When I talked about being able to return one day and be at peace with my culture of origin, I did not know how that was supposed to happen, with all the mess it had created in me and in the world; at the same time, how could I ever be truly at home in the foreign place I went to?
My studies pointed out answers rooted in Zen Buddhism and non-dualistic philosophy. Yet another, deeply compassionate answer has been provided by Bayo Akomolafe, a westernized African academic living in India, if I may attach some handy labels for convenience.
In his open letter of this month, “Dear White People“, he came to astonishing conclusions. Astonishing because, despite so many words, they are so simple and obvious.
He is speaking about how indigeneity has become a concept to the taste of the Western mind, how it serves to perpetuate the dualistic paradigm, how humankind could actually decolonize the world, and what true indigeneity would look like:
“The much hated neoliberal capitalism and the techno-utopic longings for permanence, for abstraction and dominance are just as indigenous (and ‘natural’) as naked dances by moonlight (and other such spectacular ways Hollywood likes to depict non-western people). […]
A different way to think about decolonization is as intimacy with where we are. It is accounting for and opening up to our embeddedness, not grappling for a Plato-nic identity or transcendent quality. […]
We are constantly touching each other, infecting each other, so that it is impossible to trace out an original point. This suggests that my ‘blackness’ co-arises with your ‘whiteness’ – and that we are hyphenated aspects of each other. […]
What changes when the anxiety of ‘arriving home’ or ‘becoming indigenous’ is replaced with a studious slowness and a curiosity about where you are? […]”
This kind of building is usually described as environmentally friendly because it is mostly made of biodegradable stuff, but one has to see that seven billion people living like this would require unimaginable amounts of raw materials:
Monocropping of timber and of leafy plants would eat further into the already distressed environment, requiring also huge amounts of water. Stone quarries cut ugly wounds into the landscape as well. The overall environmental footprint of mankind probably would become worse than it is already.
One way or another this dilemma has to be resolved — and it will. Whether we will like the solution is another thing.
But let’s spare ourselves the discussion. Words rarely make a difference before experience verifies them.
I seem to have a phase of disorientation lately, resulting in either not knowing what to think (and therefore write), or alternating between multiple ways of looking at the world. The dissolution of wrong and right combined with the study of various solutions to the current crises do me no good, some may say; although I guess this is the only way for me to eventually get rid of a sickening belief in the concept of control over my environment. During the past two years I have learnt to let go of the idea that, by controlling money flow, people’s view of my person and the world, and other variables, I could finally reach a stable state of security, a safe ground to plan the future on. I was taught to believe in the power of control – and believe I did.
The concept of control is an illusion. After all that has gone ‘wrong’ in my life, all failed plans and relationships, hardly anyone around here knows better than me. (I owe everyone hugs and apologies for having been mean, I guess.) Still it ain’t easy to accept and let things come my way, awashed as I am still by Western culture. To naturally let go means to have faith, trust and belief in fate, especially the ways of people. I admit to have a deficit in that field, a deficit that, thanks to Auroville, is not quite as awful as it used to be.
Back in Europe, where I am currently stuck, I am also stuck with developing ‘skills’ like those mentioned above. For how can you trust people in a competitive society, i.e. an everyone-for-themselves system of constant fighting, battling, and warfare? Can people whose whole life is based on againstness and who make a living out of destructiveness show you how to love and feel loved? Would you ask a priest to learn programming?
It sure takes a peaceful environment and a loving teacher to develop the qualities mentioned above. You cannot do it all by yourself in environments like the one I have been in all my life. Therefore my longing for a fundamental change in the ways of the world. And yes, there is an emphasis on ‘my’, as I might share this longing, this need, with other fellow creatures, but can only speak for myself. When I once adopted Jacque Fresco’s vision of a resource-based, fully-automated civilization, I had the dream of cutting off the crap, preserving only the best of nowadays’ society. But shortly after, I had to learn that, right when I got where I was intellectually going, the road was still stretching a long way in front of me.
Yes, there is the need for a very different social environment, but no matter how you put it, the way there starts with a thought, feeling or intuition, rather than with an action.
