Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Worms Are, Therefore I Am

--by Satish Kumar (Jan 18, 2011)

Perhaps the reason that we do not get enough enlightenment these days is because we do not take the time to sit under a tree.

To be an Earth Pilgrim is to revere Nature as our sacred home, and see all our life as a sacred journey to become at one with ourselves, with others and with Nature. The starting point for being an Earth Pilgrim is humility in the face of Nature’s immense generosity and unconditional love. Take the apple tree. We eat the fruit that has been freely given -- and finding a bitter pip, we spit it out. Here the pip immediately starts to cooperate with Nature. The soil provides hospitality for the seed, which is nourished by the rain and the sunshine. Soon the pip has literally grounded itself and realised itself as another tree bearing innumerable apples and countless pips. When people ask me about reincarnation, I point to the apple tree. And when offering its fruit, the apple tree does not discriminate between human and animal, educated and uneducated, between black or white, man and woman, young and old. All are equal, and all receive.

Over the past century, we have struggled to rid the world of many -isms: imperialism and the rule of one people over another; sexism and the subjugation of women by men. But one mighty -ism still remains: species-ism, by which humanity claims the right of domination over the rest of creation. Yet the Earth is a community, where no one species is inferior or superior. All species are our kith and kin, as St Francis appreciated when he reached out to Sister Water and Brother Fire. In our modern world, the assertion of human superiority has been reinforced by the misperception that we are somehow separate from Nature, that the environment is something outside of us. But the root of the word Nature is from the Latin to be born -- just like the Nativity -- and when we are born we become part of Nature. Instead of the arrogance of Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore I am’, we need to broaden our horizons. Without our parents, our friends as well as distant strangers, our lives would be impossible -- so ‘You are, therefore I am’. And without Nature, we could not live -- and so we should truly say ‘the Earth is, therefore I am’. Gerald Manley Hopkins praised the less lovely parts of Nature: "long live the weeds and the wilderness yet", he wrote. As a gardener, I have a particular debt of gratitude towards the humble worm, so I say "long live the worms" and make my own declaration of dependence, "The worms are, therefore I am."

--Satish Kumar

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Previous Reflections:

On Jan 17, 2011 mailman wrote:

What a wonderful view of the world that surrounds us, thanks for giving us that apple byte of wisdom.

On Jan 18, 2011 Benny Zacharia wrote:

Yesterday evening I got the opportunity to see the English documentary movie, “HOME” and today morning I read the article "Worms are, Therefore I am", many don't understand the Nature but the few who understood or trying to understand are the Blessed Preservers of this Nature. Thanks for these great words of Wisdom

On Jan 18, 2011 Jane Nevinger wrote:

What an interesting read and perspective. Enjoyed it. As a Christian may I add one more thing? God states in the Old Testament,  "I am that I am."  He made all that you mentioned, and all have their place and purpose.  Therefore I am because He is.  How wonderful to think that all living beings come from His hand and therefore all are meaningful.


On Jan 18, 2011 meredith wrote:

I loved reading this, and the timing is especially appropriate for me, and tomorrow is Tu B'Shvat, the "Jewish New Year of Tree", a holiday that encourages us to honor the Earth through planting trees, eating the fruits of the land, and acknowledging the interconnectedness of species/beings. In modern time, it has been an opportunity to focus on sustainability as well. I look forward to integrating this teaching into the ceremony I am planning for tomorrow.

On Jan 18, 2011 mary edeline e. opada wrote:

thanks a lot for helping me guide myself from my own wilderness..

this is something to reflect with...

On Jan 19, 2011 Jenn wrote:

This is a beautiful piece about harmony in nature and realizing that we are one with one another. I love that it reminds us that we are not better than one another whether we compare ourselves to another human, a plant or an animal. We all play a vital role in our earth and this article is such a great reflection of that.

On Jan 19, 2011 Varsha wrote:

Two quotes come to mind after reading this, both by Chief Seattle:

"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

"Earth does not belong to us; we belong to earth.”

On Jan 20, 2011 Thierry wrote:

Thank you Satish. I share your feelings that man is a most arrogant specie when it comes to nature and other species. I am affraid that not only Descartes but monotheist religions as well, some of them still sacrificial, share responsibility for this. Or it may be that some of their teachings have been lost. I recently heard, from a student in the Talmud, that, originally, the very first people of Israel, were forbidden to eat meat, any kind of meat. Not only ST. Francis, but also Chief Seattle spoke of deers and rivers as being the brothers and sisters of the Sioux people .



On Jan 22, 2011 aumatma wrote:


 I am the apple tree giving apples so freely

I am the mother feeding my baby

I am the earth in harmony


Living spirit in a human body

Blessed to receive these gifts

Cherished for the beingness

Presence; I AM

I am the river flowing to ocean

I am the lotus growing in a swamp

I am the seed turning into tree


I am lion eating rabbit

I am duck swimming in pond

I am the lover and the beloved


Living spirit in this seeming chaos

Receiving the love as lover Earth makes love to me

With her rivers flowing into oceans

She makes love to me

With her warm sun caressing my uncovered body

She makes love to me

With her reflecting my own beauty

She makes love to me

With her generosity, giving herself to me so completely

I will rape her no more

I wont hurt my lover

As I see her love

As I see her love, I am whole

She has healed my wounds

It doesn’t hurt no more

As I see her love, I am whole

I too can be love

I choose to live as the apple tree

Giving my gifts so freely

I am in love



On Jan 25, 2011 Somik Raha wrote:

I liked this passage very much, as also listening to all the comments. One thought that came up for me was that nature is not that benign as it seems. When the lion is hunting deer, there is no sign of mercy - the deer is just food. If the lion were to show mercy, it would not be a lion. We see the brutality and cruelty in nature whenever its time to eat.  In that, the human condition is unique from the animal one - that we construct stories of morality to guide our decisions, instead of responding instinctively. In that we have a choice - to answer the call of nature, or wait a bit, and ask, "What is our nature?" There are layers, and we can choose to be true to our base nature, or dig deeper.


On Nov 5, 2011 Rajesh wrote:

This is the great story, This story describe that everyone is connect to each other. Everything in this world or universe everything has some reason some meaning in it, each an everything help us ,care us, protect us,feed us,heal us whether its enemy or friend everybody indirectly helping us. So be happy and live life happily, love to everything in this world..

On Nov 6, 2011 Thierry Laure wrote:

My appreciation of nature's generosity and beauty has grown ever since i started caring after a garden, a very sacred garden, in fact, where we may have raked a few dead leaves together, Satish, many  years ago. But all land is sacred to a gardener. I feel the prevailing species-ism you are refering to is a cultural aberration, a monstruous denial of that  humaneness which St. Francis exemplified.

On Dec 3, 2017 Monday12 wrote:


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