Vivid Awareness in the Garden

The idea that we are living within a world swirling with unseen energies is not a new one... 

The Chinese idea of Tao comes closest to what mystics, tribal peoples and modern day physicists explain as the basis of all life.

(white plumeria, Kauai )

 The Tao, as Alan Watts writes, is not God “in the sense of ruler, monarch, commander, architect and maker of the universe,” but an “intelligent rhythm” (Watts, “Tao: the Watercourse Way” P 40):

“The great Tao flows [also “floats” and “drifts”] everywhere

to the left and to the right,

All things depend upon it to exist,

And it does not abandon them.

To its accomplishments it lays no claim.

It loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them.

(Jim's Golden Laceleaf Elderberry - Jan Johnsen)

         A flourishing garden spotlights this intelligent rhythm.

It is our everyday “repository of life …….with no claim to its accomplishments”. 

NY Botanical Garden Cascade- Jan Johnsen

Alan Watts uses a stream as his principal metaphor for the Tao.   A stream, he says, cannot be held in a bucket and such is the nature of the Tao, or energy that lies within and around all natural life.  How lovely it is that  flowing water of any kind in your garden can symbolize the invisible field of the Tao that flows all around us!

photo by Jan Johnsen

So how do we access the unknowable energy that pulsates around and through us? As Watts describes, "we know intuitively that there is a dimension of ourselves and of nature which eludes us because it is too close, too general and too all embracing to be singled out as a particular object.” (p.55)

He counsels us to “watch the processes and patterns of nature...... so as to have vivid awareness of ‘what is’ without verbal comment”.

A garden is a perfect setting

for developing our ‘vivid awareness”.

(garden by Jan Johnsen)


  1. I had a small stroke on 3/9/2016. I went out with my dude today and saw/felt the flow of energy you are talking about. Loving life so much in this present moment.

    1. You are particularly sensitive to it all now, I think. Thank you for your lovely comment!


Post a Comment

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....

Popular Posts of all Time

Angelface Blue and Dark Violet Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

Getting in the 'Flow' by Gardening

No-Fail Tips for Turning Hydrangeas Blue!

Repurposed and Recycled - Creative Ideas for Garden Design

Planting Design for Dry Gardens by Olivier Filippi

The Magnificent Purslane - Edible Landscaping at its best!

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen

The Tradition of Hanami - Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan