A great website!
I like the concept of Nothing, as in “no-thing” or “not-a-thing”. Overwhelmed daily by many things, bombarded in the news with disasters and tragedies, and well aware that the bills have to be paid at the end of the month, the vacation saved for, and something put away for a rainy day – if at all possible; these are the “facts” of daily life, always present, always there. And then there is Nothing. There must be a place where there is Nothing, just as there is this place where there is something (a lot of somethings!). How do we reach this place of Nothing?
I listen to the radio about the latest scandal involving deforestation, poisonous chemical fertilizers and poisonous meat from Brazil, USA and Europe (we use the feed, the four to five kilos of contaminated Genetically Modified (GM) soybean that goes into every kilo of beef). Then there’s that number in the back of my head; 24,000 children dying of starvation, every day. A new Coal burning plant every week opening in China. Drought in Africa. The list goes on . . .
It’s easy to get upset, talk about who to blame, who’s fault it is. I do it, we all do it, it’s OK, it’s normal. We live in duality, or at least we think we do. It’s me and you, night and day, boy and girl, black and white, right and wrong. And that is where the trouble starts. Where am I going with this? Does it make a difference? I don’t know.
Some-things are not going away. We will have to find ways of living with these facts, accept them, make peace with Some-things.
Nothing is interesting, that is; No-Thing is interesting, or: it’s the No-Things that are interesting, they stay. Confusing? This is just the beginning. And that’s the idea, anyway.
So we have something, and we’re looking for Nothing? How do you look for Nothing? If it’s Nothing, you can’t know what it is, and if you know what you’re looking for, you know it, so it must be something. We’re drowning in some things, some things are killing us, so we begin to understand that we want Nothing, how do we go about finding Nothing? While we continue to live with some things.
That is the question.
For me, it’s all about choosing to Stop, Reflect & Listen . . . in a big way. Observe your life, observe your thoughts, make it into something you do. Who are you? Where are you? What are you? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to be, What do you want to be? Everything is possible when Nothing is in the way.
I’m looking for Nothing, maybe we can meet there; Nowhere, Now – Here?
I have not written in almost two months. I have been thinking. And I have been reading.
I have been thinking about trees, and people, and our environment. I am now reading: “Collapse – How Societies Choose To Fail Or Survive”, by Jared Diamond. In his book the author provides a number of examples of present and past civilizations, some successful, others which have disappeared. Easter Island in the Pacific is one; long considered a mystery but now with clear signs of how this civilization failed. Wanting to understand why, the author asks:
“”What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?” Like modern loggers, did he shout “Jobs, not trees!”? Or: “Technology will solve our problems, never fear, we’ll find a substitute for wood”? Or: We don’t have proof that there aren’t palms somewhere else on Easter, we need more research, your proposed ban on logging is premature and driven by fear-mongering”?“
And so I ask myself: How is it possible, in this age of unlimited access to information and knowledge literally at our fingertips, we are unable to act in a conscientious manner to provide food, shelter and meaningful occupation to humanity?
Tragedies in the aftermath of the recent Earthquake in Haiti, The Hurricane in New Orleans and the Tsunami in Asia five years ago show us that not even the greatest economical and military power on earth can make any significant dent in the suffering (nuclear powered aircraft carriers and thousands of helicopters notwithstanding). What have we learned? Is there anything new?
So here is my treatise:
The answers to our survival lie not in the past, and knowledge is in the past, based on information gathered in the past. Information, however useful, and the resulting knowledge, does not necessarily lead to intelligence. So there is something else.
What is it?
I am not saying that our accumulated knowledge and all the wonderful things made available by technology are not useful, they are, in a daily, very practical manner. I am saying that these “things” are not useful to solving the crisis faced by humanity; that is: providing food, shelter, and meaningful occupation.
What is it indeed? Since we have Everything, it’s Not A Thing. And we can’t find it “out there”, although we can die trying (seemingly the chosen strategy). “We need more research”; let’s put more money into a study to determine why the trees and oceans don’t suck up more CO2 from the atmosphere and balance the climate. Oh? there aren’t any more fish in the oceans and we’ve cut down more than half the trees? And we’ve taken out fossil fuels that took 450 billion years to make and used them up in 200 years?
