The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self balancing, self adjusting and self cleansing. Not so with technology
E. F. Schumacher
Graham's son Luke Hancock was visiting his father when I arrived. He was already a key member of my fledgling film crew because of his considerable abilities with computers, designing and editing. We both jumped in the rental car that evening of our interview with Graham. He was to be cameraman for the Satish Kumar dialogues and had been given a video camera Graham had used in the Underworld documentary shown first on BBC. This was yet another example of synchronicity- in- action since we had been looking at rental shops for video cameras but were suddenly offered this camera. The energy of a vast body of research involving underwater artifacts around the world, highly suggestive of a literally lost civilization was now to be part of our documentary through this camera. Unlike the predominantly materialistic Western view of things (literally) I think the Japanese have a keener sense of the inherent power of objects. Objects do seem to contain a kind of memory of their previous users and locations. Lyall Watson, the British biologist had documented this in his seminal book The Nature of Things back in the eighties. He had researched stories about how objects actually do affect their new owners.
The positive examples he gave of cars that were much loved by their owners were close to unbelievable. Running on almost no gas their owner would sweetly beg the car to keep on going despite the fact that it was impossible. Talking to the car! It worked, and on many occasions. Conversely, owners who would curse their cars for being too slow, too greedy on gas or simply not pretty at all would find themselves in situations that even included death. One driver, well known for daily cursing his car, was rolled over as he stood behind it with the engine switched off and out of gear. I realize that sounds totally ridiculous but he gave literally scores of similar examples.
When it comes to computers many readers will recognize this phenomenon. When we get angry at our computers they sometimes freeze or even crash. As a throw away culture now, Japan has largely forgotten this peculiar reality. But if we look back even a hundred years we will see how tea ceremony bowls once owned by grand masters were highly prized, or, closer to my experience Japanese long bows once pulled by high ranking teachers were known to help the practitioner to shoot better. In one of his best short stories the Argentinian writer Jorges Luis Borges had portrayed a dignified dinner party turning quickly into a homicide case. Two male guests were commenting on how well made the knives in a display glass case looked. Unknown to these men who ten took them out to look at and feel, those knives had all once belonged to famous knife fighters in Argentina, a culture where such weapons have a long tradition. Within minutes they were locked in deadly combat and the result was of course the death of one of them. I can just see the science buffs all chanting in unison 'coincidence' but that word is surely doomed as we learn more about holistic reality in the, well the end days of our civilization. I was soon to see how quickly Luke learned how to use that camera and get some really good shots for our movie despite having absolutely no experience at all.
Objects contain memories as do parts of our bodies. I had once given a talk in Japan called The Mystery of the Heart. It is now common knowledge that heart transplant patients often have a sudden change of character after receiving someone else's heart. Some of the examples were hilarious. A woman who had received the heart of a young hooker who was killed in an accident, had become a literal sex maniac and her husband was delighted with her recovery. A white man, prejudiced against all blacks suddenly took to social activism for equal rights and better race relations after he received the heart of a black man. Memory is surely the last frontier we need to understand for us to move ahead in our evolution as a species. Why? It determines everything, obviously.
But the facts are this: There is no duality between mind and matter. Ask any electron if it is conscious! I have not got that far I must admit but I did have an amazing conversation with an oxygen molecule whilst doing a shamanic ceremony deep in the Amazon. Even better, ask Karl Pribram the retired professor of brain science par excellence who formulated a holographic theory of the brain. He did that after trying to dissect rat brains so he would erase their memories. He couldn't erase them, for the simple reason that memory is not stored in the brain. It is stored in an invisible field, along with all other information in the universe. The brain, much like a TV picks up the broadcasts from memory. Imagine storing all TV shows in a TV! That amazing discovery by Pribram, and an equally eloquent holist David Bohm (who coincidentally had a superb dialogue with Krishnamurti) is why I asked the translator of this book Masaru Kawase, to translate The Holographic Universe many moons ago. Yet even today, with so much solid evidence that our consciousness creates the physical world, the die hard materialists still behave as if they know all about 'reality'. They need a good dose of humility and maybe even a computer to sneeze in their faces. Shamanic plants would help out a lot too. We need all the help we can get in an age where mad primates like George Bush happily bludgeon freedom and democracy to death with their disaster economics.
