Double Gardening

It will be 72 degrees today where I live. Spring is on its way and this will be a good day for me to do some cleanup on my property.

I live on ten acres of rural land. Half of that is allowed to grow as nature (and God) intended. I am the steward and personally maintain the other half. On the five acres I do maintain I grow fruit trees, nut trees, and garden organically. I also have designed my “homestead” around ecological concerns and for season-round beauty.

Even with that said there is more to my property (and its pragmatic beauty) than meets the eye. I double garden – for my physical body and my soul.

My property, with its orchards and garden, do more than just provide outdoor activities to enliven my spirit.  My property symbolizes my deepest values, worldview and religion. When I look out into my garden I see the inner qualities of my heart and mind. I see myself as God sees me. That is why I pay attention to my inner garden with the hope that the ideas growing in it are as God intended.

The ground, which supports my physical feet, is a perfect metaphor for the principles that support my spiritual beliefs (the feet of my spirit). Since the fertility of my soil comes from incorporating organic techniques it certainly is a physical expression of my holistic worldview. Everything I grow and harvest from this soil is a physical analogy and representation of the thoughts and feelings I cultivate in my spirit.

This double gardening is not simply an ability to think poetically or merely using clever plays on words. Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg offered abundant evidence that all the natural things we observe in the world with our eyes portray precise spiritual qualities. This lock-and-key relationship between physical and spiritual realms is ontologically real.

I was inspired to design my garden to gain spiritual wisdom—by closely observing all its natural processes and distilling an elevated spiritual lesson from it all. My first book Sermon From The Compost Pile was based on these observations. I hadn’t simply replaced the Bible with my garden to find God, either. Much of Swedenborg’s evidence that the physical and spiritual worlds correspond to each other comes right out of the pages and narratives of Holy Scripture. For instance, when one grasps that the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis is written in a language that incorporates these correspondences, more of what God is actually communicating can be revealed. Take this holy passage from Deuteronomy 32:13 –

Jehovah maketh him to ride on the high places of the earth, and feedeth him with the increase of the fields, and maketh him to suck honey out of the rock . . .

This passage refers to someone allowing God to “elevate” his or her understanding of religion and faith. This new understanding becomes the increase of the fields and the harvest (spiritual food) within our soul-scape or spiritual garden. Consider this—God’s whole purpose in communicating with us is to feed and nourish our souls.

Swedenborg’s systematic approach to theology and Bible interpretation (exegesis) through the science of correspondences has given me the power to distill higher meaning from God’s Holy Word. In other words, I can now “suck honey out of rocks.”

About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
This entry was posted in god, Inner growth, psychology, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, symbolism, unity and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Double Gardening

  1. Sue says:

    Sounds idyllic. I can see where you got your last book’s title. Did you end up getting lots done today?

    Another underlying story is also comparable to our lives: the gardener gives himself lots of credit, but look how much he starts with: 72 degrees, fertile soil, seeds, time, physical distance from urban problems, no whiny toddlers to care for. Some gardeners have it made. 😉 You are blessed.

    That’s probably why Swedenborg said the main thing is to stop sinning. The garden sort of already exists courtesy of God. The gardener mainly has to not mess it up.

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Sue,

    Had a great day (but tomorrow will bring a sore back).

    I actually started with buying a farmer’s old bean field. The soil was in bad shape from the use of heavy machinery, pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers. I planted over three hundred trees, used organic techniques to renew the soil and built a solar home. (I knew politicians were not about to solve any problems so I took things into my own hands.)

    As far as not messing things up, sinning is analogous to using artificial herbicides and insecticides. Such toxins correspond to adopting false principles that can pollute one’s inner or spiritual landscape – which ultimately becomes hurtful to the world.

    When you allow nature to find its proper ecological balance garden pests rarely get out of control. Same thing when our inner life of thoughts and feelings are in healthy balance from adopting spiritual principles – this will keep pesky or destructive influences in check.

