… was to turn into ashes anyway, who gives me the right to sit and watch it burn?
To become aware of this union, the practice of Yoga teaches us to see past dualism and free ourselves from conditioning and preconceptions, from lower feelings and thoughts and to get over personal impurities that envelop our being. Yoga philosophers have, just as Buddhism, named a number of afflictions of our mind, the Kleshas, that distort or cloud our perceptions and effect how we think, act and feel. They are the reasons for our suffering, our impurity and our disconnection form the universal soul.
- Avidya or ignorance as the root affliction. Avidya is the misconception of reality, seeing the temporary as eternal, the impure as pure.
- Asmita or egoism is the identification of ourselves with the ego. We create an image of ourselves which we believe is true but which is not really us. We fail to see our whole being and our interconnection with other. We distinguish here particularly between, external (rich and poor) and internal (good and bad) perceptions of ourselves and others.
- Raga or attachment is the attraction to the things that bring us satisfaction. The desire for pleasures creates mindless actions and we suffer when we can’t obtain. A good example are addictions simple as coffee or cigarettes.
- Dvesha or repulsion is the opposite of Raga and means the aversion towards things that produce unpleasant experiences. We suffer when we can’t avoid, for example a room full of smokers or a cold shower.
- Abhinivesha is the deepest of all Kleshas, the fear of death and the fear behind all other fears, ingrained in us through our survival instinct.
There are many ways out of these afflictions, different paths of yoga just as there are different inclinations in different people. A commonly used image in Yoga says that there are many roads leading to the top of the mountain – once we’re up there we all have the same view. However, the first step is always the acknowledgement and understanding of these impurities followed by self-reflection. And that is something that needs to come from inside, the desire to cleanse oneself from impurities and be free from suffering. If this desire is immanent and present, then we’re probably already on at least one of the many paths. The main four of these paths of Yoga are Karma Yoga, the Yoga of action, Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion, Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of knowledge and Raja Yoga, the Yoga of the mind or self-discipline.
The term yoga means ‘union’. Union implies inclusiveness, as there is no union when there is exclusion and separation. So yoga can, through its developments be seen as a believe system, however in its essence it is an experimental, inclusive science in the first place with the quest for cosmic truth as its main goal.
The origins of yoga are therefore beyond historical date and without a particular founder. Its first records are found in the RigVeda (rig: ‘praise, verse’ and veda: ‘knowledge’), a 3000 years old documentation of some Indian sages’ quest to learn the truth about the universe and man’s relation to its cosmic nature. Nowadays, the RigVeda is considered as the main Hinduiste scripture. Hinduism is a term invented by people outside of India who found a different spiritual or cultural practice as their own and had a need to name it. In India at the time, there was no such thing as religion, but rather a code of living build on this experimental quest for truth of which yoga was the instrument.
What is it then that we want to unite in Yoga? Body, mind and soul or spirit, the different dimensions of human existence; but also masculine and feminine energies that flow through our bodies, our mind and the universe as a whole; Yoga is looking to transcend all dualistic perceptions, transcend pleasure and pain, good and evil, failure and success, perfection and imperfection, human and non-human, you and me. All of these are one already, only our mind creates a separation. Yoga sees the revelation of the infinite in the finite as the motive of all creation. This revelation is coming from the soul of him or her who reconnects with the soul of the universe; the Atma, the individual soul and the Paramatma, the universal soul merging to be one.
A food forest, also called a forest garden, is defined as ‘a perennial polyculture of multipurpose plants‘.
Perennial means that the plants have a longer lifespan than 2 years, as for example fruit trees that might live for 20 or ever 50 years. This longer lifespan gives more stability to the ecosystem as root systems establish, pull up nutrients from deeper levels, allow water filtration into the soil and prevent erosion on a soil which doesn’t need to be worked on as between annual plantings. Work load goes down as the plants are planted once in many years.
Polyculture, as opposed to a monoculture is a plantation that consists of many (poly) different species instead of one (mono) singular one. The food forester tries to mimic a natural forest system in bringing in the different levels that all forests are made of and so the diversity that makes a natural system resilient. A natural forest and the well designed food forest consist of seven layers:
The first one is the canopy layer which consists of high growing trees, mostly teek trees. The second layer is the intermediate layer consisting of smaller trees, in a food forest mostly fruit trees that grow in between the higher ones. Their crowns are at different levels of hight so that they do not take each other’s space. The third layer is the shrub layer, mostly consisting of fruit giving shrubs and perennial vegetable varieties. The fourth layer is the herb layer, consisting of non-woody, small plants, mostly herbs. The fifth layer is the ground layer covering the whole ground and not letting unwanted plants come up. Often this plant is a legume which fix nitrogen and therefore improve the soil in being a source of fertiliser for other plants. The sixth layer is the climbing layer, often ivory or other vines which are part of every natural forest ecosystem. In the food forest many different edible plants will replace the usual forest species. The seventh layer is the root layer consisting of usable and edible roots like cassava.
Multipurpose means that the yields that the food forest gives, so the purposes of the plants in these different layers, are many, often summarised as the 7 Fs of the food forest:
In this way, the food forest is mimicking a natural resilient climax ecosystem with the focus of providing for human needs and the perfect example of Permaculture Design.
