Fort Collins Coloradoan – March 19, 2013
LOVELAND — A small herb garden and plentiful grove of fruit trees sit just steps from the kitchen, easily accessible and vibrant in the crisp light of early spring. Rivulets of water escape from under mounded snow piles and muddy the sandy garden soil. In such a serene setting, nature speaks emphatically. Chef Joel Navejas, executive chef of Farm to Table Culinary Academy, has been listening, and says the message is driving his dream.
In a valley a few miles west of Loveland, on the 400-acre Sunrise Ranch, Navejas is heading a new cooking school that teaches harmonious interaction with food. He hopes to help established chefs and those beginning their cooking careers to rethink their connections with food, and to get their hands dirty in the process.
“We actually get a chance to interact with food throughout its life cycle,” Navejas said. “We know exactly how the food is grown. We’re harvesting directly to the kitchen and we’re making a meal the same day the food is harvested.”
The academy will take advantage of the bounty of the ranch, including grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, pastured poultry, eggs, fruit and grains. Culinary students, with the help of resident Sunrise Ranch community members, will help steward the land and animals, and in that way, Navejas said, become more conscious of the natural cycles of life.
“We’re focusing on our carbon footprint,” Navejas said, “getting away from the industrial complex and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) completely.”
For Navejas, that purposeful move is all about lifestyle and health. As a 10-year-old, he worked on huge farms as a migrant worker harvesting potatoes in Idaho and Oregon. “They’d dump chemicals on those fields,” he said. “We didn’t think much of it then; it was part of the job.” Later, he moved to San Francisco to attend California Culinary Academy and said he began to see how important GMO- and pesticide-free foods are as part of a healthy lifestyle. He frequented fruit stands and met with local farmers, using as much local produce as he could in his recipes. “The things you put in affect how you are and feel,” Navejas said.
In Colorado, Navejas worked at Biaggis in Loveland, opened both Rustic Ovens and cooked at Crown Pub in Old Town. But his time as executive chef at Whole Foods provided the “big piece,” for him, he said. “That’s where I got my food education. And now I’m coming full circle,” he said, “putting my hands back in the soil.” Navejas, who has been executive chef at Sunrise Ranch for eight months, is working toward accreditation for the new school, which he says will probably take two to three years.
The six to eight students of the inaugural class of the academy will learn how to make dishes that follow the offerings of the seasons, according to Navejas. They’ll also learn traditional skill sets and food presentation, as well as how to cook with various fresh produce to preserve nutrients and maximize flavor.
“We already have four students, and we’re still accepting applications,” Navejas said. The hands-on curriculum, which runs seven months from April through October, costs $3,500; more for housing onsite.
Gary Goodhue, a member of Sunrise Ranch community and kitchen worker, said the recipes are far from ordinary. “There’s an amazing array of culinary cuisine, from all around the world — there’s Mediterranean, Asian, Caribbean and African. The diversity of cuisine that can be created while still maintaining a healthy style of food is just incredible.”
By Gary Goodhue
I have been interested for some time in living in an intentional community. I now do, in an event and conference center and intentional spiritual community called Sunrise Ranch, in Loveland, Colorado. Living in community, I find that almost all of my basic needs are met, and many of them are met with greater abundance than I would have imagined. We have an organic farm and garden program, as well as a farm-to-table culinary academy. Because we are an event and conference center, many people from a variety of walks of life come to visit and stay with us. We have a commercial-size kitchen that will often feed over 100 people per meal. Our head chef and director of the culinary academy used to be the executive chef at a Whole Foods and regularly prepares amazingly healthy and delicious cuisine for the community and guests to enjoy. The type of food that I eat on a daily basis would be very expensive to buy and prepare if I had to go out to eat or buy from a grocery store on a regular basis. For some reason, in today’s world, it is more expensive to eat good, healthy food than the processed and pre-packaged type of meals that I used to live off of as a modern-day bachelor.
On top of the generous availability of food that I experience, my housing accommodations, utilities, laundry facilities, and Internet are all provided for and included within the work-trade program. For the most part, I have been able to let go of the rat race world of making a paycheck in order to pay bills and live a comfortable life. This has freed me up to be able to focus on the things that are most important to me—like personal and spiritual development and discovering my passion and purpose in life. There are a number of options for work-type services that I can choose to engage in. Whether cooking in the kitchen, doing maintenance and landscaping, childcare, growing in the garden, stewarding the land and animals on the farm, taking care of guests and the events business, marketing and sales, program development, outreach, publications, financials, or overall community operations, there are many areas for a person to participate in and explore their individual passion.
Another huge benefit of living in community, as I do, is that I live and work in the same place. I do not have to deal with commuting or traffic or gas expenses. I get more time in my day because it only takes me a few minutes to walk to work from my home, and I have the opportunity to engage in different activities through multiple work duties. Sometimes I might be helping take care of the children of families that live in the community; sometimes I might be cooking in the kitchen or working on a new building project or editing a website. This availability allows me to be diverse and keeps me from getting stressed or burned out from doing the same thing all the time, day in and day out. And because we are surrounded by beautiful nature settings, I get to enjoy hiking and interacting with plants, animals and the natural world that I formerly had to drive to different locations to enjoy; here they’re within a couple minutes’ walk.
While living in the city, I had to be self-reliant and could rarely depend on others to help me out with areas of life that I would have difficulty with. In community living, people are there for each other, and it is known that we are stronger existing together as a whole than individually and separate. It is almost like living inside of a large extended family, where people actually care for each other and will go out of their way to help one another when they are in need. This doesn’t mean that it is a virtual utopia, where everything is perfect and everyone is always happy all the time. People are still people everywhere you go, and we are all growing and learning in our own individual areas of life; however, there is a greater encompassment and support for each other than I have ever known in any other type of lifestyle.
