James Allen in his book titled ‘As a Man Thinketh’, says that the mind is like a garden and whatever seed you plant in it is what grows there. He also goes further to say that if you do not plant any seeds and you leave it unattended the weed and other plants will grow.
This book was published in 1903 but how many people know of its existence and have read it? Why has it not been even part of our curriculum literature? We can be certain that those who have had the opportunity to stumble upon it would have asked the same questions because of the difference it has made in their lives.
Allen is right, and he may have never thought that this book would be even more relevant than ever before at this time of our lives. One may also assume that maybe he had foreseen the future and therefore was intuitively intrigued and compelled to pen the book for the sake of delivering future generations from ignorance.
It is true that the mind is like a garden and, especially in today’s world, if there is no deliberate intent to choose what to plant in it, someone or something will plant a seed in it. If left unattended or neglected, often someone or something often takes it over so much that something or someone eventually owns it. At this point, the individual merely becomes the vehicle that carries the mind and the brain, but its content is not theirs. Their minds become the gardens infested only with other people’s ideas, theories, and realizations. The individual becomes the agent and the propeller of other people’s ideas, beliefs, and an encyclopedia of other people’s experiences.
The question is, how has it become possible that man has gotten to such level of self-neglect? And the answer is simple. From the time he or she was born, even before he or she knew what was exactly going on, everyone was already interested in their existence. The parents want to teach them this, the church is looking for members, school is looking for someone to indoctrinate, a politician is looking for new followers and mainstream media is looking for someone to brainwash.
As much as that seems to be painted as bad, all these parties that have interests in the newborn, believe and are convinced that their intentions are good and genuine.
It is also not their fault. They too were never given an opportunity to naturally grow into who they were originally meant to be or at least be guided to exhibit their natural inclination.
They were also not given an opportunity to experience and see that ultimately the role of a parent or a guardian should be that of simply observing, safely and selflessly guiding this new life into becoming itself. To see them grow into their fully-fledged self and not their parents’ mini-self or help them realize dreams they could not achieve themselves.
Now the million-dollar question is, what can one do for people to own their garden and plant the seed they want to grow and harvest? What can one do to at least liberate and claim ownership of the mind to the point where they can say it is really theirs and not a mere infestation of ideas of experts, specialists, gurus, motivational speakers or television? As always, if you give me a million dollars, I will gladly give you the answer. Otherwise, let that be your self-assessment homework – if that even exists.
By Karlos The Great
OSHIMWENYO is published every Friday in the New Era newspaper with contributions from Karlos Naimwhaka.