The Spirit of the Soil of Ghom
be spiritual? Does it take on the attributes of the people
and activities which it supports? Which came first, the soil
or the spirit body of the people on the soil? Science may not
have studied these questions, but surely the soil of Ghom,
Iran, carries some of the vibrations of all the prayer and
religious studies taking place in the many religious schools,
mostly Shi’te Muslim, of this region. Ghom is one of
the largest religious centers in Iran, with a population of
130,000 souls, located in the Iranian desert.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is in the heart of the Middle East,
bordered by the Soviet Union and Caspian sea in the north; Afghanistan
and Pakistan in the east; Turkey and Iraq in the west; and the
Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in the south. Iran, formerly known
as Persia, is an ancient country; the earliest village settlements
of the Iranian plateau date back to c. 4000 B.C. It has been
said the Garden of Eden was located in ancient Persia. Iran today
is famous for the production of oil, priceless Persian carpets,
and is the world’s largest producer of caviar.
Although Mehdi Zahedi and his five siblings were born in Tehran,
his father and grandparents and one set of great-grandparents
were all born in Ghom and because of this, the soil of this area
has meaning for him. His ancestors were borne of that soil. He
gathered up four pounds of this personal earth from his parents’ property
and sent it through the various channels of government bureaucracy
to the U.S. and Common Ground 191. When it arrived it was down
to about half a pound. “I just wanted this peaceful Iranian
soil to be part of the project,” said Mehdi. Two of Mehdi’s
siblings live in Tehran and the other three live in the U.S.
A U.S. college graduate with a degree in computer science, Mehdi
has run an award-winning business in Laguna Beach, California,
for the last 15 years. It was here that he and Gary Simpson talked
about the Common Ground 191 project, and Mehdi kindly offered
to supply the project with this sandy and salty Ghom desert soil.
He described the collection location as a desert with a river
running nearby and a large salt sea, where nothing sinks.
Ghom is often spelled “Qum” in the west, where the
pronunciation of the “gh” sound is difficult for
westerners. But soil by any name is critical to this project,
especially soil that has supported such things as the Silk Route
and all the ancient literary and contemporary spiritual traditions
of Ghom, Iran.