The Garden At Arles, Vincent Van Gogh

"The Garden at Arles", Vincent van Gogh, 1888

Recently I was reading prose and poetry of 13th century Sufi writer Mewlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi (known to the English speaking world as Rumi), entited “Fihi Ma Fihi,” (“It Is What It Is”). One particular excerpt led me to reflect on the wonderful souls I have met throughout my life and especially the past few years, friends and foe, alike. If I may, I would like to share it with you.

If someone speaks well of another person, the good word returns to him and in reality this praise is for himself. It is like someone who plants a rose bed and odoriferous herbs around his house; whenever he looks out, he sees roses and odoriferous herbs, so that he is constantly in Paradise. When one speaks well of a person, that person becomes one’s friend; when one thinks of him, one thinks of a dear friend, and to think of a dear friend is like roses and rose garden, fragrance and repose. But when he speaks ill of someone, that person appears hateful to him; when he thinks of him … his image appears before him as if a scorpion, a thorn, or a thistle had appeared before his eyes. Now, if you can see by day and night alike roses and rose gardens and the meadows … why do you walk about among thorn bushes and snakes?

Rumi’s painting of words is of a garden of thoughts and actions. A garden that provides the world with varying degrees of nourishment, aromas and illuminating hues. When the darkness of night falls, it is hard to embrace the same vibrance and light emanated from the garden as during the day, with physical senses. If instead of viewing friends and enemies with physical eyes, one views with spiritual eyes, would the interpretation of the beauty be different?

Rumi’s profound question serves as a conduit to self-inquiry and reflection: why would I walk about among thorn bushes and snakes? I have a “garden” of thoughts and actions. It is up to me to tend to the garden carefully, in all seasons, darkness and light, good times and bad. The chore is the responsibility of no one else. It is up to me to keep the garden irrigated with water of clarity, free from debris of negativity. No one else.

It is also important for me to be mindful that not all plants are cultivated during the same season or same rate of speed. Some vegetables take a while to grow and harvest, while some flowers bloom with bursts of joy at the first notion of Spring. The seasons change, as do I. My life evolves day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year. Some things in my life bloom easy, and some require a lot of attention and effort to harvest.

Today, I choose to view each and every person with my spiritual eyes for the essential members they are in my garden of thoughts and actions. I choose to be the caretaker of my own garden and respect the gardens belonging to others, refraining from interfering in their paths and rows. Today I am aware that thoughts do not evolve the same, nor do people. I choose to respect, honor and “see by day and night alike the roses and rose gardens and meadows” of the spirit in everyone.

Behold, I tried all things, turned everywhere
But never found a friend so dear as you
I tested every fountain, every grape,
But never tasted wine so sweet as you.

Namaste _/♥_

2 Responses to THE GARDEN

  • mrkoenig66 says:

    “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

    — Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”

  • Marilyn Freeman says:

    Beautiful and insightful…. Our spiritual eyes are our best selves. As we choose to use them while looking at ourselves and other sentient beings, we are choosing to become the pathway.

    Thank you for sharing this.