Permaculture and Spiritualism (aka: the Metaphysical)
Many of you - or at least those of you who subscribe to the Worldwide Permaculture Network (WPN) - will have recently received the following email (reposted here in full):
Permaculture and Metaphysics
As a follow-up to yesterday's update, I want to do something I will not normally do - that being to link to another post outside of the Worldwide Permaculture Network site. I do this as I believe it's a critical point in history, and that the topic of this post (which I wrote) is of such importance that it should be objectively considered by all permaculture practitioners, and particularly by permaculture educators and promoters. As you'll see by the comments (92 at time of writing), I'm not the only one who feels strongly that this issue needs to be resolved within the permaculture community. Your input would be appreciated!
Rather than add your comments here, below this brief update, please add them to the bottom of the post I'm linking to, so we can have all views on the same page.
The blog post I'm referring to is:
Permaculture and Metaphysics
With kind regards
The Worldwide Permaculture Network team
Please do not reply to this email, as it is not being monitored by a human.
In light of the above, and if like me you felt compelled to view (and in the case of myself, respond to) the ensuing discussion as (I'm of the opinion, rightly) requested, I now wonder whether you would be (in the interest of furthering the permaculture concept) willing to share your views here?
I note that some of you have delved into this topic before. Indeed, I note further that some of you have already responded to the above WPN discussion at that particular site. However, for those that may not subscribe to the WPN, and once again in the interest of furthering the permaculture concept, I offer you the following, my (at the time of writing, as yet moderator-approved) submission to the overall discussion (reposted here in full):
Dear fellow interested parties of the permaculture concept
When I first opened my emails this morning and read the one from Craig (thanks Mate) my initial thought was ‘Oh no, this will put the cat among the pigeons’. My very next thought was, however ‘…but this is exactly what we need right now’. Clicking on the link and reading Craig’s piece here, and in turn the 120-odd (at the time of writing) responses, I was personally glad to learn that so many are in favour of maintaining a separation between the rational and the spiritual within the PDC framework, for I too have noticed of late that there is a distinct metaphysical creep occurring within courses offered (for example, see: the PRI Forum). With this observation in mind, I offer the following:
In my application of the permaculture concept, I am guided by the work of many who have gone before (and continue to work beside) me. These people are too numerous to give credit to in this instance, suffice to say I will quote from just two that continue to inspire me greatly concerning this topic:
“Bill Mollison has described permaculture as integrated design science. This brief definition places permaculture firmly within the culture of science. Permaculture is applied science in that it is essentially concerned with improving the long-term material well-being of people. In drawing together strategies and techniques from modern and traditional cultures, permaculture seeks a wholistic integration of utilitarian values…
Permaculture attracts many people raised in a culture of scientific rationalism because its wholism does not depend on a spiritual dimension. For others, permaculture reinforces their spiritual beliefs, even if these are simply a basic animism that recognises the earth as alive and, in some unknowable way, conscious. For most people on the planet, the spiritual and rational still coexist in some fashion. Can we really imagine a sustainable world without spiritual life in some form?
For myself, I am proud of my atheist upbringing, in which humanist values defined an ethical framework for a rational world, but I also accept that, through the project of permaculture, my life is by small increments being drawn towards some sort of spiritual awareness and perspective that is not yet clear. To deny this, based on the evidence, would be irrational. However, for the present, my own interpretation of the ethical principles of permaculture rests firmly on rational and humanist foundations.
The deliberate design of a new spirituality that reflects ecological realities may be an unrealistic and dangerous extension of the permaculture agenda. However, an organic growth of spirituality from ecological foundations promises more hope for the world than the increasingly strident clashes between religious and scientific fundamentalism. While I baulk at the idea of designing this spiritual union, I can’t help but use my systems thinking framework to help comprehend the dynamics of polarisation and emergent union between materialism and spirituality. While I focus on what I see as the positive and creative aspects of this union, they are mirrored by a dark and destructive alternative that is also emerging out of apparent polarisation. Figure 5 [p. 4] shows this broad pattern…”
Source: Holmgren, D. (2003) ‘Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability’. Hepburn (Victoria, Australia): Holmgren Design Services, pp. 2-3.
“Mystical ecologists, like many of today’s religious revivalists, view reason with suspicion and emphasize the importance of irrational and intuitive approaches to ecological issues…
Mystical ecologists tend to downgrade social issues by reducing human problems (a generally distasteful subject to them) to a “species” level – to matters of genetics…
Spirituality and rationality, which mystical ecologies invariably perceive in crassly reductionist and simplistic terms are pitted against each other as angels and demons. The mystics usually regard technology, science and reason, as the basic sources of the ecological crisis, and contend these should be contained or even replaced by toil, divination, and intuition. What is even more troubling is that many mystical ecologists are neo-Malthusians, whose more rambunctious elements regard famine and disease as necessary and even desirable to reduce human population…
The ecology movement is too important to allow itself to be taken over by airy mystics and reactionary misanthropes…
For the ecology movement to become frivolous and allow itself to be guided by various sorts of mystics would be unpardonable – a tragedy of enormous proportions. Despite the dystopian atmosphere that seems to pervade much of the movement, its utopian vision of a democratic, rational, and ecological society is as viable today as it was a generation ago…
The attempt by many mystical ecologists to exculpate the present society for its role in famines, epidemics, poverty, and hunger serves the world’s power elites as the most effective ideological defense for the extremes of wealth on the one side and poverty on the other.
It is not only the great mass of people who must make hard choices about humanity’s future in a period of growing ecological dislocation; it is the ecology movement itself that must make hard choices about its sense of direction in a time of growing mystification.”
Source: Bookchin, M. (1991) Will Ecology Become ‘the Dismal Science’? ‘The Progressive’, pp. 18-21.
Comment by Mark Chesterfield — January 6, 2012 @ 10:43 am
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Once again, I look forward to reading your views on the matter.
Last edited by ecodharmamark; 06-01-2012 at 04:23 PM.
Reason: edited a typo in the quoted text
For me, permaculture is deeply spiritual in it's practical simplicity and truth, why complicate that?
You want to go again? It's all been said and generalised in the 120 comments of the article you linked to.
For me, spirituality is a personal thing and should be internally monologue'd during any representation of Permaculture. Including public forums. Private forums (or groups) not open to the world (or Google), anything goes.
As you can see, I'm on the side of Permaculture that doesn't want to be marginalised by the social/corporate side with a cliché like "they are off with the fairies". It's a design science, looking at results, figuring why that happened, how to improve it, and repeating it across the globe for the benefit of all humankind (and the other flora and fauna of the world).
In my opinion spirituality is personal. Permaculture is a system of design. So whether or not any specific permaculturist includes spirituality with permaculture is up to the individual permaculturist, in my opinion.
In the video game world, there are 2 no-no's; You don't discuss politics or religion. The discussion of such is a quickfire way to start a fight, like pure oxygen added to a BBQ grill; the same applies to Permaculture.
If you still have a job, get everything in order, and quit. Do it as soon as you can, because we’ve never had a more important work to do. -Kyle Chamberlin
"I awoke, only to see the rest of the World was still asleep" - Leonardo Da Vinci
It's just my 2 cents,
Paka no hida
I think spiritulism/religion is a personal journey.
Whereas Permaculture is ultimately a group thing and deals with the physical aspects of life.
Like many compatible things, they have points where they overlap, but do not deserve to be lumped together.
Permaculture is not a spiritual or religious thing and shouldnt have anyones personal beliefs impinging on it as part of a course.
I would walk out if I took a course and this sort of thing happened.