One of the challenges in such an environment is that it is similar to living in a very small village, where everyone knows everybody else. Sometimes it can be like living in a fish bowl, where everyone seems to know your business. Often that is not the case but sometimes that is what it feels like. Maybe that is because it is common to think that, just because my world revolves around me, other people are paying as much attention to my experiences as I am. Usually they are not, but still the fact remains that many people hear what I say and see what I do. That can become a problem if the two do not match. The up-side to this is that, if you allow it, others can help to hold you accountable and it can be a type of support for a person to become more transparent. This means releasing the lies and sneakiness and general incongruences within your character. This is a good thing to be moving toward. However, until you get there, it might feel frustrating as the old ways of being are no longer working the same as they used to and outdated selfish behaviors can no longer be kept in the shadows.
Some people might think then that living in an intentional community could be boring, in such close proximity to your neighbors and without many varied experiences. This might be true in some situations, but not here on Sunrise Ranch. We always have something going on because this place also serves as a conscious event and conference center. There are dances, drumming circles, musical jam sessions, workshops and classes, healers’ gatherings, spiritual and inspirational services, harvest and garden parties, game nights, outdoor group sports, activities, and much more that happen on a fairly consistent basis. I can choose to involve myself in these options or not, depending on my range of availability; and most of them are free and easy to participate in. Often there are new people who come to visit and interact with us, and the ones that I live, work and play with on a daily basis are like family; I know who I am spending my time with and they know me.
All in all, living in an intentional-community environment has been a rich and fulfilling experience and is my favorite among the lifestyles I have known. I believe that this is a model for the type of living that the world as a whole is moving toward. Imagine trading money focus, self-centeredness and separation for shared abundance, service consciousness and interconnected living. I am blessed to be in such a supportive and abundant environment.
Gary Goodhue is an author, actor, poet and has been a seeker of universal truth and spiritual awakenings his entire adult life. He studied at the School of Metaphysics, where he taught classes and directed one of their school centers. He was involved with a spiritual community called Community of Light for two years and was introduced to intentional communal living. He pursued community living for a number of years after that, even planning how to start his own with friends. He currently resides at Sunrise Ranch, headquarters for Emissaries of Divine Light, and one of the oldest continual intentional communities in the United States.
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
Something happened on December 21, 2012. Those of us who celebrated and otherwise marked this Birth 2012 event know that we moved through a cosmic portal into a new cycle, a new age where love, light and life are supposed to rule the day. So what, one might ask, are the evidences of this change? The world continues pretty much as it did before. Wars continue in the Middle East, parts of Africa and other places. Gun violence seems to be increasing in the United States. Financial tribulation still afflicts Europe and the U.S. Disappearing glaciers and polar ice confirm the reality of global warming. Droughts, floods, devastating hurricanes, tornadoes and atmospheric pollution seem to be increasing. And from what I can observe, turmoil in individual lives has not abated. So where are we to look for any evidence of positive change and transformation that movement into a new age is supposed to bring?
The initial change, of course, occurs in consciousness, specifically in the consciousness of those who have awakened to the reality of the creative process that, contrary to all appearances, is still the controlling force operative on earth. This change is for the most part invisible and vibrational, and though there are some external evidences of its impact in individual lives and in the groups to which they belong, objectively measurable change remains primarily below the level of physical observation. According to a report that I recently heard on the radio, the vibrational rate of the earth has risen in recent years from eight cycles to eleven. I have no idea how this is measured or exactly what it means, but I suspect it is indicative of the movement of the earth into the new cosmic context heralded by the Birth 2012 event.
So obviously something is moving; something is stirring; something is changing. The origin of this change is in human consciousness and the intensification of current that is occurring there. Though the measureable visible evidences of positive, life-enhancing change on earth may yet be sporadic and insubstantial, the negative, life-destroying changes, the so-called “doomsday curves,” the unspeakable atrocities, are painfully obvious and there for everyone to see. And I submit that these graphic evidences of disintegration constitute the most incontrovertible proof that life is on the move, that something of tremendous intensity is shaking the very foundations of the planet.
Andrew Harvey hits the nail on the head in this quote from his book Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action. “In preparation for the birth of the Divine, the entire human race is now going through a global dark night, which will result in a new humanity that has been humbled and chastened by tragedy, so that it may open completely to the mystery of divine grace. This dark night cannot be bargained with, explained away, leapt over or mitigated. It is the destined crucifixion of a communal human ego now clearly revealed to be suicidal, matricidal, and dangerous to itself and to the whole of creation. No one and nothing will stop Kali dancing Her terrible dance of destruction and re-creation. There will be no resurrection of an embodied divine humanity without a systematic, perfectly organized, brutally complete crucifixion of everything in us that keeps us addicted to the systems of illusion that are now rapidly destroying everything.”
The creative process that governs all life and being in the cosmos is in essence an integrating process—bringing and holding all things together in a beautifully coordinated whole. But it also has a disintegrating or deconstructing aspect, a cosmic waste disposal system. Obviously the integrating work of the universe cannot be fully consummated if there are “systems of illusion” and pockets of resistance such as the self-seeking human ego blocking the way. Insofar as the body of humanity is concerned there is a massive collection of trash and assorted clutter in individual subconscious minds and the collective consciousness accumulated through thousands of years of subhuman function on the planet. All of this garbage has to be disposed of in the cosmic recycling process. The intensified currents of life referred to above are now stirring things up in this subconscious realm, bringing all of this stuff –this grisly toxic effluent—up to the surface of consciousness and prompting human beings to act in extremely destructive and even barbaric ways. Hence the exponential increase of conflict and corruption, pain and suffering we’re now witnessing in human affairs.
