Many Paths Pavilion - Basic Spirituality area


by Barry Sultanoff

I live in a world of duality: I have a body, but also a soul; a chair is solid, but also empty space; this page has a front side and a back side. The seeming "two-ness" of things can be very convincing, at times.

But I know, in a deeper way, that I am One with all life. What is the One Truth beyond these apparent dualities?

A year or so ago, at a yoga retreat in British Columbia, I sat one afternoon in a magnificent organic garden, planting myself in front of a long row of sunflowers. The black seed-heads, circled by a dazzling array of orange and yellow petals, were resting upon thick stalks that held them safely aloft. Each a flower-monarch in its own little kingdom, these regal-looking heads looked well supported, and secure.

And yet, I saw that they willingly danced with the diverse community of wind currents that came to "visit" them. They seemed to trust---even delight in!---their wind-blown journey through time and space, and its unpredictable course.

As I watched and listened closely, keeping my "third" eye and ear as open as I possibly could, I began to learn something about their particular way of two-ness-into-oneness: The sunflowers "spoke" to me about the cycles of nature, holding and releasing, honoring and grieving, life and death.

They told me about the oneness we can find when we surrender our rigidly-held beliefs about how things are, and how they ought to be. We can let go---and allow ourselves to ripen into humility.

Here is a description, in poetic verse, of what I glimpsed that day:

Bright as bonnets
they nod in the wind,
inviting each current they meet;
on thick, substantial stalks
that yield,
yet promise permanence,
reliable as sunrise.

Do you hear them whispering,
basking in the autumn sun,
the chatter is eternal youth's wide ladder
with its certain rung,
its slippages undone?

Preferring sun,
they learn
there is a time for fertile rain.
Black clouds roll, aroused,
ahead of rustling sheets
of piercing Arctic air.
Heavy raindrops mate and fall,
as yellow petals mist
and dampen gold.

Drenched, released,
the flowers drop their skyward faces,
face the earth
as crystal tears
unwind their way
around the spiny shafts.

The moistened ground agrees
to take another rounded seed,
receives the gift of cycling:
Every year
the new ones come
as elder faces crack
and rain their cache of blackened fruit,
let go the dreams that led them
on their journey to the sun---

on days like this,
when potent truths
of ripening
come home.

?Barry Sultanoff, 1997

By Barry Sultanoff, a physician who believes that optimal health is the natural expression of a thriving planetary community. He can be reached on-line at

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