My alarm clock went off in the early hours each morning. Though it was still dark and often cold, I knew that if I didn’t get up immediately, I’d be late. My small trailer had no electricity or running water; I’d light a kerosene lamp, wash up with water from a gallon jug I carried home each day, and then sit to meditate.

My meditation completed, after grabbing a quick breakfast I’d rush off to meet our head gardener, Haanel Cassidy, at 7:00 a.m. to catch a ride to start the workday on the farm. Haanel had had a lifetime of experience in organic gardening, with some seventy years to his credit, and had become a dear friend and mentor. He would always be there waiting in his green Toyota pickup truck, “Tigger.”

Devi during a seva day landscaping

“These remain among the greatest joys of my life.”

So began each day during my first years at Ananda Village. Working with people who were to become my lifelong friends, and learning gardening skills from Haanel—these remain among the greatest joys of my life.

We didn’t need to look far to see spiritual lessons in almost everything we learned about raising vegetables. The climate at Ananda village is one of extremes: it’s either constant rain or drought. Watering the cultivated acres during the long dry season was always a challenge. Here are some things I learned about life from watering our gardens.

Connect to a Source. All of our irrigation was done with gravity-fed water lines from reservoirs higher up than the gardens. Keeping the water system functioning and in good repair required our constant attention.

Lesson: If you want to grow spiritually, look for people of higher wisdom, keep a good inward connection with them, and have the humility to allow them constantly to water your consciousness.

Channel the water where you want it to go. The vegetable beds were set on a slight downward slope, so that gravity would draw the water from the top to the bottom. With our hoes, we’d dig one main trench across the top of the bed, and then smaller trenches feeding off of it leading to each row. Each day we’d open or close the smaller trenches to allow the water to flow where it was needed.

Lesson: Life is full of choices: Direct your energy to where you will spiritually benefit the most, and block off the other options.

Watch out for impediments to the flow. Sometimes if we were inattentive, we didn’t notice that a rock or lump of soil had fallen into a trench and was diverting the water. Later we’d come back to discover the vegetable rows were still dry, while the weeds around the garden were sitting in big, muddy pools.

Lesson: Always be on the watch for harmful attitudes or habits that are blocking the flow of your energy. That energy must go somewhere, and usually finds its way along the course of least resistance.

Be sure to water the whole garden. We had to pay close attention to ensure that every row was getting the moisture it needed, so that the entire garden could flourish. Gardens are most productive and happiest when every plant is getting what is required.

Lesson: Live a balanced life. Don’t neglect any area, but sure make that all aspects—body, mind, and soul—are getting the energy they need.

In these ways I learned that God can be found in watering gardens, for His presence is everywhere. As our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, wrote: “Like a silent, invisible river flowing beneath the desert, flows the vast dimensionless river of Spirit through the sands of time, through the sands of experience, and through the sands of all souls.”

May the flow of divine grace always water your soul.

Nayaswami Devi

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27 Comments

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  1. Thank you Deviji for the needed and constant reminder to “water my entire garden”, and always to share the joys of God and Guru’s and Gurubhai’s loving ‘work’, through me. And, to remember that IT is sacred and blessed. Namaste

  2. Dear Devi,
    I also am inspired by watering our garden in Hong Kong. Our water source is from a stream runs through the garden, with one long hose, but the flow is slow. It took a long time to water the whole area, and it needs patience and love the job, and accept it positively. By watering each of the different crop, I enjoy talking to them and appreciate them, and tuning in to what they need.
    Gardening and farming teach us so much spiritually.
    with love to all life,
    sianda

  3. Such a wonderful teaching through gardening, we should be in the vicinity of higher spiritual people, so that some sprinkle of spiritual water falls on us.
    Now, regarding watering garden, the sprinkler system is the best way, if you have no such system: keep an eye that whole garden gets its share of water.

  4. Om Guru! Beautifully explained. ” Watch out for impediments” is what I really need to work on. Thanks for the reminder. 🌹✨

  5. This is beautiful…thankyou. Nature is what connects me in so many many ways to the universal energy of God .

  6. Thank you Davi for starting out my day with this beautiful, important lesson. It reminded me of this:

    Once there was a student who asked his Guru; How can I become free of the world?”

    And he answered; “Love the world and everything in it.”

    Love the soil, water, live giving plants, the sun, and yes, even the rocks that appear to block the flow. They are all here to teach us the lesson that all comes from the creative hand, shaped by the ever present power behind it in everything seen and unseen. The God flesh invoking thrill is FEELING that presence filling our garden with bliss.

    May bliss be who we are, nurturing us like water, nurtures OUR garden, brought up through the roots, spreading throughout our form as we reach up our arms and feel the sun’s light.

    Blessings Davi, you are the Light.

    Jay

  7. Thanks Jyotish and Devi

    I could never imagine that watering the garden could teach some many interesting things about life. Great article. I have noted down some nicely worded statements to read again and again and hope I make full use of these
    God bless

  8. Thank you, Deviji! There’s something so special about watching a beautiful garden grow, in the world, and in our hearts. Reading this has helped me feel that silent river of God’s presence flowing through my heart. Thank you!

  9. Thank you, Devi. Just what I needed. But speaking of water, we’ve found a way to get water to the top of the hill. Now we have to do what you did. Learn how to use it wisely. Many blessings, janakidevi

  10. I love this analogy, I have the picture of the garden in mind, and understand it immediately. thank you for the visual understanding of paying attention to the whole garden. blessings…

  11. This is an excellent and very “useful” teaching! I wonder if we all could see such a ‘story’ , a method of practical application, in whatever place and circumstance we find ourselves in.

    Many blessings and thanks for sharing this .

    Cindy Scott

  12. Thank you Nayaswami Deviji,

    This is a very nice way to say so long to my fifties and hello to my sixties (tomorrow). What you’ve said is so true. I’ll keep it dear to my heart.

    Gratitude,
    Amala

  13. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this beautiful blog 🙂 Much needed messages and reminders.
    You had put it in a very simple manner for us to gather it.
    Also, it was very glad to read about Organic gardening and about Haanel Cassidy.

    Jai Guru

  14. Thank you Devi. What beautiful metaphors; and I always enjoy references to the “early days”.

  15. Thank you Deviji,

    These wonderful lessons, deeply meaningful to our spiritual life, deeper attunement and devotion to our Guru and Swamiji, and constant service to be channels for them.
    Thank you very much to you and Jyotishji for constantly re-inspiring us all the time. Jai Guru.

    1. Thank you, Deviji! There is something so special about watching a beautiful garden grow, inside and out. Reading this has helped me to feel that silent current of God’s presence flowing through my heart – thank you so much!

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