From Spain to England: Pablo’s Pub Story

Our local pub is one that comes straight out of a horror film.

The faded sign hanging above the crumbling plaster creaks and whines as it swings in the breeze.

The door is an ancient oak contraption that refuses to budge for any person without prior knowledge of its finicky latch. Once you’ve stumbled inside, there’s an unmarked drop into the pub proper that never fails to trip up newcomers. After falling into the bar, thoroughly ruffled and a little sore, you will have an entire room of people staring you down – trying to understand why a person outside of the village would even think of coming in.

The usual stranger to the village will assume that behind the craggy exterior will be hiding a rustic pub with ‘original features’ in tact. They’ll imagine an amiable barman with a jolly belly and a host of nourishing local ales pulled from a barrel. Perhaps the recent metropolitan obsession with ‘shabby chic’ and exposed brickwork has led the fashion conscious part of the population to imagine that behind every faded sign and unmarked door lies a hidden wonderland of craft ales and cutting edge hip hop music.

The average tourist, looking for such a place, is easy to spot. There’ll be the usual rattling of the latch, followed by concerted efforts to barge the solid door until a couple of young people, usually wearing tight fitting jeans, will fall in a pile in the centre of the bar. They will laugh initially, taking time to carefully brush the dirt from their clothes before realising that that a whole room of people will be inspecting them in silence.

When they glance at the taps of average lager, note the stick thin proprietor, Jeff, nursing a glass of vodka, and fail to hear any music from the last two decades, they will inevitably come to the decision that this is not a place that actively welcomes anyone of their own kind.

When Pablo stumbled into The Nag’s Head for the first time he impressed everyone by bucking the trend.

There was the familiar fumbling of the latch of course, the queue for everyone to stop their conversations and swivel to face the door. Then…silence. We continued to stare, expecting a few hard shoves, but none came. Instead, three sharp knocks rattled through the thick door and a cheerful ‘Ola!’. With a confused expression on his face, Jeff left his drink on the bar and cautiously pulled the door open.

‘Hello! Could I have some beer please? I have money!’

That’s all he had to say to instantly win us over. His paint spattered overalls marked him as a working man and the bags under his eyes matched the same that hung beneath ours. Welcomed in by Jeff, he watched his step as he entered the pub and pulled up a bar stool next to me.

‘You look like a man who could do with another pint.’

Having drunk four already, I’d let myself stare at this stranger for too long and he had mistaken my intent gaze for friendliness. I ceded to his offer and we began talking about how he came to be in our dark corner of Devon.

He’d spent the last 4 weeks buying his passage to the country by working for a company specialising in removals from Spain to England. Ferrying himself back and forth from his homeland, he’d seen tantalising glimpses of England as he unloaded boxes – the final trip he made was from Barcelona to our little village. Having spent a month essentially living in transit, he received his payment in the form of a final trip from Spain to England, bringing him to rest in the West Country for the foreseeable future.

Pablo seemed unaffected by his month spent living in a van, a part from his dark panda eyes (a by-product of continual early starts and a fondness for lager) he smiled often and laughed even more. I asked him how such an ordeal could possibly have left him in such a good humour and he simply stated that he had control over the Triple Gunas.

There began a long evening of explanation and questions that led to me where I am today.

Reflections On The Past, Krishna Willing

With my house successfully cleaned and now looking better than ever, I’ve had the opportunity to turn my gaze inwards towards my own motives and thoughts more than ever.

Of course, when considering the trichotomy of Krishna’s three guiding philosophies one always risks falling into a pitfall of too much introspection.

Part of the problem with engaging with philosophies alien to our own is that you are more likely to engage in thoughts that risk challenging your own perception of the world. As much as this may sound like a good thing, (thousands of people, after all, actively seek out exotic trips and excursions for exactly that) engaging in thought problems and ideas of consciousness outside of your frame of reference can lead to you focusing too much on your inner self.

Now that I’ve brought my personal life back in check, I’m hoping to bring more balance to my life in general. It would be too easy to return to work and continue in the fashion that I was acting before.

The human mind abhors sudden change. That is what I’ve learnt during the last year or so. When I was initially introduced to the notion of the Triple Gunas I was initially sceptical. The man to introduce it to me is the only Hindu man that I’ve ever met. You might be surprised by that, but please remember that I live in a remote region of the Westcountry, far removed from any Religious communities or populations of ethnic minorities. I met him in my local pub, a jobbing plasterer who had travelled to England in order to find work, away from his home country of Spain.

I’d come to a pivotal moment in my life.

