By Upendra Mishra
Growing up in a small farming village in North India taught me a lot of things. Nature was everywhere. If we wanted to take a bath, we would run to the river. While taking buffalos and cows for grazing, we will sit on the buffalos’ back and take them to the grazing plains near the river.
During the scorching heat of summer, we will find a cool spot in the dense mango orchards. The change of scenery would be constant. In winter, we will see an endless carpet of yellow mustard flowers and waving green wheat fields that would slowly turn into wheatish color stalks with wheat grains on the top.
After the harvesting season, we will have a swath of dry plain land with nothing growing on them; then the monsoon season would arrive and water will be everywhere and soon barren fields would turn into lush green paddy landscape with dark rain clouds hovering overhead.
Then, every season used to feel like eons—too long. Now looking back, I realize that those seasons were too short and lasted only for few months.
When we live in nature and everything is dependent on Mother Nature, we start paying attention to little things: sprouting of a tiny seed, its turning into a crop or a giant tree, tiny insects, animals and virtually everything that catches our eye around us.
In those days I paid a lot of attention to tiny things, and I still do—maybe I pay more attention now than I did before. In the process, I have learned a lot of things about life from the Mother Nature. Here are a few:
The way a tiny seed slowly removes its own skin, the dirt and rocks around it and sprouts effortlessly when the right moment comes and becomes a gigantic and beautiful tree, similarly our pure joy emanates from inside us when we look within and from within
A tiny seed of thought makes us who we are. Just like the seed removes its skin, dirt and rocks, when we remove our doubt, fear, ego, anger and jealousy from within, our authentic nature takes over and our full potential springs out.
Patience is probably the best lesson I have learned from the Mother Nature. The seeds sprout only when the soil is good. They will grow only when there is sun and rain, and will flower and give fruits only at their own time and schedule.
We cannot expedite the natural process the way we cannot make the sun rise or set early or late. We cannot force or stop the rain and we cannot accelerate the arrival of spring or going away of winter. All we can do is patiently wait, hoping that everything will happen when its time comes. Meanwhile, we should enjoy the process as it unfolds.
Those of us who spend a lot of time in gardening or farming know it well that whatever we see above the ground in the form of plants, flowers, trees and shrubs, there is an equally intricate, large and beautiful world underneath. We don’t see them unless we dig. In fact, stronger the root system, the stronger the plant.
If we want to make our world better outside, we have to make our inner world better and stronger first. Our inner world is like is the root of the plant, the core of who we are. Nobody sees that but that is who we essentially are.
Ancient scriptures, especially my favorite Uapanishads, keep hammering the point of inner strength and looking within and there is a lot of truth into it. Our true strength and character lie within. They are sacred. Everything happens at the root level, underground and within us where there is nothing to show off, nothing to prove to anyone except to our own self.
White interpreting Upanishads, Acharya Rajneesh came with a beautiful concept of roots and wings. “The roots are in existence, making you a more integrated human being, an individual. And the wings are in the fragrance that is released by being in contact with existence (root). The fragrance consists of freedom, love, compassion, authenticity, sincerity, a sense of humor, and a tremendous feeling of blissfulness. The roots make you an individual, and the wings give you the freedom to love, tobe creative, to share unconditionally the joy that you have found,” says Osho. “The roots and wings come together. They are two sides of one experience, and that experience is finding the center of your being.” [See a red rose (left) and roots of a typical rose plant below]
With beautiful flowers, come dirt, weeds and unwanted plants. They should because they also play an important role in our eco system. We, however, must know which one to weed out and when. Weeding is one of the most important gardening rituals. We see how a tiny weed can take over and destroy the entire garden or how a life-sucking creeper can destroy an entire healthy tree.
In our own daily life, we come across people with whom we must co-exist but keep a distance and when need be we should weed them out. Mahatma Gandhi was so right when he said: “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
Pruning and trimming are equally important. We must trim branches, plants and flowers if we think that it is good for plants and for the rest of the garden.
Giving too much or too little water and fertilizer can sure kill the plant. Finding a balance is imperative.
When we dig our hand in the ground or look down at the earth, we are surprised to see hundreds of different types of plants and insects co-existing in tiny spaces. They preserve their identity, find their food, co-exist with everyone. Those who try to dominate or overpower are weeded out.
(Mr. Mishra is managing partner of the Waltham, MA-based integrated inbound marketing and PR firm The Mishra Group. He writes about his three passions: marketing, scriptures and gardening.)