We have the information, we could even argue that we have knowledge (albeit questionably), we are definitely not using our intelligence.
What is the obstacle, what is in the way of acting as intelligent beings, being our true selves? This is the question.
There is something greater. All our civilizations have looked outwardly; to the heavens, to the sun, the moon, to the stars. Some have even looked at nature; wind, fire, water. Fewer have looked within; into the mind, thoughts, feelings. Most of the latter have left their societies, becoming monks, entering a convent. So we have this information, this knowledge, and it tells us no secrets. How do we live? How do we act? How do we interact?
There must be a way in relationship, in meaningful living, in harmony and balance with nature which gives life, without answering with so much death.
Whereas the answer to Everything is Not A Thing (nothing), Nothing (not a thing) can also be the answer to Everything. I am not merely trying to play with words here; the answer lies not in “things”, there IS something else – what is it?
We are here, on earth, and we need food, and shelter, and meaningful occupation. And we are together, so this is not a solo thing. We are a community, and the answer lies in the community, not in the self. It’s not about “me”, it’s about “us”.
Where do these ramblings lead? I don’t know. This is a work in progress. A few glimmers on the horizon do appear however.
Thoughts are powerful, and lead us to say things, we verbalize them, and then “things” begin to happen; all of a sudden we find ourselves living our reality. Could it be that simple? I think so (no pun intended). Beware your thoughts; are they describing the reality you want to live?
There is something greater – could it be you? Could you be the most wonderful and wondrous being in the universe? What if you are, what if we are, what could we accomplish together? I think we are, and I can’t think of what would be possible (pun intended).
What do we need to do?
Do less, consume less (even eat less, most of us, me included, are using more resources than we need), have less “stuff” (things) to worry about. Create space for yourself, empty the jar (it doesn’t have to be full); create the conditions so that wonderful things can happen, effortlessly, and they will.
Create the Space, and take the Time, to Know Yourself.
Come by Open World Café, bring a friend, let’s talk. Maybe we can figure this out, together.
I found this interesting article on National Geographic’s site. Gives many of the reasons why we need to protect and preserve our rainforests; many not usually mentioned. Enjoy! Christer
As I sit in my room no. 1 of the quaint Pousada Dona Zilah, a family owned and run inn located in the trendy Jardim district of São Paulo; a two story building surrounded by 10 to 15 story apartment blocks. It’s raining and about 17 degrees in the Brazilian high summer (with usually 30+ degrees). Two days ago it rained and six people died (and three are still missing), mostly in favelas, the shanty-towns that were washed away by the storm. In one hour it rained as much as usually in one month. In two days the UN Conference On Climate Change in Copenhagen begins. And I ask myself; what is going on – what is this all about?
One week ago, last Saturday November 28th we planted 700 trees, a small beginning of our Replanting a Rainforest project on Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, three hours north of here in the vicinity of Mococa. We hope to plant almost 1,000,000 trees on the 300 hectares made available to Replanting a Rainforest at Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (other nearby farms have also expressed interest in Replanting a Rainforest). It was a wonderful example of what a few people can do when they put their minds to a common goal.
What I am becoming increasingly clear about, however, is that it isn’t about the trees, its about the people, it’s about you and it’s about me.
During the past few centuries man has sought answers to a meaningful and fulfilled life outside of him/herself. We have developed technologies and products that greatly increase our capacity to enjoy the fruits our planet provides for free; food, water, air. We have developed, structured and organized ourselves and our lives to a degree that these essential items are no longer free, nor can they be taken for granted. The key word here is “we”. It’s about me, about you and me.
We are the problem. I am the problem.
The solution is not “out there”, the solution, if there is one, is “in here”, in me. I am the one who has to change, and I have to begin with me, myself, and I.
As the effects of Climate Change become evermore evident and unquestionable, we seek feverishly to find bigger, better, faster ways of combating the changes in nature, truly believing that we can control the environment. Let’s get over ourselves! Let’s start listening to ourselves, and observing Nature. The solutions are there, right in front of our eyes (or behind them), when we Stop, Reflect & Listen, to Nature.
Out of respect for my new found friends and hosts, I won’t say where I have been these last few days. I have been asked not to. Suffice to say I was in the mountains, in the Atlantic Rainforest, or at least in some of the spectacular remnants thereof. It was a long drive in a 4 x 4 vehicle that took us more than two hours from the nearest village. I saw trees that made my hair stand on end and bathed in waterfalls sprouting from the tops of mountains, cascading down and hitting my body so hard I screamed, but nobody heard, the roar was too loud.
What have we done to alienate ourselves to such a degree? Returning to São Paulo after an eight hour bus ride was also overwhelming, in a different sort of way. 300 kilometers of congested traffic was announced on the radio; the city is on the verge of collapse, kept moving by the sheer willpower of people refusing to see the nightmare we, the collective society has created.
I really don’t know what I should do, except keep planting trees, lots of trees, and invite people to participate in our work. I hope that I can do it in a sufficiently humble way as not to further aggravate or increase the stress of people in our society who seemingly no longer “see the forest for the trees” – who no longer seem capable of looking within to solve the problems “without”.
Because, really, that’s what it IS about; about doing without. There is only one thing we need to do, and that is do less; less consuming, less shopping, less impact on our fragile ecosystem.
Replanting a Rainforest began in earnest three weeks ago on October 20th, after having received a generous donation from WeForest.com. And things started happening in a big way.
Almost immediately a group representing our local partners, Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF) and the local NGO Grupo Ecológico Olho D’Agua, and neighbors with lands bordering on FAF, went to inspect and study more closely some of the areas which had been defined to be a part of the total project of almost 300 hectares; the so-called different “Reserva Legal” (RL) and “Áreas de Preservação Permanente” (APP). These last, the “APP”, are the areas surrounding natural water springs and waterways; streams, rivers, and lakes. There are more than 47 natural water springs and eight lakes, made mostly of dammed streams, on the FAF property of 850 hectares. It has always been our intention to prioritize the protection and regeneration of the APP’s, like the three natural springs in FAF Lot 1. We now discovered, however, a considerably more degraded area just south of this, what we are calling FAF Lot 2, consisting of 8,12 hectares of land historically used as a chicken farm (going back a few generations) and now overgrown with the so-called “elephant grass” known locally as “capim”, a favourite for grazing cattle. Being great for cattle, it’s disastrous if you want to grow trees, since it grows as tall as an elephant in one rainy season (beginning in October each year), smothering any seedlings you may have planted.
What we discovered on FAF Lot 2 was that there are 4 natural springs (previously only 2), and that this is the source of the “Corrego da Agua Limpa” which downstream becomes the “Rio Agua Limpa” or Clear Water River! At least one of the springs is totally dried up, but another, after digging a few inches into the ground became soaked with water!
We are now studying this in more detail but it’s clear (clear water clear!) that we will begin Replanting a Rainforest with trees to protect and regenerate the natural water springs. This is what Felipe Croce wrote:
“This plot has one spring in the middle of the area we are planting which has dried up but when we dug a few inches into the ground we found water. Actually this was all recorded in the filming with Renato! There are two or three more spings further down the hill a little which is not in the area we are planting (because the land was too steep to clear).” Further, he continues: “As far as the area: It was recently purchased by FAF and used to belong to Morro Azul. It used to be called Granja which was because there was a big chicken coop there. Then it became all coffee and overtime the springs dried up. There are people who live on the farms who can tell stories of how the area used to be and can tell stories of the river. When Renato (Kerr, Filmmaker, editors remark) was here we thought about tracing the river down a bit and interviewing people from the different farms and communities whose live are affected by the river. This area is also particularly interesting because it will be an essential link in connecting forest reserves between 7 or more farms! This will create a large habitat for wildlife that is hard to find today in the state of São Paulo. We are excited to have you come down and start planting!”
The clearing has started, and species are being identified which will help the capillary activity of raising the water table and regenerating the springs. The added bonus of this becoming a “corridor” for wildlife, and joining the efforts of 7 neighboring farms is a great way to get our project started!
