Plant growth – A lesson in spirituality?

My wife and I have recently taken on an organic allotment plot to try our hand at vegetable and fruit growing. From what I have so far learned, I have been wondering whether plant growth might have something to teach us about the human side of life. What might be the deeper lessons in nature for us in our personal lives?


plantThe bane of all gardeners is the weed. Covering the ground, it crowds out the vegetable plant, stealing both its sunlight and the nutrients in its soil. Everyone says one has to be persistent in noticing whenever these wretched things appear. And keep hoeing annual weeds and digging up deeper rooted perennial weeds.

Isn’t it the same in our private life? Bad habits of thought can easily take root in us if we let them.  Our self-orientation attracts all sorts of these self-indulgent, envious or proud ways of thinking. Become too rampant and they are likely to choke out our better side. They have the potential to become the root cause of conflict, revenge, greed, and all the unhappiness.  One needs to be constantly vigilant in turning away from such harmful thoughts.


compostWe took on our plot at the end of autumn and were told to focus on preparing the ground for the next growing season. This has meant enriching the soil with compost and well rotted manure. We’ve also put in some seeds of so-called green manure which after sprouting will take nitrogen from the air – another way of feeding the earth.

In these ways the gardener hopes to foster vigorous vegetable plant growth and prevent plant disorders associated with malnourishment.

I would say our minds also need nourishing. Parents give children many useful learning experiences. Teachers provide food for thought. Books can provide the reader with enriching experiences. Just as the plant cannot grow without nourishment from the soil, so also our minds cannot develop without knowledge about deeper matters gained from others.


Overhanging trees, which cause shadow on the growing vegetable plant, are not welcome to the gardener. The reason is a plant needs light in order to grow. plantPhotosynthesis is a process used by plants to convert light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the plant’s activities.

We were advised to create pathways across the plot, rather than walk on and thus compact the soil where the crops will grow. Unlike on the vegetable beds, you can cover the paths with membrane and bark chippings to stop the light there and thus prevent weeds growing.

Here then is another lesson from nature. The importance of light. No one wants to be kept in the dark about something. How could we understand what is going on? Hopefully, this article can help shed light on something for you the reader. Not everyone is willing to see things from a different perspective. But when new light dawns on something of personal significance, it can show us the way forward beyond our difficulties. It energises us with hope and opens up a new avenue.


plantThe gardener is aware that plant growth also requires warmth. He or she will protect against frost by covering the ground to keep it less cold ready for planting when the weather improves.   Some seeds are germinated indoors or under cover for the same reason. Plastic cloches cover vulnerable plants to keep the cold wind off.

Isn’t it the same with us? How can a tender mind flourish in a cold and bitter home environment? What person doesn’t need some warmth of affection or come into regular contact with warm-hearted neighbours, friends and work colleagues in their lives?


Our allotment is on a farm with woodland to one side. With all those trees it is a natural habitat for birds and other wild life. Some plot holders use electric wires or high fences to discourage the badgers from eating their produce. plantPigeons will strip brassicas, fruit bushes and strawberry beds. Employing nets is a good idea to keep birds off as they soon become blasé about scarecrows.

Some insects are also a pain in the neck. They tunnel into crops and feed on plant tissue and ripening fruit. It’s a good idea to encourage hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds who feed on troublesome aphids such as blackfly and greenfly.

Day to day life for us humans is also not without its trials and tribulations. The key to personal well-being is not the presence of difficulties but how we deal with them. One must do as the gardener and take active measures. How we effectively deal with pests in our day to day lives will vary but it will take an act of will and determination. Perhaps, facing up to worrying issues, fighting against what is wrong, or challenging certain noxious people. Our inner growth means being free from what is destructive around us.

