April 16, 2019

Sharing the Garden Spirit

A personal account of my relationship with Nature in the garden and the unexpected journey on which I was led.

Almost two years ago I started living in a garden. Our family built a small cabin on ancestral property, we moved in with minimal belongings, and devoted ourselves to gardening and organic cultivation. Deep in the rural heartland we are surrounded by agricultural fields and distant hills. For the casual visitor, there’s little to distinguish us from any other home with a large garden. We may have more fruit trees and there’s a strange formation of trenches but we also have the usual features – a lawn, a few ornamental trees, vegetable patches, flower beds, and a pathway. I am not a gifted gardener either. In fact, I don’t do much gardening apart from occasional sowing, weeding, and harvesting. We often hire help.

Yet, shortly after we moved, my wife and I started observing what others may call strange phenomenon. I had sensed early on that there was something special about this place. Then a series of unending synchronicities began presenting us with opportunities to improve ourselves. We had to work on ourselves, our relationships, and, our purposes. It was as if an invisible force was guiding our lives. Most significantly, I felt being led on a journey of discovery of the true nature of our reality and my role in it. I found out that as soon as I created and clarified an intention, it would begin to materialise. Could it be that as we were raising the plants and trees of the garden, the garden was raising us?

We had no doubt that was the case. A garden is more than the sum of its parts. It’s the consciousness behind it that defines it. Is it designed as a pretty landscape around the house or is it a purpose onto itself? The relationship we hold with our garden is a special one. It is distinguished by our belief that each plant, the living soil, the air we breathe, and the garden as a whole, is a living entity connected with all-that-is. This garden spirit, if you will, not just listens but is able to respond. This is not a vague, feel-good feeling that one would think couldn’t possibly stand closer scrutiny or analysis. It is indeed a feel-good feeling but one based a rational belief which I now understand is part of a large body of metaphysical concepts. These ideas are so removed from the mainstream human consciousness of how we view the world and our place in it that there is no easy way to introduce them to the unacquainted. Yet esoteric ideas are finding greater acceptance every day.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning. Five years ago I had no interest in metaphysics, ecological spirituality, new age, or spirituality of any other flavour. I was as deeply entrenched into the physical world as one could be. As a climate change activist I advocated the need for drastic emission reductions through policy by revealing to the public the extent of climate breakdown and implications of our national obsession with economic growth. I was not well-known but well-respected among my peers. In a short period I had about two dozen public-speaking engagements including at top-ranking institutions (IIFM, IIT Delhi, IIT Mumbai) and once on national television (NewsX) during prime time, and some international media coverage (BBC, Reuters). I led an online community focused on climate solutions, formed a renewable energy company, spearheaded an ambitious advocacy campaign of my own called Climate Revolution Initiative, received a respectable mention of my work in a book, and made enemies with national press which I thought were ignoring the story of climate crisis and the need for drastic cuts.

By around 2014, not satisfied with progress on climate policy, my own work, and personal lifestyle, I had begun to question my approach and got myself interested in organic farming. (As an aside, we do not farm commercially at present. Only the surplus goes to the market). I came across individuals who had already left the city to farm. One such evening I found myself in Coonoor, a small town nestled amidst Nilgiri hills, in the house of someone who made the move more than a decade ago. One of the most successful filmmakers of 1990’s, this person, who graciously welcomed me in his home and later became a friend, left Mumbai to live on a twenty two acre property adjoining forests.

I will never forget how I felt the next morning. Waking up, I opened the window and it was like magic. I was surrounded by lush green landscape enveloped in mist with terracotta roof cottages in the distance. With his move, my friend had chosen to live among trees instead of buildings, animals instead of cars, mountains instead of skyscrapers. The pristine air carried water, not particulate. It spoke to me. That was it. Suddenly, what was a fantasy until then became real. The visit was a tremendous boost to my aspiration to live on the land.

