The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind. Its presence is more beautiful than the stars, with more clarity than the polished mirror of your heart.
I still cannot remember exactly where I was. I had been walking again, as I had been doing every day since I recovered from a heart attack. I was trying to rebuild my stamina, circulation, and youth (I wished). Sometimes I would start walking and it seemed endless, particularly if there was good weather.
That day was one of those days. I turned here and there as I walked and walked. My mind occupied with thoughts, memories, and reflections, exploring random themes. There was no method, my train of thoughts, like my legs, seemed to follow the music that was playing in my right ear, from a single Bluetooth earplug, since also around a year ago, my left ear went out of service. I was always looking down to the pavement ahead, to ensure there was nothing that could cause me to fall, or dirty my shoes.
So, I was deeply engrossed like that, as I turned another corner. I remember that was musing that day and worried about the current global scenario. The growing hatred that politicians were instilling, taking advantage of widespread instinctual fears, and the flourishing of selfishness and disconnectedness. What a pity, I thought, just when the world is physically and informationally more connected than ever before. I also wondered about how global social internet networks, instead of connecting us in a feeling of one humanity, were becoming instruments to promote partisanship, superstition, and conspiracy theories.
I asked myself why nationalism and populism are erupting, just when countries and peoples are linked like never before, when legions of Marco Polos are crisscrossing the planet, exploring the One Earth, meeting each other, intermarrying, having beautiful mixed race multicultural babies, singing the same tunes and having the opportunity, to know with their own senses, that we really are all in the same planet-boat.
Then the present pandemic came to mind, how it had exploded, at the same time that many countries were being led, by people whose vision was focused on rear-view mirrors, people afraid of humanity´s fusion, afraid of sharing and having responsibility for the commons. Their motto being let us go back to the “greatness” of the past, again.
These thoughts turmoiled inside as my feet maintained the rhythm and felt the pavement, as I asked myself in angst whatever happened about the promised new spirituality? The new age, the new humanity, what happened to hope, love, and salvation? How can this mess lead to a New Humanity? Is there something wrong with the design of the universe?
These questions were popping up in anxiety as I turned the next corner. I lifted my eyes to see the immediate surround and noticed that I was passing by some barren grounds, where there had been some mixing of the soil. It looked bleak and smelled like wounded earth, not a pretty sight, and it went on for the whole block. I continued walking on the sidewalk bordering the plot, then I noticed a man sitting on a bench, looking intently at the barren land. As I passed in front of him, I noticed he had an attractive face, as he beamed up a smile, I slowed down as I passed him. He was wearing a straw Panama hat, and a loose white shirt, a bit dirty, revealing, that he had been involved somehow with the recent turning of those soils. His smile and his eyes caught my attention. The smile was like moonlight, suave, bright, and contagious, and his eyes were sparkling with joy, like the eyes of a four-year-old receiving Christmas gifts. He looked at me, as I said, “Good morning”. He replied, “Good morning my friend”, and then with his eyes in query and joy he asked me, “Do you like my garden, isn’t it just beautiful!”.
I answered, “Well to tell you the truth all I can see is an empty barren lot with the soil tilled and mixed together. It does not really look beautiful to me”. “Ah - he replied - that is because you are a passerby, a walker, you look at things momentarily, not wholly, I understand that, you have to look at it, as a gardener does. Maybe next time you pass by, you might see the ground fertilized with cow dung, then not only would you see it as messy, but also find that it is smelly. Or at another time you might see pruning or weeding moments, with everything in turmoil. But one day it will be beautiful and some flowers will be blooming and spreading their fragrance and others would follow, in an explosion of multicolored blossoms and shades of green with butterflies and birds waves, undulating and flitting the air in song and joy”.
I stopped as he was talking to me. He spoke with great enthusiasm as he gracefully gestured with his arms to underscore what he was saying, as if he was seeing the beauty already in front of his eyes. “Well - I said - wish you good luck, and hope that your expectations of the garden come to be true”, as I started to continue my walk. “No - he insisted - you do not understand, for if you did, you would see the process in its totality, like a seed and a blooming tree, it is all one self-contained cycle. Why do you insist on looking at it like a still photo when it is a motion picture? You are looking statically at a frame of the film and reacting to it as if it was the whole. But there is nothing in the universe that is not in constant motion and change, all is in a cycle, all. That is the design of all things”.
I stopped and turned around to look at him as he said the design of all things. I remembered that just before I turned the corner, that led me into these messy grounds, I had been reflecting on the sad state of the world, the resurgence of nationalism and bigotry and the tragedy of having leaders like Trump, Modi and Bolsonaro manipulating instinctual fears, negating through neo-isolationism, international collaboration possibilities to address common issues like climate change and pandemics, and fueling the persistence of greed and selfishness, expressed in a world of increasing inequality. And being confused that this was surging, just when it had seemed, that we had taken a great leap forward in understanding globality, the concept of one planet, of one life interconnected. But that instead here we were moving back to the “each one to his own” battle cry.
I remembered thinking with sadness how remote sounded the hopeful words of Desmond Tutu that “One day we will wake up and realize that we are all family”. Or how distant was the New Humanity foretold by Meher Baba “…the coming civilization… shall be ensouled not by dry intellectual doctrines, but by living spiritual experience.” And as my mind reviewed all these negatives, it ended doubting whether there was a grand design of existence.
So, now when this intense man, praised the beauty of barren stirred lands and called them a beautiful garden, and said that this is the design of all things, he captured my attention. As I stopped to look at him after he said this, looked at me deeply, with his big dark sparkling eyes and a contagious smile of uncontained joy in his face, while saying to me. “Look my dear friend, you will walk again through here you might have been distracted or forgotten about it, but you have walked by here many times before. At other times, what you might have seen was different, maybe green, landscaped, or maybe wild, pruned, tilled, renovated, torn. But never unkempt, no, never unkempt because this garden is always being taken care of. You are passing by, so your mind is fixated on how things look at the moment of your passing, but if you could just integrate all your prior and future walks, you would see a beautiful garden in different stages of growth and realization. You would see this place, like a resident gardener does, in all its moments of potential and actual beauty, because it is in the whole cycle that its immense beauty lies. Got it?”, he said as he winked an eye and started walking toward the raw grounds, whistling a morning song.
He waved at me and said: “See you next time, and try to remember, and don’t worry, it is all designed, and the gardener takes care of the garden, at all times”.
I walked on, somehow more lightly footed now, I looked at the earthen grounds and thought I saw blooms and perceived aromas of exotic flowers, in my imagination, and my angst was soothed. Then I remembered some words from Meher Baba, referring again to the New Humanity: “The real possibilities of a New Humanity are hidden to those who look only at the surface of the world-situation, but they exist and only need the spark of spiritual understanding, to come into full play and effect.”
I was so happy to have met the gardener.