Archive for January, 2012

Learning to See

23/01/2012

By: R. Richards

The wonder of a palm frond in the morning sun, nz.

I’ve often been thinking how having a child is like teaching an 18-yr Outward Bound course, for the parents. The bus arrives when the baby is born and it may leave when the teen turns 18, but maybe not.  Of course, no one wants to hear the worn our phrase, “you learn through your children” but I’m reminded of the Kogi tribe (see the BBC film Elder Brother’s Warning) in the Colombian Sierra Nevada mountains who hide their shamans-in-training in a darkened hut, never seeing the light of day until their 18th birthday. Then, after years of preparation, after telling them what the world looks like, they see their world for themselves, for the first time with their own eyes. As the wonder of a baby, with new eyes, but with training, so they can see their world more clearly to do their shamanic work.

Seeing our baby boy look with glee at the morning sunrise, and the light shining through some palm leaves this morning is an eye opener. I felt “more aware” after I survived being tossed around in a van roll-over in 1988. “Everything looked new and pristine”, as Eckhart Tolle put it after his awakening experience.  I felt like lucky to still be on the planet. That default feeling subsided after a few weeks, and now I have to work at being present by doing what I call “remembering my spiritual practice”. For me it’s meditating and listening to Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now.  Reminders can take almost any form as long as it helps

An Eye Catcher - Are you watching though?

bring one back to their center.  In recent talks with newly elected Mountain Spirit Institute board member and mountain guide/instructor Ken Wyle, he’s been relating how writing his book on being buried in an avalanche which killed seven people, is a catharsis. Tolle says that people who are more conscious in their lives have usually had some tragic loss in their life that shook them out of the dream state we call normal life.

Our baby boy, laughing as he looks out the window of our van whizzing down main street in Kingston New Zealand,  is a reminder to me – “What am I missing? I want to see like he sees!”  The good news, it’s wholly possible. I’ve been seeing, more than dreaming during the last ten years.  And it’s obivous when I’m not present. I might go a whole morning or day and realize I’ve not been present until something catches my eye, like a detail of a stem in a vase, or the bustle in supermarket, or of course, a sunset.

Learning to see and live in the moment sure beats the alternative, and I’m not going back. When you beat your head against a wall long enough, you finally decide you’ve had enough of that, and make the choice to stay in peace, no matter what happens. A side benefit of being at peace is your mind isn’t filled with crap, so you are free to see such things as the morning light shining through some palm fronds.

Images: R. Richards, taken this morning

Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’

16/01/2012

Many of us fear death. We believe in death because we have been told we will die.
Editor’s Note:

Dannion Brinkley

For some reason, death has not been a stranger in my life. Western society is almost totally ignorant of death, it is something to be brushed under the rug, and feared. Stay tuned for a posting on “Death, The Funny Side” a talk by Dannion Brinkley, author of Saved by the Light. I heard Brinkley speak at a Whole-Life Expo in Seattle in the late ’80’s – he was promoting his book. I liked his half-hour talk so much that I bought a copy of it andeventually converted it mp3 format.  I plan on posting it here, once I have Brinkley’s permission of course. It’s a classic, that has changed my understanding of what death is, and what it means to be fully alive.  His sense of humor perspective, depth and compassion, after having died  more than once and come back to talk about it,  is remarkable, especially after having been a hit man for the U.S. government.  Ykes.
At Mountain Spirit Institute, one of our core values is addressing our “ultimate concerns”. We believe that by helping to reconnect people to the natural environment, each other and a deeper connection to one’s self, we can help participants start looking beyond the veil. Eckhart Tolle writes” The secret to death is to die before you die, and realize there is no death.” Hmm. Maybe he’s onto something.  Dannion Brinkley is, as well.
R. Richards

Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’
From: KipNews (Open your mind, Prepare)

A case for staying no death - Biocentrism

We associate ourselves with the body, and we know that bodies die. But a new scientific theory suggests that death is not the terminal event we think.
One well-known aspect of quantum physics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations each with a different probability.  One mainstream explanation, the “many-worlds” interpretation, states that each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe (the ‘multiverse’).

