The word Zira'at is derived from Persian 'zeraat', agriculture. We can observe how we move through different stages, and these stages are symbolized by seasonal works in agriculture.
Ploughing addresses the process of turning over the soil and stands for unlearning, dealing with the compulsive activity of the mind with its unsettled thoughts. In this state, the mind is like a wild horse, which we need to meet and to calm down to find repose and clarity. Breath and concentration techniques help us to analyze and to calm the mind.
Once the mind is calm a space opens where we can listen to a deeper layer, our emotions, and feel how the heart is moved by them. We encounter the deep structures of our psyche. Those inner patterns are constructs of our identity, such as I am this and this. It is a false identity, which is a burden upon the heart. Like a harrow which draws lines in the earth, giving it a new structure, contemplation and breath exercises help us to purify the heart and to harmonize the physical, mental and emotional body. Along the first two purification steps, we move from the surface of the heart to its depth.
Sowing symbolizes our action in life, our intentions and how to achieve this. We are inspired by our aim and work for it. But also we are called to bring forth in life the inner light of the soul. Once the heart is purified, we can listen to our inner guidance. Meditation and practices with light help us at this stage to get in contact with the inner spark. Sowing is an act of hope, for the potential to make God a reality.
What we sow we reap. And if the right seed has been sown, the moment of reaping is a moment of joy and richness. Joy is the language of the soul itself. It stands on its own and tends to express itself in creativity. We are in life, living, alive. This state is a step towards maturity; bringing potential into fruition. The hidden becomes seen. As we take the harvest in, we take responsibility for our actions in life.
With our hands and heart full, we enter the state of threshing where we ask ourselves, what to do with all this? Is this really me? It’s the sense of responsibility which brings us to the test of meaningfulness. What matters really? What are my deep values? What is my truth? All this bounty, but what for? At this state we realize what is the inner meaning of our fruits and actions. The kernel has to be separated from the chaff to become bread, the bread of life, which we share with others. At this state we use practices which help us in the process of realization. The heart is strengthened by wisdom.
At the beginning is the seed and at the end it is again the seed which we bring into the barn. At first the seed is a gift received from God, and now we bring forth the seed of our whole life’s experience. Having passed through all the tests, something has been extracted, filtered - wisdom and light - which we now offer to the whole. On the personal level we know our life’s purpose; we feel at one with earth, all of humanity and all life. The barn symbolizes the heaven we created by our special and unique way of navigation through life. This heaven is our contribution to the whole universe of becoming.
This text is a short version of a paper written by Sharifa Norton and Musawira Brüning. Musawira were representative of the worldwide Zira'at activities in the SOI for about 25 years. Sharifa, originally responsible for the North American part of the activities, has now followed her in this function in 2015.