I’d just taken control of the farm and was dealt with the daunting task of finding a way to make money out of an enterprise that had already cost me my entire life savings. Of course, like any country boy, I knew that the first port of call was the pub. As we all know, there’s a long lineage of good decisions made in the public house all over England, every Friday and Saturday night. That night, after a handful of pints, I was nowhere closer to solving the whole laundry line of problems that were ailing me. I still needed to hire hands for the farm, equipment needed to be bought and business links with retailers were yet to be made. In short, this was no time to be getting drunk.

Luckily, that night I met the person who would (eventually) put me on the right path to financial and spiritual success.

Pablo taught me more that night about life than I had learnt in 5 years of school and 3 years of agricultural school. He was new to the country, had few friends, but seemed somehow at peace with the world. Had I met him today, knowing what I know, then I would have recognised him as a stranger who was perfectly at peace with himself. A man who had come to accept the warring gunas inside him – understanding the motives that drove his subconscious mind – who was blissfully unphased by the problems of the modern day man.

But how had he attained this level of inner peace? That is a story for another time.

The Satvik, The Rajsik and The Tamsik. Primitive Communism, Feudalism and Capitalism.

 

 

gatherersA central point of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels material theory of history is that the mode of production of a society is the structural root and cause of that societies make up. So, when we produce things in a large, industrial setting where people are organised by a pyramid like hierarchical structure society will have a pyramid like hierarchical structure. Inequality of power in production becomes inequality of power both political and economic in the rest of society. This is also an essential part of the Satvik/Rajsik/Tamsik trichotomy of farming that we have talked about so much in the sense it is a recognition that how we work and how we produce controls how we live in all ways.In the Tamsik way is farming which is: ‘intensely destructive of land, livelihood, community and the ecosystem generally’ where a small group exploits the land, the world, and the majority of people. Tamsik process yield a huge amount, which could and do feed a huge amount of people, but the production process is as such that it deprives and destroys, and creates a negative structure for society. In the way of ‘Rajsik’ we see ‘farming through controlling land and controlling people’ which, socially, has very similar results to Tamsik. But in Satvik where ‘all techniques are supposed to be gentle, cooperative and cohesive with the soil and nature’ and such work has a wider consequence for the people and their society:

 

“Sattvic individuals always work for the welfare of their Future, they are sattvic because they think about the consequences of their actions. They work hard to evolve their spirit to a soul. They are disciplined through logic and continuously working at being more natural and normal. They effortlessly increase their intelligence by being more in tune with nature and the Pure Principles of the Multiverse. They live life enlightened by the fact of death and afterlife, so their lives are a preparation for that . A sattvic individual can be recognized if their mind, speech and actions synchronize: manasa, vacha, karmana are the three Sanskrit words used to describe such a state.” Wikipedia

 

The key point is that if production is undertaken on a small scale cooperatively with respect for each other and the environment, then our basic relations to each other will be more equal, more respectful, just more positive and a better basis for society. This is what Marx and Engles saw in all of history, and specifically in the pre-feudal era that they called ‘primitive communism’.

 

 

Primitive Communism.

Before feudal relations developed, feudal relations that very much represent the ‘Rajsik’ philosophy and mode of production where political power over large numbers of people was used to exploit land and resources on a large scale, and consequently destroyed the social ties and social society that comes from cooperative labour. Marx and Engles, especially Friedrich Engles, wrote extensively on hunter gatherer societies, making bold claims about their structural equality and cooperative nature. Such was the difference of the society created by the social economic relations in hunter gatherer situations that the pre-feudal world described as taking place ‘before class divisions arose‘. In a setting where smaller groups are working together to achieve common goals, where production is undertaken communally and product is owned communally mass inequality, mass war, mass oppression, they are all far less likely or at least not inherent in the very mode of production, as is the cass with class based modes of production, the feudal and the capitalist, the Rajsik and the Tamsik. Marx and Engles view of pre-feudal, pre-class relations, hunter gatherer society is dismissed by some as rosy eyes, romantic and idielistic, and this criticism would be believable if it was just their idea, or just the idea of a few Marxists or a few antrhopologists. But, as the anthropologist Dr Peter Grey writes:

 

“One anthropologist after another has been amazed by the degree of equality, individual autonomy, indulgent treatment of children, cooperation, and sharing in the hunter-gatherer culture that he or she studied.” Dr Peter Grey ‘How hunter-gatherers maintained their egalitarian ways.’

Peter Gray

 

My point here, which I’m making in a rambling and round about way, is that how we produce and how we farm matters. If we do it communally, sharing in the work and sharing in the product (hunter gatherer societies actually tend not to have a word for ‘work’ as no distinction was made between work time and leisure time) we have a more Sattvic existence. A more gratifying, relaxing and fulfilling life. It’s all there.

