The Sacred Garden
There was once a curious, playful tribe that lived in a sacred garden at the top of a spectacular planet. The lush grounds provided everything the people needed. Without worries, they spent their days creating and dreaming. Life was easy and joyful.
One day the desire to explore and grow led one of the inhabitants to wonder what lay beyond the known edges of their blissful home. When he shared this thought with the others it quickly progressed from a spark of an idea, to a burning group desire. The people began to fantasize about all the wonders they might discover in the wider world.
Eventually the allure of the mysterious unknown overcame their reservations and the collective decided to embark on a thrilling escapade. The plan was to split the tribe in two, with one faction heading west, and the other east. When they’d all had their fill of exploration, they would return to their home and share the fruits of their adventures with the others.
After an elated, but tearful farewell, each group headed out in their respective directions into the unknown. In their hearts they could feel their sacred home and the other half of their clan, and they relished the knowledge that one day they would be reunited.
The further they got from the familiarity of their garden the more foreign and strange everything became. The new and extraordinary environment tantalized and fascinated the two groups as they skipped along with joy-filled hearts.
Eventually they became so entranced by their new surroundings that they rarely thought about their home, and in due course, other than an occasional glimpse at the edge of sleep, they forgot about it.
One evening as the East group sat around a small fire under the expansive starry sky, they heard a chilling howl. The strange haunting sound prompted a previously unknown feeling to well up from deep within. This feeling quickly grew gnarly, tangled roots that reached right to the very core of each being. For the first time it occurred to them that they might not be in harmony with all. Without the loving, unified foundation that their home provided, they were now faced with insecurity. Instead of feeling that they were intimately connected to their world, they felt as though they were forsaken in a harsh land. This new awareness caused them to feel an urgent need to protect themselves. They began to carry rocks in order to defend themselves.
As they continued on their journey they found that the weight of the rocks made their progression much more difficult. Because of the burden of the stones they carried for protection, they found that they could no longer run and skip. With every step they began to increasingly feel more wary and weary. The more stressed and tired they became, the less they were able to connect with the loving feeling of their hearts. And the less they were able to connect, the more room there was for the dreaded new feeling ‘fear’ to fill the space that had once overflowed with wholeness and peace.
Before long the group became obsessed with defending themselves. They created elaborate armor that would not only protect their bodies, but frighten any opponents as well, and they marched forward in military style. Their free time was spent planning defensive strategies, or devising more complex weapons. Eventually a hierarchy emerged as those who were the strongest and most conniving claimed leadership positions, and began to use their power to control the others beneath them. One man, the most cunning, violent, scheming, and devious of them all eventually declared himself emperor and presided over the entire group.
Meanwhile the west group progressed in a slightly different fashion. At first they, like their brothers and sisters, had skipped along with light hearts. But, as they journeyed, they began to notice that while there were some parts along their path that were rich with pleasures-- delectable fruits, grains, and stones of rare beauty, there were other areas that were desolate and challenging. When they got to lush areas, they began to collect the objects that gave them pleasure so that they could enjoy the riches, even in the harsher periods. They also began to adorn their bodies with the treasures they found, and soon came to believe that their treasures reflected their personal worth. They became obsessed with gathering and hoarding as much as they could.
Those that found the most began to focus on protecting what they had, and some started to use a percentage of their reserve to get others to do their bidding.
Before long the group, who had left the sacred garden as brothers and sisters, became hostile and mistrusting towards each other. People were either covered with so many adornments, or lugging so many objects, that every step became a challenge.
Eventually, no longer focused on their original mission, they stopped journeying and began to construct places where they could accumulate their riches. Fortresses were built, and armies established to protect them. Their dreams became filled with visions of dread and suspicion, and days were spent trying to manipulate situations to maintain their individual prosperity. The man who had accumulated the most declared himself King and ruled the others with a fist led by greed and pride.
So immersed in their own challenges, each group had long forgotten their promise to re-unite with the other half of their tribe. Unable to connect to their hearts, their very existence became a tremendous struggle. As they trudged through their lives they cursed the mysterious universe that seemed bent on making their lives miserable.
