Two Flowers and Three Fruits: The Highest Purposes of Botanical Medicine

Aug 30, 2023

As many of you know, I had the honor of hosting The Shift Network's Illuminated Herbalism Summit last month.  I have been partnering with Shift over the last eight years to present this free event, which includes presentations with many of the world's top plant medicine teachers.  I'd like to share the interview I gave, hosted by Selima Harleston Lust: Two Flowers and Three Fruits: The Highest Purposes of Botanical Medicine.

In this talk I discuss how the integration of herbal medicine and spiritual practices are inseparable. Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Chinese medicine teach that treating physical illness is the most basic and mundane level of healing, and that there are many higher and more transcendent spiritual purposes for using plant medicines. This presentation explores the ultimate goals of using natural medicine according to lineages such as Taoist internal alchemy, Tantric and yogic teachings found in Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine, and others. 

Some of the key points that I cover are:

  • The four levels of herbal medicine described by classical Asian systems, from treating the physical body to achieving moksha, liberation.
  • The role of herbal medicine in accomplishing and fulfilling the ordinary aims of life as well as our ultimate spiritual goals.
  • The ancient relationship between plants and spiritual practices, especially nootropic cognitive tonics that strengthen meditation

Some of the questions that I answer are:

  • Classical Asian medicine describes four levels of herbal medicine…what are those levels?
  • What are the two flowers and three fruits?
  • How can herbal medicine help us with transcendent spiritual goals in cases where we cannot cure a disease or we are at the end of life?
  • What is the relationship between herbal medicine and meditation in some of the esoteric lineages such as alchemy and Tantra?
  • How can we use the herbal and spiritual knowledge from esoteric mystical traditions in modern contemporary culture?

The ancient systems of medicine have always woven spiritual and medical practices together.  Please enjoy the presentation.


This interview is part of the Illuminated Herbalism Summit a free online event. For more information, please visit This recording is a copyright of The Shift Network. All rights reserved.


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