Plant Disease

plantPlant diseases are shown by a variety of signs, including moldy coatings, wilting, scabs, blotches, rusts, and rot. They are caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria. After, if possible, cutting off the diseased parts of a plant, the organic gardening approach is to keep the growing area clean; like cleaning soles of boots, tools, pots, seed trays. Plant debris are cleared away and any diseased material is destroyed.  One of the reason for crop rotation is to prevent the build up of diseases as plants of the same family will suffer the same disorders.

Just as a diseased plant cannot prosper, so emotional sickness can hinder spiritual growth in a person. In tackling plant disease the organic gardener does not use unnatural chemicals. In a similar fashion, states of depression, fearfulness, stress and depression can be reduced without resorting to artificial means; for example by clearing away harmful and irrational ideas, unethical thoughts or unhealthy fantasies from the mind.  This is the opposite of the artificial approach of depending on alcohol, video games or antidepressants to reduce stress.


The gardener has to work hard but in the end it is mother nature that changes seeds into crops for eating. Similarly, we each need to work on our personal growth. Yet, alone of ourselves we cannot bring to life what is good. The organic gardener co-operates with light and warmth to grow the plant. In order to cultivate our spiritual mind, we each need to co-operate with something beyond ourselves. I would suggest this is the light of wisdom and warmth of love that comes from our Divine Source.

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Posted on29th October 2016CategoriesLatest post, Meaning of life, Spiritual meaningTags, , , , , , ,, , , ,



A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinAugust 28, 1994


But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces; some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Mt 13:23)

The Lord was the greatest storyteller that has ever lived on this earth. The stories or parables He told were able to accommodate Divine truths to the understanding of everyone, regardless of education or social background. The Lord’s stories served a vital function in His ministry because they taught all the classes of people. No other storyteller can match the revelation of spiritual truth in such simplicity as the Lord did in His parables.

The Lord’s parables has such power because they were told in representatives. Each particular corresponded to a distinct spiritual truth which could be recognized by the angels of heaven. A conjunction with heaven was produced in the parables because of these representatives. Therefore, when a person affirmatively responded to the parables of the Lord and sought to apply them to his life, a conjunction with heaven was produced. No other stories in the world can lead to such a conjunction with heaven.

The parable of the Sower is one story in which we can openly see the internal sense. The Lord directly revealed the inner meaning to His disciples. Everyone could learn that we must prepare ourselves in order to live a useful life. However, the disciples had a deeper understanding as to what was a truly useful life, and what was to be avoided.

The parable tells of a sower who went out into his field to plant seeds. The parable simply describes four locations in which the seeds fell and what happened to them. first, the seeds fell on the wayside where they were devoured by the birds. Later, the Lord told His disciples that this represented those who hear truths, but immediately reject it. Secondly, some seeds fell among rocks where they immediately sprung up, but because they had no roots, the sun scorched them and they withered and died. This location represents those who immediately receive the truth, but only for the sake of themselves. And when troubles or hardships come, or when the truths no longer serve their self- interest, they immediately cast it away. Thirdly, some seeds fell among thorns, which eventually choked the seeds. This gives a picture of those who reject the truths because of their love for the things in the natural world. Finally, some seeds fell into good ground which produced an abundance of fruit. This illustrates those who sincerely receive the Lord whereby genuine uses are performed. Therefore, the disciples were able to apprehend that to make a genuine commitment to follow the Lord, they must renounce the world and to be willing to go through hardships as a result of their commitment.

fortunately, we today have the opportunity to go even deeper into the meaning of this parable. The Lord, has revealed even deeper insights whereby we can understand further what this [parable can mean to us. More light is now given as to what the “good ground” is, and how we can become this fertile ground. We also are in greater light as to what we must avoid if we are to become “good ground”. We today are able to see more truths that leads to good than what the disciples knew. As a result, the parable of the Sower can teach us how we can become a cultivated soil to the seeds of truth that is planted from the Lord.