If we are able to survive the next 100 years, The Venus Project may very well become a reality. But the longer I go into the subject of improving the world and ourselves the more I doubt the necessitiy of having a civilization at all. If we ourselves did the work that sustains our lives, it would be the ultimate means to reconnect to the foundations of existence and the happiness of being one with what we separated ourselves from as “environment”. It would be the ultimate means to free ourselves from governance and 8 hours or more a day of alienating work. Instead, we’d spend just 2-4 hours on occupations we care about, and that were really satisfactory as they make us learn, grow and survive. It was civilization that made work such an uncomfortable experience. It was civilization that made us needy and greedy. It was civilization that created organizational structures bigger than a single individual can handle. You hardly find people complaining about such things in tribal, spiritual or buddhist environments for instance – which are based on contentment with what IS rather than what could come.
Under such conditions there is no need for insurances, money, global markets and all the like. There is also no need for cities, industries, robots and all the technologies that endlessly distract and amuse our minds, separating us from the real world around us, and that demand for solutions to problems that haven’t been there in the first place.
We know that people can be happy without possession. We know that we can be happy with living off the land, not wanting anything but a little bit of company. In fact, it is the wanting that makes us (and others) suffer, for it creates discontentment; in other words unhappiness; in other words conflict with our situation.
All that boils down to the question: What do we actually need? How did we ever come to the idea we could not live without all the stuff that surrounds us today, along with made-up concepts of “society”, “institution” and “civilization” that have materialized in our lives without any basis in the material world whatsoever?
Of course we are a species that doesn’t like to relinquish even the slightest bit. It would be hard to change ourselves to being content with less stuff than we own today. But isn’t that exactly the walls we are running into all the time? People refusing to give up the pieces of shit they have, despite accurate information of a better world where there is no ownership, no fight, no oppression?
Then how much does it actually take to make our existence worth living?
I’d say, it is just a change of mind on the deep spiritual level – which no technology in all the world will be able to bring about. Whether or not there will be highly developed technology in the future hence doesn’t make a difference in bringing about such a process. On the level of ideas I am not against the direction of The Venus Project in so far as we want the same: The end of the monetary madness giving path to something much more healthy.
It is only that I highly doubt we’ll be able to trigger a general paradigm shift as long as we are organizing at the millions, while using technology as a means of control. To learn how to govern yourself you would want to live with and by yourself; to learn how to heal the world you would actually have to stop treating it like disposable, dead lump. To know what is real we have to get rid of the symbol, the word, the rational logic, and “get in touch” again.
How do you do that within our culture? – You can’t! It is the culture’s aim to keep you off this path. It provides no means by which to achieve it, even destroys you if you try too hard. You cannot change it as a whole, yet need a place to stay.
And there I go, off into the wilderness, into communes, or whatever my path may be. As I leave, as we leave one by one, the culture of competition, againstness and destruction dissolves, and society falls apart in yet another way than the self-defeating rip-off of nature’s gifts.
GOD: “Yes. Shall I say it again? A shift of consciousness. You cannot solve the problems which plague humankind through governmental action or political means. You have been trying that for thousands of years. The change must be made, can be made only in the hearts of man.”
(Neale Donald Walsch: Conversations With God)
In an interview with Larry King, Walsch described the inception of the books as follows: at a low period in his life, Walsch wrote an angry letter to God asking questions about why his life wasn’t working. After writing down all of his questions, he heard a voice over his right shoulder say: “Do you really want an answer to all these questions or are you just venting?” (Wikipedia on “Conversations with God”)
Both quotes kind of sum it up, what I am thinking of the situation we are in. The latter also gives a hint to sane use of thought; philosophy, if you will. Philosophy can equal verbal masturbation if you do it just for the thrill of shuffling words and dealing with puzzles. If it tells you something about the life you are living, and if you use that insight for improving on things, that’s when God is answering your questions. Sometimes, it even might work the other way round, philosophy being an expression of wisdom gained through living. Then God is you.
