Nature has provided us, humans, animals and other life forms with everything necessary for physical survival, nurturing and supporting ourselves. In our case, there are plants that keep us alive and growing, medicinal plants that better our health when we get sick, plants that are just not for us (poison) and have other function in the greater design. Last ones, most of them, belong to plant category, when examined more carefully, in their function go further than immediate physical survival.
These are commonly called teacher plants or master plants, that, instead of being physical food that provide with fibre, proteins and minerals, enable experiences that provide us with information, knowledge, perceived by numberless accounts as a form of communication. It wouldn’t be of much use to describe all the different forms of master plant effect on our mind nor to tell about specific contents that come up for various reasons.
For the first, it varies from one individual to another. For the second, the master plant “communication” for its larger part is not relayed through language, rather through mental images, visions, through unusually vivid form of perception, through glimpses of understanding or insight. The object of this knowing can be something specific, practical, like clarification of a misunderstanding, taking a different look at relationship with a friend or companion, or it can be a multidimensional (multi-layer, multi-perspective) view on our emotional habits, cravings, patterns, and how they condition not only our little personal reality, but also how they take part in co-creation of our everyday experience.
If we go back to the notion of plants as nutriment that supports survival and look at the survival concept as a process of interest to the larger eco-system, we can recognise that master plants’ apparent function, at least for humans, is to nurture and thus support us through communication. Even though it leads to literally limitless number of insights, nevertheless, they communicate similar patterns and qualities that give insights about harmony, balance, co-existence of polarities, of “mind creating our reality”, a sense of oneness, mystical union, freedom, perfection etc. When experienced individually, these most often literally “blow our mind”, as it is easily light years away from our daily experience, yet at the same time, we intimately embrace it’s naturalness and familiarity.
Such kind of experiences are not usually long lasting. These insights (inner sight, wisdom, a direct look into make-up of phenomena) hold knowledge of what’s possible within us, like an intuitive or sometimes a straight-forward knowing of basic building blocks of psyche or consciousness. Also, these experiences often come after a real physical suffering takes place, through detox and/or emotional “cleanse”, when reliving a trauma or facing the shadow aspect of personality. What makes it a teaching experience is that, possibilities may get visible, serving as “road signs” on a self evolution map, however they’re not to be taken as a gifts for us to own.
Teacher plants are considered means for healing or transformation, something that helps to make a shift in ourselves. The change in consciousness is not “delivered” by the teacher plant itself, but rather these experiences assist in our self exploration journey. Therefore the use of teacher plants has to be seen as practice, that nurtures and communicates what we need (not want) to know in order to move towards a different way of experiencing life, a potential for a different approach. Using the terminology of Ken Wilber’s work, the distinction between states and stages of consciousness is most appropriate and crucial. These experiences merely reveal potential states accessible to us, whereas the stage or level of consciousness is one we can stand at in this very moment. State of Mind is like a memory, a travel note or a photo of the place we have visited, whereas the stage of Mind is our capacity we can enable on our own, knowing it as our second nature.
Teacher plant as a practice is an endeavour of navigating this territory of consciousness and learning how to build a bridge between places we have visited and the ground we firmly stand on. Although building is not the accurate way of saying, its more like growing, extending the root system that supports new layers of soil. This practice, inspired by the plants themselves, follow the same, natural, organic laws. For a harmonious development of us as a living system, it needs to be allowed and supported.