All of this debris has to rise to the surface in order for it to be dissipated and dissolved; this is the only way to clear the subconscious mind and heart of humanity. No one is exempt from this clearing process; even those far advanced on the spiritual path, even those who could be considered enlightened, will experience these negative currents rising up into feeling and thought, bringing “dark nights” and Kali’s “terrible dance of destruction.” This puts those who have found their identity in the wholeness of life, in the truth of who they are, particularly on the spot. Knowing something of what is happening, it is incumbent on them to override all of the negative and destructive energies surfacing in consciousness with the irresistible current and absolute power of unconditional love.
I like the way Bill Isaacs describes what is required in his essay The Ending of Separation. “I suppose everyone has had, at one point or other in their lives, a so-called ‘dark night of the soul’—a moment where difficulties have mounted, and where the intensities have seemed very great…. As things proceed it will become more and more important that there are those who are not only unwavering, but happily committed to including and letting be brought into the fire anything and everything that comes into consciousness. This has always been the missing ingredient—a truly safe place on earth for the factors of distortion to be allowed to pass away. I suppose this is the unadvertised part of the experience of touching the invisible and magnificent nature of heaven. Initially there is joy and thrill, but as we know, what’s equally required is a fierceness of focus.”
Yes, a fierceness of focus is essential so that everything that comes into consciousness is immediately exposed to the fire of love that burns at the core of being. All distortions and destructive energies are thereby consumed and the truth of love remains. There may be an inclination to fight or try to flee from the dark energies, but this would not allow the essential work of dissolution to be done. What is required is simply to stay focused, embrace everything that comes into consciousness and just let the fire of love burn whatever needs to be burned. This allows the remaining substance to descend to a level of the creative process where it can begin to ascend again.
It is all part of a grand creative cycle governing the cosmos and there is no need to become involved in the disintegrative or waste disposal part of this process, no need to even think about it. It all happens automatically as long as attention remains centered in the integrating aspect of the creative cycle. David Karchere beautifully describes the spiritually mature approach in his piece The Rising. ”Deconstruction is a natural thing. For the most part, it’s not our business. It seems to take care of itself…. There is something else calling, which is the creative process. There is creation calling; there is glory calling. Part of glory is the composting—part of the glory of the garden is that the compost gets put in the garden. But it isn’t all about the compost. It isn’t about the undoing of the human ego…. There’s something else to be passionate about and to be part of. There is a rising, there’s a coming together, and there is something glorious that’s coming through humanity. That’s the point!”
Yes, the point for all who have to some degree awakened to the reality of the creative process is to be absolutely centered in the integrative aspect of this cycle as the beneficent creative power of the universe does its constructive and deconstructive work in birthing a new world. The intensifying currents of life brought by the new cycle may bring up experiences from the mass consciousness of humankind that are extremely uncomfortable and even life-threatening for individuals and humanity as a whole. No matter what the experience, if fierceness of focus is maintained and passion unwaveringly given to unconditional love, the inevitable outcome is glory. It is as if the universe will say to the earth and its inhabitants, “Welcome back. Let us join together in making all things wondrously and gloriously new.”
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is an edited excerpt from a radio interview done with Gregg Braden on March 8, 2012
This is no ordinary time in the history of our world. We are facing the greatest number of crises of 5,000 years of recorded human history, and each crisis in and of itself is of the greatest magnitude that humans have ever had to solve in such a narrow window of time.
The reasons are a matter of debate, but the fact is that the climate is changing. Our ability to grow food, and where we can grow it, is shifting. In many parts of the world, we’re simply running out of fresh water. We just crossed the seven billion mark for the members of our global family, so now we have more people than ever that need the vital resources that are actually being depleted. We’re facing a great disparity between wealth and poverty that is growing along with the disparity between education and illiteracy; the disparity between the new diseases that have no medical cure and our ability to help the people that are contracting these diseases with the newest technology that we have today.
First and foremost in many people’s mind is the global economic system. It is collapsing right now.
So, as different as these appear to be from one another, they are all linked by the fact that the crises are the result of a way of living that stems from a way of thinking. And that way of thinking is based upon the way we think of ourselves, the way we view ourselves, our relationship to one another, our relationship to the world, our relationship to the past. And what we find is, for much of the Western world, the fundamental ideas of these ways of thinking are based in science. I was trained as a scientist. I think science is good; I believe in the scientific method. And we also know that science doesn’t have all the answers. There are huge gaps, glaring inconsistencies in the scientific story that describes us and our relationship to the world.
In some cases we’ve got about 18 to 24 months to solve these crises. So I think it’s paramount to understand the thinking that’s led to the crises. And we can’t do that without recognizing that much of the thinking comes from science of the past and the way science has led us to think of our relationship to the world.
New discoveries overturn what we previously have thought were the deepest truths of science. The crises in the world around us are consequences of these false assumptions in science that we had made in the past. So, it’s very important that we recognize and embrace the new discoveries and what they tell us, so that we don’t use the same thinking to solve the crises that we’re facing today.
In the book Deep Truth, I’ve identified five of many false assumptions that were taught when I was in school. They’re being taught as fact to our young people today, and the problem is that the new discoveries tell us these are not facts. I’d like to identify these five key assumptions and zero in on the one that I think is wreaking the greatest havoc in our world today.
The first false assumption is a Darwinian assumption regarding evolution. We’re taught today that evolution explains life itself and human life specifically. But the data no longer supports that assumption. Yet this is still being taught as fact, and no competing theories or alternative theories are being allowed in mainstream media or in the classrooms.
False assumption number two, is about civilization. We were taught that civilization is only about 5,000, maybe 5,500 years old. It began in an area of the Mesopotamian Valley with ancient Sumeria and was a one-time deal. It was a linear development from primitive to the sophistication and the technology that we have today. Again, the problem is that the data no longer supports that, and the new discoveries are not being shared.
Number three is a concept in physics that consciousness is somehow separate from our physical world.