Our journey destination was a beautiful old building in Devon, that most organically rich of England's many counties with its fecund fields and pastures literally bursting with life. It was an old manor type of property called Dartington Hall but was now used in a totally different way from the bygone days of English gentry and their servants. Now it was the world's most advanced centre of learning in a new field that is paradoxically truly ancient:ecospirituality. Or put another way, learning how ecology and spirituality are just two sides of the same coin. Nature is a spiritual being. Or is it just a random and chaotic mess of genetic material with no memory, no mind and no soul? That is what the globalists would want you to believe when they talk about the decimation of the Amazonian rainforest as being a necessary part of us all getting a better life. You could call this the progress- through -death rationale of most of the world's policy makers these days. It reminds me of a truly funny movie title, Murder by Death. Or, the best way to secure peace for all, is to go to war with everybody, just like the good old USA. It still astonishes me that Harvard and Yale produce brilliant minds that have almost no relationship to their hearts. Talking about 'peace" being preserved through a strong military is like saying we should add cowshit to every meal to make it more delicious. It is the height of absurdity but since Gandhi and Tolstoy have died we have almost no prominent human on Earth who is talking horse sense about peace. Tolstoy was a great influence on the young Gandhi by the way.
But I did manage to find a man who does talk horse sense about peace, about reverential ecology (as opposed to shallow or deep ecology) and sure enough he had been a student of Ghandi, and more specifically was strongly influenced by Gandhi's spiritual successor, Vinoba Bhave. Bhave walked as a poor pilgrim all over India for decades doing something astonishing. He simply asked rich landowners to give one sixth of their land in trust (not give away ownership rights but rights to use) to landless peasants so it would be revitalized. Everybody wins with ideas like that. The land produces crops and brings income for both the landowner and the trustees. Bhave got hundreds of thousands of hectares of land into the hands of the poor. He had no money, no political clout, no religious teaching, no press and yet he did the impossible. So did Ghandi. Apart from Nelson Mandela, the Western world has not produced a single man of influence like this since I was born. Yet we think we are so smart.
I had come to the now renamed Shumacher College to spend two days with Satish Kumar, the UK's leading prophet of the environment but more than that, a real Earth Pilgrim. Very, very strangely, when I first emailed him about a movie called Earth Pilgrims (plural in English) I had no idea that he was about to be featured on BBC on a one hour documentary called Earth Pilgrim! Maybe that is why he instantly agreed to my request for a meeting and an interview at both Shumacher and at his home office where he produces the world class magazine of art and spirituality, Resurgence. So where did Schumacher come from?
I quote here from Wikipedia;
Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher (16 August 1911 – 4 September 1977) was an internationally influential economic thinker with a professional background as a statistician and economist in Britain. He served as Chief Economic Advisor to the UK National Coal Board for two decades. His ideas became well-known in much of the English-speaking world during the 1970s. He is best known for his critique of Western economies and his proposals for human-scale, centralized and appropriate technologies. According to The Times Literary Supplement, his 1973 book Small Is Beautiful is among the 100 most influential books published since World War II. It was soon translated into many languages and brought international fame to Schumacher, after which Schumacher was invited to many international conferences, university guest speaker lectures and consultations. Schumacher's basic development theories have been summed up in the catch-phrases Intermediate Size and Intermediate Technology. Schumacher's other notable work is the 1977 A Guide For The Perplexed, which is a critique of materialist scientism a.nd an exploration of the nature and organization of knowledge. Together with long-time friends and associates like Professor Mansur Hoda, Schumacher founded the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now Practical Action) in 1966
Satish had been strongly influenced by this pioneer of the small is beautiful movement and thus the name of his considerably powerful, yet small, university of the ecospiriitual. Luke and I arrived at night and met up with Satish in the bar where he had one whisky and water, Luke had water and I had ginger ale I think. Satish immediately reminded me of my spiritual mentor Krishnamurti whose works I had devoured in my teens and twenties. That same nobility of face that the Brahminic Indians are so famous for was how he struck me right away. I later found out these two men had met and walked by the sacred Ganges in Varanasi when Satish was in his twenties. I got to see Krishnamurti on my 1975 trip to the US and will never forget the profound simplicity and eloquence of his speech that day. A true master of the non dual, Krishnamurti always said, "The observer and the observed are one.."