What do you mean by ‘world’ anyway?
The Universe? – It doesn’t need to be saved.
The Planet? – So far we cannot destroy it.
The Biosphere? – Well, one could say that man, being the most powerful species on Earth, has some responsibility for his fellow creatures. But that derives from a human understanding of ‘morality’, ‘rights’, and ‘justice’ or, on the material level, of ‘resources’ and ‘life stock’. It has nothing to do with laws of nature – if they even exist outside our intellectual concepts of the fabric of reality.
So maybe saving the world is about saving our species, our civilization, the status quo. And I am not even trying to help that. It would mean that I’d impose my idea of what the world should look like on others. It would mean that they’d have to live under conditions that I find to be useful, regardless of their needs, and I think that is a fascist way of handling the situation we’re in.
I mean, it’s alright to find likeminded folks to join forces. But there’s a limit to how many allies you can bind. Have you ever explained your world view to another person, or have you ever tried to help them, and then noticed how many reject your view or your way of helping? Even if you had the power to force ‘their advantage’ onto them, the only thing you can achieve by that is turning an advantage into misery for them.
So what can we do at all?
As far as I’m concerned the only thing we can actually change is ourselves: our way of looking at the world, our emotional, rational and behavioural reactions, and our expectations. Altering ourselves can be learned easily and it doesn’t require the smallest piece of technology. Not even a pencil.
That sounds revolutionary but it is knowledge having stood the test of time for thousands of years.
That sounds selfish but the result of changing yourself into someone content is a human being able to relate peacefully to others.
That sounds destructive, and in fact it is. It destroys the notion of being a separate self and creates a feeling of oneness that comes from deep within. It destroys my ability to act loyal towards faceless institutions and replaces it with loyalty towards all forms of life. It destroys consumerism and progress-ism and gigant-ism in favour of sustainable living. It destroys the belief into atomistic models of reality so I am able to mentally return to where I am never able to quit physically – interdependency.
If you are content with what you have – what you ARE – then there is no need to argue with others over world views and resources and saving the world. There is no need for a common system of governance, trade, administration, farming. There is also no need for an objective language (which is physically impossible to have anyway). And most important: there is no need for waiting for the right moment, a trustworthy politician, or a ‘necessary’ invention to actually make the world a better place.
You can argue that backing down from the world’s affairs doesn’t solve anything. But the same goes for forceful intervention which we have tried over and over again, this situation being a result of it. Top-down doesn’t work. It never did.
After all, what does a group, organisation, institution, society, or even mankind consist of? It is persons, isn’t it? You and me. What each of us believes, thinks, says, decides, does, sums up to the thing we call society. It makes a difference, however small you may think it is.
So, whether I try to change society or myself, it is a systems approach because I face the situation at its very root: human behaviour, and at the root of that: human thought.
Only that, starting out small, I am not dependent on others.
When I decide not to take a gun then war stops right where I am.
When I buy less stuff then consumerism ends at my door.
When I step back for the benefit of another person then greed gets extinct before my eyes.
When I share my surplus with others then poverty ends where I live.
When I neither demand / expect nor obey the culture of dominance collapses.
When I see similarities instead of differences human unity becomes real.
Trying to change the world without having to change oneself right now is an attempt to have the cake and eat it, too.
Recently, I read a blog that really impressed me with its reasonable criticizm of The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM). Although Jacque Fresco’s vision of a resource-based economy (RBE) is one of the most desirable to me, Fresco and TZM are missing one thing that is absolutely necessary for bringing about fundamental change: The values on which an RBE is based have to be part of people’s world view FIRST, before they are going to actually work towards a transition. Otherwise people will just perpetuate their previous ways until someone does the revolution for them.
The real revolution takes place in people’s individual heads, just like Jiddu Krishnamurti said, or it will stay “a theoretical fantasy that will appease those who still want both their gadgets along with their clean air”. As a matter of fact, many TZM members are in for saving their asses from the grip of impending poverty.
The new society cannot work if the paradigm it is based upon remains a mere intellectual knowledge instead of becoming a fact of (everyday) life.
