Citing Goethe, Thoreau and other opponents of overweening rationalism, Buhner (Sacred Plant Medicine
), a researcher for the Foundation for Gaian Studies, criticizes the Western "verbal/intellectual/analytical" "mode of cognition" that has suppressed the "holistic/intuitive/depth" cognition of "ancient and indigenous peoples." The antidote to our "linear" scientific mindset, he contends, is the cultivation of direct sensory perceptions through rapt observation of, and psychic communion with, plants until "the student and the plant interweave...[,] their two life fields entrained." Such emotional and spiritual connections to nature are feasible because, according to Buhner's discordantly scientistic theory of all-penetrating cardiac electromagnetic fields, the heart is our main organ of perception and communication. These methods also apply to the "depth diagnosis" of human ailments through direct perception of patients ("Her chest caught my attention, standing forth of its own accord. Beckoning," he writes of a woman with asthma), which he uses in his healing practice. Buhner's romantic-transcendentalist critique of intellect often lapses into anti-intellectualism ("Keep your botany out of this!... Do not use big, scientific words!") and is undermined by his own murky resort to big, scientific words like "molecular self-organization" and "stochastic resonance." He does produce some evocative passages about real plants, but these are often buried under the loam of a New Age mysticism that only the already convinced will appreciate.
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“Buhner’s writings are a powerful call for people to work together to restore the sacredness of Earth.”
(Brooke Medicine Eagle, author of Buffalo Woman Comes Singing)
". . . Stephen Harrod Buhner reveals the use of direct perception in understanding nature, medicinal plants, and the healing of disease. . . . This book is a must read for any nature lover."
(Share Guide, Mar-Apr, 2005)
"Science and spirituality blend in an intriguing ecological assessment of what the plant world can teach us."
(The Midwest Book Review, April, 2005)
". . . how to achieve heart-based perception, and how to learn the medicinal uses of plants directly from the plants themselves."
(The Burlington Free Press, Feb. 27, 2005)
“I learned more from part one of this magnificent book than from any source in years. Buhner writes of complex discoveries in neuroscience and neurocardiology with clarity and coherence. Encompassing the highest spiritual insights of such giants as Blake, Goethe, and Whitman, part two is worthy poetry in itself, offering readers a unique way to move into transcendent realms. Of the truly great books appearing today, The Secret Teachings of Plants is easily the most rewarding I have had the privilege of reading.”
(Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Biology of Transcendence)
“In this wonderful book Stephen Buhner shows us that the heart is not a machine but the informed, intelligent core of our emotional, spiritual, and perceptual universe. Through the heart we can perceive the living spirit that diffuses through the green world that is our natural home. Required reading for all owners of a heart.”
(Matthew Wood, herbalist and author of The Book of Herbal Wisdom)
“Beautifully written, The Secret Teachings of Plants is a work of art--as much a poetical journey into the essence of plants as it is a guidebook on how to use plant medicine in our healing practices. Stephen Buhner is among the plant geniuses of our time. Like Thoreau and Goethe and Luther Burbank, the master gardeners and “green men” he so liberally quotes throughout, Buhner will be long remembered for his deep and introspective connection with the green world and for his ability to connect us to the heart of the plants through his teachings.”
(Rosemary Gladstar, author of Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal and founder of United Plant Savers)
“A ‘must read’ for herbalists, healers, gardeners, nature lovers, and anyone who has ever been moved to tears by the everyday miracles of life.”
(Susun S. Weed, author of Healing Wise)
"The Secret Teachings of Plants offers ways to bypass the linear intelligence of the brain and tap into the nonlinear intelligence of the heart. . . . enables people to gather information directly from nature for diagnosing and treating illnesses, as well as for developing connections with the natural world."
(Richard D. Wright, Tranquil Things, New Age Retailer, Holiday 2005)
"If you work directly with plants, as a gardener or in herbal and alchemical practices, and want to cultivate a more intimate view of them or simply want to better enjoy your time spent outside and among growing and green things, The Secret Teachings of Plants will help you do both.
(Mark Stavish, Institute for Hermetic Studies, April 2006)
"This book is part poetry, part sicence . . . There is an energy that overcomes and refreshes."
(Loretta, Widewest blog, Feb 2010)
“Humanity’s ultimate liberation lies in the realization of the radiant transcendental consciousness in which nature inheres—that ultimate reality to which Buhner’s excellent books always seem to be pointing us.”
(DharmaCafe, November 2011)