Hands-On — August 11, 2011
The Secret Life of Plants and the Green Domain
Based on the best-selling book by Peter Topkins and Christopher Bird, the film The Secret Life of Plants details the remarkable experiments that Randall Fontes and Robert Swanson did with living plants in 1973. The profundity of these experiments and the lessons learned cannot be denied but tragically, they have all but been forgotten. Now in 2012, the truth and implications of their stunning experiments are more important than ever.
The film makes use of ‘innovative’ use of time-lapse photography (where you can see plants grow in a few seconds, creepers reaching out to other plants and tugging on them, mushrooms and flowers popping open, etc.), in order to portray them as animate beings. Now these types of images are almost commonplace but when the film was originally released, such images were a novelty to the general public.
What Randall Fontes and Robert Swanson did in their book, was to try to prove a theory propounded eight years before by Cleveland Backster, a former CIA lie-detector expert who claimed startling results when he attached a polygraph to a plant and then threatened to burn one of its leaves.
Both the book and the documentary were based on the hypothesis proposed by Cleve Baxter. Cleveland Backster, a former CIA lie-detector expert claimed startling results when he attached a polygraph to a plant and then threatened to burn one of its leaves.This initial revelation led Backster to months of testing on 25 different varieties of plants. He went to elaborate extremes to rule out all other possible influencing factors. Nevertheless the plants still seemed to respond to thoughts about harm or mutilation. This led Backster to pose what he calls “primary perception” he believes that plants possess a mode of communication more primitive and direct than human sensory perception. He even suggests that all living cells, not only those of plants, may have the ability to communicate directly with one another.
“Of course the Gaia hypothesis–the idea that the earth is a great big working organism, with a lot of corrections built in–fits in nicely with this. The planet is going to get the last word concerning the damage humans are inflicting upon it. It’s only going to take so much of the abuse going on, and then it may well burp and snort a little, and a good bit of the population may not be around any more. I strongly suspect that nature has a way of handling abuse. I don’t think it would be a stretch to attribute its defense strategy to a kind of planetary intelligence. The planet will handle it, perhaps a bit more severely than we would like. It would be nicer if we took care of the problems, but . . .
“I don’t believe that organized religion has done a very good job. It’s supposed to tell you in a meaningful way where you came from, what you’re doing here, and where you’re going, and in my opinion it fails on every one of these accounts. This leads, so far as I am concerned, to our present sorry state, where, to take medical care as an example, we are faced with an awful lot of people who are tired of living and afraid of dying. And so billions of dollars are spent to keep them in that state of limbo. They certainly aren’t happy, yet they’re so unprepared for death–so unassured as to what will happen to them in the dying process – that there seems nowhere for them to turn.
“Whenever I encounter Indian scientists–Buddhist or Hindu–and we talk about what I do, instead of giving me a bunch of grief they say, “What took you so long?” My work dovetails very well with many of the concepts embraced by Hinduism and Buddhism.” – Cleve Backster
All ancient and indigenous peoples insisted their knowledge of plant medicines came from the plants themselves and not through trial & error experimentation. Less well known is that many Western peoples made this same assertion. There are, in fact, two modes of cognition available to all human beings--the brain-based linear and the heart-based holistic. The heart-centered mode of perception can be exceptionally accurate and detailed in its information gathering capacities if, as indigenous and ancient peoples asserted, the heart’s ability as an organ of perception is developed. Readers will gain the tools necessary to gather information directly from the heart of Nature.