One day as the group that had headed east continued their forward march, they saw in the distance an incredible sight. Ahead of them lay a staggering, complex arrangement of fortresses that were adorned with so many precious jewels that they sparkled like ominous beacons in the morning sun.
“This is it!” the Emperor called out. “Prepare for battle!”
A haunting screech, that expressed both their exhilaration of at last finding their enemy, and their readiness to throw themselves into the attack, exploded from the company.
When the people within the fortresses heard the cry they scrambled to the top of their buildings and looked out upon a dreadful site. A ferocious, demonic looking army marched like a machine toward the kingdom.
The zone exploded into a war that saw too much horror on both sides. With every act of terror perpetrated by one group, the other group felt more righteous, and retaliated with an even more violent assault.
For eons the two groups battled. Fear and incredible suffering became the rule for nearly all, except for the King and the Emperor, and their immediate circles. While their armies fought, these men enjoyed all the pleasures they could envisage.
One day, after much deliberation, a meeting between the Emperor and the King was declared. However, because the hate for the others was so deeply ingrained in each person, no one expected, or even wanted, anything significant to come from this historic event.
On the day of the meeting, after the heavy doors were closed by their respective guards, the two men walked towards one other. They both smiled, and sat down to enjoy the lavish flowing furnishings and delicacies that had been provided by their underlings.
"Well," said the Emperor, immediately feeling comfortable, “at long last we meet.”
“Yes,” said the king with a sly smile, “I have been admiring your approach and strategies, from my tower, and I must say I am impressed. I have a high regard for a good opponent.”
“Yes, I sensed that we would likely understand each other quite well. Which is why I think you will appreciate what I have to say,” the Emperor said, leaning in towards the King. “We have both benefited from this war in immeasurable ways,” he said quietly, “but these positions we hold, and the benefits we acquire from them, are very tenuous. Both of us could easily be overthrown by a strong healthy people who felt they no longer needed us. Right now the people are so fearful that they are desperate to be led. I suggest that we secretly work together to keep the people in fear and hardship so that they continue to be easy to control, ensuring that we are be able to maintain our positions of privilege.”
“Indeed, I like very much the way you think. I too have come to similar conclusions,” said the King, settling in to begin working out the details.
When both men emerged from the building, each threw up their hands and declared that peace could not be established with their depraved opponent. And so began a conspiracy that saw war and suffering continue uninterrupted.
Over time, beneath the shadow of eternal war, culture continued to develop. The ruling men used their power and wealth to carefully feed and nurture networks, structures and values that promoted fear and division. The people came to believe that struggle and hardship were a natural state of being.
However, as dark and heavy as life had become, there was always a small spark of hope, truth and beauty that could not be extinguished. This spark flashed furtively in the eyes of the people in the brief moments when they were able to experience happiness, and stirred a distant yearning for something long forgotten.
While most tried unsuccessfully to chase this delectable feeling using the means they had been taught: acquiring more material goods, consuming food that pleased their mouths but hurt their bodies, and copulating without true connection; there were others who searched for something deeper and more meaningful. These people allowed this elusive spark to guide them beneath the surface, where they discovered a more profound reality.
Because they did not follow convention these people were viewed as outcasts and often ridiculed by the rest of their group. But the more they allowed themselves to be guided by this spark, the less they cared, as they sensed a truth that surpassed anything their societies had to offer.
They began to recognize the lies and distortion that were fed to them through the channels of power.
Some became enraged when they woke up to the ways they were being manipulated. They tried to expose and attack the power structures. Many of these people became so focused on their battles with their controllers that they were distracted and lost sight of the spark. Their attempts to damage their controllers were unsuccessful because their rulers were prepared for this type of action, and actually covertly encouraged it, as it continued promote the ‘us and them’ mentality that was the foundation of their power.
Those, however, who allowed the spark to guide them deep within, discovered a magical space that emitted a frequency of love and unity. The more they learned to connect with this new-found frequency the more love spread through their personal worlds.
At first it occurred in tiny pockets, and was largely invisible in the larger society. But slowly but surely it began to grow.
