“Seed, Soil, Plant” by David Sills

"Seed, Soil, Plant" by David Sills

The metaphor of “Seed, Soil, Plant” is well-known in SOM. It is often used in connection with the creative process. The idea is that the progression from seed to plant is in some way equivalent to the progression from belief to manifestation in the creative process, or that at least it serves as a handy metaphor for that process.

For a long time, I didn’t understand this. A metaphor is, after all, only as useful as the correspondence between the metaphor and the reality it stands in lieu of. I couldn’t seem to make the connection in my mind between the seed, a physical thing, with an idea, a non-physical thing. Yes, I saw the metaphor very loosely, but the moment I looked at the details, it seemed to collapse.

The metaphor I preferred was order, factory, and widget: the order (a conceptual thing, more like an idea) comes in, is referred to the factory, which manufactures the widgets that were ordered.

Recently, I have rethought this metaphor in a way that makes it make much more sense to me. Perhaps it will help someone else.

At the heart of the original “Seed, Soil, Plant” is the seed. The seed contains the complete design for the plant that will develop from it, but it is unable to make that plant happen on its own. If you leave a pack of seeds from the hardware store on a shelf, they will not develop into a garden.

The soil, on the other hand, knows nothing at all about the plant. It is completely innocent of any knowledge of what will happen when the seed is planted in it. Without the seed, the soil will just sit there, fertile and waiting.

Put the seed into the soil, however, the situation changes. The soil can supply minerals it contains upon request; the seed knows, from its design, what minerals to request and how much of each. Together, the seed can develop based on its design in conjunction with the soil, which gives it exactly what it needs at every stage of its development.

The metaphor, I see now, depends upon the identification of the seed as not, as I had thought, the idea, but as me. In my conscious mind, I conceive an idea and train my subconscious (subjective) mind to banish doubt and uncertainty so that my mind entire is completely convinced of the reality of that idea. While I do not myself have the complete design for how that idea should become manifest, my mind is an individualization of Universal Mind, which does have such a design. That descends through my subconscious (my individualization of Universal Soul or Law) and activates Universal Law to supply what the design requires, as it must do. God does the work!

Universal Law brings the idea into manifestation in a manner which is as mysterious as the life of a plant is. We may analyze each chemical reaction that takes place underground to change the lowly seed into the majestic plant, but that is quite different from understanding the life of the plant. We cannot see life or describe it, so far. We do not know what it is, merely what it does.

But it does not matter whether we understand the manifestation of ideas by Universal Law. To understand something is in some sense to be able to replicate it ourselves: when we learn how to add, one of the ways we test our newfound ability is to test our ability to replicate the addition tables we have been taught. If we can do this, we are said to understand addition.

Understanding manifestation of ideas is forever beyond us as finite beings. We have not the access to resources that an Infinite Oneness does, nor the knowledge about how to shape the energies of the Universe into the physical reality. We are fortunate, indeed, therefore, that we have that Infinite Source of knowledge, capability, and experience on call at every moment. It works; that’s all we need to know.

To sum up: My job, like that of the seed, is to know my need; in knowing, to declare; in declaring, to receive; in receiving, to accept. Like the seed, I reach intuitively for the Source of Life and find myself. And so it is.

David Sills is a member of Columbia Center for Spiritual Living.

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