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Customer Review

on June 26, 2005
This book represents an exciting synchronicity for me. However, I can understand that some of those drawn by the title would find it challenging to digest, and others might balk at the paradigm shift it requires of anyone who dares to pursue it's suggestions. The author would not be surprised since he knows that he is treading tricky ground in reviewing the suppressed significance of bioelectromagnetism and claiming that the extensive knowledge of ancient indigenous cultures was gained not by trial and error but by far more subtle and sophisticated means. Yet Buhner is tracking the footsteps of some very admirable, independent thinkers and he quotes them at length.

These people have sometimes been called 'mystic scientists', and all of them were true naturalists since their insights came directly from their own experience of immersion in the natural world. At the end of the book, Buhner provides short and inspiring biographies as well as topic summaries and good further reading lists. I have degrees in botany/genetics and plant-breeding, so I was shocked for example to realize that my studies did not include Luther Burbank who last century created by non-scientific selection food plants we now take for granted, or Masanobu Fukuoka who has grown rice crops that yield consistently more than any produced by scientific method.

And I certainly did not learn that Barbara McClintock, who won the Nobel prize for her work with transposons and corn genetics used, like Einstein and many genius 'scientists', unconventional methods to make her most important discoveries. Many 'scientific breakthoughs' have in fact been made by people who schooled themselves; devoted students of nature, their methods were far from sloppy. With current concerns about genetic engineering of crop plants and the diminishing diversity of potential medicinal plant species on the planet, the nature-based approach Buhner describes reminds us that there may be an alternative to the harmful effects of so-called human advancement.

Buhner's purpose is to show why the verbal/intellectual/analytic methods of gaining knowledge and understanding that prevail in our culture are limited, and limiting, without the holistic/intuitive/depth mode of cognition in which our ancestors and indigenous peoples were well versed. Also called direct perception or biognosis (knowledge from life), this method of gaining accurate and sustainable information about the world is, he says, more than anything a way of being and our birthright. Unfortunately, it is a way of being that is hard to sustain in an world where human's seek dominion over, and separation from, the natural order of life.

Almost half the book is devoted to the topic of 'heart intelligence' with which I am familiar through it's relevance and application in my practice of aquatic bodywork. Recent research indicates that the heart is an organ of perception that is superior to the brain in terms of the speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of it's responsiveness to the environment. Buhner's account of this work is very good, if lengthy, and what I appreciate is that he emphasizes the importance of these findings for our ability to interconnect with the natural world, and specifically plant medicines.
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