How to work like a pig

On the farmstead of your being, is there a neglected part:
a riot of nettles, and weeds, and tangled roots
going back deep into those difficult areas of your life
which you have fenced off and ignored for years?

You know, don’t you, that the weed seeds still spread on the wind
and the briars and ground elder encroach on your garden.

On a traditional farm, this is where you bring in the pigs.

Tearing up the ground, rooting out all, transforming all,
their sensitive snouts work through every inch of soil;
weeds are paddled in, roots are consumed,
long-buried old iron-work is turfed out;
the soil is churned and manured.

How deeply are you prepared to root?
Can you find enjoyment in relentlessness?
Will you get close enough to let your long ears trail in the mud?

You know this work of transformation
and you know what will grow after it is done.


There’s some kind of cosy myth that we often tell ourselves – that meditation and spiritual development is a peaceful kind of relaxed process that dreamily leads to nirvana where all is just how it should be. I share that one, even though I also know that to make any kind of transformation possible, there’s a relentless, disciplined, thorough-going steady work process that needs to keep on going whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant (and the unpleasant bit is often the important bit). So here’s my love of, and admiration for, pigs applied to the spiritual life. May your ears too trail in the mud through the persistence of your devotion.

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