April 16, 2019

Sharing the Garden Spirit

A personal account of my relationship with Nature in the garden and the unexpected journey on which I was led.

Almost two years ago I started living in a garden. Our family built a small cabin on ancestral property, we moved in with minimal belongings, and devoted ourselves to gardening and organic cultivation. Deep in the rural heartland we are surrounded by agricultural fields and distant hills. For the casual visitor, there’s little to distinguish us from any other home with a large garden. We may have more fruit trees and there’s a strange formation of trenches but we also have the usual features – a lawn, a few ornamental trees, vegetable patches, flower beds, and a pathway. I am not a gifted gardener either. In fact, I don’t do much gardening apart from occasional sowing, weeding, and harvesting. We often hire help.

Yet, shortly after we moved, my wife and I started observing what others may call strange phenomenon. I had sensed early on that there was something special about this place. Then a series of unending synchronicities began presenting us with opportunities to improve ourselves. We had to work on ourselves, our relationships, and, our purposes. It was as if an invisible force was guiding our lives. Most significantly, I felt being led on a journey of discovery of the true nature of our reality and my role in it. I found out that as soon as I created and clarified an intention, it would begin to materialise. Could it be that as we were raising the plants and trees of the garden, the garden was raising us?

We had no doubt that was the case. A garden is more than the sum of its parts. It’s the consciousness behind it that defines it. Is it designed as a pretty landscape around the house or is it a purpose onto itself? The relationship we hold with our garden is a special one. It is distinguished by our belief that each plant, the living soil, the air we breathe, and the garden as a whole, is a living entity connected with all-that-is. This garden spirit, if you will, not just listens but is able to respond. This is not a vague, feel-good feeling that one would think couldn’t possibly stand closer scrutiny or analysis. It is indeed a feel-good feeling but one based a rational belief which I now understand is part of a large body of metaphysical concepts. These ideas are so removed from the mainstream human consciousness of how we view the world and our place in it that there is no easy way to introduce them to the unacquainted. Yet esoteric ideas are finding greater acceptance every day.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning. Five years ago I had no interest in metaphysics, ecological spirituality, new age, or spirituality of any other flavour. I was as deeply entrenched into the physical world as one could be. As a climate change activist I advocated the need for drastic emission reductions through policy by revealing to the public the extent of climate breakdown and implications of our national obsession with economic growth. I was not well-known but well-respected among my peers. In a short period I had about two dozen public-speaking engagements including at top-ranking institutions (IIFM, IIT Delhi, IIT Mumbai) and once on national television (NewsX) during prime time, and some international media coverage (BBC, Reuters). I led an online community focused on climate solutions, formed a renewable energy company, spearheaded an ambitious advocacy campaign of my own called Climate Revolution Initiative, received a respectable mention of my work in a book, and made enemies with national press which I thought were ignoring the story of climate crisis and the need for drastic cuts.

By around 2014, not satisfied with progress on climate policy, my own work, and personal lifestyle, I had begun to question my approach and got myself interested in organic farming. (As an aside, we do not farm commercially at present. Only the surplus goes to the market). I came across individuals who had already left the city to farm. One such evening I found myself in Coonoor, a small town nestled amidst Nilgiri hills, in the house of someone who made the move more than a decade ago. One of the most successful filmmakers of 1990’s, this person, who graciously welcomed me in his home and later became a friend, left Mumbai to live on a twenty two acre property adjoining forests.

I will never forget how I felt the next morning. Waking up, I opened the window and it was like magic. I was surrounded by lush green landscape enveloped in mist with terracotta roof cottages in the distance. With his move, my friend had chosen to live among trees instead of buildings, animals instead of cars, mountains instead of skyscrapers. The pristine air carried water, not particulate. It spoke to me. That was it. Suddenly, what was a fantasy until then became real. The visit was a tremendous boost to my aspiration to live on the land.

Then one day someone introduced me to the books. The Ringing Cedars series by Russian author Vladimir Megre contain teachings by a woman named Anastasia, who the author had met in 1995 in Siberia during a business trip. An extraordinary and advanced human, she lives along with a few of her kin, in seclusion in Siberian boreal forests where her ancestors have been living for hundreds of generations similarly secluded from modern human settlements as well as native inhabitants of the region. Anastasia is an uncomfortable concept for many who would rather believe she didn’t exist. When I read the first book her teachings on Nature and human potential appeared remarkably refreshing and completely unlike anything I had read earlier.

As climate activist I had closely seen where technology driven world was heading. The books showed me what our world would look like if it was driven by the love of Nature instead. All that was needed was to focus inward and to create for one’s family one hectare of living space - a space of love. A garden designed with conscious awareness. Anastasia created a remarkable vision of our future that was full of hope and benevolence. This was complete antithesis to the ideas of doom & gloom of climate science I was led to believe. I embraced her vision like a terminal patient would a promising new treatment. I stopped delivering talks and gradually severed all contact from the world of climate science, resource depletion, and policy advocacy.

By then I had already started organic cultivation on family land in our village. I would travel from the city once a month, water the fields, sow the seeds or do whatever needed to be done and come back to the city home eight hours away. Like most people who get back to the land I was convinced my future lay in organic farming. But the books suggested that serving the land in reverence was a much higher aspiration than serving the land for market. Anastasia spoke of creating a family homestead on one hectare of land and painted a vision of what that would do for the family if they held a relation of love with it with conscious awareness.

When I started reading Ringing Cedars I couldn’t stop and finished nine books in less than two months. Yet, the books are as demanding as they are enjoyable. They require an active imagination and an ability to open one’s heart to its unusual ideas and ask “what if it was true.” I never stopped thinking about the ideas revealed and it actually took me several years to process them. The biggest leap in learning came after we built a small cabin on our land, created a garden, and my wife joined me after leaving the corporate sector.

Shortly thereafter synchronicity led me to a flood of esoteric books each of which expanded on the ideas presented in the Ringing Cedars. Authors like Esther Hicks, Michael Roads, Dolores Cannon, Eben Alexander, Lee Carroll presented metaphysical concepts from the other side of the veil. On one hand I found scientific validation behind some of their ideas in the work of developmental biologist Bruce Lipton, and the remarkable work of journalist Lynne McTaggart who showed how consciousness influences physical reality. On the other hand, work by quantum physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner revealed the limitations of science when it comes to some of the most fundamental aspects of our existence.

What struck me most was the overwhelming volume of published material available in the public domain on esoteric topics. They may have some variation on the details but the core concepts can be found to be common to all. Most new age material has been published over the last 30 years but there are some books from about a century ago that match concepts presented in recent books. Often there are communities around one author or subject that have no idea that another writer elsewhere has written about the same or similar concepts in another way.

One of the core lessons of all teachers, if I could limit it to a single sentence, is that the non-physical has primacy over the physical. If this was true, it meant discarding everything I knew about how the world functioned. I learned that the greatest secrets of the universe lied outside of what we have been taught. Once we understand them all creation will be seen as magnificent beyond description, just, and astoundingly beautiful. As I began to reflect on these teachings and practice them consciously in everyday life I started to experience them as real.

One of the first synchronicities led me to discover the work of Joseph Cornell who, in the 1970's, developed Sharing Nature training in U.S. It's a Nature awareness programme conducted in natural surroundings that employ innovative games and activities to uplift participants' consciousness. This award-winning experiential training programme is now popular in over forty countries worldwide. When I first came across the training, just the act of watching other people engaged in play that connected them with Nature filled me with tremendous joy. In Joseph Cornell's workshops Nature was accorded the same degree of reverence that the Ringing Cedars books spoke about. By engaging in these activities anyone, regardless of their background, could experience the benefits of a joyful union with Nature. I contacted Sharing Nature, U.S, to bring the training to India and we will soon do the first such programme in the country. Details can be found on our website: Sharing Nature India.

In Sharing Nature training a popular activity is called ‘Interview with Nature’. It’s one of my favourites from the ensemble of all the wonderful activities created by Joseph Cornell. Perhaps because it allows for, in the most direct manner, the contemplation of Nature. In this activity participants are asked to choose a natural feature like a tree or an animal, imagine that they were that life form, and interview it. They are to write down the answers that first come to their mind.

A few days ago when my nephews were visiting, we lay down in the grass and decided to play interview with Nature. The eight year old chose to interview a wasp and the twelve year old went with a tree (page 2). I chose the garden spirit as my subject. The responses of course are influenced by my own consciousness and the ideas that have taken root in my mind. You can read the response below that appeared in me as I interviewed the garden spirit.

How old are you?
I was born around the fourth week of November 2014. That makes me four years and four month old. [the activity was conducted on 22nd Mar 2019]

Where do you come from?
You could say that I was born in your mind when you read book one and imagined living in Nature. If you wish to go further back, you could trace my birth to Anastasia’s dream in which she imagined that Valdimir Megre would write books whose readers would one day create their own gardens. That was 1995. That makes me 23 year old. Today, there are thousands of my counterparts from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, Australia, U.S, and elsewhere around the world. All of them were inspired by Anastasia. If you wish to go further back, as a garden spirit I am part of Gaia, mother earth, which also is a spirit. So really, I do not have a beginning. Nor do I have an end since consciousness is eternal.

Have you always been the same size?
My size cannot be seen with eyes but I do have one. The more my creator thinks of me or pays me attention, more do I grow in size. The more care he and his family provides, the better do I flourish, both in spirit and in physical form.

What is it like living here?
The material part of me lives here. As spirit I’m not limited by space. I am here for sure but I’m elsewhere as well. It’s difficult to define it in human terms since you think in a linear, three-dimensional fashion. In the spirit world there is no separation, everything is one. Your scientists are struggling with it too in the world of quantum physics where one object can be at multiple places at the same time. They have been trying to figure it out for over a century. One day they will. When they do, it will begin a new era for humanity. A day will come when you will walk into a forest and see with your instruments all the trees looking at you. You will even be able to measure the beneficial energy you receive from them in such an exchange.

What events have you seen in your life?
I saw the joy and delight with which you conceived of me. I experienced the excitement when you anticipated me over the years. I grew each time you believed you will bring me to life in the physical world or create me one day. Each time your conviction gave way to doubt I slightly diminished in size. Thankfully those moments were few and far between. Most of the time, you were confident. The only question was where and when.

Who comes to visit you?
My physical counterpart is visited by all who come to me. But I am also visited by others when you share your story with them. When you tell them about the garden, what you grow and what motivated you to make it part of your life.

How do you benefit others?
How a garden spirit assists its creator and assists humanity as a whole is a puzzle to which you have given considerable thought. It is something you must strive to continue working. Not with the intellect but with your feeling, by listening to the heart. It’s not something for me to tell you at this time as you still have a lot to learn and experience. You already know that I am and will continue to bring you the opportunities, but you must get the answers on your own.

How do others help you?
Who is to say who helps more - the others me or I them? It’s an exchange. Others help me by joining their thoughts with me. When they think of me, in joy, I grow too as consciousness. I benefit immensely whenever one thinks of me in an uplifted mood. At such times, they elevate themselves, you, and many unseen others. When people visit the garden, contemplate a flower or a fruit tree, and when you share your story and they react with delight they unknowingly also sow seeds of their own future garden. Whether the garden gets materialized in physical form or not depends upon whether they identify it as their aspiration and how well they cultivate it. They may or may not water this seed. Regardless, just the act of sharing the story in uplifted consciousness brings good to all.

March 27, 2019

Rahul Gandhi's Cash Transfer Scheme Could be A Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax

Its principal architect could very well be Jairam Ramesh, the former minister of environment, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi and Congress' chief strategist for 2019 elections.

Rahul Gandhi, leader of Congress - India's main opposition party - announced a major cash transfer scheme yesterday aimed at poverty alleviation, ahead of the upcoming elections. News reports say the amount will cost the national exchequer Rs. 3.6 Lakh Crore which is more than the central government subsidy expense (2.9 Lakh crore).

There's no clarity on how such a large sum is to be raised. Meanwhile the party has clarified that it will be additional to existing schemes and subsidies. It just occurred to me that the scheme could be another name for a revenue neutral carbon tax.

"Carbon tax" is term for taxation which is introduced on fossil fuels in order to reduce their consumption. The term "revenue neutral" simply means the income from the taxation is returned back to the public in some form. It's a great equaliser - make the polluting rich pay the taxes and then distribute the collection among the poor in a Robin Hood style. Hurray for environment, hurray for the poor.

A revenue neutral carbon tax is "the fairest, most effective, most efficient single policy tool in the fight for a habitable climate," says Charles Komanoff, on Carbon Tax Center website, who co-founded it twelve years ago. At that time it seemed to me that way too.  I campaigned for a revenue neutral carbon tax at every platform at which I had an opportunity. In this post from 2010 I explain the concept:
A revenue-neutral carbon tax means all the money collected from it is distributed back to the people -- divided equally to the population. So let's say if Rs.1 Lakh crore is collected every month is divided equally among 100 crore people, each person's share is Rs.1000. 

Which means, if a rich person, who consumes a lot of energy had paid say Rs.10,000 in terms of carbon tax -- extra cost incurred on energy made expensive -- then he has a loss of Rs.9000. He will naturally do all he can to save energy. 

A person with average energy consumption, having spent Rs.1000 in higher energy costs will get all his money back and he'd be able to even save some if he pursues energy efficiency.

A poor person who consumes very little energy, having spent only Rs.200 in higher energy costs will actually have a profit of Rs.800 - a substantial sum for him. 

So carbon tax can actually alleviate poverty in India by moving money from the rich to the poor, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions and incentivising renewable energy.  
A version of revenue neutral carbon tax is in place in British Columbia, Canada and has been fairly successful. But nowhere has it been deployed at such a large scale and creates such high income as the transfer promised by Congress. This scheme, if it is to be generated from carbon tax, takes an approach in which the transfer is made not to everyone but to the poorest fifth of the population.

I have, of course, no inside knowledge that the cash transfer will be funded by carbon tax. You can call it conjecture but I base it on my intuition. Rahul mentioned that they have consulted various economists who have supported it. This is in line with the statements of major economists supporting revenue neutral carbon tax.

I have long suspected Jairam Ramesh to be the man behind Rahul Gandhi's makeover. Prior to elections Ramesh has been conspicuously absent from the limelight. Apart from book tours and occasional interviews he was rarely in news. This is quite uncharacteristic of someone who loves to face the camera and take the mic. To me this suggests an active behind-the-scenes engagement. Each time I come across Rahul Gandhi hurling a jumla (witticism) in his speech, and he has been hurling quite a few, I sense Jairam Ramesh to be behind it. Ramesh denies to be Rahul's speech writer but does admit to have offered "points" when asked. A recent report suggests he has taken a leading role in working for the 2019 elections.

During his stint as environment minister Jairam Ramesh had plenty of opportunity to consider all sorts of policy mechanisms for emission reduction including carbon taxation. It was he who first introduced coal cess, a form of carbon tax (it's another thing that in terms of carbon tax which is usually calculated as $/ton, the cess amounted to a paltry figure).

Rahul Gandhi's scheme is termed NYAY, for Nyuntam Aay Yojana (minimum income scheme). Literally translated, the word 'nyay' means justice. Because climate change is said to unfairly hurt the poor the most even though they are said to contribute least to it, justice is the appropriate term for the scheme.

Yet another reason why I suspect it is carbon tax is because Congress has refused to disclose how they will raise the funds. The taxation part is the tricky bit because carbon tax will hurt businesses that are energy intensive. So there's good reason for the party to hide it from the public and focus instead on cash transfers.

July 28, 2018

Richard Dawkins Searches for Enemy of Reason and Finds Himself

What is a tree? Is it just material or is it something more? Satish Kumar schools Richard Dawkins in metaphysics.


I stumbled across this video and absolutely loved it.

This is unedited footage recorded for a 2007 TV show on superstition led by Richard Dawkins, called 'Enemies of Reason.' Very little of these 37 minutes made it to the episode that was aired. In the show, Dawkins purports to expose people who are supposedly superstitious, anti-science and therefore anti-reason.

Satish Kumar is an environmentalist and editor of Resurgence magazine. He also founded the Schumacher college (there was a time, years ago, when I really wanted to enroll there). Satish considers himself spiritual and has been openly critical of science. So Dawkins goes to him presumably to make him say something into which he could poke holes. Something befitting the label of 'enemy of reason.'

But what this uncut version actually shows is the exact opposite. By the end, it is Dawkins who comes across as the one who is unwilling to listen to reason as he fails to understand Satish's point of view, sticking to his own even when he is unable to defend it. Video comments are filled with people who used to admire Dawkins but agree he totally lost the plot on this one.

