-along a wilderness trail-
It is the high point of the hot summer season here in the desert and so our local Farmer's Market is closed for a few months, but that hasn't stopped us. Once a week my wife and I drive almost an hour to go to the only Farmer's Market that continues to remain open in the summertime here in our desert community. We do this because the produce sold at the "Certified Organic Farmer's Market" is so much better than what you can buy in a supermarket - it makes it worth the trip.
I never thought there would be much of a difference between organically grown food and the kind of mass produced stuff in the produce section of a store, but I have discovered an incredible difference between the two. Tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus or eggplant grown "organically" have a remarkably better and richer flavor texture and fragrance from the mass-produced produce treated with pesticides, chemical fertilizers and artificial coloring to make them more marketable.
The thing about an "organic garden" is that the farmer just plants the seed, does a little watering and some weeding from time to time and then "Mother Nature" does the rest- and nature does a really great job.
I think there is a lesson to be found here that might be applied to the spiritual life - maybe richer sweeter and more fragrant fruit would spring up in our lives if we were a little more "organic" when it comes to walking a spiritual pathway.
As I see it, many people get very "serious" when it comes to their spirituality - perhaps too serious. Spiritual disciplines of any sort often take on a very formulaic quality. If you say the appointed prayers, go to a church or a temple or mosque and engage in the assigned ritual, you have all the ingredients for making "God" happen, and you are on the way to creating a more meaningful life for yourself.
I was rather entertained by an online conversation I observed yesterday between two very committed Buddhists who were having a rather heated argument about the "right" way to do a proper meditation. They both came from different schools of thought and had different ideas about the correct breathing techniques, use of mantras, sitting positions, and a bunch of other stuff that I just didn't understand- they were using all sorts of technical phrases, quoting various Buddhist scriptures and teachers to support their arguments.
As I listened to that conversation progress yesterday, it stuck me that these very "serious" Buddhist practitioners weren't all that much different from Christian or Jewish or Muslim practitioners of religion, who commit themselves to a "discipline" of following a rather precise and often rigid formulae as a way into transcendence.
It seems to me as if all those formulae for prayers, ritual, observances, correct meditation are like a farmer who adds carefully contrived "man-made" chemicals and artificial colorings when growing fruit or vegetables. Farmers who do that may be led to the conclusion that they are the ones who are actually making the fruit grow - fruit that is often so tainted with human intervention that it tastes bitter and can even be poisonous….that's why I think the spiritual journey should be more "organic."
Saying prayers, going to church, quietly meditating (regardless of whatever technique one chooses) -these are just "seed-sowing" opportunities. We sow the seed, do some weeding and watering and then we open our hearts to "God," and wait. We make ourselves available to transcendence, available to the Universal energy of Love that fills our emptiness with Presence, and we watch expectantly for what springs up- the rich sweet fruit of compassion, kindness, love, peace and joy.