Friday, October 29, 2010

More Than a New Agriculture

- by Colyn Cameron

Indeed, not many people know that during the last few decades the agricultural products on which our life depend have degenerated extremely rapidly.  In this present time of transition from the Kali Yuga to a new Age of Light, it is not only human moral development that is degenerating, but also what human activity has made of the Earth and of what lies just above the Earth.
- From the Introduction to Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course (1924)

When I first encountered biodynamic agriculture, I was enrolled in a creative writing program at Capilano University in Vancouver--I wanted to become a poet.  I had decided to work on a small BD farm (C-Dar in Squamish BC) for the summer.  I thought it would be a great place to have the space and and inspiration to write.  Well, things changed a little.  As the summer progressed and heated up, I found myself engaged more with the daily rhythm of the farm and less with my writing.  I found the farm community there to be rich and unique, as we practiced new ways of living together with common interests away from the mayhem of urban life, discovering what is possible when people come together, gathered around the soil in spiritual awakeness.  This is really the modus operandi of BD agriculture: together working with the Earth to consciously take part in its healing --which becomes our healing--but with a new kind of spiritual awareness, spiritual presence.

I was so artistically engrossed with the work of the farm, the effortless chores, such as feeding animals, cleaning their living areas, weeding, harvesting, making and spraying the BD preparations, that it became a kind of  "writing poetry with Nature."  The experience became a creative rhythmic process belonging to Nature and to me.  It brought into being a subtle spiritual awakeness in me, both for the Earth and for myself.  This was when I realized that what I was doing was more than just farming.  This realization gave me the beginning of a true relationship to what Steiner  was trying to enkindle in us through his lectures on agriculture.

By midsummer, I was reading all the BD literature I could get my hands on, including Secrets of the Soil by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, Wolf-Dieter Storl's Culture and Horticulture, and of course, Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture.  I was lucky to come across a a wonderful documentary film on Peter Proctor's work with biodynamic agriculture in India--One Man, One Cow, One Planet.  This film was eye-opening for me as it linked my long-time interest in the spiritual traditions of India to the soil.  It showed how people can be actively and wholly engaged with the land, with the soil, while retaining the spiritual striving of their ancestors, and do this while making a transition away from destructive chemical agricultural practices.  Wow!

By the end of the summer, I had stirred and applied preparations 500 and 501 on numerous different occasions, eaten fresh BD eggs, harvested a field of potatoes by hand, dropped a water pump in the river (oops!), sat in Native American sweat lodges, and had many other memorable experiences.  I had been a participant in a process of engaging with ancient wisdom, modern insight, and real living, all in the context of a biodynamic farm.  In September, I was not at university studying creative writing, but at Emerson College in England studying biodynamic farming.  How things do change!

Why is biodynamics more than just a new agriculture?  Rudolf Steiner gave the agriculture lectures to practicing farmers, gardeners and vegetarians based on the conditions of the time, including soil depletion, crop failures and unhealthy livestock.  But there is more to it than that.  Steiner was not merely a scientist who had studied agro-ecology and by deductive measures created some eccentric remedies for Nature.  He was not simply looking to create the most efficient food production system.  He was not only anticipating global warming.  Rather, Steiner was creatively engaged with consciousness and with spirit, and this engagement led to intuitive insights that would awaken the Earth, that would awaken the human being.  We cannot remove biodynamic agriculture from the context of Anthroposophy to understand  it [just] as a way of farming.

Today many young people like myself want to work with and develop Anthroposophy in a new way, free from the dogmas that can gather around it.  Biodynamics, to stay true to its original impulse and to become a true impulse in minds and souls of people today, must remember its essential nature as an art, a creative work involving body, mind and soul.  It cannot be understood and practiced only as a solution to the chaos of the present agricultural Armageddon.  BD agriculture is an answer to the food and climate dilemmas of our time.  But we must not lose our ability to recognize and experience its essential spiritual task, which is to enlighten consciousness through the interface with our Mother Earth. 

There is a beautiful, subtle way of being totally engaged with something practically--as a real solution and work--and yet maintaining the experience of the innate whole reality to which we belong.  Through biodynamic agriculture, we can use the context of the farm, the interface between what is human, animal, plant and mineral, to strengthen our meditative life, the attention to consciousness.  Biodynamics is not only a new agriculture.It is a new method of discovering  what it is to be human, but to be human in a relationship with the Earth and the cosmos.

No comments: