The Plant Kingdom
~ The Root of Mystical Yearning ~
Life manifests as form. When looking at creation, there is perhaps no idea more fundamental than this. As we look out at the world we see that living forms abound. Yet do we really consider the splendor of this fact, and the evolutionary necessity that gives rise to these forms? And do we realize that the great drama of evolution is unfolding before our eyes through the various kingdoms of nature? Perhaps most pervasive and spiritual revealing is the array of plant life present all around us. As with all kingdoms in nature, the plant kingdom is a domain of existence that offers amazing opportunity for the evolution of life. For plants represent the category of life where the mystical yearning for spirit first takes root.
To begin our inquiry into the spiritual importance of the plant kingdom, we must first create a context for understanding. Always context gives meaning to content, and this is particularly true when trying to fathom the evolution of life through the various kingdoms of nature. In the Esoteric Tradition it is understood that the individual spirit (monad) must slowly evolve through every kingdom in nature. Importantly, each kingdom provides the spirit with fundamental experiences that facilitate the evolution of consciousness. This is true whether we are considering monads residing in the mineral, plant, animal or human domains of life. Each kingdom provides experiential opportunity for the spirit to grow. They do this by providing it with needed attributes that ultimately develop consciousness from its most rudimentary beginnings (the mineral kingdom) to the flowering of enlightened mind, which marks the climax of life within the human kingdom. It is therefore true to say that the monad within every human being has already worked its way through three previous kingdoms in nature (mineral, plant and animal), and this over countless millions of years.
From this understanding we can proceed to consider the evolution of life within the plant kingdom itself. While stationed within the mineral kingdom, the monad acquired attributes that formed an initial foundation for the growth and evolution of consciousness. Specifically, the qualities of geometric precision and radiation are the great gifts conditioned into life confined within mineral form. Yet the monad eventually graduates from the mineral world, and begins its long journey through the plant kingdom. While there it will acquire new attributes necessary for the continued germination of consciousness. These new qualities, though rudimentary, will enrich the substructure of consciousness, and are essential to the monad’s continued evolution. There are three attributes that the plant kingdom conditions into the consciousness of the monad. They are:
1. Magnetic Appeal
3. Upward Yearning
Of all the kingdoms of nature, it is the plant domain where the quality of love and attraction is first developed. One need only walk into places where nature is untarnished by human civilization to feel the love force inherent within plants. We are drawn to them automatically, for they radiate warmth and magnetic appeal. Interestingly, humanity has long sensed this force, and has used plants to symbolize love. For example, the rose has long been used as a symbol of love when given to another person. Without the need for words, there is something about this magnificent flower that speaks to the human heart. This is true of many forms of plant life. Inherent in the radiation of plants is an energy that softens the outer world, and reveals the unity of life. Esoterically considered, love can be understood in this way. It is the divine force within creation that enlivens us with the vision that we are all truly one. In short, love invites us into a unitive field where oneness can be felt. When handing a rose to someone dear, is this not a symbol of recognized unity conveyed in the giving? Such is the power of plant life to create love and magnetic warmth. Plants are inherently attractive. They draw life unto themselves through their capacity to radiate love. We see, therefore, that magnetism is first etched into consciousness when life resides within the plant kingdom. As human beings, this quality is still with us today. It is recognized in our capacity to magnetically attract people and circumstance into our lives. Interpersonal love, and our capacity to sense the oneness of humanity, is rooted in this ancient lesson learned when we (as monads) evolved through the plant kingdom uncounted aeons ago.