Number four is related to number three, another physics concept: that the space between physical things is empty. So the space between you and the person next to you, or the space between the nucleus of an atom and the first electron is empty. But we now know that there is no empty space—there’s something everywhere. Science as we know it today, which is only about 300 years old, tells us if something cannot be measured it doesn’t exist. It’s a very interesting way of thinking of the world. I’m not going to say it’s right, wrong, good or bad, but it has led us upon a path, and the new data no longer supports that concept.
The fifth false assumption is the one I’d like to begin exploring today because I think it probably has the greatest impact on the greatest number of lives, the future of our civilization and how we’re solving our problems. It is another Darwinian idea, and I’m going to use Darwin’s own words here. The idea is that nature is based upon the model of what Charles Darwin called “survival of the strongest.” It was later interpreted as “survival of the fittest.” But this is a very, very dangerous way of thinking.
Where I feel like Darwin made a mistake, was that he took some of the observations that he made for some forms of life in some parts of the world and tried to generalize them to apply to all forms of life everywhere, including human life. He coined the law that says we’re here to “multiply” and “vary” and “let the strongest live and the weakest die.” This is a really dangerous way of thinking and the facts and the data do not support that.
Because Darwin was a scientist and because this was the first scientific attempt to describe the human relationship to the world, his ideas were embraced really quickly, without a lot of investigation. They were embraced widely and they became very deeply entrenched in the Western way of thinking. It is now entrenched in our young people, in the way they’re taught to achieve things in their education. Rather than achieve it through excellence, it’s just about getting to the bottom line, getting the right answer.
The corporate systems that are collapsing today very, very quickly are collapsing because they were set up based on this idea of survival of the strongest, and it’s all about what’s good for money rather than what’s good for people. The global economic system is an extension of this on a much broader level. We are in the midst of a global economic collapse, and the effects of that are being felt in varied ways throughout the world.
Some of the most distorted and twisted acts of inhumane treatment of human against human—the genocides of the twentieth century, and some of them continue even in the twenty-first century—are based, rooted, and entrenched in these Darwinian ideas of “let the strongest live and the weakest die.” Hitler, for example, paraphrased Darwin but never even gave him credit when he put forth his ideas. Chairman Mao did give Darwin credit. He said, because these ideas are based in Darwin’s science, it justifies the way that we’re treating the people and the elimination of what were believed to be unhealthy elements of the society that shouldn’t exist.
If we attempt to solve our current crises through the same kind of thinking that led to them, based on the idea of survival of the strongest, we know where that’s going to lead.
In the late 1990s, early 2000s, there were a series of studies, scientific peer-reviewed studies, to find out what is the optimum amount of competition in any situation—in the classroom, in the playing field, in the workplace. Over 400 peer-reviewed studies asking the same question all came back with the same answer: zero competition is the optimum amount in any situation. In any situation—in the classroom, in the workplace, in the playing field—always, always, always competition is destructive for the individual and to the group, to the family or the society or to the community. Cooperation always, always, always is better for the individual, it’s better for the family, for the community, and ultimately for the society. Now, when we talk about competition, I’m not talking about a friendly game of checkers or a game of soccer. They were talking about violent competition.
Then, in the mid-2000s, late 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, the scientific journals actually began to publish other articles. In April of 2008, Michael Le Page, in the journal New Scientist, shared this quote: “what we see in the wild is not every animal for itself.” He said that cooperation is an incredibly successful strategy for survival, and that when cooperation breaks down, the results can be disastrous. So it’s not saying that competition doesn’t happen in response to some conditions and some situations. But what the science is clearly showing through these studies is that competition is not our truest nature, that nature is not based in this model of survival of the strongest.
So if we can bear that in mind, even if we’re not going to replace all of the teachings in school, if we can at least share this part of the teaching with our young people so that they know that they are living in a world that is not about dog-eat-dog, it’s not about survival of the strongest. It can be under some circumstances, but it’s not our truest nature. And as we go about solving the great crises that uniquely face our generation today, this has got to be front and center in terms of the way we think of ourselves and go about solving those problems.
So this is only one of these five false assumptions, but I think it’s one that’s really played a very large role in creating a lot of suffering and a lot of the crises that we find ourselves in today.
New York Times best selling author Gregg Braden is internationally renowned as a pioneer in bridging science and spirituality. For more than 25 years Gregg has searched high mountain villages, remote monasteries, and forgotten texts to uncover their timeless secrets. His work is now featured on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, The Sci Fi Channel, ABC and NBC. To date, Gregg’s discoveries have led to such paradigm-shattering books as: The Isaiah Effect, The God Code, The Divine Matrix, Fractal Time and Deep Truth: Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny and Fate. Gregg’s work is published in 17 languages and 33 countries and shows us beyond any reasonable doubt that the key to our future lies in the wisdom of our past.
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
While we frequently hear of global summits and conferences on such issues as climate change, the world economy and AIDS, it isn’t often that news comes to us of gatherings that address what is perhaps the key causative factor underlying virtually all of the world’s problems, namely overpopulation. Or do we seriously believe that an earth without human beings could environmentally and economically threaten itself? No, there is really only one reason why ecological catastrophe looms: too many Homo sapiens vying for a slice of the planetary pie. Until this fundamental issue is addressed, the plethora of programs to patch up the planet will all be for naught.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, world population reached seven billion on October 31, 2011. That this milestone fell on Halloween perhaps indicates the devilish nature of the problem! The online encyclopedia Wikipedia estimates births per year worldwide at 134 million and deaths at 56 million. At this rate world population is expected to grow to as much as 10.5 billion by 2050. This is far beyond the carrying capacity of the planet, especially considering that 90% of the growth will occur in underdeveloped countries. And since one person in the U.S. annually uses 50 times the energy of one Bengali, population growth in the industrial nations, though slower, will put enormous stress on world resources. Despite these sobering facts, programs to limit population growth often have low priority or engender outright opposition from political conservatives, religious organizations and prolife groups. Wikipedia notes that “the use of abortion in some population control strategies has caused controversy, with organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church explicitly opposing any intervention in the human reproductive process.”
