Rooted in this land, in my land

Rooted in this land, in my land

Recently, I was extremely priviledged to attend a Sunday service at a Buddhist temple. I was made very welcome and told I could join in as much or as little as I wished. The service lasted around an hour and included chanting, singing, a walking meditation and much more.

One of the things talked about was how, as a Buddhist, you attain to be like the Buddha, who was so full of love that there was no room for hate or jealously or other negative emotions. What a wonderful thought!

Afterwards, we had tea and biscuits and chatted. These people were beautiful and gentle people who were also full of love and I was so grateful for their time, affection and help.

But, in amongst it all, I felt like I was in a foreign land. Buddhism is a beautiful religion, but it is an Eastern religion and doesn’t try to hide that in any way. For some people, that might be significant part of what being a Buddhist is all about, but for me, I was struggling to get a deep connection, perhaps because it is not from my land, my roots, my place.

I’m so glad I went – to have had that experience was brilliant, but I’m also glad I went because it made me realise that my spirituality comes from the Earth around me. Here in Britain and in Ireland where my ancestors are from.

And so it is with renewed enthusiasm and connection I continue my studies and practice of Druidry. /|\

P1030258

 

Disconnection from technology and destruction

Disconnection from technology and destruction

 

In the past week, an author I admire, Paul Kingsnorth (he’s also a co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project) announced that he was starting a gradual withdrawl from social media.

He was starting by deleting his twitter and personal facebook accounts, keeping his ‘professional page’ up for a while. He’s drawn a mixed reaction from people, some admiring him (whilst also stating that they couldn’t do that…), others deriding him and pointing out that without social media, he would not have managed to get some of his work published (a fact he accepts).

Then last week, author and ‘Moneyless Man’ Mark Boyle said that he was doing the same after a ‘not so sober’ meeting with Kingsnorth. Here’s what Mark said on Facebook:

Mark Boyle. 29 November at 20:52

 

Goodbye, facebook.

After a few afternoon pints with Paul Kingsnorth, in our little nook in the wilds of Ireland, we came to the not-so-sober conclusion that the time was long past for leaving the realm of social media, and to instead spend those precious hours doing the things we dearly love doing, with people we dearly love doing them with.

Unlike most decisions made after an ale or stout, this one seemed like an even better idea the next morning. So from next Friday onwards, I shall be on social media no more.

Instead, I intend to spend those hours rewilding myself and the land; creating sanctuaries for people who, like I, have had enough of industrial civilisation and the violence it inflicts on Life; to spend time observing the natural world, and becoming part of it once again; making love unrushed; reading by the glow of a wood fire; and writing – from now on with a pencil and paper – about things I care about, on the off-chance they may be useful or enjoyable to someone else. Fiction, from here on, methinks.

Paul has written an excellent short blog on his website (where you can find his excellent writings) about why he is doing the same. Ditto to all Paul has said, as he says it better than I:

http://tumblr.paulkingsnorth.net/…/134078691…/what-would-ted

I also intend to move away, one step at a time, from all complex technologies, whose production lays waste to all I love, and to reclaim my life from the bombardment of emails that we’ve somehow accepted as normality.

If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, or need respite from the city and the speed of industrial civilisation, there is always a bed and a hearty meal for you here in The Happy Pig at An Teach Saor. I can’t always guarantee I’ll be free to hang out, but you’ll be welcome nonetheless. If you want to know where that is … find out the way we used to before social media was invented a few short years ago, and then follow your nose. Lets reclaim our sense of adventure.

Lots of love to you all, and thank you for all the wonderful interactions over the years.

One of the things that both Kingsnorth and Boyle have managed to do with social media is get their message out and promote what they were doing.

For example Mark Boyle used crowdfunding, promoted heavily through social media to get the money he needed to build his ‘free pub’. It’s fairly likely that without the exposure afforded through social media, whether directly or indirectly, he may not have been able to proceed.

So what does this say about these guys? One might say that they are selfish and now that they have what they want, they’re telling everyone to ‘get stuffed’, or could it be something else?

Personally, I think they have decided that it’s time to do what you love. Be with the ones you love and spend your time very wisely. There are many, particularly in the environmental movement, who feel that it’s impossible to effect change through government. We can see this right now at the COP21 climate talks in Paris as governments lobby for the ‘best’ result for them – one which doesn’t affect them too much and certainly doesn’t affect their ability for economic growth.

Maybe Kingsnorth and Boyle have accepted that change will not happen this way, that you can’t change the course of consumerism and capitalism, so you need to create your own reality and watch the rest crash and burn?

As Boyle says “Instead, I intend to spend those hours rewilding myself and the land; creating sanctuaries for people who, like I, have had enough of industrial civilisation and the violence it inflicts on Life; to spend time observing the natural world, and becoming part of it once again; making love unrushed; reading by the glow of a wood fire; and writing – from now on with a pencil and paper – about things I care about, on the off-chance they may be useful or enjoyable to someone else. Fiction, from here on, methinks.”

