A few weeks ago, Ananta and I were walking through the fields with four apprentices who have come to work with us on the farm this season. Specifically, we were identifying local weeds and talking about their function in soils as indicators of soil quality and health.
One of the common weeds we were discussing was “morning glory” or “bindweed.” In mentioning that the seeds of this plant can remain dormant in the soil for 20 years, I was in awe, yet again, of the latent power held within a single seed. Indeed, some seeds can remain viable for centuries, even thousands of years! Sound familiar? It is well known to the yogi that we carry within us latent “seeds” or tendencies. In sanskrit these are called samskars. Lodged in the astral spine, these patiently await the perfect conditions for sprouting. When they do sprout, we call them good or bad karma.
The seed is a storage battery of vital energy, holding characteristics, qualities, and a blueprint for future development based upon a history of successful evolution. Some are very large, for example, the bean. One of my first memories of growing something was when my older sister brought home from school two glass jars of soil. In one were placed a few bean seeds, wedged between the clear glass and the soil so that you could watch their germination and growth. In the other was corn, placed in the same fashion. I was thrilled to watch for the first time a seed sprouting to become a plant. Deeply moved I got my own glass containers and duplicated the experiment, not once, but many times. Soon after, I was dabbling in gardens and all fired up about planting and growing things. Many years later I would have a gardening teacher at Ananda Village, Haanel Cassidy.
One time, after working with Haanel for a couple of years, he asked me to plant some of his favorite flower seeds. This was an opportunity to be garnered only after having proven oneself as somewhat competent and dependable. Haanel had really high standards and even higher expectations. I remember being somewhat intimidated, at the least, at the sight of these super-fine, almost dust-like seeds. I wasn’t sure I wanted the responsibility. He showed me how to lay out the seed, leaving it at the surface. We gently moistened it and covered it with newspaper. Then, he told me not to pick up the newspaper until the seeds had sprouted in a week, or two, or three! It was a great lesson in faith, patience, and trust in the natural process.
When we look deeply at our own spiritual lives we can see that the image of a seed is a great analogy for the spiritual path on so many levels. Everything we need for spiritual awakening is contained within each of us as the very blueprint for enlightenment. Made in the image of God, all we need to do is water the seed of our soul, and do everything we can to support its growth and fruition by making choices, one after the other, that place it in proximity to water, light and divine sustenance.
Many years ago my husband, Ananta, and I visited the Bristlecone Forest in the White Mountains, in California. These pines are the oldest living trees on the planet. If just one seed germinates in a hundred years, this is enough to sustain the forest! These trees are hardy, seemingly last forever, and their environment, up to this point, has been stable enough to ensure their future. Considering the seeds of these great trees, I am reminded of something Paramhansa Yogananda said. If we do even 1/100th of what he advised us to do in terms of spiritual practice, that would be enough to bring success to our quest of finding God in this life.
Consider the beet seed. It is like a fruit in that each seed sprouts 4 – 6 beet seedlings. Our spiritual efforts are the same, generating a magnetism that draws success and growth in many aspects of our lives. As devotees we are constantly sowing the seeds of spritual awakening through so many varied efforts. These seeds will sprout and beholding the process is a splendid, wonderous, divine opportunity.