of these positive seeds, and keep pruning back the seeds of anger, fear and hate (They too will sprout up now and again – don’t be discouraged. You have more seeds in your bag than you know). Jesus said, “by their fruits, shall you know them.” (Thich Nhat Hanh has written about this, too – he is a student and teacher of Christianity as well as a Buddhist). May our fruits be the fruits of caring, noticing, positive praying and positive energy, and the day-to-day work of peace. Blessings,