Personality of Plants

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Descrizione dell’editore

“The natural world, so to speak, is the raw material of the spiritual. Therefore, ere man can understand the spiritual, he must understand the natural,” writes Thomas Gentry.

The authors of this book would go a step further and say that the natural world is the spiritual. Soul and body, ephemeral and material, on this plane of existence are ineffably bound together. If you would climb to sublime heights of ghostly exaltation, study first the grass at your feet. If you would unravel the mysteries of the universe, desert the cloistered hearth for the wonders of woods and meadows. Slow-thinking man will never understand the secret of his own existence, until he thoroughly understands the plants outside his window.

For one to examine dead, withered specimens and hope to understand Nature is as if a person should analyze hundreds of Egyptian mummies in order to acquaint himself with the human race. You must seek the flowers on their native heath and treat them as friends and equals. Too often is the human creature inclined to look upon members of the vegetable kingdom as things apart from the world of life—insensate beings which can be cut down and trampled without offense—mere “growths,” more akin to earth and stone than to himself.

As a matter of fact, among the many forms of matter which exist on this earth of ours, the only clear-cut division is between the organic and the inorganic. The primary characteristic which distinguishes a living creature from inanimate objects about it is, in the words of Arthur Dendy, its power of “reacting toward its environment in such a manner as to conduce to its own well-being; of controlling not only its own behaviour but also the behaviour alike of its fellow creatures and of inanimate objects, in its own interests, thereby maintaining its own position in the universal struggle for existence.”

If this, then, is the one characteristic which distinguishes all terrestrial life, it follows that all creatures from the unicellular protoza to man himself are intimately related, are all part and parcel of the same system, are recognizable by differences in degree but not in kind, and are all interesting manifestations of that mysterious thing we call life. No creature lives or dies to itself. The correlation of organisms in Nature is similiar to the correlation of organs in individual plants and animals.

If the reader will but face this fact, he will approach the study of Nature with a new reverence. He will recognize the oneness and kinship of all life.

It is largely the object of this book to explore the inner recesses of breathing and thinking plantdom—to take the reader beyond the limits of text-book botany into regions of sympathetic insight—to show how even human arts and sciences are unchangeably bound up with the lives and hopes of the grasses and flowers.

To do this comprehensively, it has been thought wise not only to indicate how plants think and act but to incorporate a broad general history of their race stretching back to their first appearance on the planet and carried forward to the Burbank creations. With this knowledge in hand, we are better equipped to approachthat fascinating realm which touches on the intelligence, the spirituality, the mysticism, the psychic phenomena, the higher life of plants.

Scienza e natura
6 giugno
Library of Alexandria