    Spiritually yours,

  3. I wonder whether you can manage it all alone or even with some family help and what can you do with the harvest (which should be huge if it’s 300 fruit trees). God’s help is great, of course, but sort of not always sufficient in this heavy material reality 🙂 …

    Yeah, the dream of reality and reality of a dream, that old idea… Finally difficult to be sure which is which… However, the absolute majority of people, believers including, is always strongly inclined to the “heavy”, non-dreamy interpretation of what they perceive (even if they’re not devoted materialists). They’re just practical, mainly practical, can profit a little from “beauty” sometimes, but are very far from its immediate “spiritual” interpretation. The material Matrix really has them all. At the same time they’re our fellow humans, even “brothers”, according to all traditional attitudes. It seems thus that there are those few “peculiar” ones that tend to “dreamy” interpretations, and all other “brothers” and “sisters” are persistently separated from them by a huge and even apparently growing gap. Now, how is this interpreted in your worldview? Saying simply that “they are not yet” and “let’s be patient” is somehow insufficient: things do not change in the “right” direction (but rather in the opposite) for a too long time already when other big changes did happen… If the paradise is for tomorrow and only “dreamers” enter, then who’ll be there beyond a few advanced Swedenborgians? And even if the paradise is for a much later tomorrow, there may be the same or even lower number of candidates, as experience convincingly shows… In reality, humans are not (qualitatively, potentially) all the same as usually considered, or are they? In other words, can there be some “spiritual” races, much more different among them than any physical human varieties? Beyond any political correctness, I mean.

    Also, at a yet higher level, it seems that there should be no direct link between your environment and internal spiritual reality (between real and heavenly “gardens”), a bit as it is in the Oriental tradition: (high-level) meditation is definitely stronger than material reality (and therefore one may actually prefer a particularly “simple” material background, contrary to inevitable Western delicatessen 🙂 ). Indeed, you still need to think and work very practically to care about your garden, which takes time and efforts from higher spiritual activity. Don’t the best castles and gardens “in the air” (impossible to create in reality) come indeed from pure imagination? Do such “pure dreams” count much or little in Swedenborgian views?

    In today’s cinema they can already create any dreamy pictures and events (in particular quite inspiring ones). Are they higher beings then, those spoiled Hollywood producers?

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Andrei,

    What paradise are you talking about? What dreaming? What tomorrow? We are either in hell or heaven right now – according to the quality of our inner spirit (one’s spiritual race) and our life-choices.

    In terms of a heaven on earth I can handle only about 10 acres. Even then, I have windstorms, ice storms, flooding, drought and heat waves to deal with.

    I have written my two books so that people can become motivated to take on the challenge of reaching their spiritual potential. I refuse to point a gun to their heads – just as Jesus refused to get off the cross and flex His muscles.

    Spiritually yours,

  5. Glenn Schoen says:

    It is said, in a more recent blog entry, that truth argues, while love supports. It is also said that truth can lead to love. If these statements be true, it would then follow (counter-intuitively, it might seem) that arguing can leave to love.

    Let us test the conclusion reached:

    The mind is like a garden, whose quality is according to its cultivation. And one has the freedom to cultivate or not. Practical care of one’s garden, however, does not, as has been suggested elsewhere above, involve a time-out or diversion of effort from “higher spiritual activity”. In fact, without that practical care, the “higher spiritual activity” hasn’t anything in which it may take root, and the practical care itself is a tangible expression of love (or can be, depending on the freely adopted attitude in which and from which the work is done).

  6. thegodguy says:

    Dear Glenn,

    Yes indeed! That is exactly what my first book “Sermon From The Compost Pile” demonstrates. Thanks for contributing to this discussion.

    Spiritually yours,

  7. Sue says:

    Arguing can lead to love! Wonderfully said.
    Andrei, I sense that kind of arguing from you – you aren’t caught up in looking for ‘the answer’ in the material world/science. You are too smart to buy into something hook-line-and-sinker, so of course you are bound to argue every Swedenborg point. You are intrigued though.
    Glenn, you are a desert. (Counter-intuitively, it might seem.) If words of wisdom were grains of sand that is.

  8. thegodguy says:

    Dear everyone,

    Love is the ultimate science. To prove otherwise would mean that all our discussions are meaningless.

    Spiritually yours,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s