One day, the head of a village approached the Buddha and asked him, “Is a Buddha compassionate to all living creatures?” Buddha replied, “Yes.” The village head continued, “Does the Buddha give his teachings in full to some people and not to others?”
In response, the Buddha related a parable: “A farmer has three fields, with different kinds of soil in each — fertile, mediocre and poor. In which field do you think the would plant seeds?”
The village head replied, “He would first plant them in the fertile field. Then he would plant the rest in the one with mediocre soil. He might not sow seeds in the field with poor soil. Rather than waste seeds, he might use it to feed the animals.”
The Buddha explained, “It is the same with spiritual teachings. The disciples who wish to become monks, who are seeking truth, are like the fertile field. They receive the full extent of the teachings. They learn the full practice and the way to enlightenment in its entirety. The disciples come to me for light, for refuge, and for shelter. So I give them the entire teachings because that is what they want.”
The Buddha continued, “Lay people are like the mediocre field. They are also disciples, but they do not want to commit their whole lives to the teachings as do the monks. I give the spiritual teachings to them in entirety. They, too, come to me for light, for refuge, and for shelter.
“People who do not wish to follow spiritual teachings are like the poor soil. They are involved with other pursuits in life. Yet, to these people, too, I give spiritual teachings in their entirety.”
At this, the village head was surprised and said, “Why do you give your teachings out to even those who are not ready to listen? Is that not a waste?”
The Buddha replied, “If one day they grasp even one sentence of the teaching and take it to heart, that will give them happiness and blessings for a long time.”
The village head understood that the Buddha had come to give his teachings to the whole world, whether or not all were ready for it, because one day they would be.
Loving and compassionate saints and mystics are spraying seeds of truth, light, and love all around us. Is the soil in our field ready for it? Or will the seeds be wasted?
We can prepare the soil so that the entire teachings can be sown in us and we can achieve enlightenment. The soil can be prepared by practicing daily meditation in which our mind is still and receptive to the inner light. By reducing our desires, we increase the fertility of the field to receive the spiritual gifts within. By living a life of love and service, we purify the field of weeds and make our field ready for life-giving fruit trees which all can enjoy.
As we sit in meditation, let’s cultivate a field that is excellent. Prepare the soil so the soul can blossom. The best soil for the soul is one filled with love, humility, truthfulness, purity, and selflessness and is cultivated with the practice of meditation on the inner light. In such a soil, the full extent of the wisdom of the saints can bear fruit and we, too, can receive enlightenment.