Why? Why this stubborn refusal to apply discipline in this area? Obviously we are dealing with mindsets embedded in the deepest levels of human consciousness. In the opening chapter of the Bible, God reportedly commanded man to “be fruitful and multiply,” and perhaps the fervor to reproduce represents one way human beings try to compensate for their failure to observe the rest of God’s (life’s) commandments. If people are not secure and fulfilled in the expression of their true nature as representatives of the Creator on earth, then having children may be a way of compensating for this lack of meaning and purpose.
Do we suppose that today God (or whatever this term represents to you) is still urging us along the path of accelerated procreation? I very much doubt it. The message I’m getting in the stillness of meditation is something like this: “All right, already! Enough is enough! With all due respect, may I suggest that the totality of life in the universe is in no way diminished by the failure of human beings to reproduce? Life can manifest in an infinite number of ways, and right now it would be better for the earth and for the cosmos as a whole if it manifested in ways other than the multiplication of human forms.”
Religionists down through the ages have labored under the illusion that the earth is a “soul factory”—i.e. that it’s primary purpose is to mass produce souls (human beings) for the kingdom of heaven, where they have a chance to go after death. I suspect this notion is a baseline belief of the prolife movement—people who insist that life is precious. Indeed it is, but the supreme value of life is degraded when it is forced beyond the saturation point into human forms. The universe is less interested in quantity—the gross production of human forms—than in quality—the creative output of the earth system. The point has now been reached where quality will be better served by fewer births rather than more births. For those whose identity is in the individual human form such an idea may be anathema. But for those who have expanded their vision to embrace the larger purposes of the celestial order, the need to limit human forms is easily accepted.
So the “soul factory” delusion is one element of human conditioning that must dissolve if we are to move from indiscriminate breeding to wise life management. Another is the belief that my significance and sense of fulfillment are shortchanged if I do not have children. This belief is deeply rooted in cultural traditions throughout the world, particularly in developing nations where population growth has been so explosive. Again, it is a matter of basic personal identity. If identity is at the level of human flesh, obviously the more of it one can produce, the more seeming significance one has. But if identity has risen to the level of Spirit, to the nature and purposes of Being, then it is seen that meaning and significance come from within and in no way depend on external accretion.
Something similar could be said about sexual activity and the supposed need to be loved by, and have sex with, another human being. Again, if identity is at the level of the human form with its drives and impulses, fears and insecurities, sexual intimacy will seem crucial to personal well-being and significance. But if identity is with the essence of Being that informs the form, passionate love for that provides total fulfillment. This certainly doesn’t rule out relationships, even of a sexual nature. It just puts first things first. Sex becomes a creative option rather than an irresistible urge.
Another deep vein of conditioning concerns the notion that human forms must be saved and preserved at all costs. We find medical doctors making heroic efforts to keep brain-dead babies, hopelessly mutilated accident victims and vegetating elderly alive at some level. Some scientists drive themselves relentlessly to find cures for AIDS and Alzheimer’s or to discover the miracle drug that will prevent aging. Why? What if they were 100% successful at keeping people alive indefinitely? Would the earth be better off with all these forms on it? I think it would be overrun in short order and probably have to self-destruct. Though we may be reluctant to admit it, it is actually a blessing that human forms pass away. Given the present state on earth, aging, disease and natural disasters are nature’s defense against the human plague. In this sense we can actually give thanks for them. Sure it would be nice if the earth had a way of clearing itself of clutter without causing so much pain and suffering to human beings. But as long as they insist on maintaining impurities in themselves and show little interest in voluntarily limiting their numbers, these uncomfortable options are the only ones nature has available.
Clearly what is called for is spiritual education on a massive scale, so that people of all countries and cultural traditions begin to glimpse their inner worth and the creative role of the earth within the universal whole. Changes in consciousness consequent upon individual spiritual awakening should prepare the way for lifestyle changes that will gradually rid the earth system of its nemesis: the resource-eating human breeding machine.
What this comes down to for each individual is this: Am I willing to relinquish embedded religious and cultural beliefs about children, birth, death, heaven and hell? Am I willing to acknowledge that life is too precious to be imprisoned in vegetating and unwanted human flesh? Am I willing to let irreversibly deformed, depraved and decaying human forms mercifully return to their maker, even if it means my own? Am I willing to alter my own sexual habits for the sake of planetary stabilization and healing? Abstinence (yes abstinence!) may be indicated. The world’s population could be brought into balance if human beings would stop reproducing for just one generation! But how many would be willing to make such a sacrifice for the benefit of the whole? Yes, these are seemingly hard choices, but they are actually very easy when identity rises above personal wants and desires to embrace cosmic design and purpose.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Submitted by Aaron “Colors” Jones
The land was thirsty. We all felt the heat pushing against the soil. On this particular afternoon, when the sun sailed high over the ascending, red loam, a group of interns and their guides ventured out above the field for what seemed a routine water pipe shift. Great Mother pleaded for the clouds to break with rain-scented threads of hasty air. We echoed her call.
Despite the heat and dust that streamed past us, we managed the pipes and fastened them quickly, working efficiently with our two wise teachers well at hand. Soma, the older of the two, a kind and grinning man trained in many native traditions, overheard the interns babbling exchanges about water, land and the mention of “rain dancing”. Swiftly, the eager-eyed teacher spun around to greet the unexpecting faces of his students, exclaiming “would ya’ like to do a rain dance?” His smiling words infused the group with delight as they all bounced at the notion! “Yeah!” cried the group like chattering birds. Just as rapidly, the spirited guru turned toward the lower field, waving his hand like the Pied-Piper. “Well follow me then,” he bellowed happily.
