Not long ago I read two intriguing quotes: one by Anon., “We are in an irreversible, unstoppable de-carbonisation movement. … It is the only path to economic growth and stability;” the other by USSenator BF Wade from 1885, “Heaven for the climate. Hell for the company!”
Are Economics — economic growth & economic stability — really the ‘be all and end all’ of life today?
Is it the fear of possibly more “negative economic impacts” that is stopping us from rebuilding a truly NEW Normal? Are we afraid, even after 19+months of Pandemic experience, of permanently losing some ease and comforts we feel we can’t bear to be without? Do we believe we’re only rational, economic beings? I fear that this belief is the deep truth for many of us.
If so, you can almost guarantee that our post-pandemic communities will just disport more self- vs other-centricity; ego vs id; fear vs love; take vs give; save vs invest; rights vs duty/responsibility; mind vs feelings; causality vs intuition; concept vs principle; achoosement vs attunement; winloselose vs winwinwin; separation vs relatedness; power vs strength; objectivity vs relativity; 3D vs 4+D; me/us vs you/them; duality vs unity. And every decision in life really does have consequences!
Is this what the Park Ecovillage, Findhorn(FEC) was founded for? Clearly not![mfn]see https://survive-holistically.com/findhorn-the-gigantic-vegetable-garden-of-scotland/[/mfn] It was to be a Centre of Demonstration for how individually (big ‘S’) Self-conscious people can act, lovingly and peacefully, together, in a functional, adaptable and sustainable way, co-creating by&with&from, through&with&in all of Earth&Nature’s energies. Just as CAT in Wales is for eco-engineers, so FEC is a City of Light, a laboratory, for community-engineers, emphasising LOVE in action.
That emphasis is much more challenging for our community than CAT’s is for its community because solving technical engineering challenges (no judgment or criticism intended) is but a partial solution– a purely rational one –to the whole eco-challenge. As Julie Spangler clarifies for whole-community-builders: “Our spiritual teachers instruct us to love all, but on a day-to-day level it can be hard to maintain a loving stance. How can we teach ourselves to be able to love those challenging elements– jobs, people, life forms –in our lives?” When we fail (often), “we judge ourselves so harshly for not being able to love as broadly or as deeply as we think we ‘should.’ It is an odd contradiction– trying so hard to be more loving often finds us tightening up in resistance, and we fall into self-judgment. That makes us feel even worse,” and has further knock-on effects on our relations and ourselves. And so the vicious spiral is enhanced.
Which pov do I HAVE vs. ideally WANT?
Clearly the Ecovillage’s institutions, residents and wider community members are today confronted with uncomfortable truths and undodgeable choices: who, where, when, how, why, what, and what must I myself do. The goal is and remains: the material viability of a spirituality-based life– ie. sustainable happiness!
During my apprentice-time at Findhorn, many co-workers were trying the path of self-care….you could talk to some people and hear that self-care was why they couldn’t do something to help you! But most studies agree that happiness isn’t about self-care; rather it’s about being open to others and being other-oriented through your seva activities– “Do unto others” &c., and don’t sell your Self[mfn]your higher spiritual Self, your idealistic values in action[/mfn] short…
Depending on your point of view (which is what other people experience as your personal/organisation’s culture) humanity’s path lies between going from one calamity to the next, and proactively embracing the discomfort of eternal change. FEC culture is said to have grown via “organic development“… Might that also include a reactive, unplanned, tough-choice-avoiding component? If so, the fact that in early 2021 “DevCom” was called into existence by the Findhorn’s major organisations is of great importance. I trust that their COMmunity-DEVelopment system is built upon sound foundations: if members are emotional, helping them calm down; not making it personal; trying to find the problem hiding behind the problem; tapping into stakeholder & member ambivalence; asking “what if” questions; prioritising issues to deal with and grading resolutions based on the agreed FEC values; embodying Einstein, Churchill and Ferguson’s wisdom.
Simultaneously and authentically trying to balance matter/money & energy/spirituality has been deemed almost/if not downright impossible since New Testament times[mfn]Man cannot live by bread alone.., Render unto Caesar &c. (Let alone the maths proof of quantum theory!)[/mfn] and can lead to complex half-measures (like focussing on changing structures rather than behaviour), mental and physical discomfort and even disease. Such incomplete measures invariably invite ever more half-measures; and then to gloss over the now compromised ideals or Purposes, we may do what politicians do: vacillate and invest in “weapons of mass distraction” to prove we are at least moving towards resolving our current problem-à-la-mode.
But just imagine transcending our rational “either/or” dualistic realities and directing our unfocused emotion, energy and time on REAL progress, to resolve our obvious human-interaction issues, now once and for all, in our own vicinity. For example decreasing our carbon emissions or creating the right conditions for effective multi-generational community, or prioritising co-values of contribution, connection, and equity.[mfn]A healthy society is about more than just preventing injuries and reducing the death toll from disease. It is also about having access to safe neighbourhoods and affordable housing, ballsy businesses of character, broadening job opportunities and reducing income inequality, designing walkable communities and fostering community cohesion. It takes multiple interventions and cross-sector partnerships to do all of that, and data to determine what is working.[/mfn][mfn]All of us must work together – councils, communities and companies – to halt the climate crisis and embrace sustainability.