Satish sat opposite me in the meditation room and the dialogue started to flow, perfectly naturally as one would expect from a man who understands the meaning of natural, in every cell of his being.
Echan; Well you really had a wonderful mother.
Satish; Absolutely! She was a truly spiritual being, and a pilgrim. And so, mother would say that when you touch the Earth, you are touching a sacred space, a divine space, and God is present in the Earth. And everything upon this Earth is a manifestation of the divine spirit in physical form. Every physical form has an invisible dimension. And that invisible dimension is the divine dimension, the spiritual dimension, the dimension of imagination. You have to imagine that this flower is not just a physical flower, it has divine spirit in it. And that can only come with the power of imagination. And that was teaching I got from my mother at age four and five.
Echan; Well this is a very important point Satish – imagination. The way that the word is currently used is severely limited to the idea of artistic imagination, or writing, of painting, or of creating. The true purpose of imagination according to Thomas Aquinas, for example, in the Western tradition was exactly what you’re describing. It was so that we could actually visualise the impossible to visualise, which is the invisible, untouchable, unreachable, ungettable. However, by using the powers of our imagination we can get closer to the divine presence, therefore we should use our imaginations in such a way. But you were given a mother that taught you this from four. You’re part of probably 0.0001% of all humans who’ve ever lived, and came in with a very big lucky break.
Satish; That’s right. My mother’s teaching was that the physical form is a vehicle to carry the invisible reality. Now, for example words. Words are only a vehicle to carry the meaning. So the body is only a vehicle to carry the love. If you have no body, then how do you embrace somebody? How do you look at somebody? How do you kiss somebody? So body is a vehicle to carry that compassion, that generosity, that love.
So in the same way, the flower is carrying something. The flower has a physical form, but it will also have an invisible dimension, and that invisible dimension can only be realised through imagination, and through the third eye, which is the eye of the imagination. The two eyes are the physical eyes, can see the physical form, but in order to see the non-physical form – the invisible reality, you have to have another dimension in your self. And that other dimension is metaphorically spoken of as the third eye. And what is that third eye?
The third eye is the eye of the eye of the heart, the eye of imagination, the eye of the spirit. So imagination, from a spiritual point of view, from an Indian perspective, is much bigger than just artistic or poetic imagination. Of course that’s a part of it, because true art and true poetry can reach the divine. William Blake, and his imagination, was reaching the divine.
Echan; Tagore was of course reaching the divine.
Satish; Exactly. Tagore was reaching through his poetry, though his music, though his paintings. But he was reaching that invisible reality of the divine. And the divine word, sometimes we are a little bit confused, and we don’t know what it means. The Divine simply means the eternal reality of blissfulness. Eternal reality, which is implicit every moment, in every thing, here and now. Divine is not in the next life. Divine is not in the next life. Divine is not in the book. Divine is not in the church. Divine is not in any kind of exterior reality. Its interior reality is present every moment in every thing in every second of time, in every word we speak, in every atom we touch, the divine presence is there.
But what is lacking is imagination. Without imagination we cannot experience it. And you have to experience divine. You have to imagine that there is bigger reality in that flower, in that tree, in that river, in that butterfly, in that human being, in that bell, in that sound. In everything there are two dimensions – the visible dimension and the invisible dimension, and the invisible dimension is the divine dimension.
