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Arriving in Borneo Jungle

A little more than a week after leaving England, Lucie and I have arrived at the place where we’re about to stay for a couple of month – Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp in Malaysian Borneo. We are wwoofers here, didn’t really know what to expect, except that we re supposed to help setting up a vegetable garden in the jungle in exchange for accommodation, basic food and a stay in one of the most beautiful and biodiverse places in the world.

We took the long way to get here. After landing in Kuching in the west of the island we went on a five hour boat trip, a six hour and another ten hour bus journey up to Kota Kinabalu in the north-east of the island. After staying there for one night we went on a three hour taxi journey up to the mountains where we met Charlie, one of our hosts and wildlife specialist who picked us up in the village, a 45-minute walk away from the camp.

Travelling by boat and bus through the country might be tiring, but it had at least given us an idea of what is going on agriculturally on the Malaysian part of Borneo – controlled burning of fields is the traditional method for clearing space, there is a lot of rice cultivation and sadly lots of deforestation for timber as well as miles and miles of palm tree monocultures for gaining palm oil – apparently all owned by the government.

It looks a bit different in the camp though…

Tom, a guy from England who we shortly met, set up the Rainforest Camp with Charlie one and a half years ago. He’s rarely there, as he’s busy with community tourism projects. So we’re staying here with Charlie from Hawaii and his apprentice Calem from Scotland. Charlie will be off for a couple of weeks soon though, on one of the community projects in Sarawak. He speaks Malay, knows the local people and is very familiar with the jungle and her plant and animal species.

Words or pictures couldn’t describe what it’s like. It’s not for everybody I guess, as it’s quite basic and simple living, sleeping in hammocks with a mosquito net around (protecting rather from huge spiders instead of the luckily quite rare mosquitoes), wet-toilets, very limited electricity (because the storm broke the hydroelectric structure that was put in place); besides that, many insects, leeches all over the place trying to grab hold of you to fill themselves with blood (supposed to be purifying and helpful in cleaning poisonous snake bites) and at night fire ants that like to eat meet and burn your feet when you come near them turn up (sound more scary than it is, it doesn t hurt for long:).

But all of these are not enough reasons to not recognise the beauty of the jungle; the viper sleeping on the shrub on the camp-side, the washing in the fresh water of the stream rushing down waterfalls, creating pools here and there in between70 meter high trees, banana shrubs and hanging orchids; the beautiful butteflies and the sounds of nature, the birds and crickets and the varieties of frogs that you’ll meet at night staring at you, each one of them, showing off their clearly distinguishable character.

So what are Lucie and I doing here, wwoofing and having a good time? Who gives us the right to walk into this beautiful environment, this fountain of life? We are well aware and grateful for the privilege of experiencing a place like this. I m not a travel writer, but I ll update on our work there and send in some pictures.

"Oh my God, I think they saw me... just don't move now, maybe I ll get away with it......

The cycle of violence…

What I ve remembered from the short non-violent communication workshop that was held on the London Permaculture Festival this year is mainly the set up of the cycle of Event, Feeling, Judgement and Punishment leading to another Event and deeper into the cycle, that is keeping us from finding a solution to our difficulties and communication problems.

It s very interesting to understand the cycle, so i ll try to explain it with a simple example. If I lie to my dad and he finds out, we have an Event that could create conflict. From that Event a Feeling will come, which might be anger. His anger will make him judge me for what i have done; his Judgement: I m his son, how could i lie to him, i am such a coward, i ll never make it in life being a liar, aso. So, from there he ll punish me, maybe not with an intentional Punishment but at least by being angry, letting it out on me, and being very grumpy. He has completed the circle and now it jumps over to me.

His grumpiness and anger create an Event that give me the Feeling of being rubbish, being offended or misunderstood. From there I ll make the Judgement that he s not compassionate or patient with his son. I ll punish him with grumpiness and shame from my side, which again leads to another Event.

It might be interesting for you to use it on a real life situation of yourself.

What does it do for us to know this cycle? If we keep it in mind we can at first analyse conflicts after they happened, see where the problem is and why it doesn t come to an end. We can approach the conflict or the person differently next time. Getting into the habit of consciously analysing situations will make us see the conflict differently while it is happening. We might stop after the Feeling that we get from the Event, stay with our Feeling for a while and deal with it, without judging the person opposite of us and without punishing him/her. We find a solution ourselves and will listen to what he/she wants to say with a clear mind and open heart.

Many questions, missing answers…

What s going on in London?? What s going on in the world?

We ve been witnessing – at least in the news – quite a few revolutions, riots and violent outbursts in the last months, even years or decade. After 9/11 there were bombs and terrorist acts, war in Iraq, Afganisthan, Palestine; there are revolutions taking place in Tunesia, Egypt, Syria, … . The world is watching how dictatorships are taken down by the people. In Europe countries are bankrupt. Is economic recession spreading over the world? Even the United States drop through the back door and postpone their financial woes for some other time. Who s got the money that is missing everywhere? Does it even exist? How can oil companies and retailers be richer than whole states? Who is dictating the prices? What s more to come? What the heck do I know??

A lot of questions and no answers. But something must have been wrong in the system. There must have been a mistake in the financial system as much as there must be a basic problem to our way of life, our values and interests. There is something that hasn t been working and most of us know that. Just look at the paradoxes of our time: companies getting richer – people getting poorer; more food producion –  more hunger in the world; more people on the planet – becoming lonlier everyday; bigger houses we live in – less time to spend there; more cars, more televisions, more computers, more more more… less time, less love, less freedom, less understanding, less happiness… .

What s going on in London now? What are the people doing? Smashing shop windows and steeling sneakers. There is no common goal, there is no reason to fight for, there is no light at the end of the tunnel; there is only a whole lot of dammed anger. We re living in a violent society with poverty, robbery, murder, betrayal, lies, inequity, falsehood. What do we expect? How long shall people who are the victims of injustice pretend everything is okay?

Is there right or is there wrong in what is happening? Who will we blame? Will the army come out and silence people through more violence? Is there any difference between cause and effect? Is there any difference between what you do and how you do it? Are the consequence of an action and the action itself not ultemately connected? Is it not the time for us to change our way of seeing the world, living, communicating, exchanging, working, existing?

Many questions, missing answers…

There s always been the problem with the rioting when people know what they are fighting against but not what they are fighting for. We don t seem to go anywhere if we don t know where we re going. Even though we know there is a reason to fight. Let us stand together and give hope, love, laughter and a positive vision for the future to our close ones, our neighbours and the people out there on the streets – no matter which side they are one.

we ll be burning and a-looting tonight… burning all illusion.

Bound to Rhythms

I wasn t made for religions, rituals and other traditional customs. Some of them seem useful – some of them seem to be made for me. I like to have a rhythm in life, a routine, and i know it keeps me healthy and going as all natural things are bound to rhythms: the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening; some animals go along while others roam the nights; the moon keeps coming and fading in cycles; and the earth is turning around the sun; the tree produces leaves, flowers and fruits, drops them all and starts the cycle again; some birds fly all the way to Europe for the summers and make their way back to Africa when the winter s coming over here; …

There is a reason for all of this just like there is a season for everything. Our body reacts to the moon cycles as well as weather changes and our mind and organs react in subtle ways to minor changes that most of us are not aware of.

If i m intelligent i ll find the right rituals and make them instruments to help me along – and cast away what has become dogmas, burdens and boundaries. The right rituals will be like the banks of the river that lead her towards her destination, the sea.