Communicating with Your Plants and Flowers
By: J. Marlando
I have written about my grandmother many times over the years. She was, after all the love of my life, my teacher and sage. Her name was Nellie, I called her Nanny. Nanny
From the time I was very young I used to plant seeds with Nanny (in fact, that's the name of my autobiography, "Planting Flowers with Nanny.) In any case, Nanny and I used to talk a lot when we worked in the yard together and I was always learning something new like, If you want your flowers to grow and be happy, you have to let them know that you love them. Then she'd reach out and gently touch one of her flowers and saying to it, "I love you."
"Can they really understand you?" I wanted to know.
"Oh yes," Nanny would answer, "and sometimes, if you open up your mind and listen, they'll say things to you too."
Years later I would run across lots of support for this view of hers. There is in fact an old Arapaho proverb that states: "All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them."
I recall reading a fascinating book by Terence McKenna exploring the secrets of the Amazon. I recall him being amazed of how the natives knew how to take a number of certain plants, giving them exact measurements to produce a drug. When McKenna wanted to know how in the world the natives figured out such a complex formula, he was told that the plants themselves had told them what to do.
Some of the most brilliant scientific minds of today along with set-in-there-ways scholars and other skeptics scoff at all this saying that plants cannot communicate because plants do not have brains. This is supposed to reflect the "objective view." It is also the so-called objective view that believes that all living things are merely the totality of their parts!
In any case, This article is going to strive to open the reader's heart and mind to a new view of life itself.
Aspects of the Spiritual
I doubt if my grandmother ever heard the term spirituality and, for sure, she never used it. Well she was not well (formally) educated with only a fifth grade education. Yet she was my sage and teacher during my growing up years sharing her "back-hill-wisdom" that has stayed with me all of my life.
We had an apple tree in our front yard that I used to climb as a boy; I loved that tree and used to sit in it for hours daydreaming. One day Nanny was out working in her yard and as soon as I saw her, I climbed down and ran to her to give her a big hug. When I did, I stepped on some of her flowers and she quickly reprimanded me for my carelessness.
I lifted my feet to see two or three flowers laying on the ground already wilting. I started to cry at the sight of them and also because I had disappointed Nanny.
Nanny put her arms around me and told me that she knew I hadn't meant to hurt "the poor little flowers" and if I told them that I loved them, they'd be okay. I got down on my hands and knees and told the flowers that I loved them. Afterwards, Nanny said that they would be fine and I could go back and play. I did.
My grandmother didn't use words like consciousness and instead she used the term "God" when she spoke of the life-force in everything. To her all plants, flowers, trees, animals, birds and people were all, if you will, lit up by God's love and in connectedness because she'd say, "God's spirit was in everything."
Later in life I ran across a statement by an ancient sage, Wang Shihuai, who told us that, "The universe is all mind and all phenomenon." (In fact, I have this statement painted over my desk as a daily reminder). After all, this corresponded was what Nanny used to teach.
Nanny also used to say that it was God's love that held everything together. She'd say, if God took his love our of the stars, they would fall from the sky, if God took his love out of the trees they would wilt and so on. I recall a few years ago asking the famous physicist, Fred Alan Wolf, what love was. I was waiting for a complex answer but instead, he simply said, "Love is the glue of the Universe." My grandmother popped immediately into my mind.
Nanny used to say that flowers and plants could talk to people "if they opened up their souls to them." I remember her saying this to a few people who just shook their heads at her "foolish beliefs." But my grandmother was not alone in her observations. Indeed, the famous Luther Burbank talked to his plants regularly. In fact, Burbank told the famous yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda
The brilliant Helen Keller visited Burbank and later wrote: "He has the rarest of gifts, the receptive spirit of the child. When plants talk with him, he listens. Only a wise child can understand the language of flowers and trees."
Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird in "The Secret Life of Plants" a book I am leaning heavily on for this text, tell a wonderful story about the amazing George Washington Carver
Especially farmer's wives began bring their houseplants to Carver asking him to make them bloom. He would take them, treat them and sing to them. When he returned the plants to the women who had given them to him for "treatment," they wanted to know how he did what he did. Carver answered, "All flowers talk to me and so do hundreds of living things in the woods. I learn what I know by watching and loving everything."