As the modest group circled up, the atmosphere gradually tilted toward a slower ebb of denser lowland air. The wise man instructed the throng to place their right foot into the circle, rocking back and forth, arms bound around one another in an explosive oscillating rhythm. He clapped his hands in a steady drumming. “AYUN MAPU, AYUN MAPU,” he sang into the swirling space where magic mixed over the grasses. “AYUN MAPU, AYAN MAPU,” the circle replied, sending the song into the rising shafts of ether. Again, the teacher sang and the circle resounded, until their words exploded like a fire pressed by wind, crackling up into a now turbulent wind which came crashing in around them like a broken levee.
First one drop, then a smattering of splotches came bolting down from the torn patches of sky and sun as the circle expanded and contracted in a dervish of momentous song. The rain fell, the dance had worked, and their eyes were alive with the truth of this. And still they danced, more furiously, the wind puncturing between their torsos in a frenzy of atmospheric chaos! “AYUN MAPU, AYUN MAPU,” again they harmonized in earthen pitches against the fury of the water churned air.
Laughter and elation broke out among the amazed circle of amateur shamans and their two guides! They ran to the shelter of Soma’s pick-up truck, yelping with surprise, curling themselves up in the comfort of the bed against the breaking winds and rain. As they drove away, dust skirting the horizon behind them, they felt deep awe observing triple rainbows on the field where they had just held space, sacredness, and perhaps even wisdom. The Great Mother seemed pleased. Later, I discovered, upon inquiry to Soma, that the words we spoke meant: “Honor the Earth, Give Thanks to the Earth.” An incantation from his travels in South America. The Earth, you may find, always rewards our gratitude with moments just like these and, of course, triple rainbows! (Hats Blowing Away)
Aaron “Colors” Jones
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
Torrential rains and flooding in China and Thailand, record snowfall in Alaska, Texas and Oklahoma burning up with drought, hurricanes and tornados vicious enough to kill hundreds and destroy major sections of cities, history-defying extremes of temperature. What is going on with the weather? Why these imbalances and extremes? Has Mother Nature lost her sense of fair play or simply gone wild?
Many environmentalists and scientists put the finger on global warming and “greenhouse effect,” in which the sun’s heat is trapped in the atmosphere by various “greenhouse” gases, mainly carbon emitted by smokestack industries and coal-fired power plants. Some meteorologists point to ocean currents in the Pacific—El Nino (warm) and La Nina (cool)—that trigger atmospheric disturbances capable of displacing the jet stream. The result can be flooding in South America and drought in Southeast Asia or, as in 2011, in Texas.
Some scientists as well as politicians still deny global warming and insist that the climate change we’re observing is entirely the product of natural cycles or evidence of an impending ice age. This despite the massive melting of artic ice and the gradual disappearance of glaciers around the world. Can anyone seriously believe that the staggering amount of carbon dioxide we pump into the air every year from power plants, automobiles, airplanes and many other sources has little or no effect on the atmosphere and climate of this planet?
So while a growing number of scientists now embrace the basic mechanism of global warming the jury still seems to be out on the extent to which it is responsible for currently observed climate changes. And while ocean currents undoubtedly do affect wind and cloud patterns on land, what accounts for the fluctuations in these currents? In short, what is the underlying cause of these and all the other physical phenomena associated with global weather?
It is customary to dismiss all destructive weather-related events as “acts of God.” But why would a supposedly beneficent being be interested in dishing out such suffering to human beings, not to mention the torment visited upon the planet? So are we to conclude that violent weather is purely random with essentially no underlying cause? I believe there is a cause, and whenever there is violence of any kind on earth, it can always ultimately be traced back to one source: human beings.
For example, earthquakes reflect major shifts in the structured patterns of thought held in human consciousness. They are destructive because human beings generally won’t release their rigid ideological and religious mindsets until the tension along the brain’s fault lines becomes overwhelming. Tornadoes and volcanic eruptions mirror the turbulent emotions in human consciousness—the irrepressible spasms of jealousy, resentment and ethnic hatred that frequently explode in wanton violence and murder. Floods represent human thought run amuck; the truth (water) is so diluted by human interpretations and distortions that it overflows the banks of natural control and design. Widening temperature, wind and precipitation extremes mirror the extreme length to which human beings increasingly go to get what they imagine they want. Drought and searing heat reflect the intensification of the power of love (fire) as the earth moves into a celestial context where the impurities in human consciousness are burned away. In other words, there are no destructive “acts of God,” just the resistance and senseless acts of human beings out of alignment with universal law and purpose. We impose our own violence on nature, then complain about it. How ridiculous!
Seeing that weather climate is a product of human emotional climate, it follows that climate change requires a change in the climate of human consciousness. Clearing clouds in the sky requires clearing clouds (conditioning) in my inner sky. Calming global atmospheric disturbance involves discovering and abiding in the great calm within myself, letting the atmosphere of my expression convey peace into the world.
You and I are custodians of the earth, including nature and the weather. As a school custodian for ten years I came to realize the importance of maintaining a clear and life-enhancing atmosphere in the school, not just good air ventilation but good vibrational ventilation, and much of this had to do with the quality of atmosphere in my own consciousness. The earth, one might say, is our school building and our custodial responsibility requires the consistent expression of the highest and finest qualities of character to sustain and elevate the atmosphere in this “school of living.”
The sun is currently at what is called “solar max.” Some very strong solar flares have recently been observed and some have impacted satellite transmissions and other communications systems on earth. Could these coronal ejections be the sun’s attempt to tap us on the shoulder and urge us to defrost the rigid structures, and otherwise change the climate, in human consciousness so that the earth’s climate is brought back into harmony with the universal order?
