Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Story: "Seeds in the Mind-Garden"
Preparation for Activity
- Read the story.
- Optional: Copy the story, "Seeds in the Mind-Garden," for volunteers to read aloud.
Description of Activity
The group considers a garden as a metaphor for the lifelong process in which our character traits—positive, negative, ambiguous, or neutral—are nurtured, and grow.
Tell or read the story, "Seeds in the Mind-Garden." Alternately, ask for one or more volunteers to read it aloud.
Then, lead a discussion with questions like these:
Can you imagine your mind as a garden of traits, behaviors, and practices which you can tend to, develop, and nurture? [Ask for examples of traits, and offer a few? to confirm that everyone understands the word.]
Are individual traits exclusively good or bad (or, wholesome or unwholesome, as Thich Nhat Hanh says)? Are any traits both, or neither? What are some examples?
Thich Nhat Hanh says we each have a role in tending the gardens of others. What can we do to support one another in growing good character?
In the story, Thich Nhat Hanh describes the seeds in our mind-garden being planted by our parents, ancestors, schooling, and society. What are the character traits that you think have been planted in you? Who planted them? Do you think that those are wholesome or unwholesome characteristics? Do you think it’s easier to nurture your positive seeds or your negative seeds? Why?
Is it always obvious which are the good and bad traits, when someone looks at their own character? [Remind youth that sometimes we discover we have been nurturing a negative trait in ourselves and it can often be difficult to “just stop doing it.” What are some ways we can “correct” our character?
Could someone ever get to a point where unwholesome seeds have taken over their entire garden, and they have no chance to grow wholesome seeds anymore? Our Unitarian Universalist faith tells us that everyone has the capacity to change and make better, more wholesome choices throughout our whole life.