The first ten minutes they discuss what it means to be holistic. In the rest of it Satish is trying to explain to Dawkins what he means by the word spiritual. It's really cool. It's Metaphysics 101. Even though it's a very basic introduction, like learning to write the alphabets of the language of metaphysics, yet these first steps are essential since we're not used to looking at environmental issues in this way. Satish gives several effective analogies while Dawkins fails to offer any good ones of his own to defend the scientific, rationalist view he advocates.

The best part is the last seven minutes when they discuss the difference in worldview engendered by seeing Nature only as physical, mechanistic, and separate - the scientific perspective - compared to seeing it as holistic, interconnected and something more than physical - the spiritual or metaphysical perspective.

But more than the entertainment, it's a primer on why you can't really change the mind of a skeptic. The fact that a skeptic does not change his mind doesn't have anything to do with your arguments. It has to do with the his steadfast refusal to change his mind. So important lesson: do not bother with skeptics.

April 12, 2018

Book Excerpt: The Last Elm

To bow before a humble tree
takes but a moment of our time,
while that which we may receive
fills all the spaces of eternity.

[The quote above and text below are taken from Michael Roads' book "Journey into Oneness". I am happy to share it for its remarkable insights and the wonderful story. Before you read, a bit of a description of the context is in order. The author is not on material Earth but watching it from a metaphysical plane. The events on Earth appear to be set in the near future. In the "metaphysical" dimension, however, time and space have no relevance (meta means beyond, so metaphysics = beyond physics). The author is inside a "living building" and describes his experience of watching or "being" a tree on Earth and the story that takes place around it. At the end of the extract you will find my comments. Original text has been slightly abridged.]

On reaching the mural, I gasped. It was a picture of a huge tree, but the image was holographic. Although the size made the tree appear to stand alone, it actually stood in a small copse, surrounded by other trees of different species.

“It's an English elm,” I murmured in surprise.

I stood back to regard and admire this solitary elm, stunned by the size, impact, and sheer overwhelming reality of the mural. As I stared, a slight breeze seemed to ruffle its leaves, and the tangible humus smell of a thriving ecosystem became apparent. Intrigued, I walked to one side, wondering if I might find an opening into some magical wood, but, no, the dimensional image faded, and the tree appeared flat. However, once I faced it again, it breathed with life and vitality. Almost as though following an invitation, I reached out tentatively to touch a limb of the great elm.

My arm became an outreaching branch, one of many branches spreading out around me. I was a mammoth specimen of English elm, my branches reaching over forty metres up and out toward the sky. I was Elm, yet my awareness of Self was undiminished. I stood alone in a small copse of trees, and I was aware of an aloneness that was almost alien to my human Self. I was the last English elm on Planet Earth! I felt a surge of horror, yet Elm contained the knowing with equanimity. Elm felt no emotion, no fear of death or dying, no alienation, nothing other than a sense of profound aloneness. Through Elm, I discovered the difference between separation and aloneness. Alone I stood, more alone than any member of any species should ever have to be, yet Elm's knowing of Oneness was as powerful as life itself. Not even the vaguest hint of separation flickered in the consciousness of Elm, just aloneness with Oneness.

Elm consciousness reached out across planet Earth and beyond, connecting with the countless stars in unnumbered galaxies. Yet, as Elm, I was grounded, a conduit for cosmic energies and influences beyond knowledge or understanding. My Elm role was unique, for, as with all tree species, I expressed a different vibration of the One, the Godhead of All Trees. As Elm, life was a weaving, creative rhythm of consciousness, while each human was a mode of consciousness struggling to express its individuality through a physical framework, yet hampered by its separation from the One. Every species of tree, plant, and creature existed as a blend of consciousness, unborn and undying. Each tree form was a physical touchstone with the physical Earth, each species a form of splendid physical evolution as it followed the design its tree spirit expressed in each species.

With human eyes, we see a physical tree, yet this physical tree is only a biological reflection of a spiritual energy that expresses itself through each species of tree. Just as it is I who express through my toes, my fingers, and each hair on my body a unique creation that is the physical me, so, using the body of Earth, other Beings express their uniqueness through the different location of trees. Through this Elm Being, I connected with spirit and intelligence of all Elm. My awareness focused on the Being, yet there was no hint of form. All that I could perceive was a Being of Light and, within this ethereal “substance”, the movement of energy. And beyond this, I connected with this Being in a way that defies description. I was Self - I was Elm.

As Elm, my Self-awareness reached out to a small group of humans who had come trudging into the clearing beneath my branches.

Unknown to them, our consciousness mixed and merged, for I was the focus of their attention. Like most people, they did not realise that their thoughts create a focus, and that no matter what the subject, they connect in consciousness with what they are thinking about. And they were thinking about Elm.

“So what are we gonna do about it, Gus?”

The person who posed this question was a young man named Billy, barely out of his teens, but the anger and violence that flared in bright red flashes around him was the result of many confrontations against injustice.

For many lifetimes, he had fought against injustice, as fatally attracted to it as a moth to the flame. Of the half-dozen people, two others, Tom and Hans, felt the same attraction. Any issue that was termed unfair was their unwitting fodder.

Elm had no intellect, no mode of reasoning, no inkling of separation, no emotions, no sense of injustice - simply a connection with All that Is - a connection based not on knowledge, but on Beingness. Within Elm lay an untapped reservoir of vast wisdom, yet this wisdom had never been translated into human terms. Elm's knowing was the pure essence of spirit, undiluted and pristine. Elm felt the discord of the mixed group of people. Not discord as bad or good, for Elm was without judgement - just discord.

