Thursday, February 26, 2009

I’m tired and my thinking is muddy today, but there are a number of ideas I want to explore. I’ve been jotting down notes lately when I haven’t had time to write—just getting the general ideas down—and I’m struck by how nutty it sounds. If someone stumbled upon these notes they would surely look as nutty to them as some of Steiner’s writings look to me.
In his first lecture Steiner talks about the way in which breath is related to metabolism:
…Of all the relationships humans have to the physical world, the most important is breathing. Breathing begins the moment we enter the physical world. Breathing in the mother’s body is a preparatory breathing; it does not bring people into complete relationship with the physical world. What we properly call breathing begins only when the human being leaves the mother’s body. This breathing is extremely important for the human essence, since the entire three-part system of the physical human is connected to it.
We include the metabolic system as one of the members of the three-part physical human being. However, the metabolism is intimately connected with breathing—the breathing process is connected metabolically with blood circulation. In the human body, the blood circulation absorbs the material of the external world that has been brought in through other means, so that, on the one hand, breathing is, in a sense, connected with the metabolism. Breathing has its own functions, but in this way it is also connected with the metabolism.
And it occurs to me that blood is the sacred substance within us where earth and sky influences mingle. We breathe in sky and eat the earth. Our lungs and intestines feed the blood with these elements. Our blood carries our environment to every cell in our bodies. I need to study the emerging field of epigenetics (as yet the library carries nothing on this subject) because I feel like there’s something important there. We bring our environment inside, but then somehow through enzymatic interactions with that environment, genes can express themselves differently. I understand so little about the subject, but I really sense there’s something significant to it. As I’ve said somewhere before, I believe genetics to be environment that has been internalized and codified. We are continuously internalizing our environment, fluidly shaping genetic expression based on the part of the matrix we consume and digest. When conditions remain the same for generations it makes sense for the body to codify the particular genetic expressions which are a response to those conditions.
Nowadays the mix of earth and sky in our blood is not a healthy one. We’re not eating our own soil—our own patch of the matrix—food comes from somewhere else and is starved for the soil. The plants can only uptake a few doctored nutrients—mostly nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium unnaturally introduced—and the most beneficial elements of the earth remain unavailable. We can’t fully internalize the earth and that leads to an imbalance. We always have the local sky influences in us, but not the local earth. Maybe that’s why we are too cerebral and rational—we’re able to innovate, yet our innovations are disconnected from the earth. Therefore we act destructively towards the earth.
Here are the ways we internalize our place in the matrix—through eating the earth and drinking the water, breathing in the sky, absorbingly the sun through our skin and eyes, and using our senses to absorb nature via metaphor. There’s probably more, too. I don’t yet understand the electrical and magnetic properties of life, but maybe we are absorbing both earthly and cosmic energies through those forces, I don’t know.
Another interesting tidbit from the Secrets of the Soil book. One chapter was about the amazing effects of sound. One guy discovered that the frequencies of birdsong causes a plants pores or stomata to open. He developed a nutrient-rich foliar spray and used it in conjunction with recordings at birdsong frequency to allow the plants to absorb the food well, leading to spectacular yields. It brings home to me the sacredness of sound. How beautiful to imagine the birds singing the plant kingdom awake every morning. And how sad and scary to think about our dwindling bird populations.
Another chapter in the Secrets of the Soil book was about antennae of various sorts, and it got me seeing every tree, plant, and blade of grass as some form of antenna—and wondering if the human dome-shaped skull isn’t an antenna of sorts (it mentioned that horns and antlers seem to have some properties of antennae).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I finished Secrets of the Soil and now I’ve started The Foundations of Human Experience, the only Steiner book the library had. It consists of a series of lectures Steiner gave when he was forming his first Waldorf school and was intended largely for the prospective teachers.
It’s quite fascinating, although a lot of it seems a little off base and still substantial amounts of it seem wacky. But other parts really jive with my recent ideas and it just gives me goosebumps. I definitely need to delve into his writings more because I suspect a lot of the remaining wackiness will wear off as I learn more. I do believe he was intuiting truths, but he had a quaint way of expressing them that gives his whole body of work an aura of quackery. The challenge is to uncover the nuggets of truth.
There was something he said in his first lecture that really struck me. He was talking about how teachers need to bring into the classroom the totality of who they are—who they’ve become in the entire course of their existence. It’s not enough to simply bring their knowledge. By bringing their totality they bring more than mere personality and ego and they can reach the children through the spiritual. The next part was what was really interesting to me:
When you enter the classroom in this unpretentious state, then through inner powers a relationship is created between you and the students. In the beginning, it is possible that superficial occurrences contradict this. You go into the school, and you may have rascals before you who laugh at you. Through thoughts like those we wish to cultivate here, you must so strengthen yourself that you pay no attention to this laughing and accept it simply as a superficial occurrence in the same way you would regard being out without an umbrella when it suddenly begins to rain. This is certainly an unpleasant surprise. Normally, people differentiate between being laughed at and being surprised by rain when they have no umbrella. However, no difference may be made. We must develop such strong thoughts that we will not differentiate between being laughed at and an unexpected rain shower.
That paragraph was tailor-made to grab my attention because it compared human activity with—what else—the weather! You walk into a new classroom and the children laugh—what is this? It is a manifestation of the local influences—the children are expressing their environment. Everything they’ve become until then, all that has influenced them—their environment internalized—sits there and greets the teacher on her first day. If all of that precipitates out as laughter, so be it—that is what wants to manifest here now, given all the preceding conditions. Just like a rain shower.
The gift of that paragraph is that it deepens a little more my explorations of the question, what wants to manifest here? I hadn’t so much looked at human behavior yet as a manifestation of place. Most human behavior is off balance—what is causing that to manifest? What are the local conditions that have caused a particular behavior to precipitate out? How can the local conditions be improved so that balanced, harmonious actions and attitudes will precipitate?
If people have lost their connection with the natural world what wants to manifest will not be good. What can precipitate out of the matrix in an inner city?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I’ve been learning about soil in the past year or two. There’s so little I know and so much I want to understand. The ecosystem that comprises the first few inches of soil is so much more complex than any ecosystem that exists above it, out here.

