Monthly Archives: May 2014

Finding the spirit of Nature at Findhorn

by Jim Park
















My Dad loved Nature and believed in nature spirits – intelligent, creative entities who tended the diverse plant kingdom. Each species of plant, every type of flower and tree has its own unique entity to look after it, and each entity is part of a global cooperative energy focus dedicated to helping the natural world thrive.

Twenty-five years later this psychic connection between ourselves and all other life forms on Mother Earth continued to intrigue me. I needed to experience it for myself, so I decided to set off on a quest to a remote village in northeastern Scotland called Findhorn. It was founded in 1962 as a spiritual community whose focus was communication and cooperation with the entities of the natural world, called devas by Dorothy Maclean, one of the first Findhorn channelers.

The Findhorn Foundation became famous for a short time by growing exaggerated versions of plants: incredibly large vegetables and tropical fruits that were juicy and delicious, and brilliantly coloured flowers with otherworldly perfumes. It was said that this was possible through cooperation with the energies of the plant kingdom, and was an example of what could be accomplished by humanity working together with them. After a few years of scientific study, most of the plant species returned to their normal sizes, and much of the world’s interest faded. Findhorn Ecovillage continues to be an incredible place of encouragement, inspiration, love, companionship, acceptance and creativity, as well as a fountain of spiritual truth. Whether these truths come from intelligent energies in a different sphere of existence or from the inspired minds of the people who live in this enlightened community is a question for the visitor to decide.

As soon as I entered the village I was immediately surrounded by an atmosphere of love and acceptance. I could feel creative energies swirling through the air. Four other visitors and myself were given a tour of the place by a totally together five-year-old. He was smart, knew the history of the community, and introduced us to various people before leading us to the communal dining area for lunch. Everyone seemed happy and full of life. For a sensitive soul like me, it was like being wrapped up in a warm blanket by your mother; I felt safe and secure.

The individuals I met were intelligent, philosophical, practical, and compassionate. They made us feel welcome; they fed us and answered our questions. They were humorous and laughed easily. I enjoyed their company.

I don’t remember seeing anything that was exaggerated in size, but I do remember that all the plant life was thriving. The vegetarian meal was all homegrown, wonderfully seasoned, and delicious. Grace was said, thanking the plants for providing of themselves for our nourishment. Everyone, it seemed, was focused on living in harmony with the natural environment around them. Many of the devas’ messages provided guidance and observations to the community.

An example of such a message was received by Dorothy Maclean from the Lilium Auratum deva on October 4, 1968: “We feel it is high time for humans to branch out and include in your horizon the different forms of life which are part of your world. You have been forcing your own creations and vibrations on the whole world without considering that all things are part of the whole, as you are – placed there by divine plan and purpose. Each plant, each mineral, has its own contribution to make to the whole, as has each soul. Humans should no longer consider us as unintelligent forms of life to be ignored.

The theory of evolution that puts humans at the apex of life on Earth is only correct when viewed from certain angles. It leaves out the fact that God, universal consciousness, is working out the forms of life. For example, according to generally accepted dogma, I am a lowly lily unable to be aware of most things and certainly not able to talk with you. But somehow, somewhere is the intelligence that made us fair and continues to do so, just as somehow, somewhere, is the intelligence that produced your intricate physical body.

You are not aware of much of your own inner intelligence, and some of your own body is beyond your control. You are conscious of only a certain part of yourself, and likewise you are conscious of only a certain part of the life around you. But you can attune to the greater, within and around you. There are vast ranges of consciousness all stemming from the One, the One who is this consciousness in all of us and whose plan it is that all parts of life become more aware of each other and more united in the great forward movement which is life, all life, becoming greater consciousness.

So consider the lily, consider all that it involves, and let us blend in consciousness, unity and love under the One.”

David Spangler is an American spiritual philosopher who helped transform the Findhorn Foundation into a centre of residential spiritual education. This is an excerpt from the first chapter of the book Faces of Findhorn: Images of a Planetary Family written cooperatively by David and the Findhorn Community itself in 1980; he talks about a new planetary culture:

The vision of an emergent planetary culture involves the broadening and deepening of our individual and collective perspectives and assumptions so that we embrace ourselves as a species, as humankind, rather than as separate factions. It involves, moreover, seeing ourselves as sensitive, interdependent members of a community of life that transcends the human and embraces the whole of planetary ecology, including the Earth itself as a living being. It is not seeing ourselves only as Eastern or Western, American, British, Russian, Chinese, African, or Asian. It is the rediscovery of our shared species identity that unites us beyond our national, racial, religious, economic, and political boundaries.

Within this broadened context, our current different cultures can still exist. They are simply deepened to touch our human roots, not just our ethnic ones; they are expanded to embrace our planetary existence and our ecological interdependence rather than being confined to parochial interests. Monoculture ultimately spells stagnation and death. What we are evolving is a context strong enough and deep enough to encourage the creative richness of diversity in the same way that life itself expresses its infinite variety of potential.

We are all story tellers, mythmakers: our lives, our thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires and self-images are tales that we project to the world. Like the stories that ancient men and women told around campfires and in sacred places, our myths give definition, meaning, order and significance to our personal realities. Cultures are like stories, too. They are tales told by some part of humanity about what it means to be human, to live on this Earth, to strive, to rejoice, to feel pain, to sorrow, to be born, to die, to triumph and to transcend.”