It has been said that “the earth is reserved unto fire.” This could be the equivalent of hell fire in which global warming turns the planet into another Venus where green-house gases have raised surface temperatures to nine hundred degrees. Or if human beings cast off ego identity in favor of identity with the creative fire of divine love at every person’s core, then the possibility exists for the earth to be returned to the beautiful, pristine garden it was created to be. The choice is ours.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Patrick Padden February 23, 2012
Spring is around the corner. I was reminded of this fact recently when I saw a beautiful picture of a shovel on a beer bottle label. The beer was a seasonal beer entitled “Dig” and it caused me to relish in the daydream of gardeners all around town, pulling out their garden tools and beginning to work their soil. I’ve heard it said that when the waxing moon of March passes by Orion in the sky, it is time to begin working our fields. There is something so poetic about this concept; it ties our work on Earth to the clock of the heavens. (This year there will be two waxing moons in March that pass by Orion—the first on March 1st and the second on March 29th)
Spring is exciting. The robins will tell you; the crocuses will show you, and you can feel it in your mood.
However, we are not quite there yet and, if you have been feeling sad or blue or working through challenging things in your life recently, you are not alone. In fact, you are right on track with many of the other species throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Late February holds perhaps the most challenging physical conditions for most critters with whom we share our ecosystem. Food supplies are running low and the temperature is cold. If you are not going to make it as an animal living in the wild, February is not an uncommon time to go.
This is why spring is such a happy time of year for those who are closely connected with the Earth. Spring is the beginning of a new cycle. We have made it through yet another winter; that which we do not need has died away, and new abundant life lies before us.
I could go on to speak about the fun of summer; the way the days are filled with activity and how the long days so perfectly accommodate our desire to get out after dinner to pull just a few more weeds and admire our perfect tomatoes.
We celebrate in the fall, not just because the holidays are then, but because the harvest has happened; food is abundant, animals are fat, and we have worked hard. We deserve the feasts that accompany our festive holiday gatherings. In fact, this is in large part the reason why our two largest annual feasts happen when they do.
The richest, fullest, and most enduring aspects of our human culture are most heavily influenced by our seasons and our agriculture. This is why we need to preserve local agriculture, family farms, and the knowledge of growing food. If we pass the entire responsibility of food production to industry and corporations, we destroy the roots of our human culture and will lose our connection to the land and the seasons.
There is a new word buzzing about these days called permaculture. You may have associated the word with sustainable agriculture and now you can make a new association: Permaculture seeks to preserve human culture. Thus “perma(nent) culture.”
72 hour certification courses are being offered all throughout the world teaching the design system that integrates plants, animals, buildings, and community.
The Sustainable Living Association will be hosting a course together with Sunrise Ranch from March 28th to April 7th. Visit the “abundant backyard” section of the Sustainable Living Association website for more information or register at sunirseranch.org/farm
Patrick holds a certificate in Permaculture Education, a B.A. in Philosophy from Colorado State University, and has a passion for realizing new systems that allow us to live in harmony with the natural world. He teaches a Permaculture Design Certificate Course and facilitates the Permaculture Work Study Program at Sunrise Ranch as well as being a counselor for Camp Sunrise.
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
Is the American economy still in recession? Or pulling out? Or is it entering the second phase of a “double-dip” recession? These questions and the overriding issue of how to get out of recession are debated endlessly by economists and politicians and reams of statistics can be marshaled to support each point of view. Despite all the debate there is agreement on one thing: recessions are evil, they bring great harm to our country and its people and need to be battled with all of the fiscal and monetary weapons at our disposal. As the day of reckoning (Election Day, 2012) approaches, the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans are locked in mortal combat over their differing strategies for defeating this dreaded enemy.
But guess what? All the weeping and gnashing of teeth is unnecessary. At the risk of outraging economists everywhere may I venture the view that recessions are actually just fine? Only our hostile reaction renders them painful and destructive. The business cycle, just like all of nature’s circadian rhythms and life cycles, is a pulsating cycle; it has dips and curves, expansions and contractions. Though the long-term movement of the cycle is upward (unless human resistance becomes too great), it is not a straight line upward. Rather it is more akin to a spiraling process, a twisting movement with highs and lows, ebbs and flows.
As with virtually every other area of living human beings seek to defy this natural cycle. They want to eliminate the pulsations, specifically the lows, in order to achieve a constant high. They want to avoid the natural contractive phase and experience perpetual expansion. They want to forego winter in favor of eternal summer. In economic terms this means hefty annual increases in GDP (gross domestic product), high employment and rising exports, capital investment and per capita income. Any dip in these indexes raises recession fears and, if the dip persists, provokes cries of “stimulate, stimulate!” And the government activates such stimulative mechanisms as expanding the money supply, lowering interest rates, increasing public works spending, reducing taxes, etc. In extreme cases nations may even resort to currency devaluation or war to somehow prime the pump and regain the high.
In the current U.S. recession the Federal Reserve has pumped billions into the money supply and lowered the discount and federal funds rates to induce banks to lower their prime interest rates. Congress has voted to extend the period of eligibility for unemployment benefits and enacted a payroll tax cut to put more money in take-home paychecks. All of this so people will consume, consume, consume, thus activating the sluggish economy and ending the recession.
But tax cuts simply reduce federal revenue, aggravating a budget deficit estimated to reach somewhere around $1.3 trillion in the current fiscal year. And what if consumers are just plain tired of spending? What if they’re already up to their necks in dishwashers, I-phones, personal computers and sports utility vehicles? What if they would rather use money from a tax cut to pay off old bills? But no, “Spend now!” is the word. Growth at all costs! Expand or die! And so even though the economic cycle desperately wants to relax after the torrid pace of past spending, we won’t let it. And if rest is permanently denied, the result is inevitably the economic equivalent of a heart attack or nervous breakdown.