The symbiotic relationships that exist make it hard to discern discrete individuals—isn’t it all just one big organism?

I read a book by Lynn Margulis recently, Symbiotic Planet: A New View of Evolution, that was really interesting. She believes that all higher life forms were created by incorporating lower forms. More complex structures or cells formed when simpler organisms fused together (mitochondria being one example). These simpler living structures were assured a greater chance of survival by incorporating into something larger—creating a cooperative, mutually beneficial arrangement. The mitochondria in every cell in my body give me energy, allow me to have life and to move and act in the world. The bacteria in my gut allow me to bring the outside in, to bring nourishment to my cells. So, this consciousness that I have—while it feels like the consciousness of a single entity—is really the sum total of all the life that comprises me. And the fact that I bring in and absorb other life, for nourishment, means that I am constantly cycling the consciousness of my environment.

I’m reading another fascinating book right now. It’s called Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet and it’s about Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic methods of agriculture. I’ve always been grateful for some of the more mainstream applications that have come out of his work, but mostly his ideas were too far out there for me. But, now this book falls into my hands at a time when I feel primed to hear it. And I start to realize—there’s something here. Steiner may have been intuiting the forces of nature that science can barely begin to discern, if at all. How can I dismiss any of his techniques when for the past few years I’ve been learning by intuition, too? I just finished the chapter that showed there is now some scientific support for his bizarre practice of stirring preparations for an hour—repeatedly changing directions so as to creative a vortex, then chaos, then a vortex, then chaos. The studies are showing that this process charges the water electrically and creates stable colloidal particles which plants are able to uptake. It’s very interesting stuff.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I’m having trouble pulling everything I’ve learned together into something cohesive. I can sense that it all fits together and I have dreams filled with insight in the middle of the night that seem to be grappling with these issues, but I wake up with only the vaguest memories.

Everything I’ve been learning about in the past few years seems to be converging. It feels like I’m so close to seeing a bigger picture.

I really need to explore Edith Cobb’s ideas, especially in conjunction with Barry Lopez’s ideas about children and metaphor. But I also need to take it all a step further and pull in some of my own ideas about place and the living matrix we’re immersed in, as well as John Livingston’s ideas about levels of consciousness—how we downshift into the egoic self.

I believe that the developmental stages of an individual mirror the stages humanity has passed through over the ages. A child’s blissful fusion with place and the natural world is like humanity’s earliest days of pre-egoic fusion with nature. You can also see it in John Livingston’s way as a shifting up and out of the personality into a larger identity, but he leaves out the distinction between unconscious and conscious fusion. I suspect that children spend much more time unconsciously fused with a larger identity than we realize. What we note are the instances when children become aware of the fusion and can articulate it.

It wasn’t until I was eleven that I first was able to clumsily grasp hold of and articulate what I had felt my whole life. I wrote that I sometimes felt I was a million years old—that I had already experienced everything that could be experienced and that life (my individual egoic life) would never truly contain any surprises.

What I said was clumsy, but what I knew was something quite profound. It’s only when children approach or enter adolescence that they can reach or begin to have experiences of conscious fusion. Without a fully developed egoic mind they probably wouldn’t be able to name these experiences or to be conscious of them. Consciousness relies on persona. We have to downshift into persona in order to share our experiences of fusion.

If our next phase of evolution is to consciously fuse back into nature, how do we then upshift that awareness? This is where it gets confusing, but also where I feel that I’m getting very close to something.

How do you keep the best aspects of the individual egoic self—awareness—while discarding all the nonsense that comes from isolated dotness?

Little by little over my lifetime I’ve been shedding ego. Is it possible maybe that we could slough off all of ego except for a core of pure awareness? How would that be possible? It all gets so confusing.

I don’t understand the how of it, but I’m excited about the possibilities. When you shift consciously to the higher levels of the matrix—out of the persona—so much becomes possible. I can understand how weather could be shifted, how healing could be accomplished, how thoughts could be transmitted telepathically, how the land could be “read” and human endeavors harmonized with it.

I know I’ve said it many times before that one of my greatest gifts in this lifetime is to have such a huge store of past life memories. Whether they are ultimately real or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that they feel real. Their gift is that they give me the long view. I see this moment in history for what it is—a moment. I see my life for what it is—a brief flickering. I understand that I am much more than this life and this persona and I understand that humanity is much more than what is expressing itself here in our current civilization. I can grasp the brief flickering of Gaia’s life and recognize that’s not all there is. I can grasp the concept of eternity.

I can fully engage with the here and now—my individual circumstances and earth’s predicament—and yet not so fully identify with them that I despair. This is not all there is and this doesn’t ultimately matter. I wear my life loosely—not clinging to it as others do. I will easily shed this life when that moment comes because I know I go on. And when humanity dies, I will shed that identity too, and when earth dies I will release that body with grace.

The gift of these past life memories is not only that I see the long view, but also that it’s impossible to identify too much with the ego. I’ve been so many egos it’s easy to see I’m not ego. This persona is a cloak I will shed—the thing I drape around me to give me form temporarily, so I can play here. But I will shed it and go on to wear other cloaks. As I evolve awareness, I expect the cloaks will get larger and larger until eventually I outgrow all of them.