“My argument is”, says Mark Boyle, “that under the vision that Peter [Joseph] and Jacque have, people will be so far disconnected from the things they consume to have (or maintain) any respect for them now or continuously. I also believe they will have no understanding as to why we need to change so drastically to begin with.”
The lack of understanding within the front rows of TZM has shown blatantly since late 2009. In fact, the request for a practice-what-you-preach approach has been regarded as a threat to the integrity of a movement that is, in contrast to its vision, busy with aggressively self-protecting its hierarchical chain of command and telling their members to proceed with supporting the monetary system til doomsday.
“The low-tech but completely organic society I am proposing, whilst not as attractive to the addicted masses, I believe is actually possible and not just a fantasy that looks great and will appeal to people who want to continue with their fantasies and addictions. – Walden versus TVP, I guess, as a solution”, states Boyle, author of “The Moneyless Man”. And I agree, because I see the need to first reconnect people to the foundations of their lives before enabling them to toy around with nanotech and other stuff from which we would really benefit… provided we became wise enough to avoid self-destruct.
Given a real shift in how we look at the world, a low-tech resource-based approach will offer at least as much contentment in life as Fresco’s technical wonderland. The change we need, no matter if we go for huts or skyscrapers, is a progress in our social abilities which are horribly retarded compared to our scientific achievements. It can only result from inner observation and understanding the processes of the mind. Such an understanding will manifest, without effort, in behaviours much more sane. And no matter what type of society structure we erect then (likely some sort of RBE anyway), it is going to be a highly desirable one.
Do-nothing farming, also known as natural farming, Fukuoka farming, and The Fukuoka method, is an alternative permaculture farming method to chemical or traditional farming. It reduces human intervention to an absolute minimum, allowing nature to do the work. As odd as it may seem, do-nothing farming is able to produce at least as much food per acre as any other method, without tilling, nursing, pruning, planting in tidy rows, or using machinery, fertilizers, compost and pesticides.
The One-Straw Revolution
The method became widely known through the book The One-Straw Revolution, originally published in 1975, by Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008), a Japanese microbiologist who tested spiritual insights on his father’s farm.
He began his career as a soil scientist specializing in plant pathology. In 1938, he began to doubt the wisdom of modern agricultural science. He eventually quit his job as a research scientist, and returned to his family’s farm on the island of Shikoku in Southern Japan to grow organic fruits, vegetables and grain. From that point on he devoted his life to developing a unique small scale organic farming system that does not require weeding, pesticides, fertilizers, or tilling.
The One Straw Revolution has been translated into many languages and usually sold for the net cost price. Fukuoka shared his knowledge with everyone interested and allowed people to volunteer on his farm for days, months or even years.
Going through a crisis at the age of 25, Fukuoka had a revelation: “In this world there is nothing at all.” There was no reason to worry about life because he suddenly realized that “all the concepts to which he had been clinging were empty fabrications. All his agonies disappeared like dreams and illusions, a something one might call ‘true nature’ stood revealed.”
This insight, and the observation of a rice plant growing wildly on an uncultivated piece of land lead him to the notion of do-nothing. But having ruined his father’s tangerine garden that way, his first important lesson in natural farming was that one can’t change agricultural techniques abruptly. Trees that have been cultivated cannot adapt to neglect. Newly-planted untouched plants can, he found out. They seem to somehow remember their natural offspring which required no cultivation whatsoever. Human intervention weakens plants, so they get addicted to pruning, fertilizing, plowing, additional watering and pesticides.
During the following years, Masanobu Fukuoka developed, by observing nature and trial, simple methods for a natural way of doing agriculture.
A Way of Life
Fukuoka insisted that natural farming was not just a method but a way of life based on simplicity and oneness with the Earth. Ideally, all people would become farmers. He predicted that a large-scale change in consciousness would lead to the fall of governments and whole economies, for a human being, independent of external food supply, would be no more prey to manipulation, power games and consumerism. He wanted man to reexamine his relationship with nature in its entirety. That would be a revolution triggered by straw. But it requires that people shift to seasonal, regional and vegetarian diet rather than consume exotic and/or protein-rich food.