Recession as a normal phase of the business cycle wrings inflation, sometimes called “economic cancer,” out of the economy and provides opportunity for the restoration of appropriate fiscal discipline and restraint. Stimulus thwarts this natural correction. Wouldn’t it be wiser to forego stimulus and other forms of manipulation, readily welcome corrections when they are needed and let the business cycle expand and contract at its own natural pace? If there was a willingness to put greed, fear and, most importantly, economic theories on the shelf, restoring the economic cycle to natural market forces, I do believe the contractive phase would be no more difficult to endure than a normal winter.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy winter. There is something special, even delightful, about it. In winter, the rest cycle of the year, contemplation rather than action is emphasized. It is a time to reflect on the year that has passed and prepare for the year to come, a time to monitor and consolidate material, mental and spiritual resources, a time for stillness so that energies at the deepest levels of being may be renewed. If there is anything that isn’t appropriate during this time, it is stimulus.
What economists call recession is economic winter. It is just as normal to the business cycle as winter is to the cycle of the seasons. Nature couldn’t function properly without the rest/contractive phase of winter and neither can the overall pattern of production/consumption we call the economy. So why on earth would we fight it? Do we strive mightily to stop winter from coming? Most of us are sensible enough to accommodate it without undue resistance, and the most discerning among us actually embrace winter for the unique opportunities and beauty it brings.
Economic winter presents similar opportunities. It is time to draw back from frenetic activity and prepare body, mind and spirit for the coming pulsation of expansion. Instead of a struggle to maintain or even increase production and income, recession is properly a time to conserve and utilize resources accumulated during the expansive phase, just as in winter we eat stored and canned garden vegetables. It is a time to assess and consolidate resources, tie up loose ends, eliminate excess baggage and pay off old debts. Most of all it is a time to reflect on the central values of living itself, as opposed to earning a living. Obviously, injecting stimulus at this time in an effort to force more production, spending and consumption is totally contrary to the movement of the business cycle and life itself.
Yes, I am aware that what is being suggested here runs contrary to sacred economic principle and the core values of Western materialism. Good. Failure to examine and at least modify the more-is-better, growth-or-bust assumptions that inform humanity’s economic decisions may doom the economy and the planet as a whole. Job stress, cigarettes, cocaine, media hype, academic pressure, sales gimmicks, expressways, ultraviolet and nuclear radiation, growth hormones, food additives, credit default swaps…the list of stimulants is long and everywhere we are witnessing the destructive effects of unrelenting and unmitigated stimulation.
Relax. Rest. Night follows day and winter follows summer for this purpose. And the contractive phase of the economic cycle follows the phase of activity. Have we so distorted the pursuit of happiness that these fundamental rhythms are no longer honored? In perpetually grasping for more will we end up with nothing? Surely the true worth of a nation cannot be measured by consumption curves and growth statistics, nor an individual by per capita income/consumption graphs and cars in the driveway. Relax. Rest. It is winter—time for home, hearth and a long winter’s nap.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years.
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Submitted by Patrick Padden
Even with all the organic farms, community gardens, and backyard gardens added together, these environmentally conscious food producers would still be but a crumb on the pie chart of agricultural impact in the Northern Hemisphere. The overwhelming majority of our agricultural impact in the United States is attributed to commercial food, fiber, oil, and animal feed production. Carbon emissions through mass tillage, biodiversity reduction from mono-cropping and the polluting of watersheds with heavy chemical applications are the primary negative impacts that this culture of agriculture is having on the land. Few scientists would disagree with this fact and many are indeed concerned. So why do we keep doing it and how could we possibly influence this behemoth of a snowball as it thunders over our society?
As a grassroots activist and local (uncertified) organic farmer I am aware that my humble efforts make a difference in the world and in the lives of many individuals but I am not naïve to the fact that commercial agriculture is considerably larger, stronger, and at the rate it is going will have a much greater impact on people seven generations from today than I or my small plot of land. If I honestly desire to make a lasting difference in this world I must influence large scale agribusiness.
Who are the individuals in agribusiness? Where do they come from? Where do they learn their science and most importantly who teaches them about land ethics? Locally speaking, the answer to all four of these questions is Colorado State University. I believe that as a community interested in regional and global eco-social health, we can have the greatest net impact if we influence CSU.
Imagine if every student who graduated from our agriculture powerhouse institution held as a fundamental ethic “care for the earth,” how this could influence the industry of agriculture and therefore people seven generations from now. What if all soil scientists held a belief that soil life should not be compromised for soil chemistry? What if all horticulturists understood that the health of a plant and its relationship to potential pests depends upon the micro ecology of the soil and the greater ecosystem in which it is grown? What if agribusinessmen learned that it was more financially intelligent to work with the forces of nature rather than against them?
The ideas and ethics I am touching upon are fundamental to the newly emerging field of permaculture. Permaculture is a holistic design system for ecological and sustainable living built upon core ethics. It integrates plants, animals, buildings, people and communities. Currently, it is offered as a 72 hour certification course at locations around the world and integrated into programs at various institutions such as Naropa University in Boulder and Prescott College in Arizona. In order for permaculture to go mainstream, I believe large agricultural universities such as CSU need to recognize it, not necessarily as a science but as an ethical foundation and way of thinking holistically about our soil, society and our ecosystems.
Patrick Padden is educator in our Permaculture Design Certificate Course and he and Stephanie run the Permaculture Work Study Program at Sunrise Ranch. He is a counselor for Camp Sunrise. He has been with The Farm for 4 seasons as an intern and a manager.
Patrick holds a certificate in permaculture education, a B.A. in Philosophy from Colorado State University, and a passion for realizing new systems that allow us to live in harmony with the natural world.
Learn about the 11 day permaculture design course offered at Sunrise Ranch from March 28th to April 7th by going to http://sunriseranch.org/farm