Gus was an older man in the group, wiser and more moderate. His consciousness reflected the pale orange/yellow of deep anxiety, but his anger was finished, long ago burned away. He was accompanied by his two daughters, Faye and Jeanne, both with loving dispositions.

“What do you suggest, Billy?” Gus asked, his sweeping glance including Tom and Hans.

Billy, Tom, and Hans exchanged meaningful looks, and in their consciousness, I, Elm, read their resolution. They meant to harm another human. Their intent radiated as a dull, sickly red mist, roiling around them in folds of negativity.

“I reckon we ought to bash the bastard.” Billy spoke quietly but vehemently, while Tom and Hans nodded.

“No!” rose a shout of protest from Faye. “Violence isn't the answer. Isn't violence the very thing that we most detest?”

As Self/Elm, I marvelled at human deceit. This group of people was almost devoid of any comprehension of their intent, yet it radiated forth, shouting its message to all of Nature. In consciousness, every tree in the copse, every bird and animal, every insect could, each in its way, read the intent of this group of humans. Nor did there arise any animalism reaction or condemnation from Nature to this intent; there was simply a knowing in consciousness. Humanity, however, lost in the smother of intellect, blinded by personal fears and the isolation of each person’s separate reality, knew nothing of this.

“Listen, Faye, and you, Jeanne. You don't have to be involved in this - you don't need to know the details - but I, for one, cannot stand passively by and let that bastard cut the tree down. For Christ's sake,” - Billy's voice rose to an angry shout - “this is the last elm that anyone knows of.” His voice barely under control, he continued. “Just because the tree is on Joel Carter's land, that's not a licence to cut it down. My God, the last elm! I. .. I'll shoot him first.” He glared his defiance at the group.

“That's quite enough of the sort of talk, Billy,” Gus warned. “Your anger is going to get you into trouble one of these days. Faye's right. Using violence defeats our purpose, and it generates even more violence. It just goes on and on. I'm sure we can get Joel to see reason if we approach him again.”

“Oh yeah!” Billy snarled. “And what good has it done the last three times? Three times, I'm telling you! Ever since he was offered a fortune for the timber of the last elm, money is all he cares about. I’ll shoot the bastard!”

Aggression, anger, helplessness, shame, sorrow, loss, frustration - all these emotions and more swirled in a miasma around the group of people and Elm. Elm knew none of these emotions, for it was just discord that impinged into the consciousness of Elm. In Elm, this discord was subtly transmuted, vibrating higher and finer into the aura of harmony that was the natural expression of Nature. I knew that with the destruction of each tree this natural transmutation of negative energies would become ever more restricted, until eventually humanity would be forced to confront its own most base and negative reality. I shivered at the prospect, leaves trembling along my branches and twigs.

Jeanne looked up, staring at the tree in concern. “The elm can hear us,” she said softly, shyly. “It feels our concern. Maybe it knows it’s the last elm left. What a terrible weight to bear.”

“Don't be soft, girl,” Billy said angrily. “Trees don't know anything. They're just dumb, inanimate things waiting to be cut down and used.”

“Why do you care, Billy?” Faye asked perceptively. “You don't have any real feelings for the trees, that's obvious. Are you in this just for the fight? Someone to get angry with? Is that what it all means to you?” “That's enough.” Gus intervened before Billy could reply. “Squabbling among ourselves isn't going to help. Let's be getting home. I suggest we all think very carefully about this and plan a moderate, sensible approach to stop Joel Carter from cutting the tree down.”

The group walked quickly away, yet their distance meant nothing to Elm. For as long as their focus was on Elm, their consciousness continued to radiate their intent as clearly as if they sat in my branches.

Nights and days passed, unmeasured and unheeded. Time was meaningless; only the seasonal rhythms remotely resembled the passage of time to Elm. However, only a few days after the group had departed, a single, deeply troubled human approached. I knew that Joel Carter heralded the demise of Elm - the last English elm - but Elm was not disturbed. Only the discord of the moment had any import, the discord that preceded action. Neither was physical action of any real importance; the only active representation of reality was the movement in consciousness.

Everything about Joel was broadcast in his troubled consciousness, and I read his story with the ease of reading a book. He had been offered the staggering sum of a million pounds for Elm by an unscrupulous businessman who planned to make a personal fortune from the last elm.

Despite what Billy believed, Joel was very much a man with a conscience, and right now he was deeply troubled. He badly needed the money, yet everything in him abhorred selling the tree. His wife had left him four years ago, leaving him for another man, and Joel had custody of their only daughter, Nadine.

Nadine had recently developed a serious tumour of the brain, and only immediate surgery in America offered her even a slim chance to live. During the time it had taken for the surgeons to determine the best procedure and schedule an operation date, Joel had been contemplating cutting down Elm. The thought appalled and repelled him, yet he was terrified that without the money and operation, Nadine would soon be dead. Very few people knew of the inner struggle Joel faced every day. Only the business deal had leaked out, and he was now the local Mr. Bad Guy. For himself, Joel did not care. He was a taciturn, withdrawn man, not good at communicating and easily misunderstood. All the love he had was directed at his beloved Nadine. To lose her would be the end of his own life.

With trembling hands, he pulled a small can of deadly tree-kill poison from his pack, and digging down to some of the larger roots, he drilled a hole into them and poured in the poison. He cried softly all the while. His crazy logic tried to protect him by reasoning that if the tree were dead, it would not matter if it were cut down. This was self- deception to a high degree, but because the guilt and pain were more than he could endure, as crazy as the reasoning was, the plan might work. Soon, his mind could mercifully blot out the truth, burying it deep in the pool of his subconscious.

