The term “watering seeds” is a metaphor used to describe those things in our lives that we put energy into, that cause them to become strong in our thoughts, actions or words. They take root and become a part of us, and as we water them (put more attention and energy into them), they grow and manifest themselves in us.
When I first heard this metaphor I did not like it, because to me it meant causing something to grow, and I felt guilty that all I had ever caused to grow in my life were negative things, bad thoughts and actions.
I was seven years old when I first stole from someone. It was a type of crystallized rock that sat on my first grade teacher’s desk. I took that rock out to the playground and broke it in half. My thought was that if I changed its shape, it would not be recognized as the rock on my teacher’s desk.
As I look back on it now, I see how I planted a seed of stealing and then watered it with several other thoughts until it took root and the stealing seed grew. Some lies and pretty soon I had a garden full of wicked weeds that grew for years and years and strangled anything positive that might have grown there.
I also have come to know that we can allow others to plant seeds in our garden and then we can water them all our lives and not really realize it until there is something new that comes forth in our lives. My stepfather raised me from the time I was six months old until I was 13. This was a man that I really looked up to and who I listened to very closely. He never treated me badly except that he would call me stupid or say, “You don’t have enough sense to pound sand down a rat hole!” As the years went by and I went to school, I believed that I really was stupid, and thus I never really tried to learn. This only reinforced those negative seeds and watered my belief that I couldn’t learn. It has taken me years to pull all the “stupid” plants from my garden, but today they no longer exist and I enjoy the process of learning and growing smarter.
Once we allow negative seeds to be watered and to grow in our life, they keep positive seeds of faith, hope and love from taking root.
By the time I was 17 I had become a selfish, mean, ignorant, stupid, and conceited individual. I would beat people up, steal their property, and laugh in their face as they lay suffering. When my mother or grandmother would try to reach out to me, I would smile at them letting them think they had gotten through to me, but in my mind I had already dismissed them. There was not any room in my life for love or understanding.
As the seeds turned to weeds and the garden became ugly, I found that I was not living at all. I was only feeding a growing jungle of creepy vines and foul-smelling weeds. Worst of all, I realized this was happening, but felt that I had little control over what was growing in that jungle. When we spend years watering seeds of anger and greed and ignorance, that’s what we become. That’s what I became. Knowing this and realizing all the pain and injury caused because of it has been devastating. I continue to feel the pain of those who I hurt each day when I catch myself sneaking a little water onto those seeds that are so negative and old in my garden. I can’t help but feel shame, and old beliefs start to come forward and try to take root again. However, I stop when I realize what I am doing and try to pull those weeds and plant new seeds that bring forth hope, compassion, and love. I try to reach out to others that are caught up in their vines and weeds and give them encouragement to pull some weeds and plant new seed.
I’m learning that like a real garden, where we have to nourish the soil at times and pull little weeds when they come up, so must we reach into ourselves and examine our soil, see where we need to nourish ourselves and where we need to pull weeds. If we manage to overcome some of the negative, we can recognize when we’re pouring water on positive seeds and that brings a smile to our face and warmth in our heart quicker than anything else. There is a certain satisfaction in watching ourselves heal, grow, and become a more compassionate person. It gives us hope, and with hope anything is possible.
These days I am learning to see that all people suffer and to put myself in their place and feel their pain. This is hard. It is as hard as self-examination and can paralyze us if we let it. But keep in mind that it is also purifying. Once we connect with someone else’s pain and really feel it we will no longer wish to be the causes of their pain. Then we can go to work on becoming a cause of their happiness, even if that means we never treat another person like we did before. This is learning to plant and water seeds of empathy and compassion in ourselves.
I’m also learning that it takes time and patience to weed out that jungle and turn it back into a lovely garden that produces lovely fragrances and good-tasting fruit. It may take one lifetime or several, but the reward is astounding and the love and peace that it produces is immeasurable. Just as we become the product of the negative seeds we plant and water, so too do we become like beautiful flowers when we plant positive seeds and then water them with love, compassion, empathy and joy. I find that once I experience the fruits of positive seeds, it becomes easier to maintain a healthy garden (i.e. a healthier mindset and outlook.) However, if we do not continue to reinforce these positive seeds in our lives, they can wither, fade away, and steal our joy.
Having people in our lives with whom we can share our journey and who show us the blind spots in our outlook that keep us from growing can also be a great source of water for those positive plants that grow in us. This person can be a friend, teacher, mentor, husband, or wife; it doesn’t matter as long as their water helps us grow. Eventually we will find ourselves pouring water on seeds we have helped plant in others, helping them grow and become positive seed planters themselves. Love, compassion, and joy is a beautiful garden to look at as we travel through life.