Embracing an eastern sunrise

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The earth spins to the east. That is why the sun, the moon and the planets rise in the east and set in the west. Each morning I look to the east and smile. Its a daily reminder of my own reorientation away from the darker aspects of western life.  The way we grow up in the west dooms us to lead complicated lonely lives in adulthood. This isn’t by any means the inevitable outcome of our culture, just the default setting that you may find you have fallen into if you allow your mind to be programmed by society at large.

  • Survival of the fittest.
  • Life is war.
  • Only the strong shall survive.
  • All’s fair in love and war.
  • By any means necessary.

These are our creeds. An ideology built on competition, reductionism (separating the whole into parts), dominance of (wo)man over the natural world and fierce sense of the importance of our own individuality. There is also an echo of our impending annihilation and that materialist success is all that maters.

Our friends in eastern lands don’t live by the same philosophical understanding. They judge their lives around their attainment of harmony, balance, selflessness and connection. You are successful in what you give and what you contribute, not what you take, create or have. While we value individual success they prize collectivist ideals.

Meanwhile our individualistic metaphors drive evermore towards a ‘whatever goes screw the world and everyone else in it’ end game. The end justifies the means. In a dog eat dog world we strive to bark loudest amongst our peers and biting is not only okay it’s encouraged. These unusual narratives have been constructed to dislocate us from our true nature. Humans are pack animals. Relationships matter. We thrive when we feel a sense of real connection and contribution.

If you are stressed, in a spin and anxious feeding on the parasitic ideas espoused from the corporate culture that we have unconsciously accepted as the back bone of society simply choose a new narrative for your life and the lives of your family.

I offer a few alternatives below. The internet is a boundless source. Search until you find a visioning principle that serves you as the fundamental metaphor for your life and then grow in accordance with it. The culture of the corporation is not your culture. Don’t feel guilty rejecting it in the same way that a corporation cares not for you. You can only become a replaceable cog in a heartless machine if you choose to be (or fail to choose not to be!). Live well.

  • The sage resists nothing, and in turn nobody resists the sage.
  • Life is but a harmonious dance with nature.
  • Behave simply. Value purity.
  • Peace and quietness govern the world.
  • Harmony is eternal. Knowing the eternal is called clarity.
  • Life is a dream or life is a dance.
  • My life is a mysterious party filled with surprise, joy and mirth!

Please add your own metaphor for life by clicking the comment button under the title of the post.

Getting to that point where you bought your last thing

“I went window shopping today! I bought four windows”

Tommy Cooper

I’m at the point where I’m not that concerned about accumulating material things. I walk past shop windows, but I never go in. There is no new phone, or shirt, or bowl, or jar, or car, or piece of sports memorabilia that can improve my life. There is nothing left that I need to buy. Truthfully there never was anything, but I needed a few years wasting all our salary to figure that out.

When your can opener breaks you have choices. The automaton in you goes straight to the store to replace it. The Bricoleur figures five new ways to break into a can with all manner of things. Those attuned to simple living and eating healthful food see this as a signal to stop eating food from cans.

Superficially you can affect your mood for about an hour spending thousands of dollars on new fangled merchandise, but even before you have it home and unwrapped that shiny new feeling is already fading. You just don’t buy into happiness.  You can’t fill that empty feeling inside by buying stuff. You can’t replace friends with toys. Happiness and the quality of your life is directly related to your connection with others. Work on becoming kind and open hearted instead of going shopping. Just imagine what that world would look like if everyone the world over started living this way.

Pennies for pounds: Making ends meet living simply

All large successful trim healthy populations of people throughout all of known human history have obtained the bulk of their calories from grains and other starchy vegetables. Consumption of meats along with other rich foods in any significant quantity has been limited to the diets of fat, sick aristocrats (kings and queens)—until recently.

To regain our lost health and save planet Earth we must return to a starch centred diet”

John Mcdougall

More than a few families are struggling to make ends meet nowadays. There are lots of people still out of work and living costs are rising faster than income for most middle class families. This all points to the importance of breaking out of this system and living life more simply.

While most families spend hundreds of dollars per month it is actually enjoyable, easy, healthful and very cheap to eat well.

If you ask a two year old what does a rabbit eat they’ll say carrots, a lion eats antelope and a monkey eats bananas. Almost every adult can play this game until you ask them what humans should eat. Food they will mumble. As a consequence people spend their ever decreasing food allowance filling their supermarket trolley with ground beef, chicken, fish, milk and eggs which are all unhealthy and unbelievably expensive.

Paleo diet promoters applaud such food selections. According to them this way of eating is our natural diet that we ate when we lived tribal lives in more natural settings. Unfortunately, this line reasoning highlights a serious lack of awareness of: history, basic human anatomy, physiology, environmental disaster that is industrial food and clinical nutrition research into human health.

Contrary to the uneducated theories the paleo pundits inundate us with we were made to eat complex carbohydrates (sugar that is). Starch grains from plants. Unlike paleo diets eating plant strong is associated with prevention, reversal and effective management of the major diseases that affect us in record numbers. Even better news than a lifetime of health (if there is in fact any news that is better) is that eating a starch centred diet is incredibly cheap. Oats in the morning, a salad with beans for lunch, and sweet potato and gravy for dinner. Cheap like the Budgie.

A large bag of potatoes, a large bag of brown rice, a sack of oats and a selection of dehydrated beans costs less that $20, but could feed a family of 4 for a month with another $20 of herbs, spices, vegetables, fruit and ingredients (like low salt soy sauce, dairy free milk and so on). Not exactly breaking the bank. The last time I did a comparison we nearly spent less in a year than our neighbours spent in one month. Admittedly they have an extra child, but that doesn’t come close to accounting for the annual expenditure difference of hundreds vs thousands! Add to the savings the fact that a small garden could dramatically reduce your eating costs down to a few bucks worth of ingredients and perhaps a bag of rice. For any families on hard times this way of eating has to be a serious consideration.

A common reaction we encounter when people find out we are a plant strong family is those who say they would rather eat eggs, cheese, beef and bacon and die happy. Your choice, but what this perspective fails to appreciate is that starches are comfort foods. They are flavorful and sating. Think mashed potatoes, bean chilli enchilladas and apple crumble. The other swing factor is that within 30 days of changing to plant based eating your tastebuds will crave starchy vegetables. The smell of cooking bacon will make you queasy and you will never return to a diet of poisonous dead muscle, veins, bacteria, nerve tissue and artificial, chemical hormones.

Oneness enfolded in the implicate order

“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves. The universe is not separate from this cosmic sea of energy”

David Bohm

Have you ever noticed how many facets of your life are set up to ensure you exist in conflict, isolation, helplessness and fear?

Its like our life as a child and the life that we live as an adult is on some polar continuum. We teach our children to share, to care, to listen, to be kind, to work together and to look for opportunities to help other people.

But, we grow into a dog eat dog world. We compete for rewards, money, jobs, and people to date. We horde toys. We lose trust. We learn hate. We perpetrate violence as the primary solution. Sharing annoys us. It can only be a sign of a failed life. We lend out of pity, not compassion.

Many workplaces preach team work and family values then reward a handful of people at the apex and completely shit on the rest of the workforce. Every year some unlucky souls will lose their livelihood over a few low months. Where is the family values then? The CEO spouts platitudes and positive rhetoric while enveloping their staff in cultures of blame avoidance, self promoting, tattle tailing, assertive and aggressive microcosms. You are alone. Your job is in jeopardy.There are people that will do it for far less money. Work harder or we go off shore. Give up your benefits. Our competitors don’t take holidays. Be afraid. Be our slave.

Meanwhile thanks to our governments and the corporations that own them our communities are breaking down faster than any other time in history. Particularly so in urban areas. Neighbours are civil, but families lead much more private lives. In former times small bands of humans worked together. Through collectivism, mutual aid and mutual support we tamed the wilderness in tightly woven clans and carved out our niche in the environment. Nowadays our news propagandist media tells us that we are alone and in danger. Fire, ISIS, terrorists, robbers, cancer or a car smash is going to get you any minute.  The worst part is the constant messaging that you are helpless and change is impossible. The world can only be this way. Wealth bubbling up. The middle class slipping into abject poverty.