A new scientific theory – called biocentrism – refines these ideas.  There are an infinite number of universes, and everything that could possibly happen occurs in some universe. Death does not exist in any real sense in these scenarios.

All possible universes exist simultaneously, regardless of what happens in any of them. Although individual bodies are destined to self-destruct, the alive feeling – the ‘Who am I?’- is just a 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain.  But this energy doesn’t go away at death. One of the surest axioms of science is that energy never dies; it can neither be created nor destroyed. But does this energy transcend from one world to the other?
Consider an experiment that was recently published in the journal Science showing that scientists could retroactively change something that had happened in the past.

Particles had to decide how to behave when they hit a beam splitter. Later on, the experimenter could turn a second switch on or off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle did in the past. Regardless of the choice you, the observer, make, it is you who will experience the outcomes that will result. The linkages between these various histories and universes transcend our ordinary classical ideas of space and time. Think of the 20-watts of energy as simply holo-projecting either this or that result onto a screen.  Read the rest of this story…

A “Modest” Kiwi Environmental Centre

14/01/2012

Check out the South Coast Environmental Society, and stay tuned for the video, “Welcome to the Food Forest”. There are tons of volunteer opportunities as well.

Build It & They Will Come

14/01/2012

An Outpost of Sustainability

Robert and Robyn Guyton were determined to start a food forest instead of mowing a front lawn. And a forest did they grow,  when in the mid-’90’s,  they purchased some land and a house in the small coastal town of Riverton, New Zealand. Riverton along with its neighbor, Invercargill rank as one of the southernmost towns in the world, and back then Riverton was an affordable place to buy land. It still is compared to the northern resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, the latter which graces its runway with  private jets, rivaling Aspen Colorado.

The Guytons worked  in earnest on their two lots planting trees and plants based on permaculture practices. When they first started, they received some odd looks from the neighbors, as their front yard started to take on the forest look. There were no other like-minded people in Riverton when they arrived, but undeterred, they started a cooperative learning center called the South Coast Environment Society.

Today the organization modestly states on its website it is an umbrella group for a “several” local environmental groups who have information,displays and meetings in the centre. Those several groups include:

Groups working for protection and enhancement of local ecosystems:

  • Riverton Estuary Care Society
  • Aparima Pest Busters
  • Aparima Nursery Enterprise
  • Seed Balls for Restoration projects

Groups working to promote sustainable lifestyles:

  • Riverton Natural Health Group
  • South Coast Permaculture
  • Sustainable Lifestyles project
  • Riverton Organic Food Co-op

Groups promoting sustainable growing methods

  • Riverton Organic Growers Gardeners Group
  • Southland Seed Savers
  • Riverton Organic Farmers Market
  • Riverton Community Orchard
  • Rivertonians for Alternatives to Toxic Substances (RATS)

Robert Guyton

My wife and I met the Guytons when they were giving a presentation on sustainability to the ultra small Garston School, (which deserves its own blog post),  New Zealand. We were intrigued with their presentation, which included a movie (to be posted on this blog) called “Welcome to the Food Forest”. We decided to take our chances and take the hour and half drive from our place and show up unannounced. Even though we had a standing invitation, we happened to miss them, when we stopped by to say hi. Nevertheless, I decided to interview Mark Baily while visiting the centre. You can see the video on my adjacent post.  We’ll have to get down there again when Robert and Robyn are home, so we can get the proper tour of their food forest!

