- Talking Plants -
"Miracles do not happen in contradiction with nature, but in contradiction with what we know about nature." St. Augustine
When I took over the landscaping duties at Michio Kushi's East-West Institute in Los Angeles without any background in that field, I viewed the challenge as an opportunity to expand my appreciation of the Earth. Little did I suspect the job would also expand my appreciation of Heaven.
Among my landscaping duties at my spiritual mentor's teaching center was the responsibility to cultivate four large fields of organic vegetables to feed our household. In addition to feeding the thirty permanent residents daily, the Institute served two gourmet, organic, vegetarian meals a week to the public. About fifty guests dined at each meal. Hollywood stars who were into organic food frequently graced our table for the evening, including Gloria Swanson and Mia Farrow. These gardens also provided the vegetables for the many organic and macrobiotic cooking classes at the Institute.
All together, the four vegetable gardens covered an area about half the size of a football field. That was a very large expanse to water, fertilize and weed. When I complained to Michio about the enormity of the task, he responded nonchalantly, "You know, you don't really have to weed the fields. You can talk to the spirit of the weeds and ask them to grow in balance and harmony with the vegetables."
With this casual statement, Michio introduced me to the possibility of going into conscious communication, communion and cooperation with nature. At first, I was surprised and incredulous. What a wild and bizarre concept, I mused to myself. I really hated to weed. After contemplating the dis1.1nct advantages of adopting Michio's radical alternative to weeding, I decided, Why not try it? Every other unusual practice I've tried of Michio's has worked. What do I have to lose 2
I began talking aloud to the weeds in the four fields about growing in harmony with the vegetables who shared the garden with them. In the course of speaking to the weeds every day, I expanded my conversations to address the vegetables is well, urging them to grow tall, strong and in harmony with their neighbors, the weeds. Sure enough, after a few weeks of conversing with the weeds and vegetables every day, I began to see a change. The weeds still grew, but not to such an extent they stifled the health of their neighbors, the vegetables.
Then, to my shock and delight, the vegetable and weed plants in the garden started talking back to me! 1 heard voices in my head definitely not my own. The messages were very clear and concise.
The first revelation the plants laid on me was:
"You know, we don't need soil, water or air to grow. The truth is we are sentient, spiritual beings. We grow and thrive by consciousness. It's really not necessary for us to have physical nutrients. But you humans believe plants need these physical conditions to exist, so we go along with your belief system. It's part of the agreement we in the plant kingdom have with the human race."
I didn't yet have the conceptual framework of communicating telepathically with nature spirits and plant devas. 1 referred to this connection as simply 1alking with plants." I enjoyed a natural innocence. 1 was very willing to believe the plants and I were conversing in some way. After all, I had irrefutable evidence from my communication with the weeds. The weeds were now growing harmoniously with the garden vegetables.
But depriving plants of water and fertilizer seemed too radical. The soil in the fields was very sandy and devoid of nutritional minerals. It needed organic compost and fertilizer to provide nutrients for the plants. I couldn't imagine plants surviving without water or food. For weeks, the plants kept imploring me:
"Don't water us! We'll show you we don't need water. And don't use any more fertilizer. Just let us grow naturally. Come up to the fields and simply be with us. Talk to us. We grow because of your consciousness, because of your love and concern. Let us show you."
One day I became courageous enough to quit watering and fertilizing all four vegetable gardens. It hadn't rained for months. We had no neighbors near the fields, so the gardens weren't receiving water from someone else's irrigation system. In one of the most potent metaphysical demonstrations of my life, the vegetables proved their point to me by growing abundantly without water or fertilizer! One butternut squash plant produced over sixty large squashes in one season. Its central vine trailed out of the field for over a hundred yards, winding its way through the flower gardens and into the avocado grove.
The plants reminded me they needed to grow in accordance with the consciousness of the humans in their world, in this case, the residents of the Institute. This harmony is part of the plant kingdom's spirit agreement with humans. If people discovered the fields weren't being watered, the plants would have to die in order to conform to human belief. So, in accordance with the psychological strategy of the plants, I went to the fields each morning and laid in a hammock for three hours talking to the plants, the amount of time it used to take me to water all the fields. This ruse kept the illusion alive back at the main house that 1 did go up to the fields every day to water the vegetable gardens.
The spirit of the plants even went so far as to advise me to hide the monthly water bill from the rest of the household, so they wouldn't notice the sharp drop in water consumption and catch on to the truth. Since I wrote the Institute's checks, I paid the water invoice immediately each month so no one would see that our water charges had dropped by two-thirds! This documented water reduction was a very convincing, real world confirmation for me that the plants weren't receiving water.
My second astounding lesson from the plants was in the form of a request. The vegetable plants asked me to create a special garden just for the insects, animals and other life forms regarded as pests by humans. This way, the plants explained, all life forms would be happy. Unmolested, the vegetables in the main fields could grow vital and healthy while the bugs, aphids, fungi, mold, snails, rabbits and deer would have their own vegetable garden to plunder.
Made sense to me! So I planted a new garden about ten feet square. It contained a few of every vegetable planted in the main fields. I told the elements of nature that loved to eat veggies that this was their garden to enjoy and to kindly leave t he main fields alone.
Talk about ugly! Every form of hungry pest known in that climate ravaged the vegetables in the special garden. Yet the vegetables in the four main fields remained sound and robust, unscathed by blight or bites.
Michio knew what 1 was up to in the gardens. He would come by the fields and whisper surreptitiously into my ear, -You're not watering these fields, are you?" I would simply smile back. It was difficult for me to speak aloud to anyone about the extraordinary events unfolding in the gardens. Overwhelmed and a little superstitious, I didn't even talk to myself about the magic. Michio would simply laugh in response to my quiet smile and walk away.
Through playful dialogue with the plant kingdom, 1 allowed the means and methods of magic into my life. The plants offered me a portal to explore and understand the inner workings of nature and of all life. I learned that by communicating on the level of consciousness-by connecting directly to the spirit of each living thing-A can co-create harmony and happiness with all the elements of my world.
This article is reprinted from the book Inner Coach, Outer Power by Keith Varnum (2002), with the kind permission of New Dimensions Publishing.