The function of a planetary culture and the role within it of places like Findhorn is the creation of a spiritual, psychic and psychological condition, a ‘meta-linguistic’ condition of connectedness, which allows people to tell their stories to each other without conflict so that in the telling we may all begin to hear and see the greater stories that our species and our planet have been trying to share for thousands of years. The story of human destiny must now open a new chapter and become a story of planetary destiny and unfoldment as well.”

I encourage all to explore this alternate realm of consciousness, to attune to the ways of Nature, and to believe in the unbelievable.

[First posted May 2, 2014]


Climate change, fossil fuels and the end of the world as we know it

by Stan Hirst

All my life I have harboured the notion that things could and would get better. The concept was drilled into me from the outset. “Work hard at school”, they said. “Get good grades, go to university, get a good job”, they said. And so I did, and it worked! Sure, there were some bumps and potholes in the road as I went along, but that’s the way the world worked. The good would always outpace the bad in the end, we were told. “God helps those who help themselves” was an oft-quoted expression in my youth and cited, I thought, in the Good Book. Only recently I discovered that it was in fact invented by an 18th century political scientist.

I have not been alone in my perceptions. Human development has indeed been guided by the feeling that things could be, and probably will be, better. The world always seemed to be rich compared to its human population. There were new lands to conquer, new concepts to build on, new resources to fuel it all. The great migrations of history, amongst which were a few of my predecessors, were spurred on by the belief that there was a better place somewhere else. Civilized institutions arose from the idea that restraints on individual selfishness would eventually produce a better world for everyone.

But it seems I’ve had it wrong all along. The world is not getting better, in fact it’s in real trouble.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has been studying global climate for almost a quarter of a century, says that climate change is having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans. Oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide emitted into the global atmosphere by vehicles, thermal power plants and industry. Ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and many terrestrial and aquatic species are migrating toward the poles or even going extinct. Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting and its decay is releasing methane that will cause further warming.

We good folks who have lead the good life on this Earth are about to get our come-uppance. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change” says the IPCC. The world’s oceans are rising at a rate that will soon threaten coastal communities. In some parts of the world the land on which coastal cities have been built is subsiding at rates greater than sea level rise.

Climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, erode food security and prolong existing poverty in poor countries and communities. Parts of the Mediterranean region are drying out, and political destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa linked to conflicts over land, water or other resources are being reported. The IPCC have cited the risks of death or injury on a wide scale, impacts on public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations. I didn’t really need to read the IPCC reports to glean all this info, I could simply have perused the news and weather reports from any number of national and international newspapers.

Not scary enough? The IPCC states that, while the impacts of global warming may be moderated by factors like economic and technological change, disruptions are nonetheless likely to be profound. Moreover, the problem will grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

How will the fossil fuel industry react to this situation? Not well. A European brokerage company has estimated the loss of revenue which would result if the fossil fuel industry (mostly oil, gas and coal) were to take decisive action over the next two decades and essentially remove carboniferous fuels from the global energy system to be $US28 trillion. That’s 28 with 12 zeroes behind it. That’s also equivalent to one-third of the combined gross national product of all the countries in the world. Is the fossil fuel industry therefore likely to take up this challenge of moving away from carbon-based fuels? I would think the probability is about the same as me winning next year’s Boston Marathon.

The world’s population was just over 2 billion when I was a wee lad. Now its over 7 billion and will be over 8 billion by the time my grandkids are out there fighting for economic survival and admission to university. Nearly a billion people in the world, including many children the same age as my grandchildren, are always hungry and severely malnourished. With increasing droughts, water shortages and political conflagrations, what are the chances of them ever getting out of such a situation? Virtually nil.

Most of us elders grew up among the reverberations of the 1960s. At that time, there was a sense that the world could be a better place and that our responsibility was to make it real by living it. We felt this way because there was new wealth around, a new unifying mass culture, and a newly empowered generation whose life experience told it that the line on the graph always pointed up.

But what happens now? We’re begun to feel that maybe there is no “long term”, nothing much positive to look forward to. Instead of feeling that we are standing at the edge of a wild new continent full of promise, we have a perception that we’re on an overcrowded lifeboat in hostile waters, fighting to stay on board, and prepared to kill for the last scraps of food and water., an online intellectual salon, annually assembles a group of contributors who represent the cutting edge of global culture and poses a question designed “to arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge”. In 2009 they posed the question “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?” In response Brian Eno, artist, composer and recording producer, and old enough to qualify as an elder, offered the view that human society would fragment into tighter, more selfish bands. Big institutions, because they operate on long timescales and require structures of social trust, would not cohere, there wouldn’t be enough time. Long term projects would be abandoned – the payoffs would be too remote. Global projects would be abandoned – there wouldn’t be enough trust to make them work. Resources that are already scarce would be rapidly exhausted as everybody tries to grab the last precious bits. Any kind of social or global mobility would be seen as a threat and harshly resisted. Freeloaders and brigands and pirates and cheats will take control. Survivalism will rule. Might will make right.

That reminds me, I must pen a few letters of apology to my grandkids before I leave.

[Originally posed on May 1, 2014]