Lessons from the Garden

Compassion is not always affordable

To make life manageable, we humans live by a certain code. A code born from our beliefs and values. The fact is, many of these beliefs are not our own but those given to us by our elders, teachers, priests, and society in general, which we unquestioningly adopt. Often this code conflicts with what we experience in real life.

Compassion is one such trait we are told to practice. Compassion and tolerance is a great quality but it cannot be practiced, for practice means to do with training and conscious effort. Compassion is what remains when all negativity is removed from our mind and spirit. That's why it seems, only super-humans can be consistently and genuinely compassionate.

In the past year I have become an ardent gardner. I have a garden on both of my small terraces. Gardening requires a bit of effort, gives reasonable exercise to the body and plenty of time and ambience for the mind to contemplate. The human solitude and the joy of seeing life evolving every day within a garden is an inexplicable gift.

Being the amateur gardner that I was, it is exciting to relish the new blossoms, fruits, vegetables, shoots and the visit of various birds, butterflies, etc. I naively thought that, all it took to be a decent gardner was to just carry out a few basic tasks like, water the plants, remove weeds, rotate plants for appropriate sunshine etc.

Where there is life, death is inevitable. Death may be caused by abuse, age, disease, parasites, pests, weeds, and plain old negligence and incompetence. I like to believe that I am a loving person. However love no matter how well true or intentioned, is no substitute for competence and disciplined effort.

I also believe that, I 'practice' compassion, and therefore considered that, every creature has a right to live. As a global citizen I refrain from using chemicals and drugs to manage our environment. So when I saw white gooey deposits on many of my plants, and little white fuzzy looking bugs, I did nothing, because I was arrogantly adamant to follow my code of 'Ahimsa' (non violence).

Then I noticed that a large quantity of leaves began to decay, flowers and vegetables were drying up and falling off. It then dawned upon me that, something was terribly wrong. I turned for help to my greatest teacher and guide, the global community on Google.

Mealybug.JPG

I received a rude introduction to the world of pests. The small little fuzzy creatures are called Mealybugs. Each female lays 200 to 600 eggs in those little gooey globs. These bugs emerge and sap the juice out of the leaves and the flowers until they wilt and fall off.

The moral dilemma I faced was, do I eradicate the mealybugs or let the bugs kill the garden? I reasoned that the population of bugs that had been protected and passively nurtured by me was reaching the critical limit of my garden's capacity to survive.

Now the war has begun to save the garden not only from mealybug infestation but also from several other pests such as Aphids and Whiteflies that I simply had not noticed earlier or had been indulgently and arrogantly been tolerant about.

Sunbird.JPG

Focus and sincere effort are paying dividends. My garden is becoming healthy, and beautiful once agin. Attracting even more butterflies, and birds.

I learnt several lessons from this experience, one of them being that,

While its great and noble to be tolerant and compassionate, its inexcusable, stupid and suicidal to be so, when survival is at stake.

Gurvinder Singh

March 2018

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Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh is an engineer by education, Industrialist by professional experience. I have travelled and  conducted business both India and abroad (34 countries). 

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