Progress (column)

cover 55 (1)Published in InZicht, november 2012

We can see mother earth is getting tired. She can no longer fulfill our need for endless growth. There is simply not much left to take and transform into money. Most of what used to be free and natural is already transformed into tradable goods. We can no longer drink the water from the river, so we have to pay for ‘clean’ water. Before long, we might have to pay to breath, although of course we’d first have to be able to ‘make’ fresh air.

I don’t mean to say that everything used to be better in the old days, but not everything was worse either. Progress often is a very misleading term, like change doesn’t necessarily mean improvement. The dream of infinite growth is still being believed by most of us. In a world where natural resources are limited, infinite growth is of course an illusion – one of many.

Being rich defined as ‘having a lot of money’ is another one. What use is having a lot of money when there’s no real nature left and you no longer have the time to play and have fun, or when you’re being weighed down by concerns and stress and your vitality becomes less or your physical problems become more. Or when you can only view every other person as your competitor. That’s being together without being ‘together’, right?

The experience of oneness – not the theory – can provide a whole different perspective, one in which a lot more is done and experienced together, and by which creativity can relive and standardization, globalization and control tendencies can dissolve; where it’s no longer about the delusion of transforming more things into money, but where well-being can be seen as the full experience of the moment and in taking an extra part in our direct and in-direct environment, so we don’t, as careless kids after an evening spent by a campfire in a forest, throw our bottles, chips bags, cigarette butts and other trash in the bushes, but moreover clean up some mess we come across, or help plant seedlings in deforested areas, to name a few things.

A lot of us do consume ‘nature’. Recreation, is how we call it. But we are no part of it. First we shut it out, bring it under control and then go visit it every once in a while. Meanwhile we eat more and more things that have been processed in such a way that they contain very little life force, and barely anyone remembers how to grow a tomato or knows what a cauliflower plant looks like.

Fortunately there are people who can look beyond this current way of doing things, which is cracking at the seams, and explore different ways of living. Scott and Helen Nearing already did that in the 1930’s. They said goodbye to city life, a life of working at a university and a life of money, and started living a self-sufficient life in an area where it freezes 150 days a year! They grew everything themselves, built houses and taught others how to live in accordance with what’s available. They were extreme people, not aiming for luxury but for purity – real contact with the place where you are living and the people who you live with; creative, daring, tireless and with as less use of and part in a money based economy as possible. I find this very inspiring. A challenge, as well.

Going deep to get to realization is fantastic. The danger in saying ‘there is no person’ and ‘everything is consciousness’, is that we leave everything the way it is, and unwittingly stay in our comfort zone and continue to take part in an old system that’s essentially anti-living and has devastating effects on as well human relations as nature. Focusing solely on the outer world is tricky as well. Let’s find the middle and rediscover ‘acting justly’; based in consciousness, and experiencing all from great peace, keeping an eye on what’s needed in our environment; acting out of love – ever generous – and realizing we are not separated from mother earth, our social environment, the world. Living is ‘to share’, not ‘to take’. It’s not-two, remember? Everything is consciousness, seeing and that what’s being seen, the seer and the world. Two terms, one thing.

 

Text Hans Laurentius; Translation by Jan Joost Schouten