More studies will be undertaken, and many decisions need to be made over the next few weeks, in the meantime we will continue to clear about three hectares of land and prepare it for planting, which we plan to begin within two weeks. I am flying to Brazil tomorrow and after a meeting on Monday with “SOS Mata Atlântica” (NGO) Director Mario Mantovani will proceed to the farm, located 330 km. from the São Paulo city, at 950 meters above sea level.
Exciting weeks ahead, I look forward to posting regular updates, and if anybody should be in the area, come and join us!
I would also like to get a discussion going if there are questions on “Replanting a Rainforest”, or if anyone would like to contribute with knowledge or other resources.
Opening the Swedish “Svenska Dagbladet” Sunday paper today I read “Meeting Doomed to Failure”, referring to the upcoming COP 15 conference and summit taking place in 29 days (they are counting the days). The debate article is by Danish Björn Lomborg, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center think-Tank (CCC).
Based on a global carbon tax study by CCC and climate economist Richard Tol, ample “evidence” is presented to favour technical solutions adding that whatever promises politicians, our leaders, are expected to make, because they have to in order to maintain a strand of credibility, these promises will not be fulfilled, cannot be fulfilled, because the “cost will be 50 times higher than the cost of the damage of climate change”.
Interesting… And I think, hmm, what “cost” is he talking about? Is this the cost of families losing their homes? Is it the cost of losing a loved one in a cyclone? Is this the cost of more than 1 billion human beings not having food on their table? Or perhaps, is it the cost of (currently) 24,000 children dying of starvation, every day?
So I dedicate the lines above to anybody wishing to enter into a discussion of “the cost of the damage of Climate Change”.
I choose to engage in a dialogue for sustainability and leadership, a dialogue for Sustainable Communities. This dialogue, I believe, must be based on the fundamental premise of “Reduce, Reduce, and then Reduce some more” (then perhaps Reuse, and last, Recycle). There are lots of ways to reduce, and they all oppose our consumer (shop-till-you-drop) society, and are an opposition to the concept of “growth”. So let’s stop kidding ourselves, we have to reduce our consuming. That means each and every one of us has to make some conscious choices as to what reductions in consumption we can make, and hope that collectively it’s enough. I’m on my way to Brazil to start our Replanting a Rainforest project, and I’m flying there, bad, and I feel that I need a camera to document this, which I will buy, bad, but not going there, and not being able to document the work would be worse. These are my choices, and it is these choices we make every day which create the reality of our lives, the reality we experience.
I like the idea of a sustainable community, and I think about it a lot, so my choices lately have been very much about what I can do to make it happen. This is also why Open World Café is about “Dialogues on Sustainability and Leadership”. So I think, then I like to promote a dialogue, then I like to get down to creating, building these sustainable communities.
Who wants to join me?
We know how good it is to take a break, think about and enjoy life. We sometimes call this a holiday. Interesting word; “holi – day”, seems like it would mean looking at the day “holi”-stically. We also know that it isn’t only good for us to take these breaks, it’s good for business; people work better when they are rested and relaxed, happy from getting a different perspective on life. In heavy industry and other dangerous working situations the main cause of accidents is tiredness or lack of concentration. We need breaks, we know we need to Stop, Reflect, and Listen . . .
I say we know all these things, reading these lines I even think: “how silly, everybody knows this!” We know it, but do we truly understand it? More importantly, do we understand the impact of choosing NOT to Stop, Reflect, and Listen . . .?
I think that if we understood, truly, deeply, genuinely understood, the world would look differently; we, the people in the developed countries, would not have contributed to a climate crisis, there would not be a financial crisis, and between one and two billion people would not be going to bed hungry. So I can only come to the conclusion that we know, but we don’t necessarily understand. At no time in history have individuals had access to so much information, with the potential to develop a society based on knowledge, which we have. But is it an intelligent society?
And what does all this have to do with Replanting a Rainforest?
We are part and whole with nature. Our relationship with nature has become fragmented, and we have lost touch with the wisdom before our eyes, the wisdom which gives us the code to survive as a species in this fragile environment. We are killing ourselves, slowly, softly, surely, without “knowing” it.