As local councils and cities set ambitious climate targets, for instance targeting to achieve net zero by 2030, companies who do not take meaningful action are facing increasingly rapid changes in public opinion, pressure from stakeholders, legislative requirements and environmental shifts that will make change inevitable.
While forty-five percent of FTSE 100 companies have committed to achieving net zero by 2050 or sooner, only sixteen percent have a plan on how they will achieve it (source: Ecoact, 2020). Other FTSE companies require support to address their knowledge gap and roll out credible action plans.
At the same time, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent ninety-nine percent all UK limited companies and contribute more than half of the revenue in our economy. The impact that SMEs can have is huge through both their own direct impact but also the way that they can inspire other organisations of a similar size and within their industry to get started on their own net zero goals.[/mfn][mfn]What is a healthy society — the system created by the agreements we abide by when we decide to live in community; particular ways of being and organising our activities that inform our behaviours as they affect other people. These agreements may be explicit or implicit. A trivial example: different societies manifest different attitudes towards how people wait to be served; a society with strict attitudes will frown upon the practice of cutting in line, whereas a more permissive society won’t. People’s shared attitude towards waiting is part of their social compact; they agree on what is acceptable behaviour and how they will enforce it. Societies have many such agreements; they define a sort of operating system for community.
What about healthy? One starting point is Buckminster-Fuller’s aspiration to make the world work for 100% of humanity. It’s an acknowledgment that current ways of organising our activities are not working equally well for everybody. Although we’ve made much progress, there’s still much injustice and unnecessary suffering. (Suffering is inevitable, but we should strive to reduce it as much as possible.) In short, we can and must do better. Now, making the world work for 100% of humanity doesn’t mean trying to make everybody the same; that’s impossible and undesirable. Instead, it means ensuring everyone has the same opportunities to live a full, rich life.
But that’s not all there’s to it. Health implies longevity. (A healthy body is one that can last a long time; it’s the opposite of a sick, dying body.) We want societies that can maintain desirable conditions in the long term; for generations, with no end in sight. In other words, we want societies that are sustainable. A society that achieves equitable conditions on one or more levels but then destroys itself is (by definition) not healthy. Working towards sustainability calls for systemic thinking.
James Carse’s book Finite and Infinite Games, opens with: “There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”
The members of a healthy society understand they’re engaged in an infinite game with each other, with people from other societies, and the environments that host them. Having evolved beyond zero-sum approaches, they strive to continue the play ad infinitum.[/mfn]
You can realistically change your car brand in less than a year’s time, your energy provider even quicker; what about beginning to do active service in your neighbourhood? Remember how quickly and what exactly changed for the better in your human practice (ie. not the rationally designed, insular structures) since lockdown!
Real problem resolution means checking my results against my consciously chosen essential values. It also means really believing that all problems can be resolved functionally, adaptably and sustainably and by me/us![mfn]Heaven on earth is “… limitless love, limitless abundance” and “the wonders and glories” of God made manifest. － Eileen Caddy’s “Still, small voice within”[/mfn]
Who better to illustrate the superiority of the Way of “yes2love / no2fear” than Findhorn’s 3PRINCIPLES+7ESSENCES in action preactitioners. They’re the ones who cultivate “the patience to study the true metaphysical meaning of the universe, as of the Overself, to explore the mystery of time, space, matter and mind, to probe into the constitution of the human ego and to lay bare the most secret workings of [their] thoughts, words and acts. With the knowledge thus gained, [they] can proceed to test the truth, gauge the value, and regulate the course of [their] inner development. As [they] pass[..] through this purifying crucible of rational metaphysical examination, [they] will discover how easy it is to set up mere fictions in the firm belief that they are solid facts[mfn]like mistaking the substance for the Spirit, and the Altar for the Divine[/mfn] and how hard to keep to the straight and narrow path which leads to the sublime Overself.” (Paul Brunton, The Hidden Teaching behind Yoga, Appendix, p. 343.)
Such typical Findhorn Ecovillager’s personal work results in “benefits which are long lasting. [Length of ‘lastingness’ is known to be the test of true spirituality… ~Ed.] Some of the benefits are: purifying motivation, educating emotions, strengthening willpower and improving mental capacity. … the outside world will assume a new and amazing relation.” (Paul Brunton, The Wisdom of the Overself, Chapter 14.)
Link this growing personal & communal awareness and understanding vis-à-vis The Whole, to daily life EXPERIMENTS in action in the peaceful revolution of the “Still, small voice within”, and we’ll all come to see=know what and how much we can give to another without fear of the cost. Practitioners speak all the more simply and powerfully about sustainable community having experience of right self-governance (less so of self-indulgence).
Right outcomes today+tomorrow are, like the FECfounders’ 40lb cabbages, worth a thousand words.
So be happy only with being, not just “becoming.” Be the active lab ingredients that you know, deep in your heart, you ought&want to be. You can’t but agree that LIGHT&LOVE&LIFE in action have so far proven to manifest the most beautiful, awesome if incomprehensible results, over the last 13.7billion years?
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Truth is not determined by majority vote – Doug Gwyn
Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal – Aristotle
Diversity in Unity.