Exploring the Unexpected
My grandmother strung an electric cord from her kitchen to the hen house and would play music for her chickens. She said that music made them happy and so healthier; they laid better!
In the later 1950s a florist by the name of Arthur Locker began playing music in his greenhouse. He said this resulted in his plants growing straighter and germinating quicker. He said, "The colors of the flowers were more striking to the eye, and the blooms lasted longer than usual."
At around this same time a Canadian engineer and home farmer began broadcasting Johann Sebastian's violin sonata which, as reported by Tompkins and Bird produced a crop "not only 66 percent greater than average but with larger and heavier seeds."
After hearing such stories an agricultural researcher, George E. Smith, installed a record player in one of his greenhouses and played "Gershwin's, Rhapsody in Blue" twenty-four hours a day. His seedlings sprouted earlier than those in his other (silent) greenhouses and they were thicker and greener. Then, in the following year, Smith, planted a small plot of corn and played music for it from the day it was planted. The plot that was given music produced 137 bushels per acre, opposed to the (silent) plots producing only 117.
But how do we explain such phenomena?
A vast majority of today's scientists would call all the above--nonsense. For one thing, they would offer, flowers and plants do not have a brain. As a result it cannot talk nor can it transmit or receive messages. Remember most scientists and scholars make the assumption that all living things, including ourselves, are the totality of their parts.
There is an apparent reason for this skepticism. An extremely large population of scientists and other scholars are fully convinced that the mind is a mere epiphenomenon of the brain. In other words, mind is a mere process of the physical brain meaning, mind and brain have a physical basis. Flowers and plants then are brainless and thus unconscious matter. In fact, Rene Descartes , called the father of modern philosophy, taught that animals were likened to mere machines lacking feelings and awareness. This view is what permits the horrible torturing of laboratory animals and gross treatment of animals in slaughter houses even into our own times. But putting this callousness aside there are other schools of thought that believe that consciousness (call it God or Mind) permeates all living things. My old, back-hills grandmother taught this but as I grew older I discovered that she was in good company. Today physicists like Jeremy W. Hayward, Paul Davies, Fritjof Capra, David Bohm and others support the idea that all things are in connectedness through universal mind or consciousness. In this way science and spirituality are slowly merging. Indigenous people have been saying this for millenniums. My grandmother, Nanny, used to say to me when I was a boy, "It ain't the talk like people talk to each other, when you talk to your flowers its more like your minds meet and when they do, you'll know it."
In 1966, Cleve Backster who was then the foremost authority in lie-detection decided one day to hook his machine up to a plants leaf. He discovered that plants responded to his thoughts. He would later decide that plants appeared to actually be sentient. That is, that they were both conscious, capable of feeling and perception. What further testing revealed is that plants responded to the presence of human being and the entrance of animals. And, if a plant was seriously threatened it would do what many people do, they would pass out or fall into trance. Indeed, Tompkins and Bird give us this amazing story:
"To see if a plant could display memory, a scheme was devised whereby Backster was to identify the secret killer of one or two plants. Six of Backster's polygraph students volunteered for the experiment, some of them veteran policemen. Blindfolded, the students drew from a hat folded strips of paper, on one of which were instructions to root up, stamp on, and thoroughly destroy one of two plants in a room. The criminal was to commit the crime in secret; neither Backster nor any of the other students was to know his identity, only the second plant would be a witness.
"By attaching the surviving plants to a polygraph and parading the students one by one before it, Backster was able to establish the culprit. Sure enough, the plant gave no reaction to five of the students, but caused the meter to go wild whenever the actual culprit approached..."
As Backster's "experiences went forward he was able to invest in even more sensitive machines such a electrocardiographs and electroencephalographs. The "readings" he produced, showed his plants to be ten times more sensitive.
Soon enough Backster was not alone in his interests and his work created world-wide interest. By 1969 especially housewives began talking to their plants. (I've often thought how happy knowing that would have made my grandmother).