When the rulers became aware of this small fire that was beginning to spread among the people, they began to apply more pressure. They colluded to stage dramatic events engineered to increase the levels of fear in the populations. These events acted to justify an increase in control and power all in the name of safety.
However, those who had connected with the frequency of love could not be swayed by their trickery. As the frequency of love increased, the tactics that had duped the people for so long became increasingly apparent.
All those now, who were touched by the spreading love, found paths that had been carved by the pioneers who had gone before them, until, the path that had once been only a faint suggestion, became a flowing thoroughfare heading straight to alignment with love.
Eventually the flow of love became so powerful that no one could resist it; except sadly, the king and the emperor, who had so finely honed their skills of cold detachment that they had become untouchable.
Knowing that this new awareness and unity would undoubtedly see the people seek to punish their oppressors for all the suffering they had created, the two men ran away and hid together in a cold dark cave, hoping to avoid the inevitable.
For many years they existed in the darkness, surviving on trickles of condensation, moss and slimy insects. They knew it was only a matter of time before they were discovered. Every snapping twig or tumbling pebble made them freeze in terror. Eventually their existence became so unbearable that they decided to venture out of their hiding and face whatever punishment the people deemed appropriate.
When they approached the old compounds, they surveyed the incredible changes that had been made. The two zones that had been dirty and neglected due to continuous wars, were now joined together to form one stunning community. There were abundant fruits, herbs and flowers growing in every nook and cranny between the fascinating creative dwellings that were speckled around in flowing organic formations.
The men heard some exquisite music drifting towards them. They followed the hauntingly beautiful sounds, along the winding paths, to the heart of the settlement. There in the centre of the community they saw the people they had once ruled. Everyone was making music and dancing completely unselfconsciously. There was a wildness, and a freedom about them that scared the men. For a moment they considered returning to the cave.
Just then a small child noticed the men and called out to the others. As everyone began to realize that the Emperor and the King had finally returned they formed into a throng and ran towards their old oppressors. The two men, stunned by the way this group could move together as one, were too weak to try and run.
When the throng reached the men, they swept them up and cheeringly brought them to a large building nearby. Inside they were gently put down into tubs of warm, sweet smelling water. Some people from the group began to lovingly wash their tired bodies and clean their many sores. Many cried as they saw their wounds and felt the palpable sadness of their hearts.
Finally the emperor collected his senses enough to talk. “What will you do with us?” he asked.
“Well,” said one of the people, “we have been hoping that you would choose to return. And now that you are home we will bathe you and nurture you back to health, so that we may all celebrate our reunion.”
“You know who we are and what we have done?” he asked confused.
Everyone laughed, “Of course we do, you are one of us. Welcome back to the sacred garden brothers.”
The mention of the sacred garden, and all the gentle love and touch, caused something to happen deep within the heats of each of the two men. At first they fought it, but they soon realized there was nothing they could do but surrender to the process. The cold hard shell around their hearts, that had allowed them to perpetrate horrific deeds without batting an eye, began to melt. Memories began to flood back. As they remembered the sacred garden and the joyful plans of the group, tears built up in their eyes, until both men began to sob uncontrollably.
While they cried the people held them and touched them delicately, gently soothing the pain that exploded from the deep vaults of their hearts.
Finally the king whispered, “I am so sorry.”
Someone in the grouped laughed warmly. “When we started on our adventure we thought we were leaving our sacred garden, but we never really left, we can’t, for we are it and it is us. We only expanded our horizons, and in order to do so we needed to confront the unknown. We needed to believe in separation in order to understand it. Now, having fully experienced what it feels like to be unequal, to hate and suffer, we are wiser and stronger. We have grown collectively in profound ways. Together we have conquered fear and now our sacred garden covers the entire planet.”
“We thank you brothers for playing the roles that you did,” said another voice. “We have mourned your loss every day since you disappeared. Without you we were not complete. Now that you have returned, we have finally all remembered, and now we can celebrate our unity and prepare for the next level of our incredible journey.”
© 2011 Christina Lavers
Images: © Evelyne Toussaint