We need some rehab, and whereas a nice stroll in the forests of northern Europe can do wonders, we need to experience the full power of ancient rainforests, the full power of nature and the biological diversity of a rainforest.
This is why we are Replanting a Rainforest, helping create the conditions for nature to heal itself, for the almost decimated Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil to get a chance and recuperate and regenerate, and contribute to a resilient humanity. We are doing this in the hill-country behind São Paulo, in the region of Mococa, in Brazil, on an organic coffee and banana plantation, and we invite you to join us in this worthy task.
Visit our websites for more information, write me for any questions.
October 24th will surely go down in history for the many events, actions, rallies, and meetings. It’s United Nations Day and it’s International Day of Climate Action (www.350.org). At Open World Café we are contributing by having an “Organic (Low Carbon) Food Day”, one of more than 4500 actions in more than 180 countries!
I would like this to go down in history as Awareness Day. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? But are we awakening? Are we becoming more aware? There are positive signs; 4500 events worldwide is very likely the biggest coordinated climate action ever, in more than 180 countries, there are 193 registered countries in the United Nations, so that is quite an achievement. Congratulations 350.org!
But will we consume less tomorrow? Will we ask ourselves, again, what we are doing to our environment? Will we tell producers and manufacturers that we don’t want their products unless they are climate neutral, based on sustainable principles? Will we tell our politicians and leaders worldwide that we want things to change? And will we take responsibility for our part in all this, and begin voting with our feet; reducing our consumption, choosing organic over chemical, natural over synthetic, slow before fast?
We put a lot of pressure on our leaders, forgetting that they too are only human, with their own challenges and backpacks to carry through life. COP 15 in Copenhagen is getting the headlines and expectations are rising, some calling it the most important climate summit ever, and decisive for the future of human life on the planet. But is it the job of these representatives of the people to change things? Or is it mine, and yours?
It’s time for each and every one of us to take responsibility for our own actions. Let’s stop blaming the government, the church (if you go to one), your schoolteacher, your parents (or your children), your wife or husband, or anybody else that left you with a scar somewhere deep inside, long forgotten and ever present.
This Awareness Day can be a day of new beginnings, a day full of small changes with big effects.
What changes are you making, please inspire us!
You’ve had a bad day, things just aren’t going the way you imagined, and you’re ready to throw in the towel. Your thoughts are flying all over the place; anger disappointment, sadness, frustration, and you decide to take a walk in the forest, clear your head, and it’s raining.
This was me yesterday.
Our Swedish forests are special; mostly furs and pine, a few deciduous trees; birch, aspen, book and sometimes majestic oaks, and lots of moss, all kinds of moss, all colors of green, and then there’s the mushrooms, the blueberries and the lingonberries, and this year they were abundant, carpeting the forest floor.
Kathrin and I spend Sunday and Monday on the island where we live, the other five days are at Open World Café, and we cherish our walks in the forest, even when it’s raining. Walking in the forest is like meditating, you feel differently about whatever you’ve been thinking before. It’s a blessing.
The moss is sometimes so thick you sink in and it’s like walking on a super luxurious carpet, a soft carpet on the forest floor welcoming you. The silence is highlighted by the birds, sending signals that someone is in their space. Small trails line the ground, going under trees too low for humans to pass, here and there roughed-up moss and droppings. We have elk, deer, fox, hare, squirrels, and even the occasional lynx, which is only seen very rarely. A century ago people were scared of walking in the forests here on the island because of the big bear families calling the island their home.
Forests are very special.
Kathrin once stopped in the forest and looked up and said: “imagine if we could talk to trees?”, I thought about it and answered: “I think we are talking to trees, just not with words.” Trees just make me feel good, I like the company of trees, I like the wisdom of trees.
It’s different when the forest has been cut down, although clear-cutting is very rare. It’s different, and very sad. In Sweden today there is less than 0.5%, that’s less than one half of a percent, of the total surface of Sweden, which is 450,000 square kilometres, which is considered “ancient” forest, and those 0.5% forests are then at most about three hundred years old.
Our Environmental Minister, Andreas Carlgren, has highlighted the urgent need for biodiversity to counter the destructive effects of the Climate Crisis.
What have we lost? We shall never know.