These cultural narratives aren’t relevant anymore. In fact they never were. When society reaches a point where it can always find money for war, but never enough to run hospitals effectively its time our fundamental world view shifted.

Spiritual gurus, people who have had near death experiences and almost every individual under hypnosis (who has been regressed into the space between incarnations) report a universal connectedness. The oneness of totality. A feeling of oneness sometimes called enlightenment is an experience available to anyone that would like a deeper understanding of themself.

When you interact with the world without duality or separation you can never feel alone. You cannot feel helpless if you can feel the implicate order unfolding. Its hard to compete or fight when there is only one (instead of two or many). You become kinder and more gentle. How differently we’d act towards our enemy if we saw the aspects of them we dislike in ourself. Connecting with oneness is living wholeheartedly. In harmony with morphic resonance of the unseen field of intelligence that surrounds us. Its a better way to live together.

Let’s try it for a change.

Growing with grey water

“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time:

How much is enough?”

Wendell Berry

 


Waste not want not my old Mum used to say. That’s probably why I have a Bricoleur’s use it or lose it approach to life. I also look for ways to avoid or automate chores to free up time for the things in life I really enjoy. We eat plants mostly and so we have a large vegetable garden with a number of fruit trees.  Every night we used to spend about 30 to 60 minutes watering the garden. That’s 820 thousand hours over an average lifetime. Now we just wash the dishes or take a shower instead.

Thanks to an ingenious system of hoses the water we use in the shower, the basin or the kitchen sink is sprinkled over the garden and its easy to unhook if we need to. Say we were showering to remove something we’d rather didn’t go into our food we’d disable the grey water system.

This is good for the environment, good for the garden and good for us, but hoses can be expensive to buy. There is no way that I have found to get hoses for free unless you are going freeloader hard core in which case you can get them a night from any public garden. If stealing is not your thing then console yourself. Buying hoses is justified for the life saving alone.

Summer Projects

One of the criticisms, which I prefer to see as improvement opportunities, is that we don’t really list the practical projects that we plan or complete. It is a fair point. Largely this is because there are a zillion how to youtube videos and websites out there, but too few people seem to be interested in putting this wonderful information into action. Our response was to build this site around what and why of simple living rather than the how. To my way of thinking once you have the idea you can always find out how to put it into practice.

Still here are a few of the practical projects that I have on the go at the moment.

  • Building a small park bench seat with and for my small son.
  • Starting up a community food swap co-operative where all of our neighbours come together to swap and trade produce, jams sauces and so on. My sister set one up and I really like how it has bought her area together.
  • Building a new transport mountain bike. I will buy the frame new. A good frame can last 25 years. All the rest of the components I intend to acquire through trades, second hand or by volunteering at a local bike shop and a local green bikes project (building second hand free/very cheap bikes for transport disadvantaged people).
  • Starting up our new business. More details on this later.
  • Building two new garden planter boxes and renewing one retaining wall that holds up half of our land (including the main walk in accessway).
  • Repainting one weather affected area of our cabin. It needs a good scrape and sand first. Hopefully I’ll have the help of my father for the painting bit. Over the years we’ve had some really great talks and good bonding while doing stuff like this together.
  • Building a new patio gate with roller wheels to lock a toddler in patio prison and avoid having to recover him from a forest hiding place.
  • Reinvigorating our community beer project. Last year we made a few batches of neighbourhood ale. I firmly believe good ale is compost for the soul and ours was no exception. Everyone involved loved it.The making, the drinking and the comradery, but then we all got busy. I also did a wee social experiment to see if someone else would kickstart it again, but they haven’t so I will.

That is it for Jan/Feb for me. I know Ms Simple has quite a few things on the go including raising seedlings for sale, endless sowing projects (I can’t keep track – seriously), orchard improvements and harvesting our current crops of berries and stone fruit for eating and for jam’s, chutney’s and sauces. In between she’s planning to stain the portico floor and make new skirting boards and a door jam. All while keeping an eye on two juveniles (me and the boy).

There is no end to what you can achieve if you turn off the electronic reproduction of life and go outside instead.