Elm felt the poison as a rapidly developing surge of discord - a discord so that as Elm died, every tree on the planet felt the withdrawal in consciousness of the last elm on Earth. Again, there were no feelings of retribution, no desire for revenge, no judgement, not even a fleeting feeling of regret. Elm was a conscious expression of life. Life continued to express that consciousness, even if the physical form could no longer continue to express it.

Although I was aware it took days for the leaves to wither, yellow, and fall, the sap to thicken and stop flowing, in consciousness Elm withdrew very rapidly. For many years a killer disease had decimated the elms of Earth, and as the last one left, Elm was ready for the next step in the movement of Elm consciousness.

But for the people involved, the tragedy had only begun. Although Joel had been faced with an agonising choice, Nadine died during the operation. When, a few days later, a single bullet murderously blew the back of Joel's head into a bloody pulp, this act only foreshadowed the suicide he had already planned.

Billy, so obviously guilty by having broadcast his intent to all who would listen to him, was sent to prison for life, yet he was innocent. Nobody ever suspected the more subdued, controlled violence of Hans, nor did they have any clue about why Hans hanged himself three months later. All the repercussions of violence played themselves out, gradually draining this small pocket of anger from the global pool of consciousness. And all so totally futile. Elm knew nothing of this. Although I followed the tragic repercussions, to Elm it was all meaningless. Elm related to life in terms of consciousness; discord and harmony each carried countless nuances of endless dimensional levels as Elm merged with the vast oceanic consciousness of One.
[...]

I was aware that over a century had passed since the last elm had died, yet, wonder of wonders, a strong healthy elm flourished and grew no more than a mile from where Elm had died.

Once again I faced the paradox of time and Oneness.
[...]

How had Elm survived on Earth? I viewed the answer from Elm consciousness, for a single, unrealised connection had remained. When the group of people walked away from Elm, unsure of how they would save the magnificent tree, Faye had lingered for a few moments. She had scooped up a handful of the biomass beneath Elm and had noticed a single flat, winged seed. Slipping the seed into her pocket, she had hurried to catch up with the others.

Many years had passed, and Faye's old coat had been discarded to hang on a peg in the closet. Years later, now married and on a visit home for a respite from her young children, Faye had found the coat, and the associated memories of the last elm had brought tears to her eyes. Idly, her fingers went through the pockets of the old coat, where they touched upon the seed of Elm. For a second she felt a breathless excitement as she held the seed before her; then the excitement died. Seldom did the seed of an English elm grow, for it was mostly barren. The tree was generally propagated by suckers, and of course, they were all long gone. But as Faye held the seed, a feeling entered her heart that this special seed contained life - an undeniable intuition that regenerated her excitement.

Watched by her father, Gus, Faye carefully set the tree seed at the bottom of his garden, not far from where Elm had once grown. Gus was convinced that it was all a waste of time, for what with barren seed and the passing years, what chance the elm? However, he promised to water the seed and to care for it, for, deep down, he wanted to believe in miracles.

A month before the poison had been fed into its roots, Elm had dropped its seed. In only a very few, a tiny reservoir of energy held Elm consciousness, and since Elm had died, all but one of these flickering sparks had expired. In the miracle of Nature, a tiny seed held all the consciousness of the eventual massive tree it might one day become, for Nature deals not in the size of form but in the essence of life.

It was this single living seed that Faye had reverently kissed and planted in her father's garden.

When, after three anxious months, Elm's strong green shoot emerged from the soil, Gus unashamedly knelt down next to it and bawled like a child, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“It's a miracle,” he whispered. “It's a bloody miracle.”

Elm became known as Faye's elm, and no tree ever received more love or protection than Faye's elm.

Faye and her family moved back into the village of her childhood, and she spent many hours each week simply sitting in silence with her tree. She learned a truth that she spoke about to conservation groups and wrote about for all who were interested. She learned by direct knowing - by realising that she could merge the focus that was her conscious Self with the consciousness of Elm. In this way she had access to the wisdom and intelligence of the Beingness of Elm. The truth that she encountered was based in the continuity of All life.

Faye learned that if we are to save the trees of Earth, all people involved must become aware of their inner feelings. Are they Faye's or Billy's? If a group of people fight to save some trees and their fighting is based in fear - a fear for the survival of the planet and their children - then whether the trees are saved or not is irrelevant. No matter how noble the motive, fear is not the basis of unity.

Fear-based actions threaten the extinction of many species of trees, yet if the defence of tree is also based in fear, in consciousness nothing creative happens. Fear is a force of restriction, of separation. If a thousand fearful people plant a thousand trees a day, then fear plants the trees, and fear will just as surely remove them. In a year or a hundred years, a fear-based action will reap the harvest of separation and more fear.

If, however, a person plants a single tree each month, or each week or each year, and planting that tree is a pure expression of that person's love, with no motive other than the joy of sharing life with that tree, then in consciousness this act will affect the universe - and Beyond. Love connects and creates.

Saving trees is not a numbers game, because numbers become meaningless in the reality of One. Oneness means that the One is not the sum total of its parts; it means that the One has never been divided. In truth, a forest is not just a large number of separate trees creating an ecological diversity; it is also the consciousness of One seeking to express Oneness through the diversity of species. Saving trees on our physical Earth depends entirely on the relationship we create with them and the development of that relationship. If we grow in consciousness as the trees grow in stature, then we have the potential to affect the substance and structure of all life on Earth.

All this and more, Faye learned from the reservoir of Elm wisdom with which she was bonded. In her loving relationship with Elm, she, too, became a pivot for change in the development of human consciousness.

(Print-friendly version | PDF | 8 pages)

[My comments: The story deeply resonated with me for multiple reasons. Most interesting of which, to me, is the part about tree consciousness and how it can aid the person who bonds with it. This expands on what the Ringing Cedars books hint at, but leave unsaid. Second, for the beautiful, inspiring, and uplifting ending of the story. Third, the lesson (about fear) it contains for activists and the kind of person I was at a time. Thank God, I'm not anymore! Fourth reason for liking the story - it hints at the primacy of thought and Law of Attraction, the most powerful law in the universe, metaphysically speaking. Fifthly, I like it because the character Joel Carter, the supposed "villain" of the story is drawn with such compassion and empathy! Poor guy is stuck in a seemingly impossible circumstance. This matches with my learning. The story suggests we must find compassion even for those we despise. An idea that is described later in the book in some detail. Finally, for describing humanity as being, "lost in the smother of intellect". Again matches with Ringing Cedars but great to have it reaffirmed. This also comes up in Roads' book-1 "Talking with Nature" in passages that refer to the difference between knowledge and 'knowing.' More on it later. That sums it. The idea of separation is a key issue here as well but not included in this list as it's familiar.]

January 30, 2018

The Ringing Cedars of Russia


August 04, 2017

A Lesson in Education (and in reading the Ringing Cedars books)

Atulya Bingham meets a man who lived in the forest for four years and teaches permaculture. The resulting conversation is a great read. I'm posting an excerpt below that illustrates a method of "teaching" described in the Ringing Cedars books.
“What’s this box of dead bird bits for?” I asked at last, unable to ignore it.

“I use it for teaching. It’s great for children.” My host pushed the box a bit closer. I stuck my hand in and rummaged about in the grisly, ornithological lucky dip. A game is a game. You have to play.

“Which bird’s feather is this?” I asked pulling a black and white striped plume from the box.

Ludwig sat back, formed a bridge out of his hands, and shrugged. “What do you think?”

I shifted on my chair. “I’ve no idea. I’m hopeless with bird names, especially in this country. I haven’t lived here for 20 years.” Well, I thought I’d better have some excuse for my ignorance, didn’t I?

“Which part of the bird is it from, do you think? The breast? The wing? The tail?”

I turned the feather over and stroked it. It was soft and silky. “I’m not sure. Not the breast. But could be the wing I suppose.”

Ludwig’s face was deadpan. I held the feather up, and peered even closer at it, hoping to see the bird in it somewhere. But no amount of hard staring drew the answer out. Turning back, I asked again, “Which bird is it?” feeling my eyes straining in curiosity.

Bilbo Gandalf shrugged and sat back. He was giving nothing away. I pulled my chair closer to the table while I racked my brain, trying to haul out mental images of black and white stripy birds that might live around the Scottish west coast. None came to mind.

Eventually, the bird collector stuck his hand in the box once more. He pulled out two more stripy feathers, much longer than the one I was holding. Then he bunched them all together and held them upright. Immediately I saw a tail.

“Pheasant! It’s a pheasant!” I grabbed the three feathers and stroked them lovingly. “Well, that was a bit tricky, you have to admit,” I chuckled. Carefully replacing the feathers in the cardboard box, I mused on the art of teaching. The patience required. How brilliant teachers always stand back and allow students to own their learning experience.

Strictly speaking, this is not really teaching. Which is why I put the term in quotes, because the learning here comes from the student itself with the "teacher" acting only as a facilitator.

The ten-volume Ringing Cedars book series is written with the same premise. This is one of the reasons why some people who read it as a regular book are disappointed with it, unable or unwilling to follow through with the thinking process required to really process and understand what they read.

June 05, 2017

The Lorences: Walden Recreated

A couple who lived in the woods in an unelectrified cabin for seven years now invite the world to reconsider the simple life.



For seven years between 2005 and 2012 Diana Lorence and husband Michael Lorence lived in a house that had no electricity and measured only 144 square feet. Located in the woods of California the house was built by a group of friends who came together to search for the ideal of Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

When a TV crew visited them in 2012 and asked Diana whether she considers herself a Luddite, she responded that she did not even know the term. After looking it up this is how she responded:
Well, I'm not a Luddite (laughs).

I am perfectly happy with the entire world living exactly as it wishes. But. I would live my life the way I wish.

And, I would have others know... not others who don't want to live this way, but others like the person I used to be when I didn't know there were any options. I didn't know there could be another way.

I'm not trying to persuade anybody of this life but I would offer as an alternative to those who are hungry for it as I was hungry for something I couldn't identify.
Michael Lorence serves as "practical philosopher, private designer and personal guide" to people in high places who find themselves seeking meaning in life.

Their house is called the Innermost House, The Lorences have now formed a foundation with the same name that is "dedicated to renewing the ideal of plain living, high thinking, and fellow feeling at the heart of American culture." They "seek an underlying unity in nature, fine hand craft and thoughtful conversation as a way home to the original wholeness and harmony of the individual soul."

May 24, 2017

A Relation of Love

"When human love and the love of the planet join forces, Edens are created" says Atulya Bingham.

If I were into species research, I would declare the discovery of Atulya Bingham as that rare new species that the world desperately needs. If I were a birder she would be that exotic bird whose sight delights every time one sees her. I almost feel kinship with her.

She is rare because she writes about nature in a way no one else does. Until recently, Atulya lived alone on a secluded spot on mountain in a mud hut she made herself. What is so special about that, one might ask. After all, so many people in the past have lived in nature, sometimes in complete seclusion, even in the wild, and have discovered the joy and peace it brings to one's life.

I recently posted videos of a successful businessman who gave up his business to restore a large parcel of degraded land, an accomplished sports personality who gave up her career to respond to her lifelong yearning for life in nature, and a medical doctor who gave up the rat race and city comforts to live and work on a farm.

