Monday, October 5, 2009

Watering Seeds

Buddhist psychology offers a helpful metaphor for transforming our lives: the concept of watering seeds.

Imagine a circle as a symbol of an individual’s consciousness. Now see this circle bisected by a horizontal line roughly a third of the way down. The area above the line is referred to as mind consciousness, while the lower portion is termed store consciousness.

All the potentialities of a human being reside in store consciousness. Here can be found seeds of joy, anger, generosity, sadness, compassion, cruelty, and numerous others. While in store consciousness, these seeds lie dormant and have no effect on our lives. Once a particular seed is triggered, however, it rises up and enters our mind consciousness.

At this point, an energy is manifested that influences our lives, although we are not necessarily aware of its effect. After a period of time, depending on the situation, this seed sinks back into store consciousness where it awaits another activation. The more often a seed is watered, the more easily it will be activated. Conversely, the longer a seed remains dormant, the harder it will be for that seed to manifest in our lives.

According to this framework, a person who is generally kind has had the seed of kindness watered frequently, either by others, by life circumstances, or by their own conscious choice. A person who is often judgmental has, likewise, had that seed watered repeatedly. It rises at the least provocation and influences not only the person’s actions, but his or her experience of life itself.

This conceptualization of human consciousness provides a way to approach the task of managing our human tendencies. It is helpful to take an inventory to discover which seeds~~positive and negative~~have been watered or neglected by our life experiences. Doing so activates the seed of clarity as we come to recognize more clearly the forces that shaped us and, most importantly, the choices available to us now.

We can choose to water our positive seeds so they will manifest in our lives more frequently and with greater strength. And once a wholesome energy is present in our mind consciousness, we can act in ways to nourish that quality so it will remain longer and return more easily.

But what about those other seeds? In this view, every negative human tendency is available to us all. However, we each have a few harmful seeds that have grown rather robust from repeated watering. We can become aware of these troubling seeds as they activate. Rather than watering them further, we can choose to stop and look deeply into our reaction to understand its true nature.

We can learn how and why we were triggered. With appropriate caretaking and deep listening, the energy expressed through the original seed becomes devoted to the task of managing and transforming our experience. As its animating power is withdrawn, the negative seed drops into inactivity once more.

This is not an easy practice, but it is a wonderful one. Our growing awareness leads us to tailor our lives so our positive seeds are activated more frequently, while negative ones rest longer in dormancy.

Whatever our spiritual path, we can walk it more fully when we wisely and lovingly tend these gardens of ours. As our beneficial seeds sprout and flower, in our own small way~~through consciously tending these tiny plots of ours~~we become a clearer channel for Spirit’s expression in the world.

Happy gardening!

Loanne Marie




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