Then one day someone introduced me to the books. The Ringing Cedars series by Russian author Vladimir Megre contain teachings by a woman named Anastasia, who the author had met in 1995 in Siberia during a business trip. An extraordinary and advanced human, she lives along with a few of her kin, in seclusion in Siberian boreal forests where her ancestors have been living for hundreds of generations similarly secluded from modern human settlements as well as native inhabitants of the region. Anastasia is an uncomfortable concept for many who would rather believe she didn’t exist. When I read the first book her teachings on Nature and human potential appeared remarkably refreshing and completely unlike anything I had read earlier.

As climate activist I had closely seen where technology driven world was heading. The books showed me what our world would look like if it was driven by the love of Nature instead. All that was needed was to focus inward and to create for one’s family one hectare of living space - a space of love. A garden designed with conscious awareness. Anastasia created a remarkable vision of our future that was full of hope and benevolence. This was complete antithesis to the ideas of doom & gloom of climate science I was led to believe. I embraced her vision like a terminal patient would a promising new treatment. I stopped delivering talks and gradually severed all contact from the world of climate science, resource depletion, and policy advocacy.

By then I had already started organic cultivation on family land in our village. I would travel from the city once a month, water the fields, sow the seeds or do whatever needed to be done and come back to the city home eight hours away. Like most people who get back to the land I was convinced my future lay in organic farming. But the books suggested that serving the land in reverence was a much higher aspiration than serving the land for market. Anastasia spoke of creating a family homestead on one hectare of land and painted a vision of what that would do for the family if they held a relation of love with it with conscious awareness.

When I started reading Ringing Cedars I couldn’t stop and finished nine books in less than two months. Yet, the books are as demanding as they are enjoyable. They require an active imagination and an ability to open one’s heart to its unusual ideas and ask “what if it was true.” I never stopped thinking about the ideas revealed and it actually took me several years to process them. The biggest leap in learning came after we built a small cabin on our land, created a garden, and my wife joined me after leaving the corporate sector.

Shortly thereafter synchronicity led me to a flood of esoteric books each of which expanded on the ideas presented in the Ringing Cedars. Authors like Esther Hicks, Michael Roads, Dolores Cannon, Eben Alexander, Lee Carroll presented metaphysical concepts from the other side of the veil. On one hand I found scientific validation behind some of their ideas in the work of developmental biologist Bruce Lipton, and the remarkable work of journalist Lynne McTaggart who showed how consciousness influences physical reality. On the other hand, work by quantum physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner revealed the limitations of science when it comes to some of the most fundamental aspects of our existence.

What struck me most was the overwhelming volume of published material available in the public domain on esoteric topics. They may have some variation on the details but the core concepts can be found to be common to all. Most new age material has been published over the last 30 years but there are some books from about a century ago that match concepts presented in recent books. Often there are communities around one author or subject that have no idea that another writer elsewhere has written about the same or similar concepts in another way.

One of the core lessons of all teachers, if I could limit it to a single sentence, is that the non-physical has primacy over the physical. If this was true, it meant discarding everything I knew about how the world functioned. I learned that the greatest secrets of the universe lied outside of what we have been taught. Once we understand them all creation will be seen as magnificent beyond description, just, and astoundingly beautiful. As I began to reflect on these teachings and practice them consciously in everyday life I started to experience them as real.

One of the first synchronicities led me to discover the work of Joseph Cornell who, in the 1970's, developed Sharing Nature training in U.S. It's a Nature awareness programme conducted in natural surroundings that employ innovative games and activities to uplift participants' consciousness. This award-winning experiential training programme is now popular in over forty countries worldwide. When I first came across the training, just the act of watching other people engaged in play that connected them with Nature filled me with tremendous joy. In Joseph Cornell's workshops Nature was accorded the same degree of reverence that the Ringing Cedars books spoke about. By engaging in these activities anyone, regardless of their background, could experience the benefits of a joyful union with Nature. I contacted Sharing Nature, U.S, to bring the training to India and we will soon do the first such programme in the country. Details can be found on our website: Sharing Nature India.

