The Garden's Secret

by Carolyn Cooper

One spring day, I happened to walk by a garden in bloom on Main Street in a little New England town. The perfume of the flowering trees filled me with a sense of completeness. The sweetness of the blossoms gave me a hint of the very essence of beauty. I realized that I had no need to travel to far away places in search of beautiful landscapes: beauty was everywhere if only I noticed.

How does one weave the significance of such a specific, uplifting experience into daily life? How can that beauty manifest itself in ordinary interactions with those around me?

I found an answer to these questions a number of years later when reading about mysticism and mystical experiences in the teachings of Cafh. In them, I found the concept that mysticism has a dual aspect. On the one hand, it is an experience of the underlying unity of all life and, on the other, a way of relating to life that reflects this fundamental unity.

These two aspects nourish each other. The force of the mystical experience unveils in a dramatic, memorable way a reality lying behind the mundane. On the other hand, it also fuels my inner efforts to be aware of the many hidden connections that crisscross everyday life and to relate to life with that awareness.

For example, I have made a practice of pausing and trying to see another’s point of view instead of instinctively defending my own. Through this exercise, I feel that I am laying the emotional and behavioral groundwork for a personal life aligned with the wider reality I have glimpsed. Changing circumstances and unexpected events give countless opportunities to practice this exercise, and it is gradually shifting from being an exercise to a way of living.