Intelligent Rhythm in the Garden

alliums in the garden - Jan Johnsen  

The idea that we are living within a world swirling with unseen energies is not new.  The Chinese idea of Tao comes closest to what mystics, tribal peoples and modern day physicists explain as the basis of all life.  
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.
  A flourishing garden spotlights this intelligent rhythm and is our everyday “repository of life …….with no claim to its accomplishments”.  Alan Watts uses a watercourse 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 that a small stream or flowing water of any kind in your garden can symbolize the invisible unified field of the Tao that flows all around us.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - photo 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, and by the meditative discipline of allowing our minds to become quiet, so as to have vivid awareness of ‘what is’ without verbal comment”. 

A garden can help immensely to provide the conditions for such a discipline and bring about our ‘vivid awareness”.

Angelonia and Fuschsia -  Jan Johnsen


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