Tending to the Gardens of Mind

Do we need an “evil” figure in our lives in order to recognize the good?

Do we need to unite against an “enemy” in order to rally to peace?

I’m feeling these questions acutely right now, especially given current events in the ongoing election. What is happening to us?

Is this some sick social experiment that is testing our collective consciousness? Poking and prodding our conceptual knowledge of what is good, moral, and right while trouncing it with maggot-ridden bait?

((Apologies for the melodramatic statements.))

In time after time, we are taught – and drilled – to know evil exists on the other side of goodness and purity. But to draw lines in the sand is to make them manifest in the first place. To create ‘Us vs. Them’ is to say “Us vs. Them” in the first place. It really takes no other act. Just a simple statement of this duality plants the seed in the minds of those who hear it. But where this seed grows and gains traction is up to the individual.

Are you tending to your thought garden thusly? Maintaining and nurturing and giving it life? Or are you letting it run wild – untamed, overgrown, dying in parts, but robust in others? Flowers choked out by the weeds?

The seed is itself harmless. But what it becomes in us is what really matters, for we are the soil from which the world springs forth.

If you grow and nurture the seeds of division – or ignore them – they will be what you sow in the end. If we need some kind of perceived evil in order to see good – if we need the weeds in order to appreciate the flowers – then perhaps a perspective tilt is in order.

Maybe we need to draw less lines and more circles…


I pray and wish for a day when we recognize that darkness is but the shadow of the light – nothing more, nothing less. We need to stop giving it the power it does not deserve. In the reality of the heart, it is ephemeral, changing, and it exists where we let it. This “evil” – this “enemy” we are constantly working to identify – exists only as a part of the whole, and does not define us. It is just a mere seed that moves through us and onto the field beyond.

We are the ones who invite these seeds to stay. We are the ones who plant them.

These seeds have always existed, and always will. What will we do with them? Plant them and watch them grow and take root? Or watch them float by, adrift on the wind?

15 thoughts on “Tending to the Gardens of Mind

  1. I’ve been thinking lately that I want to write an article or a blog titled “I don’t hate Donald Trump.” It’s not that I think he would make a good President. Not at all. I will not vote for him, and I will work for his Democratic opponent.

    But I am growing very weary of all the Trump-hating and fear-mongering that I see in my Facebook feed every day, the apocalyptic language, the threats to move to Canada, the comparisons to Nazi Germany, the over-the-top claims of how very, very bad it all is, so much worse than ever before, and the people who are so very, very AFRAID and TERRIFIED. That’s the bait that, at least now, I think we need to resist taking.

    Yes, we have to take Trump seriously, but after all that he is still just a man, a clown, a buffoon, an entertainer. I think he will probably get the Republican nomination, but I don’t think he will ultimately prevail in the general election. Maybe some good can be brought out of his shaking up the status quo, if good people don’t give into fear and hate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have picked out my exact frustration! Totally agree. All of the hype is reaching fever pitch – and while I do not hate Trump, I will also not vote for him.
      He – and many other politicians – plant these seeds of division and plays them to all the rest of us – whether knowingly or not. Being mindful of the tactics at play – the tactics to “choose sides” or “choose good or evil” – is key here.
      Here we are moving more and more apart on issues – which is only going to hold us back.

      Cheers to being mindful of these hype-fueled emotional plays that we are being subjected to! I definitely think you should write a post on this; would love to hear your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did write a post on Facebook about this, and I got some expected pushback–people posting about how Trump really is bad, especially for non-whites. And how “being nice about it” or “ignoring him” is going to get him elected.

        It’s hard to thread that needle between being against the hatred, hysteria, and hyperbole and being perceived as being an out-of-touch privileged white person who just doesn’t get it (at least if you’re me, since I am an upper-middle-class white person).