Fukuoka saw an opportunity that people could live in harmony with each other and with nature: “Natural farming is not simply a way of growing crops; it is the cultivation and perfection of human beings”, he said. “Most people do not yet understand the distinction between organic gardening and natural farming. Both scientific agriculture and organic farming are basically scientific in their approach. The boundary between the two is not clear.”
While nature is the real expert in growing stuff, Fukuoka says, man’s intellect has distorted this wisdom. Modern science, along with industry and government, is leading man ever further away from the community of life. We seem to be “so steeped in science that a method of farming which discards science altogether will not be digested.”
Despite the catching phrase “do-nothing” there still is some work to do, of course. But it points out that many agricultural practices, which generally are regarded as essential and indispensable, can be left out, which results in a significant reduction of effort, money and time to be invested.
The method, originally developed for Japanese conditions, got successfully adapted to other places around the world. In India, for example, natural farming is often referred to as Rishi Kheshi.
Green Manure only
Fukuoka mixed seeds of white clover with rice or winter grain. A ground cover of white clover will grow under the grain plants to provide nitrogen and keep weed plants from overpowering the crop. Weeds are also considered part of the ecosystem, periodically cut and allowed to rot on the surface so the nutrients they contain are returned to the soil.
Ducks are let into the grain plot, to eat slugs and other pests. They leave just a little bit of manure.
No prepared compost or chemical fertilizer must be applied.
In order to protect seeds from being eaten by birds, they have to be dampened a bit, then wrapped in a layer of clay powder, compost, and sometimes manure. The seeds necessary for 1/4 acre can be prepared within a few hours. The result is a denser crop of smaller but highly productive and stronger plants.
Little or no Tillage
The seeds get brought out on the surface of the untilled earth to grow. Tillage is usually unnecessary if the ground is not too hard. Plowing severely disturbs insects and worms which keep the earth fertile.
The ground has to stay covered all the time. The clover does that during the growing season.
Shortly after the harvest, the complete straw is scattered loosely (not straight!) in thick layers as mulch. The straw decomposts until the next harvest time, giving back all the taken-out nutrients from the previous crop.
Fukuoka used short-stemmed grains which had a spike to halm weight ratio of 1:1
By observation of natural processes, Fukuoka learned about the optimal moment for seeding, and also which plants best complement with each other. He only intervened when necessary.
Regarding grain, he brought out rice and winter grain in rotation. Each grain crop is sown two weeks before the previous one is harvested. This is done by broadcasting the seed among the standing crop(!) During the harvest, the new shoots get trampled down, of course, but they recover quickly and begin to sprout.
This sort of double crop rotation can be done over and over on the exact same spot, without ever depleting the soil. Mulching by clover and straw even enriched its fertility over the years.
Fukuoka seeded rice directly on the spot where it finally got harvested, without transplanting from a nursery field and without the use of paddy fields. With very little irrigation and just one week of water standing in the field, the do-nothing method saves enormeous amounts of water and labour (i.e. transplanting, min. four times of weeding a year, flooding) and thereby avoids overly methane production.
Natural Pests Regulation
Instead of trying to root out pests, natural farming lets nature have its way. The insect population in and above the ground is much higher than in plowed and sprayed fields. Predators like mice, birds and spiders are allowed to roam. The species control each other and keep balanced. Plagues appear rarely and never mean the loss of whole crops.
Trees and bushes never get pruned. Branches and twigs arrange themselves so they each get the optimum of sunlight. An already pruned tree has to be withdrawn carefully over at least two years before it adapts to do-nothing farming. A wide range of grass species on the ground and mixing various tree species keeps the orchard healthy.
Scattering and Mixing
Vegetables can be grown wherever there is a small unused piece of land, preferrably among fruit trees to enrich the soil. Varieties should be brought out mixed with each other on the already existing vegetation cover.