In Sharing Nature training a popular activity is called ‘Interview with Nature’. It’s one of my favourites from the ensemble of all the wonderful activities created by Joseph Cornell. Perhaps because it allows for, in the most direct manner, the contemplation of Nature. In this activity participants are asked to choose a natural feature like a tree or an animal, imagine that they were that life form, and interview it. They are to write down the answers that first come to their mind.

A few days ago when my nephews were visiting, we lay down in the grass and decided to play interview with Nature. The eight year old chose to interview a wasp and the twelve year old went with a tree (page 2). I chose the garden spirit as my subject. The responses of course are influenced by my own consciousness and the ideas that have taken root in my mind. You can read the response below that appeared in me as I interviewed the garden spirit.

How old are you?
I was born around the fourth week of November 2014. That makes me four years and four month old. [the activity was conducted on 22nd Mar 2019]

Where do you come from?
You could say that I was born in your mind when you read book one and imagined living in Nature. If you wish to go further back, you could trace my birth to Anastasia’s dream in which she imagined that Valdimir Megre would write books whose readers would one day create their own gardens. That was 1995. That makes me 23 year old. Today, there are thousands of my counterparts from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, Australia, U.S, and elsewhere around the world. All of them were inspired by Anastasia. If you wish to go further back, as a garden spirit I am part of Gaia, mother earth, which also is a spirit. So really, I do not have a beginning. Nor do I have an end since consciousness is eternal.

Have you always been the same size?
My size cannot be seen with eyes but I do have one. The more my creator thinks of me or pays me attention, more do I grow in size. The more care he and his family provides, the better do I flourish, both in spirit and in physical form.

What is it like living here?
The material part of me lives here. As spirit I’m not limited by space. I am here for sure but I’m elsewhere as well. It’s difficult to define it in human terms since you think in a linear, three-dimensional fashion. In the spirit world there is no separation, everything is one. Your scientists are struggling with it too in the world of quantum physics where one object can be at multiple places at the same time. They have been trying to figure it out for over a century. One day they will. When they do, it will begin a new era for humanity. A day will come when you will walk into a forest and see with your instruments all the trees looking at you. You will even be able to measure the beneficial energy you receive from them in such an exchange.

What events have you seen in your life?
I saw the joy and delight with which you conceived of me. I experienced the excitement when you anticipated me over the years. I grew each time you believed you will bring me to life in the physical world or create me one day. Each time your conviction gave way to doubt I slightly diminished in size. Thankfully those moments were few and far between. Most of the time, you were confident. The only question was where and when.

Who comes to visit you?
My physical counterpart is visited by all who come to me. But I am also visited by others when you share your story with them. When you tell them about the garden, what you grow and what motivated you to make it part of your life.

How do you benefit others?
How a garden spirit assists its creator and assists humanity as a whole is a puzzle to which you have given considerable thought. It is something you must strive to continue working. Not with the intellect but with your feeling, by listening to the heart. It’s not something for me to tell you at this time as you still have a lot to learn and experience. You already know that I am and will continue to bring you the opportunities, but you must get the answers on your own.

How do others help you?
Who is to say who helps more - the others me or I them? It’s an exchange. Others help me by joining their thoughts with me. When they think of me, in joy, I grow too as consciousness. I benefit immensely whenever one thinks of me in an uplifted mood. At such times, they elevate themselves, you, and many unseen others. When people visit the garden, contemplate a flower or a fruit tree, and when you share your story and they react with delight they unknowingly also sow seeds of their own future garden. Whether the garden gets materialized in physical form or not depends upon whether they identify it as their aspiration and how well they cultivate it. They may or may not water this seed. Regardless, just the act of sharing the story in uplifted consciousness brings good to all.