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21 Mar 2008

A Journey to Findhorn

tnI set off today on my trip to Findhorn for the Positive Energy conference. I am rather excited, as it is 13 years since I was last there, for the seminal Eco-Villages and Sustainable Communities conference. I understand it has evolved a lot in that time, and I am looking forward to seeing that. I am travelling with my 14 year old son Rowan who will be attending the whole event, and will be writing his own blog that will be published here at Transition Culture alongside mine. So over the next 7 days you will be getting a daily blog from me, and also (in theory!) one from him too. We’ll see how it goes.

We are going to be taking the overnight sleeper from Euston, which is supposed to be one of the loveliest stretches of railway in the UK. The thing I am looking forward to most is meeting and doing a 3 day workshop with Joanna Macy. I have been an admirer of Joanna’s work for over 20 years, since my aunt lent me one of her books. I don’t have the book now, but in it she tells a very touching story, made particularly relevant by current events in Tibet.

joannaShe tells of her teacher, a Tibetan lama, who having left Tibet, returned in the 1980s during a time when the Chinese opened the country for exiles to return. Having no security that this relaxation would last any more than a few weeks, her teacher returned to the village where he was born, and where he was the head lama in the monastery, which in the meantime the Chinese had reduced to rubble during the Cultural Revolution (which reduced Tibet’s monasteries from over 6,000 to 13).

She traveled with him to the village, and relates the degree of devotion felt for him in the village. With very little money, no guarantee that the Chinese won’t just come and knock all their work down again, the lama and the villagers began to rebuild the monastery, carrying all the materials, mixing the mortar, building the walls.

It is like this, she concludes at the end of the story, that we need to approach our work in building the Great Turning. We do it because it has to be done, and because it is all we can do with our lives. We have no guarantee that we will succeed, no guarantee that all our work won’t be smashed to dust in front of our eyes. We work, day after day, laying brick on top of patient brick, building the world that we know instinctively to be right. It was a story which touched me deeply and still does, and indeed one of the most important pieces of writing that has underpinned my own work (I tried to scour the web for an online version to no avail).

She is one of the most important and seminal thinkers in the world at the moment. I so nearly got to do a course with her last year, but she had to cancel due to illness at the last minute. I hope to do an interview with her when I am there which I will, of course, post here. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to ask her, do post them below as comments. So, I am heading to Findhorn with my son for many reasons, but one of those is to finally spend some time with one of my life’s great teachers. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Categories: General

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3 Comments

James Samuel
21 Mar 2:59pm

It is 4.00am and I have been up since 1:00 reading your book. Along with this description of the “work with no guarantees” above, I feel deeply grateful and moved again. I feel strengthened and attracted again to the positive side of the Collapse and Evolution scenarios spectrum I swing between.

I will be following this journey with interest Rob. I have only had glimpses of Joanna’s work, but immediately recognised her as one of the great wise women in the world.

Iain Davidson
23 Mar 8:54am

As someone who lives at the Findhorn Foundation, I want Rob to know that just as he is very much looking forward to meeting Joanna, there are many people who are looking forward to meeting him and think that the work he is doing is also important, albeit in a different way…

Klaus Harvey
23 Mar 1:51pm

Sounds great Rob. I was planning on going to Findhorn too but our imminent Spring Fair in Kinsale has taken over. I’ve just finished reading ‘World as Lover, World as Self’ by Joanna Macey and it’s really inspring. Truly one of the most important thinkers in the world today. Now I’m reading another inspiring book called ‘The Transition Handbook’. Looking forward to both your blogs. Enjoy.