TAIPEI, TAIWAN—Stressed out? Spend some time with Mother Nature. Pick up any self-help manual and you'll likely find sage advice about the restorative effects of spending time in natural surroundings. Research shows that people who spend time in natural environments are more likely to realize long-term physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. For urban dwellers with limited access to nature, horticultural activities like gardening may offer stress reduction benefits. But can participation in horticulture-based activities lead to enlightenment?
Researchers Wan-Wei Yu, Der-Lin Ling, and Yu-Sen Chang from the Department of Horticulture at National Taiwan University report on a study designed to understand beliefs regarding the spiritual benefits of horticultural activities and to see if these beliefs were enhanced after participants read plant parables. The study was published in HortTechnology."
Horticultural activities may have the potential to promote spiritual health. Because therapeutic horticulture currently refers only to physical, psychological, and social benefits, the purpose of our study was to understand participants' beliefs about the spiritual benefits of horticultural activities and to discover if these beliefs were enhanced after reading plant parables", explained Chang. The research team combed classical Chinese literature and the Christian Bible for "plant parables", then surveyed students to determine whether reading the parables worked as triggers, or cues, for enhancing "metaphysical imagination".
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Jesus was fond of teaching by the parable method...and often, his parables were taken from nature:
See the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the White Lily, for example
"Jesus ...did recommend the free use of parables, especially nature parables. He emphasized the value of utilizing the analogy existing between the natural and the spiritual worlds as a means of teaching truth. He frequently alluded to the natural as "the unreal and fleeting shadow of spirit realities."
From "More About Parables," found in The Urantia Book