        However, I still think it’s worth trying. The two things I wrote on Facebook that seemed to be less open to misinterpretation were the following:

        “One thing that distresses me about all the Trump-hating is the implication that he, the man, is the main problem. And if we could just use our hate-laser to cut out the Trump tumor and throw it away, everything would be ok again. I don’t think that’s true. Hate isn’t a laser. It damages everything it touches, the haters even more than the hated.”


        “And even if Trump had a heart attack tomorrow, we’d still have virtually all the same hard work to do to repair our democracy.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh those are great! So true… even if you think Trump is the problem in the first place, and you succeed to cut him out as the troublesome “tumor,” it doesn’t solve what caused it in the first place. It’s bound to come back…The seeds that sowed his presidential campaign are many.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, the fault is in ourselves. I don’t hate Trump or fear him, but we Americans did create him, and I do fear that the Trump phenomenon could lead the U.S. into an ugly period. We’d recover, but it would be ugly. The problem is we can’t tell in real time whether this is a flirt with a buffoon or a slide into an awful era of U.S. history. In either case, we can’t blame Trump for the karma that turned him into a success at the polls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, I think it’s 50/50 whether or not his presidency is bona fide, or some kind of joke or performance art.

      The post you shared on FB regarding identity as opinion in the general election and American life really rings true. I half expect Trump to call us out on it if he were to win or something…. ((one can hope…))

      Liked by 2 people

    2. “Lead the US into an ugly period?” Aren’t we already in an ugly period? We’ve had the Sandy Hook tragedy, Trayvon Martin’s murder, the Charleston massacre, Eric Garner’s death, and the Iraq war (just to name random ugliness off the top of my head). We have the acceleration of global climate change. And we have chuckleheads in Congress who think they have nothing better to do than vote to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the ACA. And that’s just in the last decade. As a pro-choice feminist, I’ve been afraid of U.S. Republicans since at least 1991 (the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings). We had Newt Gingrich, and we had Rush Limbaugh–another buffoon entertainer–with unprecedented access to Congress.

      I don’t love the Democrats; they have their share of dysfunction, but I can’t even remember a time in which I had a real choice at the voting booth. I’ve had to hold my nose and pull the D lever for my entire political life. (I would have liked or been okay with Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and possibly Ford, but after that, once I was old enough to vote, there’s nobody).

      Anyway, what I’m hoping for, and what I think could be the best possible outcome, is that there’s a re-alignment, that the Republican party rebuilds and remakes itself. The Democrats have had some success doing that: they have gone from a segregationist party where racists felt at home to the party of the first African-American President. The reasonable Republicans, if there are any left, have to kick the racists (and sexists and xenophobes and homophobes) out. It sucks if it takes Trump’s shakeup to do that–but nothing else has managed to do it in the last 50 years.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I guess you’re right, Karen. We’re ugly enough already. We don’t need a mangled face job to make us uglier. I might put other things on my list of reasons why, but you do have a point. My prime example would be the totally useless war in Iraq and the failure of a president who knew it was useless to really get us out of it. I also agree that the best outcome would be a political realignment. My realignment would involve parties that actually stand for principles. But maybe I’m a dreamer.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah, mine was a somewhat random list, but I did include the Iraq war. On further reflection, I would also include economic inequality. I agree with Sanders about that.

        But I’m also proud of Obama and what he’s been able to get accomplished in the face of Congress’ obstructionism. In a way, I think the local congressional elections are more important that the Presidential one. The President doesn’t have as much power as we think. If we want a revolution, we need to elect revolutionary people to Congress.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I agree that presidents have little real power, but they can have great influence if they know how to use PR to go directly to the public, as FDR did so often. That’s where I find Obama lacking. He did so well as a candidate in using PR tactics but seemed to have no interest in or no understanding of how to do the same over issues while he was in office.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting question. In Buddhism, that question gets to the heart of what the Buddha meant by the words he used, and how his teachings have been interpreted. I don’t think I could answer that for myself yet. Is there any personal responsibility at all?

        Liked by 1 person

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