So where do I stand on this? In truth, I’m not sure! There is a part of me that has given up on governments and most people making rational decisions about the future of humanity, and in that sense, there is no point banging on about stuff on Facebook or Twitter (or WordPress!). But there’s also a part of me that would not want to loose the ‘connection’ to people that social media has given me. Perhaps, these electronic friends are surrogate friends and maybe, in an appropriate community, I would be awash with real friends, negating the need for electronic friends. Maybe, but when you get to know people, and like people, real or otherwise, it’s hard to give them up isn’t it?

I’ve also written a little more about Mark Boyle in this blog.

 

Feeling lost

Feeling lost

 

I’m feeling very ‘lost’ at the moment. It’s hard to be precise about the feeling, but those from the UK might have heard the word ‘discombobulated’ and I think that’s a good fit for me!

It doesn’t help that I’ve had a cold for 5 weeks (my first one in over 4 years) and whilst it’s on its way out, I still get bouts of coughing and headaches or earaches which pull me down.

But there is something deeper – a deeper pull for real and meaningful connection with the Earth, with the Source. I can’t get motivated by work, in fact, jobs that should be taking a few hours are taking days – suddenly work doesn’t seem important.

A number of the books I’ve read recently, or am reading right now have touched on this and made me realise that I am missing something.

Maybe this phase will pass.

Maybe this is a wakeup call.

How civilisation terrorises the Earth

How civilisation terrorises the Earth

Mark Boyle is a permaculturalist, an activist and a writer (amongst many other things). One of his most notable achievements was living for 3 years without money (ie he personally had no cash, savings or bank cards), the result of which was a book ‘The Moneyless Man’.

 

So what led Mark to do this radical act? After his business degree, he moved from Ireland to the UK and worked with an organic food company. During this time he came to realise that “money creates a kind of disconnection between us and our actions”, which in turn led him into his experiment in living without money.

Once the press got hold of his story, there were many who criticised him for the fact that although he personally had no money, people were giving him stuff that initially had to be bought and earned. Those people significantly miss the point about what Boyle was trying to achieve, which is less about not having money and more about understanding and being responsble for it’s connections.

Anyway, I digress slightly. I just wanted to give you a bit of background on him in case you didn’t know who he was…

Today, Mark posted the following on his Facebook page (he’s now returned to Ireland, and although not moneyless any more, he used royalties from book sales etc to set up a ‘freeconomy’ which includes a free pub!

Amidst our anger about the brutality and violence of ISIS, we seem to forget that to the millions of other species on Earth, Industrial Civilisation must feel like ISIS on steroids.

I don’t say this to be dramatic or controversial, or to in any way make light of the horrors inflicted by ISIS (and the US, UK, French governments etc.), but simply to help us retain some perspective about the way of life we seem so eager to want to protect.

Some animals we cage so tightly they can barely move — billions never breathe fresh air or see natural daylight before they’re slaughtered. Our precious way of life drives tens of thousands of wild, free creatures into extinction every year. Through our ecologically-idiotic agricultural practices we make deserts and monocultures out of once fertile soils and diverse landscapes, killing the uncountable life-forms that once lived within them. We’ve bottom-trawled the oceans to the point where marine populations are outright collapsing, and ecological systems with it. To forests and rainforests, we are butchers who know no limit to our violence. From the perspective of the rest of the community of Life, ISIS are pussycats in comparison.

Somehow we cannot seem to see this. We never see our own violence and brutality, only that of other people, and only when it is done to things that lie within our parameters for moral consideration. Because our civilised world is so manicured, hiding the systemic hyper-violence it depends on behind closed doors, we think we live peaceful, nonviolent lives. But we don’t. We need to start being honest about this.

And he’s right. ‘We’ can’t seem to see what we are doing to the Earth and all her inhabitants, whether they be animals, trees or simply the land itself. This is the land that provides us with everything we should need, but not everything we greed.

Every day, we bring ourselves closer and closer to that tipping point (some say we are already there) from which it becomes impossible to rescue the situation for humans. The Earth will survive beyond humanity, but along the way, we create so much suffering.

[Image credit: Wikipedia]

Mark’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mark.boyle3?fref=ts

The first frost

The first frost

Winter is late this year.

We’ve been told that this year has been the warmest on record and certainly this autumn has been unseasonably mild. But since Friday, the temperatures here in the UK have dropped dramatically and this morning was the first ‘proper’ frost of the season.

frost

I have childhood memories of going to see the local bonfire and firework display on November 5th, and remembering how cold it was, but Nov 5th this year was incredibly mild, if a little wet.

But now the winter is here and that’s good. It’s good to notice the changing of the seasons, to feel the wheel of the year turn as we fall a little faster towards the winter solstice.

And from the solstice, the shortest day, we start to see the days getting longer and growth will return, although it’ll be a few months before things warm up!