Chestnut Herbal School

Developing the Heart

Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor

“….Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up”
— Dalai Lama XIV

The following is a piece I wrote last year during the inception of the occupy movement. It may seem it has little to do with flowers, but in reality, everything has to do with flowers; from the food in our bellies, the heat and structure of our homes, the oxygen in our lungs. All these miracles are possible because of plants; which grew from seeds; seeds started in a flower.

As we reexamine what is broken with our political/economic systems, we cannot overlook the ailing of our own minds and hearts. We collectively gave birth to our culture, our communities and the systems they support.  Yes, it’s true that there are people who are using their power in selfish and foolish ways, but honestly, I think many more, given the same power, would make similar choices.

Our culture is sick with loneliness, separation, and worry. And so we buy more than we need, eat more than we hunger, drink more than we thirst, watch more than we create, and deafen the silence with incessant doing.  Many are making money without working, while simultaneously contributing to the demise of the planet and supporting work conditions that do not support the lives of workers. Their primary concern is profit, despite already having way more than they need. The fact that we, as a nation with abundant resources, cannot get it together to care for our sick is a quintessential reflection of our cultural shortcomings.

How can we turn a new page and create a better life for those yet to be born and for all other life on the planet? I believe that personal integrity stems from the full recognition of our connection with all life and the elements, and when we act from a place of integrity, we cannot fail to remember the far-reaching ripple of our choices.

I think the answers are simple, but not easy.

To choose what may be difficult, but ultimately strengthens. If we always take the easy route, our Spirits will lack the ability to reflect the vastness of the clouds and sky.

To look into each other’s eyes when we speak,

To listen to the answers when we ask,

To touch and share kind words when we are together,

To work on projects related to sustenance with other people,

To slow down and reach out when someone is sick, lonely or sad,

To grow enough food for the winter,

To learn the trees and birds in our neighborhoods,

To wear our clothes until they can no longer be mended,

To stop and help when a turtle is in the road,

To stop poisoning the earth because of our own laziness and greed,

To support our neighbors through supporting their businesses, rather than the businesses of those who have too much already,

To not be scared when someone is a different color, prays to a different entity, or loves a little differently,

To work towards everyone feeling safe, having a home, warmth, love and enough food

To know that the true hunger of the heart cannot ever be satisfied through acquiring more things,

And ultimately

To be content to sit and walk in the silence

In awe of all the beauty that is already here

I reread this to inspire myself to make better choices, because everyday I fall short of these words, this vision. I want to be the change I hope for and so I try and try again to keep it simple, and know that I will be strengthened by my community in our efforts to create a better day. This is my flower of hope.

Meet The Green Mastermind Behind Blog Castanea:

Juliet Blankespoor

JULIET BLANKESPOOR is the founder, primary instructor, and Creative Director of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, an online school serving thousands of students from around the globe. She's a professional plant-human matchmaker and bonafide plant geek, with a degree in botany and over 30 years of experience teaching and writing about herbalism, medicine making, and organic herb cultivation. Juliet’s lifelong captivation with medicinal weeds and herb gardening has birthed many botanical enterprises over the decades, including an herbal nursery and a farm-to-apothecary herbal products business. 

These days, she channels her botanical obsession through her writing and photography in her online programs, on her personal blog Castanea, and in her new book, The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies. Juliet and her family reside in a home overrun with houseplants and books in Asheville, North Carolina.

Interested in becoming a contributor?


© Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine and, 2011-2024. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Learn more about cultivation, identification, and uses for medicinal herbs in our 1,000-hour Herbal Immersion Program, which is the most comprehensive handcrafted online herbal course out there.


12 thoughts on “Developing the Heart

  1. Thank you so much for posting. You have hit the nail on the head in such a poetic & profound way. Not only will I share. I will print & use as part of my morning meditation. Thank you Juliet.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It is such a beautiful reflection of our world and the importance for us all to see our place in it a little differently. We can be the agents of change! I think your list of suggestions for simple but not easy answers is a wonderful place to start.

  3. Oh Juliet,
    This piece is so lovely, heartfelt and inspiring. My hope is that every single day we all start anew, with the intention of love and generosity toward all Life. Thank you so much for a reminder of what is truly important!
    Much love to you all,

  4. Julie Setzler says:

    Yes, trying to germinate new habits in this culture can be difficult. Thank you, Juliet, for this powerful reminder to nurture what brings life and joy!

  5. Juliet,
    So profound yet so simple! If we all could live this way, our hearts would open, our love would grow and the world would be a better place for mankind. With your permission, I would like to print this out and put it where others can see!

  6. Juliet, your timing of this post couldn’t be more perfect. Thank you, and I just may have to quote you. Again, thanks. Hope your day is full of joy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>