sacred ground

connection between the earth & the divine

swami radhananda

I have a little apricot tree in my yard that blossomed this past summer and gave fruit for the first time. At first the tree blossomed, then tiny green balls developed and started to grow. I waited and waited for the apricots to ripen, and it took a very long time because the tree grows the kernel inside first, which is the hard part. Slowly the green balls started to flesh out and turn shades of orange. At last they offered the sweetest fruit. I thought this was a really good way to think of our own development: You have to put a lot of effort to strengthen your kernel, your centre, so you can plump out in the Light and be able to offer something back.

We create our world through the choices we make, and we can determine what kind of person we develop into. As we live through the events of our lives, we come to understand that we have the intelligence to make sense of where we are and how we want to live our life. Earth teaches us about time and patience. Seeds take time to germinate and grow, and even the most difficult soil has a life force. As we grow, our self-inquiry and life experiences allow us to develop the ethical and moral ground on which we stand.

At the start of this growth, often there is fear rooted in the need to survive or to hold onto the security of the familiar. What is needed is discipline and commitment, as well as a release of rigidity and routines. Real growth demands that we go beyond the comfortable, as familiar patterns block the way for new perceptions. Expectations and reality, setbacks and victories are all part of growth. Each seed sets itself where it lands and goes through the process of growing and resting as it matures.

When we begin to study the ground we live on, our own Earth, it’s amazing to see how creative it is. Take the amazing array of life forms that grow here – everything is so astonishingly beautiful and complex. Earth is also part of the symbolism of the first cakra in the Kundalini Yoga system; it is the creative element and our foundation. The cakra holds the essence, the tiny seed of Light inherent in our human birth. This cosmic energy is what enables us to live, grow, think and transform.

In spiritual life, we make a connection between the Earth and the Divine – the two work together. I once dreamt that my guru came to me and said, “If you want to kiss my cheek, you have to have your feet on the ground.” The message I took from the dream was that if I wanted to come close to the Divine, I had to be grounded and practical. This meant studying, reflecting and practising so I could be rooted in the teachings and grow from that place. We often imagine or hope for a spiritual life or personal development, but how do we really live it? How do we create sacred ground?

The Earth creates and supports life because it has all the elements that we need to survive – oxygen, water, light. Living on sacred ground would mean that we have all the elements to support our spiritual life, an inner life where we can build the foundation of character, courage and awareness. If you are not grounded, you may create obstacles for yourself by being controlling, arrogant, defensive, worried, ambitious, selfish and afraid. When you are not secure in yourself, you may not feel that you have enough or that you have all the answers. But if you have the courage to stand your own ground, you can respond lightheartedly and spontaneously because you understand the process of maturing step by step. The key is building awareness and the ability to receive and to give selflessly. It allows the doors of the heart to open and overflow with Light. Everyone has the ability to recognize the Light within, regardless of the circumstances of your birth. Identify the inner and outer places that will nourish you. Recognize what you have gained in your life and its value, and have a clear intention to cut away old concepts that could interfere with your spiritual growth.

The kernel of learning – which remains consistent and accessible to everyone on Earth – is an ability to go beyond ourselves and be of benefit to others. Accept your kernel and let it grow. The Earth absorbs the heat and warms in the sunshine. Absorb the Light; let it fill your being. You develop sacred space within yourself when you care for your kernel of Light, just as the ground you live on becomes sacred when you honour it.

practice: creating sacred ground

How do I create sacred ground? What seeds nourish and support my spiritual growth? Take some time and space to do a Hatha Yoga practice. Do some warm-ups and bring in the Divine Light, completely filling yourself and feeling the warmth of the Light.

1. Do the Plough pose, Halasana, as a spiritual practice. The Plough pose is a tool that helps you prepare the ground for seeding something new.

2. While doing the Plough, think: Plowing the ground of my mind to make it open and receptive. Ask: What seeds do I want to plant in this ground?

3. Allow the insights, memories and creative ideas to emerge. Recognize what you have gained in your life. What treasures have you uncovered?

Write your reflections.

Swami Radhananda is president and spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada.

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