First, we must examine ourselves before we are able to receive the Lord’s influx. Certainly, a farmer will examine the soil before he will plant his crops. He will look for things in the ground that will hinder the growth of the crops. We must also examine our personal soil. We examine our soil when we examine our intentions, thoughts, and especially our actions. And just as a farmer will look for things that will impede the soil’s usefulness, so we must examine ourselves and look for the particular evils that will impede our ability to manifest the Lord’s life. Should a farmer just plant seeds into a ground which he does not examine, the yield of his crops will become greatly diminished. If we do not examine ourselves and search out evil habits and delights, we will not be effective in living a life in which the Lord can accomplish great things.

But when we do see the evils that are a part of us after self-examination we must take steps to remove them. the farmer, when he sees the impediments in the field, will certainly take action to remove the obstacles. If he does not take this action, then the soil will not produce the maximum yield. The same is also true in regards to our spiritual reception of the Lord. When we examine our life, and recognize the disorders that are attached to us, we should take the necessary action to remove them. they are removed when we force ourselves not to indulge into delights that we know are opposite to what the Word teaches. This is shunning evils as sins against the Lord. Therefore, before we can be “good ground”, we must remove all the obstacles that would hinder our reception of the Lord.

However, we are only able to shun what is evil, by learning what is true. A farmer can only remove the obstacles in the soil when he learns what the obstacles are. The farmer needs the knowledges in farming to know what is harmful to the soil and how to remove them; he also needs to know how to work the ground so it will be prepared to receive the seeds; and he needs to know how to take care of the ground once the seeds are planted and grows. Just as a farmer needs knowledges in farming to have the proper soil, we also need truths to be receptive of the Lord. We need truth to teach us what we need to remove from our lives. It is only from the truths in the Word that we can recognize our evils which must be removed. Truth also teaches us what is good and how we can attain it in our own personal lives. It shows us what we should love and find delightful. When we put forth the effort to compel ourselves not to do evil and to obey the Lord’s Word, then we are preparing our spiritual soil to receive the enlightenment that comes directly from the Lord.

But is the farmer’s job done once he plants the seeds? Certainly not. He must make sure the soil gets enough water and sunlight, and he must constantly look after the plants to make sure they are growing properly. So too with our spiritual lives. We must constantly be aware of our loves and delights and make sure they are consistent with the teachings from the Word. We must contently insure that we are living according to the order that is established by the Lord Himself. Just making a commitment to obey the Lord will not produce a life of genuine use in itself. It certainly is a start. But genuine uses are not actually done unless we constantly seek ways to improve our relationship with the Lord. We should take care that we do not develop the attitude that we do not need to have a stronger relationship with the Lord. That we are good enough and we need not proceed any further. IF this should become the case, then our spiritual lives will become stagnant and will gradually become weaker. But if we constantly strive to perfect ourselves by becoming more receptive of the life that proceeds from the Lord, then we will become more effective in performing uses, and we will enjoy a greater delight in them.

However, as we strive to perfect our reception of the Lord, we must always acknowledge and confess that our ability to do so is solely from the Lord. The appearance is that we do all the work in receiving the Lord. But we must constantly remind ourselves that the Lord does all the work of salvation, and we are incapable of doing good from ourselves. Certainly a farmer who sincerely believes in the Lord will confess that the fruits that were produced in his field came only from the Lord, even though he put forth a great deal of labor in his fields. We too must make the same acknowledgement in regards to our spiritual lives. Therefore, we must strive to be the good ground as it is described in the parable of the Sower. And we become good ground when we refuse to become a ground of the wayside, a ground that is full of stones and rocks, and a ground of thorns. When we make the effort of not having the things of this world be our primary focus, we are becoming receptive of the Lord’s guidance and peace. When the Lord is actively operating in our lives, we have the power to produce fruits that will further establish the Lord’s kingdom on this earth, and will spiritually benefit all those with when we are associated. From this reception, we are called “children of God”, because the Lord is the source and the origin of our power to live a life of use. This He promises to all of us:


“But as many as receive the Father, to them He gives the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (Jn 1:12)