 

 

 

Recycling And The Scrapheap Challenge Of The Modern World

The world we live in creates so much waste. So much waste. Just so, much, waste! 

Scrapyard cars piled up-large

 

But is it all just waste? Or rather, does it have to go to waste? Well? Does it? Well, dear friend and reader of my website, no. No it very does not. Because we have this thing called recycling now, have you heard of it? Probably not, because the man doesn’t really want you to recycle. Or maybe he does? Maybe it is an ‘acceptable moral crusade’ (ACM).

 

What is an Acceptable Moral Crusade?

Photograph_of_Mrs._Reagan_speaking_at_a_-Just_Say_No-_Rally_in_Los_Angeles_-_NARA_-_198584

 

An acceptable moral crusade, or acceptable moral outrage, is a moral political issue which the vested interests that the powerful support are economically, politically and ideologically unaffected by. Because they are unaffected by them, or rather would be unaffected by the solutions they will propose to them, they encourage people to get outraged about them. Normally they choose an issue which any outrage at will actually not only not be directed at the powerful, but actually (even more helpfully) be directed at the poor! How wonderfully helpful! Littering is a great example of this. Middle class people hate littering. They hate it. It makes their blood boil. It is the highest sin you can commit. Can you imagine can you imagine someone just throwing something on the floor? What the hell? That is unbelievable. The outrage reserved for littering or spitting in public or something like this is far beyond the reaction to larger problems, problems of drone strikes and the military and environmental catastrophes our government is creating and continuing around the world. News of these is met with resignation and indifference, because what can we do to affect that? What’s the point in getting angry about that? That stuff is not for us to get angry about. Litter is for us to get angry about. Benefit cheats are for us to get angry about. Anti-social behaviour is for us to get angry about. Vandalism is for us to get angry about. These are our moral outrages. The ones we are allowed. The Acceptable Moral Crusades of our class and creed. And they are things we should be angry about, a lot of the time, but they are just not the only things we should be angry about. Not at all.

scrap-heap

Look at that great big pile. What a great big pile. Do you remember the show Scrapheap Challenge? What a classic show that was, I used to watch it with my Dad. It was a rare thing we could enjoy together, because he liked building things, and I just liked television. Well that’s what its like on the farm sometimes. With such a lot going on there’s an almost constant stream of mess and broken things. Old cars and stuff, just lying around. Every once in a while you uncover some real gems. I once found half a Porsche under an old cow shed, and actually got some money for it (managed to sell it off to a friend at http://www.tech-9.co.uk check them out if your ever after a bit of a Porsche!). But mostly we just pick up these pieces and we always end up being able to make something out of them. You know, it’s quite amazing what people can make from a bit of scrap metal…

asdfa

 

That is the Arcadia Spectacular, it is a gigantic spider from which light, fire, performers and music explode at music festivals around the country every summer. It is made from old military vehicles and machinery and scrap metal. It is insane, go to the website and watch the videos, amazing. That’s what recycling should be about, taking what is unused and using it. So go on, go out, salvage and create.

Satvik Farming and Renewable Energy

Last week I discussed with you the three farming philosophies of Satvik, Rajsik and Tamsik. To recap, the Satvik philosophy is one of living with the land in harmony and being cooperative and cohesive with nature. Rajsik is the farming of power and control, controlling the land and bending it to your will, and controlling people to farm on a large scale through their labour. Lastly, Tamsik farming is deeply destructive and abusive of our environment and of the natural world. It aims for maximum harvest and profit no matter the damage to the land or the people. These three concepts originate outside of simply farming, they are the three ‘Gunas’, translating roughly as ‘threads’,’strings’ or ‘strands’ but more broadly in the philosophical context ‘virtue, merit, excellence’, or ‘quality, peculiarity, attribute, property’. In a sense, these are not dissimilar from the four humours of Greek medical philosophy, and it seems, every tv show ever:

The similarity in the ideas is that the three Gunus, as with the four humours, are said to exist in all of us to various degrees, and the levels we have of each of these things with in us is said to determine our personality and disposition. The three Gunus are constantly trying to suppress each other to get the fullest expression of their own qualities: ‘When Sativa is predominating, from all the gates of the human body radiate the illumination of knowledge. When Rajas is predominating, greed and the striving for selfish activities would appear. With the increase of Tamas come darkness, inactivity, recklessness and delusion.’ We should all be aiming for a full expression of Sativa, we should all want a world more saturated in Sativa. The world we do live in though seems far more dominated by the Rajas, and heading toward the Tamas.