Fukuoka’s labor resulted in an equal or higher amount in crops than traditional and chemical farming in the same area, while the fertility of the soil constantly increased over the years and natural balance was kept. This balance self-regulated pests so there have been little to no losses in crops. With an average of about one hour of work per day, Fukuoka was able to get as much grain from a quarter acre of land as needed to feed a family of five. Costs reduced to almost zero, as no fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, heavy machines or food had to be bought to run the farm.
* Masanobu Fukuoka: The One Straw Revolution – The Natural Way of Farming.
* Masanobu Fukuoka: The Road Back to Nature
* Masanobu Fukuoka: The Natural Way of Farming – The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy
1. ↑ http://www.onestrawrevolution.net/Masan
2. ↑ http://www.onestrawrevolution.net
3. ↑ Masanobu Fukuoka: The Road Back to Nature p.363
4. ↑ http://www.rmaf.org.ph/Awardees/Biograp
(compiled of Wikipedia, notes from my current Deep Ecology class, and personal knowledge)
Deep ecology is a contemporary ecological philosophy that recognizes the inherent worth of other beings aside from their utility. The philosophy emphasizes the interdependent nature of human and non-human life as well as the importance of the ecosystem and natural processes. It provides a foundation for the environmental, ecology and green movements and has fostered a new system of environmental ethics.
Deep ecology’s core principle is the belief that, like humanity, the living environment as a whole has the same right to live and flourish:
“The right of all forms of life is a universal right which cannot be quantified. No single species of living being has more of this particular right to live and unfold than any other species.” (Arne Næss)
1 The Name
Deep ecology describes itself as “deep” because it persists in asking deeper questions concerning “why” and “how” and thus is concerned with the fundamental philosophical questions about the impacts of human life as one part of the ecosphere, rather than with a narrow view of ecology as a branch of biological science, and aims to avoid merely anthropocentric environmentalism, which is concerned with conservation of the environment only for exploitation by and for humans purposes, which excludes the fundamental philosophy of deep ecology. Deep ecology seeks a more holistic view of the world we live in and seeks to apply to life the understanding that separate parts of the ecosystem (including humans) function as a whole.
2 The Deep Ecology tree
The movement can be seen as a tree. The picture relates to deepening levels of questioning, as well correspondingly, increasingly relevant practices.
Each person comes from its own direction, with its own fundamental beliefs and convictions, which constitute the roots of the tree. It is the basis for everything else.
Nevertheless, all supporters of the movement agree on the 8-point platform, which is the trunk of the tree. It is a unifying guideline, a common source of collaboration between many different kinds of movements, and it provides both strength and flexibility.
The values of the 8-point platform show in different branches on the level of society and lifestyle choices. People form projects, groups, organisations and are also part of general directions, like vegetarianism.
The particular decisions and actions taken each moment are regarded as the leaves of the Deep Ecology tree.
3 The 8-point platform
Supporters of the deep ecology movement (rather than being referred to as “deep ecologists” or followers) are united by a long-range vision of what is necessary to protect the integrity of the Earth’s ecological communities and ecocentric values. In order to establish shared objectives, Arne Næss proposed a set of eight principles to characterize the deep ecology movement as part of the general ecology movement.
Due to its inclusive character the platform is not meant to be a rigid set of doctrinaire statements, but rather a set of discussion points, open to modification by people who broadly accept them. Therefore it is natural that the wording of a version of the platform cannot be the same everywhere.
- The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.
- Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.
- Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital human needs.
- The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.
- Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
- Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
- The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
- Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes.
4 Social ramifications
Individuals adopt appropriate lifestyles and actions consistent with, but not determined by the 8-point platform.
“The frontier is long. There are many ways of acting for good. You cannot do everything!” (Arne Næss)
In practice, deep ecology supporters work towards decentralization, the creation of ecoregions, the breakdown of industrialism in its current form, and an end to authoritarianism. Deep ecology calls for nothing less than a complete overhaul of the way humans live on the Earth. It wants to be the framework for future societies.
The phrase “deep ecology” was coined by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss in 1973, and he helped give it a theoretical foundation.
