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Gardening Resources What You Can Do Embracing The Trees
Musings About Mother Nature and the Spiritual Web of Life
Kasturi in 1995 at the San Ramon ashram garden shrine
Kasturi in 1995 at the San Ramon ashram garden shrine

When I first met Amma I was studying to be an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, and was learning how every little thing in nature is useful, not only in the great biological web of life, but for human health and healing as well. Even insects, pieces of wood, shells and stones are useful for healing in Chinese medicine.

Also, when first meeting Amma, I began to learn about the oneness of Shiva and Shakti, of consciousness and nature, and I experienced many beautiful moments of that awareness while out on the San Ramon, California ashram's spacious property. Amma had dedicated the land as an ashram and I could feel her subtle presence even in the air there.

I began to drive out to the MA Center in San Ramon soon after it had first been purchased, and I initially found the land and its structures to be sleepy and neglected. A neighbor’s cows roamed the arid and weedy grounds, and I was greeted on my first approach to the Main House by a massive black bull blocking the road about midway up. Could it be Shiva himself – stern, unmoving and mysterious – issuing a challenge to me?

‘Are you sure you want to do this?’

YES!’ was my spirit’s courageous response.

But not feeling quite so brave after all, I decided to go back to my car. I made my way down the winding road and parked. Then I hiked up the pathless hill through knee-high weeds and grasses, finally reaching the ashram's house where I introduced myself to its residents.

From the deck of the main house, I could see that the ashram’s property was surrounded by rolling hills, like the lap of the divine mother Herself, and I felt at home there right away.

As I said, at first glance the property looked abandoned and neglected similar to a desert, arid and asleep. Over the years, as the ashram community grew, we labored in the gardens and hillsides to WAKE UP the land.

We showed love and nurturance to the land with water and weed removal. New trees and shrubs were planted resulting in the gardens, orchards and ponds being restored! I can't help thinking how, just like this, Amma also finds us in a spiritually asleep state or in need of healing and renewal. She wakes us up to our real divine nature and restores our beauty and aliveness. In this way, we can each begin to bear fruit and nourish others and ourselves - by her amrita varshini, shower of nectar!

Double rainbow at MA Center, San Ramon, CA


At Amma’s ashram and on her tours, there are many opportunities to work with plants hands-on. In the early years, we often did ‘petaling’ seva, and when it was our turn to do pada puja to welcome Amma, we learned to make garlands. Handling the flowers imparted an ethereal feeling of light and positive vibrations and was a meditation on Light and Consciousness in itself

While studying Chinese Medicine with a Daoist healer, I learned the spiritual properties of the parts of plants:

  • Seeds represent the endless possibilities of life, as well as the pathway of our individual lives, which has been planted before our births. Eating seed-based foods strengthens our determination to fulfill our life’s goals and dharmas.

  • Roots help us to feel connected to others, to feel our oneness with the community of life, and to communicate and work with one another, just as the recent book, The Secret Life of Trees ,by Colin Tudge reveals.

  • Bark, wood, twigs, and branches fortify us and protect us against external threats or challenges. They shore us up and protect our integrity.

  • Leaves represent and bring nourishment to our being, including both physical and emotional nourishment.

  • Resins, like frankincense and myrrh, are good for healing wounds, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Amma often speaks to us about our wounds, for example, when she says that the good doctor will suck the pus out of our wounds, and even though it hurts in the moment, it has to be done, and frees us from inner toxins. She is like the divine healer who watches over our healing process in order to bring it to a successful conclusion.

  • Lastly, flowers relate to consciousness, and to fulfilling our higher destinies, our vocations and the fulfillment of life. This is why the term "flowering" is used in so many spiritual traditions to indicate the fullness of consciousness, the awareness of oneness, of the all-pervading divinity, and our opportunity to become one who is in the state of "purnam", one “who is full and therefore has no need to fulfill desires.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.1.16)
Shakti is nature herself, and through her maya we learn many lessons, grow as human beings and transcend our egos. Working directly with nature through gardening, cooking, herbalism and healing, or through working with animals, children or the elderly, we have a wonderful opportunity to grow spiritually and to expand our awareness.

The Rig Veda includes a 'Hymn to the Plants' :

Plants, which as receptacles of Light were

Born three ages before the Gods, I honor

Your myriad colors and

Your seven hundred natures.

A hundred, oh Mothers, are your natures

And a thousand are your growths.

May you of a hundred powers make whole what has been hurt.

Plants, as Mothers, as Goddesses, I address you.

May I gain the energy, the light, the sustenance,

Your soul, you who are the human being.

Where the herbs are gathered together

like kings in an assembly,

there the doctor is called a sage, who destroys evil, and averts disease.

As they fell from Heaven, the plants said,

‘The living soul we pervade, that man may suffer no harm.’

The herbs which are in the kingdom of the Moon,

Manifold with a hundred eyes,

I take you as the best of them,

For the fulfillment of wishes, as peace to the heart.

The plants which are queens of the Soma,

Spread over all the Earth,

Generated by the Lord of Prayer,

May your energy combine within this herb. -

Rig Veda, X.97 (translation by Pandit David Frawley, Vamadeva Shastri)

Thank you, Amma, for leading us on this path by your loving healing life-giving example.

Aum Amritesvaryai Namah!

Kasturi Mattern - California

Read an update from the Embracing the Trees Southwest region on their recent tree planitng efforts in the Q4 2022 Newsletter >>


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