A friend of mine runs a blog call Singing Garden. Below, she explains why she chose that name.
Something magical and seminal happened while I was living in Israel. Something I had to work for years to understand, myself, and which I have tried to describe to others many times with gnawing dissatisfaction. My words, which usually serve me so well, seem to fail in their limited capacity to distinguish such magic, such otherworldliness, such magnitude of scope, such divinity.
One morning, before the sun was up, Alon and I went to the organic garden to harvest tomatoes for breakfast. As we walked between the rows of ripe, juice-laden fruit with our harvest baskets, he suggested that we meditate and send a message of gratitude to the plants. Having never meditated before, I was hesitant; however, I was raised to be polite and saying thank you, albeit to nonhuman entities, definitely fit into my accepted range of appropriate behavior.
We sat facing each other in the furrows on either side of a row of tomato plants. I faced east, toward the still dark Jordanian hills and closed my eyes. The golden mountains of the Arava desert were behind me, to the west. I tried to “think of nothing”, the closest approximation of meditation I could comprehend. Actually, I used the phrase as my mantra: “Think of nothing. Think of nothing. Think of nothing,” I chanted inside my head. I saw a swirling blackness behind my closed eyelids and tried to focus on it as it spun away from me into the distance. I must have succeeded in some small way to reach the plane of consciousness desired by meditators because I was not aware of how long I sat there chanting and staring into the darkness. Suddenly, the sound of a many voiced choir all hitting one sustained note of unparalleled beauty filled my head, overriding my little “think of nothing” ditty. At the same moment, I was flooded with feelings of joy, gratitude, a sort of heartbreaking ecstasy and unity that I had never felt before. I unquestioningly knew that I was a part of all that surrounds and flows throughout the universe. I was at peace and a piece of everything. I understood, as dreamers in a foreign language understand, that the choir was the garden singing its song of praise to the rising sun. The song was of immense gratitude for the opportunity to live, the opportunity for the garden to give of itself its fruit to nourish others. As if the juicy, bursting open of a ripe fruit was a pale physical manifestation of this sense of fullness, of elation. I sensed that the sun had risen above the mountains; I could feel the warmth on my eyelids and face. I perceived a light behind the darkness of my closed eyes.
I also “saw” and felt, or simply knew, that all things are composed of dancing, scintillating, vibrating particles of energy, light: the plants, the sand, the sun and the mountains, my dear friend, my own body, and the space between us, all of it vibrating and alive with tiny points of light. Each of these particles had its own intelligence, its own unique consciousness, its own voice in the song. I felt complete and soothed wholly by this song of essences.
The entire experience of sound, feeling and knowing lasted a fraction of a second before my intellectual mind kicked in and registered surprise and a little fear. “What the…?!?!” was my first thought as my eyelids flew open and looked around for the source of the chorus. The garden was still, silent and still dark. The sun had yet to peek from behind the mountains.
I did not know what to make of this experience. I wasn’t sure at first that it had actually happened, that I hadn’t imagined it all. After telling a few people about it and getting only, “Dude, what were you smoking?!” as a response, I stopped telling people. I did not have the words to describe it or the frame of reference to fully understand it. I only knew that I wanted more of it, whatever it was.
Later in the year, at the Tai Chi workshop in a bustling Tel Aviv municipal park, I experienced a similar phenomenon during a 30-minute standing meditation guided by the famous teacher. This time,
I heard nothing.
The outside world had receded.
I felt heat from the pit of me,
yet more than me.
I felt the singing,
but this time I was singing,
perfectly in tune with the garden five hours’ journey away,
connected by unseen threads of melody.
And my heat matched that of the sun,
filtered down through the trees,
mingling with the air around me,
dissolving my boundaries.
It swept away my humanity;
happily, I acquiesced.
This served to further elucidate me in the ways of oneness. I was now certain that physical proximity to the garden was not required to hear it; I also understood that the organic plot at Kibbutz Lotan was not the only garden singing, and that the singing was not limited to specific occasions or circumstances. It was clear that the garden, indeed the universe, required no listener to hear its sweet chorus. It sang with life, for the simple and complete joy of the song itself.