“For Arne Næss, ecological science, concerned with facts and logic alone, cannot answer ethical questions about how we should live. For this we need ecological wisdom. Deep ecology seeks to develop this by focusing on deep experience, deep questioning and deep commitment. These constitute an interconnected system. Each gives rise to and supports the other, whilst the entire system is, what Næss would call, an ecosophy: an evolving but consistent philosophy of being, thinking and acting in the world, that embodies ecological wisdom and harmony” (Stephan Harding)
Næss rejected the idea that beings can be ranked according to their relative value. For example, judgments on whether an animal has an eternal soul, whether it uses reason or whether it has consciousness (or indeed higher consciousness) have all been used to justify the ranking of the human animal as superior to other animals. Næss states that from an ecological point of view “the right of all forms [of life] to live is a universal right which cannot be quantified. No single species of living being has more of this particular right to live and unfold than any other species.”
This metaphysical idea is elucidated in Warwick Fox’s claim that we and all other beings are “aspects of a single unfolding reality”.
As such Deep Ecology would support the view of Aldo Leopold in his book, A “Sand County Almanac” that humans are “plain members of the biotic community”.
They also would support Leopold’s “Land Ethic”: “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Daniel Quinn in Ishmael, showed that an anthropocentric myth underlies our current view of the world, and a jellyfish would have an equivalent jellyfish centric view.
Deep ecology offers a philosophical basis for environmental advocacy which may, in turn, guide human activity against perceived self-destruction. Deep ecology and environmentalism hold that the science of ecology shows that ecosystems can absorb only limited change by humans or other dissonant influences. Further, both hold that the actions of modern civilization threaten global ecological well-being. Ecologists have described change and stability in ecological systems in various ways, including homeostasis, dynamic equilibrium, and “flux of nature”.
Regardless of which model is most accurate, environmentalists contend that massive human economic activity has pushed the biosphere far from its “natural” state through reduction of biodiversity, climate change, and other influences. As a consequence, civilization is causing mass extinction. Deep ecologists hope to influence social and political change through their philosophy.
5.1 Scientific basis
Næss and Fox do not claim to use logic or induction to derive the philosophy directly from scientific ecology  but rather hold that scientific ecology directly implies the metaphysics of deep ecology, including its ideas about the self and further, that deep ecology finds scientific underpinnings in the fields of ecology and system dynamics.
In their 1985 book “Deep Ecology”, Bill Devall and George Sessions describe a series of sources of deep ecology. They include the science of ecology itself, and cite its major contribution as the rediscovery in a modern context that “everything is connected to everything else”. They point out that some ecologists and natural historians, in addition to their scientific viewpoint, have developed a deep ecological consciousness—for some a political consciousness and at times a spiritual consciousness. This is a perspective beyond the strictly human viewpoint, beyond anthropocentrism. Among the scientists they mention specifically are Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, John Livingston, Paul R. Ehrlich and Barry Commoner, together with Frank Fraser Darling, Charles Sutherland Elton, Eugene Odum and Paul Sears.
A further scientific source for deep ecology adduced by Devall and Sessions is the “new physics” which they describe as shattering Descartes’s and Newton’s vision of the universe as a machine explainable in terms of simple linear cause and effect, and instead providing a view of Nature in constant flux and the idea that observers are separate an illusion. They refer to Fritjof Capra’s “The Tao of Physics” and “The Turning Point” for their characterisation of how the new physics leads to metaphysical and ecological views of interrelatedness, which, according to Capra, should make deep ecology a framework for future human societies. Devall and Sessions also credit the American poet and social critic Gary Snyder—with his devotion to Buddhism, Native American studies, the outdoors, and alternative social movements—as a major voice of wisdom in the evolution of their ideas.
The scientific version of the Gaia hypothesis was also an influence on the development of deep ecology.
5.2 Spiritual basis
The central spiritual tenet of deep ecology is that the human species is a part of the Earth and not separate from it. A process of self-realisation or “re-earthing” is used for an individual to intuitively gain an ecocentric perspective. The notion is based on the idea that the more we expand the self to identify with “others” (people, animals, ecosystems), the more we realize ourselves. Transpersonal psychology has been used by Warwick Fox to support this idea.
