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The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature Paperback – October 27, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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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Review

“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)

"For homeopaths seeking to enhance their sensitivity to nature’s energies, and to complement their understanding of existing proving information, “Secret Teachings” is an enlightening guide." (Hpathy.com, May 2010)

“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 Sav)

“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)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bear & Company (October 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591430356
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591430353
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Richard G. Petty on March 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an intriguing book about our essential connection with the plant kingdom. Herbalists around the world are lamenting the loss of plants that have medicinal properties, some of which have not yet been discovered.

There is a great, and little explored puzzle: virtually every known group of humans has developed sophisticated plant-based medicines and agents for altering states of consciousness. Many are only used in complex mixtures. Too much of one ingredient and not enough of another, and the concoction is either inert or toxic. Yet to have found all these plants and all of their combinations by trial and error would have taken armies or researchers and hundreds of thousands of years. Throughout the world, traditional healers report that they learned about these properties from the plants themselves. They speak of using intuition and the "intelligence of the heart" for the direct perception of nature. Stephen Buhner suggests that this perception comes from the neural network within the physical heart that beats in our chests.

Throughout the book he presents countless examples of people from Thoreau to Luther Burbank and Goethe, who saw deeply into Nature, not through the intellect, but through the heart. He shows us how these people obtained their direct knowledge. It is very clear that Stephen Buhner is not reciting something that he read, but he is telling us about his own direct and deep perception of Nature. He explains how we can all share in this communion with Nature. He goes on to teach us how we, like the shamans of old, can learn the medicinal uses of plants directly from the plants themselves. He also shows us how this opening up to the world of plants can have profound effects upon us.
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Format: Paperback
The following review was written for a class in Botanical Medicine as part of a degree program in Naturopathic Medicine.

Buhner's book can be divided into two distinct parts. In the first half of the book, Buhner explores the ideas of linear versus nonlinear thought. He explains that nature is a culmination of fractal patterns and fluctuations, and extrapolates this idea into the concept of the human thought process. According to Buhner, the brain thinks linearly, defined by logic, language and life experience, but the heart has its own vibrational consciousness. When the heart is used as an organ of perception, the entire body is healthier and more in tune with its natural surroundings. I related to the story about the author's exposure to nature after living in the suburbs, which immediately brought up memories of my own childhood and similar feelings about being in natural versus manmade surroundings.

The second half of the book is devoted to applying the concept of heart consciousness to communication with plants and with people. He explains how native peoples around the world have learned over time to use plants for medicine, ritual and food - when asked, they always say they learned from the plants themselves. In this section I found some very powerful, unique concepts about plants. One was the idea that a person's deep-seated need will be communicated through their energy, expressed via the heart consciousness, and that plants respond to this on various levels. They not only begin to produce medicinal chemicals in response to the need, but they respond and tell the person how to use them. Buhner explores methods of communicating with plants and shows how to bring about an open dialogue for learning from the plant itself.
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Stephen Buhner's writing style is captivating, humble and poetic, and mirrors the non-linear beauty of Nature. He invites you to skip around the book and read whatever interests you, and if you love all things in Nature like I do, you will surely end up reading everything twice, just like I did. This is honestly, one of the most incredible books I have read in quite some time. I am a currently enrolled in a Master's program in the Health Arts and I think this book should be required reading.

Though there are so many people in society today that take credit for something that has, in fact, been around for years, this is not the case with Stephen Buhner. His intentions are genuine as he writes for and about Nature. He never claims ownership of any of the ideas presented in his book, rather, he takes the words of the wise people who came long before him, and weaves them eloquently through-out his own, demonstrating how the idea of the heart as an organ of perception is not new. That we all have the capability, it has simply been unintentionally taught out us out.

I am also the Director of a medical research foundation, and often times I am appalled by how close minded so many in the realm of medicine/science can be. Though their intentions may once have been sincere, the unfortunate truth is, somewhere along the way, their motivations changed and they lost the ability to see the big picture.

I highly recommend this book. Society is ready for this book. The environment needs for society to read this book. I found the following quote by G.
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