"The secret of the Tao Te Ching is its idea of Tao, modeled on the life of a plant. Just as a living plant is tender and yielding (Chapter 76), so is Tao weak and yielding (Chapter 40). With plants the hidden roots support the visible leaves and flowers, which return to the roots upon perishing (Chapter 16). Likewise, Tao is the hidden root (Chapter 6), the non-being from which all beings spring (Chapter 40 and Chapter 21) and to which all beings return (Chapter 34). The life of a plant is conditioned by seasonal rotation. So is the movement of Tao in four stages: great (summer), disappearing (fall), far away (winter), and return (spring) (Chapter 25). In the same way does the Taoist model spiritual life after a plant. A living plant is tender and pliant, whole a dead plant is stiff and hard (Chapter 76); one who is with the Tao is also tender and pliant, while one who departs from the Tao is stiff and hard. The plant kingdom is a quiet kingdom (Chapter 16) that sleeps in beauty; Taoist quietude is the spiritual condition for regeneration. A plant grows at its own pace. One must not, like the farmer in the Mencius (2A.2), help the growth of the corn stalks by pulling them up. In the same way the Taoist allows events to unfold according to their inner rhythms; he acts by non-action (wu-wei), which is acting with, not against, the inner rhythms of things. A plant is always renewing itself; the Taoist celebrates perpetual childhood (Chapter 55)."
- Ellen M. Chen, The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary, 1989, p. 41
Spirituality and Gardening
A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo for each one of the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes 20 different translations or interpolations of each Chapter in English, 3 Spanish translations for each Chapter, the Chinese characters for each Chapter, and a Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin Romanization of the Mandarin Chinese words for each Chapter; extensive indexing by key words and terms for each Chapter in English, Spanish, and the Wade-Giles Romanization is provided; recommended reading in books and websites, a detailed bibliography, some commentary, research leads, translation sources, and other resources for each Chapter are included.
"The first act of awe, when man was struck with the beauty or wonder of Nature, was the first spiritual experience."
- Henryk Skolimowski
"A little too abstract, a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again."
- Robinson Jeffers
"In the assemblies of the enlightened ones there have been many cases of mastering the Way bringing forth the heart of plants and trees; this is what awakening the mind for enlightenment is like. The fifth patriarch of Zen was once a pine-planting wayfarer; Rinzai worked on planting cedars and pines on Mount Obaku. ... Working with plants, trees, fences and walls, if they practice sincerely they will attain enlightenment."
- Dogen Zenji, Japanese Zen Buddhist Grand Master , Awakening the Unsurpassed Mind, #31
"Gardening helps us realize somatically, viscerally, the laws of growth and gradual unfolding. We can't pull the plants up to make them grow, but we can help facilitate and midwife their blooming, each in his own way, time, and proper season. I have learned a little about patience and humility from my gardens. It's so obviously not something I'm doing that creates this miracle! I also like to reflect upon and appreciate the exquisitely, evanescent, transitory, and poignant nature of things in the garden. If you love the Dharma, you have to farm it. Go to a garden. Just stand in it. Breathe in the air, the fragrances, the light, the temperature, the music of the different plants, insects, birds, worms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and butterflies. Inhale the prana (cosmic energy) of all the abundantly growing things. Recharge your inner batteries. This is the joy of natural meditation."
- Lama Surya Das, Awakening to the Sacred, 1999