[permaculture] A Brief Creation Story as it relates to Permaculture (from Scott Pittman, posted with permission)

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Sun Mar 3 12:55:20 EST 2019

A Brief Creation Story as it relates to Permaculture
In the beginning there was the word and the word was spirit as articulated
by three ethics:
Care of the Earth
Care of people
Reduce materialism and population and return excess yield to care of the
Earth and people.
These ethics became enshrined in multiple religious movements and were
elucidated in multiple ways.
In the Jewish religions they were expanded to 10 ethical statements which
were reduced to two statements
by Jesus the founder of Christianity. In Buddhism it was further reduced to
Compassion for all living
beings. And so on...
Over time religion forgot about spirit and focused more on spiritual
leaders which allowed for the
callusing over of the human spirit by materialism, and narcissism. This
then led to humans loss of their
real reason for evolving here of planet Earth; to care(take) for the earth
and to care for all its wondrous
After many years of war, despoiling nature, fear of the other, and egotism
there began to emerge an
awareness of how empty life was without spirit. At first it was just a
glimmering of conscience revealed
as an awareness of our environment and the joy that it brought to those who
spent time within the
enfolding arms of a forest, or the awe inspiring oceanic view and thereby
wanting to care for what was
still remaining.
Many organizations were founded and operated to save forests, grasslands,
oceans, rivers, atmosphere,
animals, soils, and finally humans. This awakening was worldwide but each
organization was isolated
from the others and therefore they never became powerful enough, through
cooperation, to change or
engage the cultural paradigm in which they were embedded. Among those
organizations was an
Australian group formed around the writing and teaching of Bill Mollison
and David Holmgren.
Permaculture was unique in that it was a practice based on ethics and
principles of nature, though the
teaching was mostly about how to become self sufficient both physically and
socially. But at least the
underpinning ethics and principles were strong enough to soften the
calluses that had formed over spirit.
This is where my own personal story intersected with permaculture.
I was raised on a farm/ranch in the lower panhandle of Texas; a blistering
climate of hot windblown
sandstorms and bitter cold winters. I felt, as a young student, very
underprivileged; we had no television
reception, no social life except school. family gatherings. and church.
Church was boring to the point of
tears and the atmosphere of puffed up self-righteousness was belied by the
behavior of the congregation
the other six days of the year.
Looking back I count the blessings of living a life of nutritious home
raised vegetables, eggs, milk,
cheese, butter, cream, poultry, pork, and beef. I also appreciate all of
the skills I learned living on an
isolated homestead. We did our own carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and
whatever was needed in every
day life. I also loved the open spaces and my encounters of what was left
of wildlife in that part of west
Texas. My early spiritual encounters were experiences of being out of body
watching huge thunderheads
rolling overhead as I lay on my back in a row of sorghum, or a cluster of
Mesquite trees.
When I encountered permaculture many years later most of the “how to do”
stuff I already knew but what
really drew me was the statement of ethic and principles of nature.
Unfortunately my teacher Bill
Mollison had a hard and fast rule of no spiritual (woo-woo) and no
political teaching in permaculture.
Once again I was confronted with my youthful dilemma of my personal
experiences of hours of
Methodist pew time and the out of body thrills of my youth. I accepted
Bill's belief that spiritual and
political were more divisive than was agriculture, construction, forestry,
ecovillages, and all of the
sundry topics within the permaculture curriculum. But as time went by, some
25 years, I watched the
conditions in the dominant culture deteriorate along with the environment.

Living in a swamp of racism, xenophobia, grand larceny, fear/anger, and
poverty it was obvious to me
that planting a garden and building a tiny house were not the solution.
More and more I felt that we as a
culture were suffering from a lack of ethical direction and spiritual
groundedness. I took off a year from
teaching and went to an ashram in Costa Rica to take another look at
spirit; seeking a healing of my own
from my cultural dis-ease.
After over a year of quietly sitting meditation at 4:00AM each morning and
sometimes twice a day during
retreats I decided that spiritual wasn't the problem. The problem was that
religions for the most part had
lost their spirit and were more devoted to the same pursuits as the culture
that surrounded them that is the
paternalistic pattern of materialism and narcissism. It seems that most
churches, temples, mosques and
other places of worship serve as monuments to the ego of the spiritual
leader rather than as examples of
social justice and ethical behavior. Somehow spiritual became confused with
I left the ashram with an understanding that the cultural ptsd was its loss
of spirit and the teachings of the
spirit that so many of the religions gave service to but did not provide to
their congregation. I realized
that permaculture too had focused to narrowly on the material world and
that without the enlivening
influence of spirit was just as unsatisfying to those seeking another
We have just concluded a year of sabbatical of the Permaculture Institute,
an organization founded by Bill
Mollison, Francis Huxley, and myself 21 years ago. Our purpose was to be an
demonstration, and research organization founded on the teaching of
permaculture. After a year of
thought, meditation, and conversation we have agreed that we want to
include more emphasis on ethics,
principles and spirit in order to heal our wounded culture. We believe that
part of that healing comes
from learning how to cast off the economic bonds of the culture through
self regenerative lifestyles. We
want to take the standard permaculture curriculum and add to it rather than
taking away from it. We want
to try and eliminate the greed and materialism (capitalism) from our lives
and introduce mutualism and
love in their place. I often substitute the word love for care as I think
that one can only truly care for that
which one loves.
I certainly hope you join us in creating a strong and viable medicine for
the cultural malaise we seem to
be surrounded by. I am only hopeful when I think of a future of more caring
for each other and our living
I am stepping down as board member and director of the Permaculture
Institute and leaving it in the
caring and capable hands of Jason Gerhardt. I will continue to serve in an
advisory role to the institute.
The Permacuture Institute will be offering three courses this Summer: 1
teacher training and 2 PDC's, we
hope to offer more so please check our website www.permaculture.org.

Lawrence F. London, Jr.
lfljvenaura at gmail.com

More information about the permaculture mailing list