Echan; That’s a very important point; you’re talking about two dimensions – the visible dimension and the invisible dimension. But you are not talking about duality, as far as I can feel. You’re talking about a unity of two dimensions at all times. They are not separate, they are not different dimensions, they are coexisting immanent dimensions, I believe is what you’re saying. As opposed to the ancient Western idea, the Gnostic idea, that there is a real world – a physical world – but it’s not as real as we think it is. It’s like a Matrix, like in the movie.
But there’s a separate spiritual world above and beyond that is almost untouchable and unconnectable, and therefore we are in a prison here; we are far from heaven and we have been cut off. This is an idea that seemed to have some possibilities, however what you’re describing now is not duality. It is the coexistence of two dimensions.
Satish; Yeah absolutely. It’s not duality because the spirit and the matter are two aspects of one single existence. Without spirit, matter cannot exist. And without matter, spirit cannot manifest itself. So matter needs spirit, and spirit needs matter. Without each other there is no existence. So it’s a completely one, single, complete whole, called Purnam in Sanskrit, meaning a complete and whole reality.
But in order to understand it, in order to make sense of it in our language, in our intellect, in our communication, we sometimes explain it. So this is only a way of explaining that there is a visible and invisible reality, but they are one and the same and there is no separation.
Echan; We all have the ability to use our imaginations to appreciate the divine presence in every moment because we’re all born the same, we all have bodies, we all have brains. However the great tragedy, especially of modern times I think – I don’t know too much about if this happened in historical times, if we completely lost our imagination before – but it seems to me that we have utterly and completely lost our divine imagination, almost totally today, resulting in the manifestation around us that you’ve been such a great campaigner for, of a return to a more spiritual, ecological outlook that is not limited to any one perspective.
Let me get back to your mother, because the problem is we don’t have the imagination now. I see that as a challenge, as a problem. We’ve lost that imagination. You were gifted with a mother who taught you that imagination. Perhaps you can let us know how she taught you in more practical terms in a more day to day basis; how she brought you to being a pilgrim, and how you related back to her your experiences, and how that helped you to grow, because I think you had a unique upbringing.
Satish; Yes, I was very fortunate to have a mother who was extremely wise. She saw nature as the divine manifestation. So in practical terms, she taught me to connect with nature; to rediscover, to always rediscover our connection with nature. Because we are nature, and therefore we are related to everything around us.
When we would walk she would always give examples.
She would see that as a child I would see what was going on, and she would point things out; for example the honeybee. My mother would point out “look at the honey bee. The honeybee can teach us the lessons of transformation.” Now that is the divine dimension that you can only learn from imagination. The honeybee is in a physical reality, doing a physical action, but there is an invisible reality of transformation. Now the honeybee goes from flower to flower, collecting nectar from here and there. Little from here, little from there – never too much. And once it has collected nectar, it transforms; it transforms nectar into sweet, delicious, healthy honey.
That’s the divine dimension. Now also the honeybee is a pollinator. The honeybee is the key to our existence. If there is no honeybee, there is no pollination; if there’s no pollination, there are no plants; if there are no plants, there is no food; if there’s no food, there’s no life. So in this extremely simple way, this is how my mother taught me to be a pilgrim of nature, and a pilgrim of the divine at the same time; and by connecting with nature we realise that everything is completely and intricately, and in a subtle way totally interdependent. Life will not exist if there is no honeybee, this is just one example. This was the practical way my mother taught me to be a pilgrim.
Walking was one of the most beautiful ways, because when you are walking you have time – you are going slowly. And when you are going slowly then you are looking around. If you are on a horseback, or worse in a car or a train, or worse of all an airplane, you see nothing. You don’t connect – you are disconnected. But when you are walking you are connected with the earth, you are connected with the air, you are connected with the trees, you are connected with the sunshine, you are connected with the flowers, you are connected with fungi, you are connected with birds, you are connected with the entire universe.
You are one. There is no dualism there, you are completely one.