Also other scientific minds began working at connecting to their plants. An IBM scientist by the name of Matel Vogel happen to spot an article by Backster with the title, "Do Plants Have Emotions." Vogel, tossed the article away thinking it was advocating silly and pseudo science. The more he thought about it, however, the more the thought intrigued him and so he dug out the article and read it.
After much testing he became convinced that communicating with plants had to do with psychic energy. Indeed, a friend of his Vivian Wiley picked two leaves and placed one in her bedroom and the other in her living room. She talked to the leaf in her bedroom affectionately, telling it, it was to live while she paid no attention to the other plant. A month later the plant who had been spoken to and thought of, was alive and green while the plant she paid no attention to was turning brown and starting to decay.
After lots of testing, Vogel said this, "It is a fact, man can and does communicate with plant life. Plants are living objects, sensitive, rooted in space.
(Communicating with Plants)
I remember my wife and I taking a rental house some years ago and while it had some garden space, it was all in semi-shade with sun hitting it for only a few minutes out of every day. I decided to plant anyway so I turned the space into a mini-field of corn, squash and melon. As soon as the field began sprouting I began telling both the earth and the vegetables that I loved them. And, I did my best to give them my heart as I watered and weeded. When the vegetables matures my wife and I used to go outside just to enjoy looking at the amazing crop that had grown for us. And, we often told it how beautiful it was.
As my Grandmother used to say, "you can't fool your flowers. If you say that you love them and don't they'll always know it, just like you know if someone says they love you when they really don't. You just feel it in your bones and you know it in your heart no matter what your brain thinks.
Nanny never used terms like intuition or consciousness but she naturally realized that plants not only hear us but see us. Indeed, while many laughed at my grandmother's wisdom, they did not laugh at Vladimar Grigorievich Karamanov, director of Russia's laboratory of Biocybermetics of the Institute of Agrophysics. In 1959 the scientist was asked if he thought Backster's had made a unique discovery. Karamanov answered, "Nothing of the sort! That plants are able to perceive the surrounding world is a truth old as the world itself. Without perception, adaptation does not and cannot exist. If plants had no sense organs and didn't have a means of transmitting and processing information with their own language and memory, they would inevitably perish.
The major problem is, as said earlier, a large population of today's scientists are reductionists; they simply cannot override their indoctrinations and/or education that taught them that objectivity meant being able to break things down to their smallest parts to comprehend them. It is simply too complex (or metaphysical) for them to comprehend thinking without a brain...seeing without eyes...or having self awareness without a body that houses these physical attributes. Sometimes when my grandmother spoke of her plants she would tell me that, "They have such sweet spirits," and this is exactly what so much of science cannot grasp because they are still deeply too deeply into Newton's mechanical world theories. As someone said, "God forbid that I would ever believe in souls, spirits or any of that nonsense."
What other scientists are saying to us, on the other hand, is that everything in the universe is in connectedness with everything else. The idea that we are here and our flowers are over there is not accurate, at least as we normally think of things being separate from us. Without going too deeply into this complex topic, however, is to repeat a Buddhist saying: All is one and one is all...And so, it is as Paul Davies, the professor of physics at the University of Adelaide told us: Our minds can be viewed as localized islands of consciousness in a sea of mind.
You, the reader, and I and everyone else can tap into the mind of flowers and trees and other plants. As my grandmother taught, you have to really open up and let yourself truly love your plants, because if you open up wide enough you will feel them loving you right back."
I remember interviewing Dr. Bernie Siegel many years ago for a magazine article and he said something I never forgot: "You have to decide how you are going to love the world." And, this seems to be vital for those who become successful at communicating with Nature. I simply belief that the pathway to the mind of all living things, including we humans, is love. Indeed, go outside and sit down across from the tree in your yard, let yourself love it and see what happens.
I theorize that love and joy is ever as habitual as anxiety and despondency. So practice loving everything including the stranger. When you do loving your flowers and other plants will unfold naturally and produce your world brighter, healthier and so happier.
You simply won't know unless you try it!
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References and Further Reading
Capra, Fritjof * The Hidden Connections * Double Day
Bird, Christopher and Tompkins, Peter * The Secret Life of Plant * Harper
Goswami, Amit with Reed, Richard and Goswami, Maggie * The Self-Aware Universe * Tarcher/Putman
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