Robin Wall Kimmerer

‘To be heard, you must speak the language of the one you want to listen…

To me an experiment is a kind of conversation with plants. I have a question for them, but since we don’t speak the same language, I can’t ask them directly and they won’t answer verbally. But plants can be eloquent in their physical responses and behaviors. Plants answer questions by the way they live, by their responses to change; you just need to learn how to ask. I smile when I hear my colleagues say, “I discovered X.” That’s kind of like Columbus claiming to have discovered America. It was here all along, it’s just that he didn’t know it.’ (Braiding Sweetgrass)


Dongshan asked, “Who can hear the non-sentient preach the Dharma?” Yunyan answered, “The non-sentient can hear the non-sentient preach the Dharma.” Dongshan asked, “Can you hear it?” Yunyan replied, “If I could hear it, you would not be able to hear me preach the Dharma”. Dongshan replied, “In that case I do not hear you preach the Dharma”. Yunyan said, “If you still don’t hear me preach the Dharma, how much less can you hear the non-sentient preach the Dharma?” At this, Dongshan had an insight, and declared in verse:

“Wonderful! Wonderful!
The preaching of the Dharma by the non-sentient is inconceivable.
If you try to hear with your ears, it’s hard to understand;
When you listen with your eyes, then you will know.”

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