On being a compost pile

By Jen Peer Rich

I look out into the natural world and see nothing is wasted. The earth is sustainable and balanced in such a dynamic way, every spec of life material feeds on other life material, from the macroscopic to the microscopic. Nature is very efficient.

As I think about waste in my life, not just material waste like trash and plastic, but also psychological waste, I enter this thought stream to investigate if natural intelligence sustainable and efficient in the same way nature is?

Is there such a thing as psychological waste or are we actually busy composting inside?

I grew up with strong attachments to a false sense of self. That false me was shaped by systems, culture, and by the experiences I had growing up. By the time I reached adulthood, I was head deep in a fixed sense of who I thought I was, mixed with a compulsive desire to seek myself through one disastrous experience to the next– those two psychological patterns were deeply painful and I felt tremendous suffering.

There came a point when that suffering was too much and I was either going to live or I was going to die, because what I couldn’t do anymore was continue with the massive amount of suffering in my head.

And that is when I started doing self-inquiry. Somehow, from the deepest point of suffering, I began to honestly look at my own mind. And at first to even look a tiny bit was too painful, I could only see bits of my mind at a time and that process made me very sick, I felt worse in the beginning. But even that sickness was better than living in my head and believing every treacherous thought I had as me and mine. I persevered. For months, I ruthlessly investigated my mind, senses, body and behavior, until I turned inside out. Finally, I was able to experience myself as silence, silence that was clear even as my mind continued with same painful narratives that had always been there. With the help of a community of trees as my teacher, I was able to be with my mind and not attach to my thoughts as real or really me.

All of that said, I once would’ve considered that kind of deep psychological suffering a waste. Yet as I think about how everything is composted in nature, so too my painful psychology was the very muck that allowed a garden of presence to grow and flourish in my heart. Without the breakdown of that psychological material, I would’ve never known myself as I am.

That is an efficient process. I am a psychological compost pile. Nothing is wasted. Yes, natural intelligence is efficient and sustainable in the same way the earth sustains itself.


jen peer richJen Peer Rich is a friend in presence. She lives in Atlanta with 5 rescued weenie dogs and is married to her best friend. Presently she’s working towards a graduate degree in Ecopsychology. She has two books about Nonduality available for free download at Friends in Presence or on amazon kindle. You can also find Jen writing and sharing digital art on the Facebook machine, she’s always open to making new friends.


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