Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Contemplating chaos

I’m having a difficult time trying to make sense of a report that was recently produced which is supposed to provide a five year sustainable plan for Auroville agriculture. The report has some very interesting nuggets of insight as well as data about our unsustainable diets which the whole community needs to know about. Trouble is it doesn’t hang together very well and if there is an overall plan in the report its not very evident.

I very unwisely volunteered to try and find a way of synthesising all the data and recommendations and fear that I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Sitting and looking at the report and trying to work out how all the disparate pieces can be brought together has made me more confused than ever.

So I have decided to stop trying to think it through intellectually and look at it like I might look at a forest. At first the forest looks quite chaotic, but if you sit and look at it long enough you see how everything hangs together in an interconnected web.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Being anchored

So much seems to be happening at the moment that I feel I have lost my connection to the earth. I still continue to go out and work every morning of course, but for about a week now it has been something that I do each morning before I deal with various issues/problems that seem to be a constant part of my life right now. This has included things like; having a volunteer who got rather unbalanced and left leaving a trail of chaos behind her, going to two meetings and writing up the quite complex notes, dealing with people who want to come and see Buddha Garden and talk about what we do. The list is endless and each new day seems to bring a new crop of ‘things that have to be dealt with’.

I find myself focusing on these things as my hands continue to weed and plant and pick.

I suppose if I was so inclined I could castigate myself for not being properly ‘present’ while I am doing the work on the land. That if my whole consciousness was focused on the present moment as I do this work I wouldn’t lose my earth connection. And yet the fact that I do the work, that my hands touch the earth and I do the things necessary to grow food means that I never lose the connection completely. Even when I am focused on something else in my head my hands working in and with the soil are the reminder which I feel physically even if it gets crowded out by other things taking up my attention.

Once again I see how the work of growing food is the very physical anchor that keeps me connected with the earth – whether I temporarily lose sight of it or not.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Different Sorts of Babies

These days I don’t dream very often. The one I had a few days ago is only the third one this year. My dreams always have something to say to me and often I can decode the message of the dream pretty quickly. But with this last dream I was completely stumped as it didn’t seem to resonate with me on any level or to have anything to say to me. Gradually though, I seem to be understanding what the dream was trying to say, and surprisingly, it seems to relate to what is going on in Buddha Garden.

In the dream I went on a trance like journey with these shadowy presences in a very old, stolen car. We ended up in Surrey (!) and after more dreamlike wandering around shops and losing two women who agreed to help me I found myself walking around in a basement carrying a baby. This seemed to trigger a lot of decisions as I decided to get a bus back to Pondicherry (the city near to Auroville where I live) and found my way out of the basement and on the road to the bus station. With the baby I knew where I wanted to go.

Going back into the dream over these last days I have been struck how I changed once I had the baby. From being dreamy and just going along with whatever anyone else wanted I became more decisive and knowing about where I was going to go. And of course it got me thinking about all my babies.

I have had three real babies – all adults now – and lots of symbolic babies consisting of projects of various sorts. I feel Buddha Garden to be one of my babies as I started the farm in the year 2000 and feel that I have nurtured it all these years. At the moment we are going through a lot of changes as we reorganise different parts of the farm so that we can grow more. We are building 16 new raised beds as well as a different system for making compost. This reorganisation, my present baby, is taking a lot of my time and energy.

As in the dream, this baby is also forcing me to be more resolute. What do I want for Buddha Garden? How do I want it to develop? What do I need to do so that this development can happen? How these questions are answered will determine how Buddha Garden evolves. And since I feel my inner development is very tied up with the outer development in Buddha Garden, I need to be as clear as I can about the answers to these questions.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Domination or Co-operation?

Feeling a bit miffed as a group of people from the Ministry of Agriculture in Delhi didn’t turn up as expected.  In honour of their visit we had spent the last week clearing the place up.  I had even weeded the cactus!
Then I thought – why do I do this?  Is it a displaced domestic activity when you feel you have to spring clean the house when people come?  Or is it an attempt to control nature?  To make it look ‘tidy’ or pretty?
Recently we have been in the process of having 16 new brick raised beds built.  Over the years we have found that growing vegetables in these raised beds is the easiest way to do it.  The brick separates the weeds on the path from the weeds on the bed, making it much easier to keep the beds weed free.  They are also easier to plant and because the beds are flat across the top the whole area of the bed can be used.  When the raised beds were just earth banks we could only use the top piece for planting as the sides were too delicate – getting too dry in the summer and washed away in the monsoon.
Looking at the beds, however, I wonder at the element of control in what we are doing.  Does the brickwork symbolise our domination over nature?  Or does the brickwork symbolise our support and co-operation with nature?  Within those bricks the soil that we nurture does not dissipate as it does on beds that are less well marked out. This makes it possible to grow food year after year after year, with much less work than if we had to remake the beds every season. 
At least, that is what I have observed.
So for me, the new raised beds, the clearing up – even the weeding of the cactus – demonstrates our care for the land.  The land that is caring for us.