A Restored Mountain Hut Getaway with Good Energy

11/01/2012

A New Zealand Farmer Does Good by Following His Passion

Tom O'Brien of High Country Walks

Tom O’Brien, owner of Blackmore Farm and founder of High Country Walks has followed his passion by offering up a little hut on the back side of his 5000 acre farm. Called the Chinaman’s Hut, it was restored some years ago, by local volunteers, Tom and his father. The hut is situated on the rolling mountains of the Slate Range,  just south of the Remarkables Mountains, on the border of Otago and Southland. Tom took the afternoon to show me his farm, the backcountry and the Chinaman’s Hut. below is a short piece on the hut, and a chat with Tom about his philosophy and passion of sharing this part of the world with others.We’re in hopes, here at Mountain Spirit Institute of collaborating with Tom by running some programs on the Slate Range and Blackmore Farm. We chatted about providing Solo’s and other types of programs.
Thanks for the time you took to show me around Tom!
Note: I’ve met one of the volunteers who helped restore the Chinaman’s Hut, a neighbor of ours here in Kingston named Dusty, who I’ll see if I can get on tape in the next few days. He has an interesting story to tell of not only this restoration project by many others.

The Stoic Male – Is it Time to Move On?

06/01/2012

Cultural shackles?

I’m in the middle of a book called A Man’s Country? The image of the Pakeha Male by Jock Phillips. It’s a well-known fact that the New Zealand male, and Aussie as well, has a “She’ll be right” attitude. All is well and good, but what happens when things go wrong, or life events happen that one didn’t plan for, doesn’t want and has no intention of participating in. Is “opening up” an idea who’s time has come?

A Man’s Country? From the back cover:
” A rugged practical bloke – fixes anything, strong and touch, keeps his emotions to himself, usually scornful of women. Yet at heart a decent bloke, loyal to his mates, provides well for the wife and kids…
Few Pakeha (white) men grow up in New Zealand without a strong sense of the Kiwi bloke they are expected to become. Jock Phillips’ book is a penetrating, provocative history of that stereotype.
Where did that stereotype come from? How has it changed? What truths does it hide? At what costs? The book begins with the Pakeha colonial society of the nineteenth century – the absence of women, the harsh physical conditions, the growth of an exclusively male ethic. It then examines in detail the image of the Pakeha male, as booze, as rugby player, as soldier, as family man, in the 1980’s, says Phillips, the stereotype has been well and truly exposed as a role model. We now know the costs we have paid as both men and women.  After reading this book, no New Zealand man will quite be the same.
Published by Penguin
For another take, see my post on the movie The Men’s Group

Project Positive

06/01/2012

Graeme Dingle, New Zealand mountaineer does good

Graeme Dingle is fast becoming one of my role models, and I’ve never met the man. I intend to though. Maybe if I’m fortunate, we may collaborate on a co-venture project helping to connect people to the mountains, who knows. The more I learn about Mr. Dingle, the more I like and respect who he is, what he stands for, and what he’s accomplished in outdoor education.
Here’s an article from the Directions Magazine
By Laura Crooks

Inspiring New Zealand teenagers to reach their potential was a plan born during a trip to the Arctic by adventurer Graeme Dingle and partner Jo-anne
Wilkinson in the early ’90s.

Why did you think New Zealand needed a specific programme to help the country’s youth?
I set  up the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) in 1972 and I thought that was my  contribution to New Zealand in terms of young people. But it was really just the start, because I learnt so much about youth development through it and I got to thinking about the business of dealing with harder kids than those we met at OPC. I felt that for kids who had low confidence and low self-esteem, a one week experience in the wilderness wasn’t enough – it needed to be a continuum of things that really built on what had been learnt in that first period. I then set out to do the first continuous circumnavigation of the Arctic and in the Arctic you get a lot of very unusual communities – they’re very isolated and they live in such extraordinary circumstances where it’s light half the year, then continuously dark the other half of the year. They have very high rates of suicide, the kids don’t have too much to look forward to, and that started us thinking. But it didn’t really hit home until we got back to New Zealand – that here we lived in paradise and yet we had one of the highest rates of youth suicide, youth incarceration, dropouts from school unplanned teenage pregnancy – the works. The main catalyst was going to see Once Were Warriors – that was the thing that finally made us say: “Let’s do something about this”. So, Jo-anne and I invented Project K. basically. The Project K Trust grew into the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD) with nearly 20,000 young people in programmes each year. The FYD runs programmes for kids aged 5 – 18, and Project K is one of these. (more…)