The two most important elements in the designing of the food forest are space and time. Space as we’ve seen in the combination of layers, using the vertical space as well as the horizontal and time in working with and speeding up succession through design and planned planting to bring the forest to its climax state.
More on Food Forest following soon …
We had our Panya LTV (long-term volunteer) Dreaming Circle the other day and I’m very pleased with the results. I had never before really practiced it outside of the highly motivated EDE group. I knew this would be more of a challenge. Before the Dreaming Circle about the project, everyone took a couple of minutes to talk about their personal dream as a possibility to reconnect to it. I found this to be a very interesting practice which teaches us a lot about people.
In aboriginal culture people believe that their dreams are their projection into the future; we’re constantly calling our future into being through our dreams. People nowadays have lost this connection, have forgotten the art of dreaming because they’ve been told off; being a dreamer is regarded as being unproductive, we’ve unlearned how to follow them. Knowing our innermost dreams and visions and sharing them with others is the first step towards this reconciliation with the future.
You can hear when people talk about their dreams how they haven’t really thought about them at all. Some people stay in the past, talking about their experiences and mention the future very little. Others express a lot of hope and uncertainty through saying phrases like ‘I hope in the future I’ll be…‘ or ‘maybe I’ll have…‘. most of us don’t know where we’re going… we are not clear about what we want. What we did want as a child was often laughed at and rejected and we did’t allow ourselves to dream. When the body of the child grows up we don’t leave it any room to be.
Wenn das Kind wird erwachsen wohin wird es gehn,
Ist das Kind dann verloren oder kann man’s nicht sehn,
Hat es sich vielleicht versteckt, hinter einer Haut,
Die die Wahrheit der Dinge im tiefsten beraubt.
Wenn das Kind wird dich rufen wirst du es hörn,
Oder wirst du so tun als würds dich nicht störn,
Und es einfach verdrängen bis es nicht mehr geht,
Weil das Kind dann vergangen und es nicht mehr lebt
Not only spiritual mystics but also science is showing us the power of dreaming and visualisation. ‘Brain studies have shown that imagining something in vivid detail can fire the same brain cells that are actually involved in that activity. In other words, the new brain circuitry appears to go through its paces, strengthening connections, even as a person merely repeats the sequence in the mind.’ (Goleman) Through this visualisation or mental invitation we call our vision, our dream into being within ourselves, we open up our being for its manifestation. The more we have clarity in what we want to see or become, the more we trust ourselves, the higher the possibility that we create it.
… if the supreme force would stop working for even a moment. Every morning the sun rises again, the birds, the bees and the plants do their work …
Every moment, every act in life is work and it is sustainable only as it is meaningful and enjoyable.
Work is service towards the earth and humanity. Service is driven by values such as non-violence and compassion to include and embrace, to realise the union of all.
If we watch animal documentaries we notice that the instinctual reaction to conflict with another species is immobilisation, fleeing or fighting. In the evolution of species the immobilisation was the first strategy used by preys in front of their predators. Later as a better defence mechanism they developed the fleeing and fighting. An animal that flees or fights however, and experiences a drawback or temporary inability to escape from the predator falls back into immobilisation. Another thing you see in animal documentaries is that animals also have a quick recovery mechanism within themselves. When they are attacked and escape the danger, stress in their body releases quickly and they’re back on the pasture digesting grass.
Evolution has not deprived humans from these defence strategies, but has equipped us with another one: social engagement. When human beings have conflict between each other they can call on social processes to resolve them. When a child wants a toy and the mother is unwilling to buy it for him, she can explain her reason in nice understandable words and the child doesn’t immediately needs to freeze in front of the mother, run away or fight against her decision. Same if someone attacks us, physically or verbally, we’ve got the chance to gather our feelings and explain ourselves often in a conflict resolving way.
However, even if this opportunity mostly stands in front of us, it is not what happens in the majority of cases. Depending on the person – often also the institution, group or company – and their prior experiences we often tend to fight back, run away from the situation in one way or another or in more complex cases, possibly connected to a deeper trauma that happened in our lives, to freeze and immobilise.
Now this fighting, fleeing or freezing is often just a temporary resolution that might work well in some rare cases where animals are attacked and manage to escape from their stronger predator. However in complex social settings, a human being who has mostly lost his or her connection to the sensory body and therefore to the earlier mentioned quick recovery system. In his or her mind he/she is often attached to one side and can’t connect to that compassionate form of social engagement, therefore resorts to the fight or flight alternative leaving the conflict unresolved. I have witnessed in conflicts people freezing because they are traumatised by their prior experiences that take away any faith in a resolution. People fall into depression and non-action, not wanting to talk, not wanting to engage in any way in the physical world.
For this reason not only physical therapies that engage the person in seeing, observing, hearing and listening, doing and participating are helpful to resolve traumas on a deeper level. These actions make us connect to our physical and vital body, our senses to break blockages and traumas on the emotional plane. We connect to our ability, our confidence, our self-esteem and the possibility of healing.