money-greedy

Here at the farm we attempt to be completely self-sufficient. Or rather, to be part of a self-sufficient world that does not need to lean on destruction, on the Rajas. We try to work within the principles of Sativa. That means drawing what energy we cannot produce ourselves from renewable sources. At the moment, for instance, we are taking regular deliveries of biomass wood pellets (from Liverpool Wood Pellets) and operating this as our main outside energy source.

wood-pellets-burning

Burning wood pellets

Renewable energy is very much in keeping with the Sativa Guna. It is loving and it is cohesive. Remember, these Gunas are in a constant conflict for full expression, not just inside you but in all things. They are in constant conflict throughout creation. Every act you commit which promotes Sativa also acts to battle the forces of Rajas and Tamas. On any scale, at any level. It all acts against the forces of greed and destruction.

 

So act x

Farm Philosophy

In the Indian tradition of farming there are three approaches to the ancient practice. The first is the way of ‘Satvik’, also known as the spiritual way. This sees farming as a deeply spiritual process, you must work at one with the land and, in a spiritual sense, as a part of the land. I am not a spiritual person, but believe that most of everything is just semantics, when someone says we are all part of one spirit, we say we are all part of one ecosystem. When they say ‘global consciousness’ we say ‘global ecosystem’. We then recognize that our perspectives actually combine perfectly. Because the actually problematic divide is not how you describe or perceive reality, but how you want to act on it and live with it.

 

remarkable-beautiful-nature-image-wallpaper

In the Satvik way of farming all techniques are supposed to be gentle, cooperative and cohesive with the soil and nature. Those farming the land are expected to act subtly and simply. This includes a somewhat minimalist approach, certainly not an industrial farming ideology here. Within the Indian tradition the food produced this way is said to be particularly refreshing, nourishing and revitalising. This holistic approach inherently comes with a lifestyle. The very act of farming this way is gratifying, relaxing and fulfilling.

 

The second way of farming under this Indian trichotomy, is the way of ‘Rajsik’. This is the way of ‘power-farming’. The meaning of the ‘power’ here is not quite how I first interpreted it. It is not power farming necessarily in the sense of ‘high-powered’ like ‘turbo farming’ or something like that. The power does not refer to intensity or level of imput of energy, it does not necessarily mean very high output, very high harvest or industrial techniques. Though all of these are far more likely within Rajsik farming than within Satvik farming. No, the ‘power’ here refers to political power, Rajsik is farming through controlling land and controlling people. The ‘Raj’ in ‘Rajsik’ refers to power and a position of rule, as in the British Raj, the former colonial rulers in India. We can see here that this three way division is actually a material and social dialectic, it is a tracing of how farming has developed with the world. Rajsik farming is farming as it was reconstructed under feudal rule. This form of farming, whilst clearly politically unjust and unfair in its treatment of people and how it conceives of land ‘ownership’, does not necessarily exclude practices which attempt conservation and cohesive living with the land. A feudal landlord does not necessarily hold the land and nature in contempt. Unlike Satvik farming though it does create the opportunity for farming outside of these principles, and it certainly destroyies the Satvik lifestyle of a satisfying relationship with nature at the point of contact.

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Thirdly, and lastly, is the ‘Tamsik’ way. ‘Tamas’ is not a positive word, it does not translate simply into one word but generally gives the impression of darkness, depressiveness and ‘de-vitalisation‘. This is farming which is intensely destructive of land, livelihood, community and the ecosystem generally. This includes the use of pesticides or herbicides or any genetically modifying practices that over burden or simply destroy the land. This farming does not attempt to work with nature or the ecosystem, but instead attempts to bend it to the will of the farmer, to exploit it for maximum gain, with a small group massively overproducing to supply a amplified demand. This style of farming will leave one feeling guilty, disconnected and alienated. You will medicate these feelings physically, psychologically, socially and ideologically.

psychology2

 

This commodification of land and nature has taken place on a mass scale. It is the situation of our planet and human race finds itself in. It is not a permanent state, it is not an eternal state. We have not always approached nature this way, wanting to beat and dominate it, allowing individual groups to work in a system of competition that drives them to find new techniques and practices to attempt over-exploitation of the land on an even larger scale and depth than their competitors.

 

I will write more on the Satvik, Rajsik, Tamsik trichotomy. All I will say for now is that these philosophies of farming apply to all aspects of life, and it is quite clear that from a philosophical angle at least, we should all be trying to farm and live in a more Satvik world.