In relation to the Judeo-Christian tradition, Næss offers the following criticism: “The arrogance of stewardship [as found in the Bible] consists in the idea of superiority which underlies the thought that we exist to watch over nature like a highly respected middleman between the Creator and Creation.” This theme had been expounded in Lynn Townsend White, Jr.’s 1967 article “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis“, in which however he also offered as an alternative Christian view of man’s relation to nature that of Saint Francis of Assisi, who he says spoke for the equality of all creatures, in place of the idea of man’s domination over creation.
5.3 Experiential basis
Drawing upon the Buddhist tradition is the work of Joanna Macy. Macy, working as an anti-nuclear activist in the USA, found that one of the major impediments confronting the activists’ cause was the presence of unresolved emotions of despair, grief, sorrow, anger and rage. The denial of these emotions led to apathy and disempowerment.
We may have intellectual understanding of our interconnectedness, but our culture, experiential deep ecologists like John Seed argue, robs us of emotional and visceral experience of that interconnectedness which we had as small children, but which has been socialised out of us by a highly anthropocentric alienating culture.
Through “Despair and Empowerment Work” and more recently “The Work that Reconnects”, Macy and others have been taking Experiential Deep Ecology into many countries including especially the USA, Europe (particularly Britain and Germany), Russia and Australia.
5.4 Philosophical basis
Arne Næss, who first wrote about the idea of deep ecology, from the early days of developing this outlook conceived Spinoza as a philosophical source.
Others have followed Naess’ inquiry, including Eccy de Jonge, in Spinoza and Deep Ecology: Challenging Traditional Approaches to Environmentalism, and Brenden MacDonald, in Spinoza, Deep Ecology, and Human Diversity—Realization of Eco-Literacies
One of the topical centres of inquiry connecting Spinoza to Deep Ecology is “self-realization”. See Arne Naess in The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology movement and Spinoza and the Deep Ecology Movement for discussion on the role of Spinoza’s conception of self-realization and its link to deep ecology.
- ↑ Devall, Bill; Sessions, George (1985). Deep Ecology, p.70
- ↑ Næss (1973) ‘The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement.’ Inquiry 16: 95-100
- ↑ Harding, Stephan (2002), “What is Deep Ecology”
- ↑ Fox, Warwick, (1990) Towards a Transpersonal Ecology
- ↑ Quinn, Daniel (1995), Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
- ↑ Botkin, Daniel B. (1990). Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century
- ↑ The Shallow and the Deep, Long Range Ecology movements A summary by Arne Naess
- ↑ Devall, Bill; Sessions, George (1985). Deep Ecology
- ↑ Næss, Arne. (1989). Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy. p. 187
- ↑ Spinoza and Deep Ecology
Fear separates us from each other. Fear is the key to division, possession, rules and laws and any kind of corruption. Remember “Addendum” where it displays corruption as the dominance of self-preservation.
So would you prefer to fight your fear by seeking security? Or is it more useful not to separate from each other and thus annihilate any conflict before it comes into existence?
What if we didn’t emphasize the ME any more – MY wishes, MY hopes, MY fear, MY interests, MY insight, MY way of life, MY property, MY security – and started thinking and acting as though we really were the change we wanted to see in the world?
For The Zeitgeist Movement is not simply about throwing overboards our belief in money, hierarchy and all the rest. WE are the ones who create our individual self. So WE separate the world into persons, groups, nations, races. So WE create borders, both visible and invisible, and property within the borders. So WE are the ones who create the feeling of the borders, of the property and of our beliefs being threatened. So WE create suspicion. So WE try to protect ourselves through fences, laws, patents, weapons and so on.
So WE are the system we want to overcome.
This is easier understood than actually lived, I know. But there is no way past the dissolution of the self(-interest) or we will end up with the same old mess on just a different day.
Beating the system by its own game won’t serve us well.