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(…) We may exercise a good deal of influence if we will upon the plants in our gardens. Plants, like animals, are quick to respond to wise and loving care, and are distinctly affected not only by what we do for them physically, but also by our feelings towards them. Anyone who possesses astral sight will be aware that flowers delight in and respond to a feeling of admiration. The feelings of the vegetable differ rather in degree than in kind from those of the animal or of the human being, and they bear somewhat the same relation to those of the animal as do those of the animal to those of the human being.

The animal is less complex in his emotions than the human being, but is capable of affection and hatred, of fear and pride, of jealousy or of shame. Some animals, too, seem to have a sense of humor; at any rate, they keenly enjoy playing tricks on one another, and they object greatly to being made to appear ridiculous or to being laughed at. There is nothing to show that these emotions are less in proportion in the animal than they are in us; but we may say that the animal has fewer emotions and that they are less complex, and his methods of expressing them are more limited.

If we descend to the vegetable kingdom we find that the vegetable has scarcely any power of expression; but we shall be making a grave mistake if we therefore assume that there are no feelings to express. Emotion in the vegetable kingdom is again far less complex even than that of the animal, and it is altogether vaguer – a sort of blind instinctual feeling. The chief physical manifestation of it is the well-known fact that some people are always fortunate with plants, while others are always unfortunate, even when the physical measures adopted are precisely the same. This difference exists everywhere, but in India it has been specially noted, and certain people are described as having the lucky hand, and it is recognized that almost anything which those people plant will grow, even under quite unfavorable conditions, and that anything which they cultivate is sure to turn out well. When this influence is universal over the vegetable kingdom it is not a question of individual liking, but of certain characteristics in the person, and certain qualities in his astral and etheric vehicle which prove generally attractive, just as there are some people with whom all dogs will at once make friends, and others who without effort can manage the most recalcitrant horses.

But plants are also capable of individual attachment, and when they get to know people well, they are pleased to see (or rather to feel) them near. A person who pours upon his flowers a stream of admiration and affection evokes in them a feeling of pleasure – first of a general pleasure in receiving admiration, which might be thought of as a sort of germ of pride, and then, secondly, a feeling of pleasure at the presence of the person who admires, which in the same way is the germ of love and gratitude. Plants are also capable of anger and dislike, though outwardly they have hardly any means of showing them.

An occultist who has a garden will make a point of seeing that it is in every way perfectly and carefully looked after, and more than this, he will himself make friends with the flowers and trees and shrubs, and will go sometimes to visit them and give each its due need of admiration, and so in giving pleasure to these lowly organisms he will himself be surrounded by a vague feeling of affection.

It may be said that the feeling of a vegetable can hardly be strong enough to be worth taking into account. It is true that the influence exerted by it upon a human being is less than would be produced by the feeling of an animal; but these influences do exist, and though the feeling of one plant may not seem important, the feeling of hundreds begins to be a recognizable factor, and if we wish to make the best possible conditions, we must not ignore our less developed brethren of the lower kingdoms.

That much even from the purely selfish point of view; but the occultist naturally thinks first of the effect upon the plant. When we form a garden we are drawing round us a number of members of the vegetable kingdom for our own pleasure; but at the same time this affords us an opportunity of helping them in their evolution, an opportunity which should not be neglected. Plants differ much in their power to receive and respond to human influences. A large tree, for example, with its slow growth and its long life, is capable of forming a far stronger attachment than anything which is merely annual. Such a tree comes to have a decided personality of its own, and is even sometimes able temporarily to externalize that personality, so that it can be seen by the clairvoyant. In such a case it usually takes upon itself human form for the time, as I have mentioned in The Inner Life, vol. ii. Those who wish to understand how much more intelligence there is in the vegetable kingdom than we usually think, should read a delightful book called The Sagacity and Morality of Plants by J.E. Taylor.

– Charles Webster Leadbeater

From: The Hidden Side of Things

The Theosophical Publishing House

Adyar, Chennai

ISBN 81-7059-337-9