As any true gardener knows, a lot of work goes totally unnoticed. To eradicate weeds, they need to be uprooted. To grow strong plants, a reliable base is required. This is heavy work. You show up every day. You get your hands dirty. You don’t stop because it’s hard, or because there’s nothing to show for it on the surface. Rather, you persist; you strip back to the bare soil. Then you feed and nourish this base until it’s ready to host a garden. The work is not glamorous.
The exploration of nonduality is like this. Uprooting the weeds of belief isn’t the easy route to take, though there is a certain flow to the effort, something that holds you to it. Even when it looks impossible, and you wonder whether just mowing over the whole lot might be easier.
On the surface, it would indeed be easier. Like the jobbing gardener, you mow the lawn, you tidy the weeds. It’s quick. It all looks lovely. It’s satisfying. Everyone can see what you’ve done and ask you to do the same for them.
So why even bother? Why not opt for the easy route? It gets fast visible results, and that is what the personal-development world thrives upon.
In other words, why even suggest a spiritual teaching? Would we not be better off simply helping people feel better?
Here’s a more obvious comparison: We wouldn’t keep a child in nappies and a pushchair (stroller for my US friends) past the age that this was required. In fact, beyond a certain point, it would be considered abuse to do so.
In the same way, it’s a natural part of growing up to come to a knowing of ourself as Aware Presence (which is all spirituality actually is). And, knowing ourself, it is a disrespect to not fully offer that. Because all ignorance is shared.
Feeling better, especially in extreme circumstances, might be a precursor to (but not a prerequisite for) self-exploration. But if we leave a client, student or friend believing that they are ‘a person who feels better’, that better feeling is bound to fade over time, or disappear in a crisis. Because the belief in the person will inevitably pull them back to needing to protect or promote the person. To encourage such belief might be a great business model, like that of the jobbing gardener, but it’s not true service.
So long as you keep mowing the lawn and trimming the weeds, it’ll stay pretty. But hit a bad spell, turn your back for a few weeks, neglect your practices or routines . . . and the weeds run rampant.
If you are committed to uprooting beliefs, rather than keeping them tidy and presentable, there’s only one path. That of the true gardener.