The second attribute developed in the plant kingdom is the power to harmonize. Perhaps no other kingdom so easily conveys harmony than this domain of life. Everywhere we look, vegetation seems to create an amazing balance within and beyond itself. The plant kingdom seeks always to harmonize with such things as climate and geological circumstance. When we think of the balancing forces of nature, vegetation is often the first thing that comes to mind. Plants synchronize themselves according to the greater rhythms in nature, such as the seasons, and the cycles of day and night. People who tend to gardens often speak of it as a means to achieve inner peace and harmony. We also see this harmonizing force manifesting in the magnificent color display of plant life. And, it is through such harmonizing tendencies that beauty then emerges. This is a point of major import when considering this kingdom of nature. It is the plant kingdom where the development of divine beauty first emerges with clarity. From the esoteric perspective, beauty is considered an attribute of God. As such, it is within this kingdom that beauty first takes root within evolving consciousness. The relationship between beauty and harmony is crucial in this regard. It is when various forms within an environment harmonize with each other that beauty emerges. Beauty therefore depends upon harmony for its recognition. It is the inevitable consequence when this harmonizing force is displayed through vegetative forms. Though plant consciousness is rudimentary (as compared to animal and human), these attributes serve as the foundation for the development of higher orders of harmony to be later refined within the animal and human kingdoms. Within the animal kingdom we see that harmony is further developed, resulting in the natural interplay that exists between various species and their environment. In the human domain, this rightful interplay with nature is only now being recaptured. This we can see in the growing environmental movement occurring in the world today. However, this harmonizing force is also seeking to evolve still further in this, the fourth kingdom in nature. As human beings, our capacity to create harmony within the complexities of human living is evidence of this fact. Humanity’s ability to create art forms that have the power to uplift the human spirit is further indication that these attributes are continuing to be refined within us. This energy is also creating the conditions that lead to the harmonizing of the human soul with its lower reflection (personality).
The third attribute built into the consciousness of plant life is the yearning for light. Generally speaking, this urge is revealed in the tendency of plants to upwardly reach toward to the sun and its nurturing rays. To the plant kingdom, the sun provides the most essential radiation in support of its sustenance and growth. No other kingdom in nature is as dependent on direct sunshine than plant life. From the esoteric perspective, the plant kingdom is the most receptive to the energy of prana emitted by the sun. Prana is the name given to the sun’s hidden energy (behind and within the sun’s outer display of light), and is considered the true life sustaining force in our solar system. Indeed, it is a spiritual energy that is thought to ultimately be responsible for maintaining all life on earth. Interestingly, it is the plant kingdom that is best able to utilize and transform prana with efficiency. The lower reflection of this intimacy between plants and the sun can be seen in the processes of photosynthesis uniquely operative within the plant domain. It is this that is also considered the main reason why spiritually minded people are encouraged to live a vegetarian lifestyle. Though most people are under the impression that the reason for a vegetarian diet is that it is wrong to consume animals because they are expressions of life. This however overlooks the fact that plants are manifestations of life as well, and are equally as sacred. The real reason for making the vegetable kingdom one’s primary source of sustenance is related to this question of prana. Because prana is best absorbed and assimilated in the plant kingdom, its life sustaining power is greater than that offered by the animal kingdom.
The tendency to upwardly yearn, though initially carved into consciousness when living within the plant kingdom, is clearly present and operative in our lives today. This is particularly true when we consider people who are trying to live according to their higher values and spiritual aspirations. Our yearning to inwardly aspire toward the light of the soul is a higher rendition of the plant’s yearning for the light of the sun. Often in the ancient esoteric literature there is reference to the light of the soul, and its correspondence to the sun’s radiance. Indeed, the soul is the inner sun within each of us. Our meditative strivings are motions in consciousness that were initially developed in the plant kingdom. Such inward and upward tendencies are simply higher order refinements of the same sacred principle developed so long ago.
The journey of the monad (spirit) through the various kingdoms of nature is indeed long. Yet, it is via this sojourn that necessary structures in consciousness are built. Each kingdom gives to evolving consciousness certain attributes needed in order for evolution to proceed as divinely intended. The developmental gains achieved while living within the plant kingdom create several necessary substructures for the eventual development of human consciousness much later upon the evolutionary path. Existence as a plant makes possible the germination of magnetic appeal, and by so doing, insures that love and magnetism are forever rooted within us. The power of human beings to bring harmony out of conflict, and to appreciate the beauty that emerges from it, had also been fixed within us during that long forgotten stage of development. Perhaps most importantly, the innate tendency for plants to reach for the sun gives original testimony to our mystical yearnings today. Great were the gifts developed when life as tree or flower was the way for us. Each step demanded integration of new attributes within us, and each kingdom provided the essential seeds for their germination. What is planted in the soil of prehuman life must flower when the human stage is finally reached. In truth, this is an inescapable prerequisite to enlightenment. When these divine attributes are fully woven into the very fabric of being, then liberation into the fifth domain (kingdom of souls) is one’s welcomed fate.
© 2002 William Meader
Biographical Information: William Meader is an author, teacher and counselor. Much of his work is focused on the subjects of Spiritual Creativity, the Evolution of Consciousness and the Art of Meditation. At present he is teaching in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He resides in Oregon, and can be contacted through his website at meader.org.