Each of them have grasped what Atulya calls the magic of nature but only intuitively and partially. None of them, to the best of my knowledge, have been assisted by direct knowledge of what happens when one lives on the land in a certain way, as has been the case with her.

Atulya Bingham has understood the magic of nature because she held a relation of love with the land with conscious awareness of it being a living entity that responds back with love and magic that bestows protection on you and helps you realise your aspirations.

This knowledge is contained in the Ringing Cedars book series. The books have been super popular in Russia but have met limited success with the English translation. When I came across Atulya's writing for the first time, I couldn't stop, and strongly suspected that she has read the books. It turned out she has indeed. [See UPDATE added on 26-May]

In her most recent piece, she travels to Portugal and describes an eco-community project known as Tamera. Tamereans have done some wonderful work on what is sometimes boringly called "watershed management", technical jargon for practices that conserve water over large areas of land. To the readers accustomed to seeing only a world of "problems" and "solutions", Atulya briefly describes the physical attributes of the project but then talks about something more important:

But hold on there! The water solution isn’t actually the solution.

Now I know people love to geek out on these types of solutions. But to obsess over the lakes and the swales, to focus only on the most obvious physical structures of Tamera’s landscape is to revert back to the dam-building engineer mentality. It’s missing the point. I'd go as far as to say, after my own experiences on Mud Mountain, without Tamera's founding principles, it wouldn't even work in the same way. Because, the Earth is not a machine, and it’s not something to be solved. It’s a responsive organism.

What are those principles?

When I sat at one of the water retention lakes’ banks, it hit me. I hugged my knees under a pine tree watching dragonfly wings shimmer, butterflies flitting overhead, birds slipping so close they almost touched me. And I wept. I was suddenly back on Mud Mountain, in a space of beauty and love. Because this is how it was on my land too. When humans love the earth they live upon, when they truly see each part of the ecosystem as equal and valuable, when they build a non-violent relationship with it, something magical occurs. It’s alchemy. And nature becomes something else. Wild animals scuttle about with a relaxed confidence that is palpable. Flowers bloom. Trees bear fruit. And the ground oozes healing. It is this type of environment that makes anything possible. Life burgeons from deserts. Balance is restored in a matter of years. Miracles occur.

Tamera’s water experts say they can create their scenario anywhere in the world. When you see Tamera, when you move away from a screen and live it, it’s obvious it can be done anywhere, though Tamerans would be the first to agree that the water retention lakes are the least of it.

Who knows what life really is. But one thing is for sure, it thrives not only on water, but on connections, relationships and love. Oh how obvious this is when you've lost something you love! Everything responds to care, respect and attention; be it human, animal or plant. When human love and the love of the planet join forces, Edens are created.

Spaces like Tamera show the structures of urbanity, with their conveniences and comforts for what they are: Barren, love-starved, polluted, ugly, noisy hell holes. After four months in what feels like exile from Mud Mountain, I simply cannot fathom how people stand it. It’s hideous. It’s banal. It’s soul-destroying. How could anyone live in that and not feel depressed? It’s a complete and utter excommunication.

As the birds of Tamera chirped in delicious excitement of yet another day alive, I remembered what I had to do. I remembered what the point was. Because I’d lost it there for a moment.

My space. The Earth. Eden. I must co-create it again. ​​​​​Because there's nothing else like it.

UPDATE 26-May: I should add that the knowledge Atulya acquired through the books was of course confirmed through her personal experience. She first came across the books when she found herself living alone in a tent on the land and told me that she would "never have read or believed the the Ringing Cedars had I not been in that situation. It completely changed how I approached the space." And "many of the things the critics say are unbelievable, I have actually witnessed with my own eyes." She will describe these experiences in her forthcoming book. Sample this blog post about her experience on, what she calls, the 'Mud Mountain': The Lizards Dance

May 13, 2017

The Blueprint

Tom is a medical doctor in New Zealand who lives with his wife Sarah, an illustrator, and their toddler daughter Neesa in a tiny cabin on a farm. Until recently they lived in a large three-bedroom house, trapped, like many others in the cycle of working hard just to be able to pay off the rent or the monthly loan instalment. This six-minute video goes into why they moved to the farm and captures a slice of their life.

I really like the insight Tom shares in the end.



Select transcript with added emphasis:
I guess, in theory we have no security, there's nothing legal about living here. But. Somehow that feels completely fine. I feel trusting, the way we're choosing to live. Try and learn how to live more in relationship. Rather than, it's just us, we gotta make our money, we gotta have our walls tight to have security. And... maybe there's another way of being secure through being really embedded in our web of community.
[...]

There's a lovely poem that talks about we don't have to be good, we don't have to walk a 100 miles on our knees repenting in a desert. We just have to do what the soft animal of our body loves. I really like that. I really like that.

For me, this turns out to be what I love. And I have a suspicion that this is actually the blueprint. And there's some thing when people get to it - everybody would want to live this way. I suspect. But. It might be a really long journey for some folks to get to that knowing.

April 29, 2017

David Bamberger: Love of The Land

In the 1960's David Bamberger owned a successful fried chicken business with over 1600 outlets in the U.S. (For perspective, there are less than 400 KFC's in India today.) Then he decided to sell off his business and put the capital into buying some 5500 acres of the most degraded land he could find in Texas, in order to restore it. Fifty years later, the once overgrazed and bone dry land is completely restored. It is flowing with streams and springs and is a habitat for over 200 species of birds.

In this beautiful video portrait Bamberger says he inherited his love of nature from his mother. Another influence was a childhood lived among the Amish.