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Posted: October 13, 2006

Spiritual Caregiving

The Heart as an Organ of Perception - Part 3

(Editor’s Note: It turns out that the heart does much more than simply keep beating to keep us alive, It is a most "intelligent" body organ that sways moods, motivates, and even acts as a life compass. Take a wonderful journey through the heart of our hearts in this third and final installment in a 3-part series from the editors of Spirituality & Health magazine.)


The Shape of the Heart Field

We all live immersed in meaning-filled fields of information. These fields flow into us from the moment of our birth. We experience these fields not as a stream of words on a page but as emotions, the touch of life upon us.

This interchange, rooted in our hearts, alters our lives, shapes its quality, and reminds us that we are never alone. It reconnects us to the ground of being from which we come and nurtures in us a natural empathy with the world around us. We are one intelligent organism among many, one ensouled form amid a multitude.

Heart cognition moves us from a rational orientation in a dead, mechanized universe to one in which the unique perceptions and emotions are noticed and strengthened. It allows us to deeply experience the living soulfulness of the world, constantly reweaving us back into the fabric of life. We may be out of practice, but our capacity to perceive from the heart comes naturally to us, and it never disappears. As I've explained, we are made for the unique nature of each thing to pass into us through our hearts, which store memories of this thing, and engage it in dialogue.

With practice, it is possible to learn the shape of your heart field as well as you know your own hands, and use your heart as you do your hands to touch the world around you.

It is also possible to entrain with other EM fields intentionally, allowing the information in these fields to pass into you in the form of information you can use. It is, after all, as natural to us as the beating of our hearts. Ancient and indigenous peoples, locating consciousness in the heart, commonly experience aesthesis as a regular part of life. They know those moments when there is a blending in the soul essence of two living things, when the human begins to know the nonhuman directly from itself.

Why We Can Talk to Plants

This ancient knowing explains how these people learn direct depth healing of human disease and the use of medicinal plants: a blending of the EM fields between human and plant occurs of its own accord, a moment of synchronicity when information is directly exchanged.

Often, this blending is experienced as a visionary or dream state. Manuel Cordova-Rios, the great Amazonian healer from Peru, describes one such moment: "In infinite detail her internal organs appeared on the screen of my vision. As the liver came into my sight, it was obvious from its black color that it had ceased to function and I knew that it was no longer serving to purify the blood. As this became clear to me I turned my attention to the remedy and the appropriate plants appeared in my vision -- flowers from the retama tree and roots from the retamilla shrub. As the visions faded off into more general dreams, I knew it was possible for her to recover."

This direct exchange is how the German poet and botanist Goethe discovered the "pregnant point" and, cultivating it, came to his understanding of plant metamorphosis: that all parts of a plant -- pistils, stamens, stems -- are merely leaf morphed into different shapes. "He who sees into the secret inner life of the plant, into the stirring of its powers, and observes how the flower gradually unfolds itself, sees the matter with quite different eyes -- he knows what he sees," wrote Goethe.

This is how the great agriculturalist Luther Burbank was able to coax new food plants into existence in two or three years and, trotting down rows of 20,000 seedlings, could pick the seven that would breed true. From him came many of the domesticated plants that we take for granted as food. It was sensitivity, he explained, that "partly accounts for my unusual success in selecting between two apparently identical plants or flowers or trees or fruits."

This is how Masanobu Fukuoka, the great Japanese farmer, equals the yields of technological farming without fertilizers, weeding, or tilling the soil. He taught himself to understand the true nature of barley from within itself, to grow it under the unique conditions of his own field, and to see the human from the barley's point of view. "Only to him who stands where the barley stands and listens well, will it speak and tell, for his sake, what man is," said Fukuoka.

Reductionism approaches are like concrete sidewalks. They suppress the wild, but the power of the green -- veriditas as Hildegard of Bingen called it -- always breaks through. When we locate consciousness in the brain, we reduce the breadth of full perception and thought to a narrow band. Everything else is relegated to the realm of superstition or heresy. But when we reclaim the heart as an organ of perception and cognition, we feel first and then know -- the oldest way of being human.

Sensing Your Heart Field

Have a friend stand six feet away. Walk up to him or her slowly. When you're 12 to 18 inches away, you will suddenly experience being in this person's "space." Your two heart fields are touching. Once you get to know the feel of your field, you can learn to extend it out from yourself and use it like sensitive fingers to touch the world around you.

Learning to Think with Your Heart in Four Steps:

1. Focus on a natural object, such as a plant or a flower or a piece of fruit. Notice its appearance, its colors and shadings. Immerse yourself in its sensory aspects (or, put another way, come to your senses). This is the first step in getting out of your head.

2. Continue to look at the object before you and ask yourself, "What does it feel like?" This activates the heart as an organ of perception and helps naturally to shift your attention to the object's electromagnetic field. You will then experience a unique feeling complex, which you probably can't name, as the object's electromagnetic signature moves through your heart.

3. Allow the feeling to fill you. Breathe through and with the feeling while continuing to focus on the object in front of you. Notice how your breathing has slowed, your vision slips into softer focus, colors seem to brighten, and your body relaxes. These physiological shifts always accompany the movement into heart-centered perception.

4. Reach out with your heart field and hold the thing in front of you. Allow yourself to feel a sense of caring for it (this creates specific alterations in the EM field of the heart). As you do this, the two fields will entrain, and you will feel a flow of energy between you and it.

If you do this with a plant, you might at this point ask it to tell you about itself. George Washington Carver used this process to deepen his understanding of food plants such as the peanut. "Anything will give up its secrets," he said, "if you love it enough."


 (You can read the first third installment of this story in the Spiritual Caregiving archive by clicking here and the second installment by clicking here.)


Stephen Harrod Buhner is an herbalist, psychotherapist, and teacher. He is the author of many books, including The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature and Sacred Plant Medicine.

This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at Contact staff directly via email at

© 2006 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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