Pockets of the Future Blog

Striving to live now as all will live in the future.

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    Dec
    25

    It’s Time to Start Preparing Our Children

    Posted by pockets

    (This is a cross post.)

    What we are experiencing here in America, and the world over for that matter, is the inevitable collapse of the consumerist culture. For years we have gorged ourselves on the upside of consumerism but now we all must suffer the downside of this system. The consumerism system relies on three things. The first is that the system must be in a constant state of economic expansion. The second is that the planet must have an infinite supply of resources to supply the ever expanding amount of goods needed to support the ever expanding economy. The third is that the people must be trained to live in a state of constant consumption. See The Story of Stuff to learn more about that and watch Money as Debt for an explanation of how the ever expanding wad of credit that fuels the consumerist economy has no real value.

    The world has more or less lived on a credit card for decades. This willingness to spend imaginary money has bankrolled the creation of a wide variety of material goods and services which has in turn afforded us all an unprecedented degree of physical comfort. Unfortunately, we do have to eventually pay the credit card bill although there is not enough money in existence to pay off the world’s collective debt. Nor do we have the ability to replace the world’s finite resources which we have already used up. These resources for the most part have been turned into a variety of toxic materials that are now polluting the environment and making it that much harder to grow food and so forth.

    It is, however, not the system that is of the most concern about our situation. It is our reaction to our situation that is what is most disturbing. We have overwhelming evidence that our economic system is destroying our planet, yet we continue on while running away from our collective problems. We are all on borrowed time living irresponsibly, making more and more mistakes, to keep from facing the consequences of our original mistakes such as borrowing more money and using up more resources to cover the loans and interest we already cannot pay. We are living way beyond our means and yet instead of facing up to the debt and changing our lifestyle, we create more debt and live even more lavishly. All the while we are inventing ever new addictions and distractions so that we can avoid doing what we know we have to do. The capitalist, consumerist system has always been deeply flawed and was always going to fail eventually. It doesn’t work; it isn’t sustainable. The system is so bad that if it lasted too long the earth would become uninhabitable. Taking good, wholesome natural resources and turning them into toxic garbage is a horrible system and can never be made to work.

    Unfortunately, most if not all of the solutions that are being proposed by both the right and the left, by both political parties, by major corporations and by the mainstream media still involve us all living with a consumerist orientation towards life. The solutions seem to be along the line that our system just has to be a little greener, a little smarter, a little better but we can still keep our stuff while our personalities and consumer orientation towards life can remain unchanged. Our stuff just has to be a bit more organic but we don’t have to change at all. Our attachment to the lifestyle, comforts and gadgets that only a consumerist system can produce for us has clouded our vision to the palpable reality that this system does not work and is not appropriate.

    This of course makes sense as we have been trained all our lives to operate as relative gluttons. We have been taught through a bombardment of advertisements and interlocking social structures to obtain our self-worth by what we possess and by our standing within our consumerist system. And we are completely dependent on this system to deliver to us all of our goods and services. We are used to the comforts and lifestyle this system has delivered to us all of these years. We are totally dependent on it to provide us work, bring us food, power, clothing and water. Because of our dependence we lack any and all training necessary to live more self-sufficient agrarian type lifestyles and we don’t have communities within which we can effectively barter and trade to obtain what we need. Also we are addicted to a wide variety of stimuli that we can only obtain through our current system. If we all had a more balanced approach to life and we collectivity shunned credit, abuse and the shortcuts necessary to maintain our standard of living then we would have less of the stuff that makes up the center pieces of our lives. So of course we would try desperately to find a way to fix our broken system but we all know that it cannot be fixed. Deep down we know that the system has made us worse as a species and we have to make wholesale changes to ourselves. We have to adjust ourselves so we can live without many of the comforts, addictions and materials that will no longer exist when our system collapses.

    We humans have great difficulty changing and the kind of changes that are being demanded of us are in some ways almost impossible. We have to retrain how we think and how we perceive the world. We have to retrain our bodies too in terms of routines, hot water usage, the food we are able to eat, pretty much all of our habits. We have to retrain our goals and what we can expect to get out of the world and our lives. We also and most importantly have to retrain our orientation of looking to the material world alone to make us feel good about ourselves.

    For years and years we have focused on our lavish material existence with very little of our attention going inward. As our material world collapses and we are faced with a much harsher and all around more difficult existence, our only choice will be to be nurtured from within. All of us, especially our children, will have to internalize ourselves to a large extent as the pleasures, comforts and overall abundance that has propped us up will be a distant memory. A world of vibrant colors, abundant tastes and fragrances, rich sounds and a host of multi-media distractions may become a gray desert world where even a bland meal will be hard to come by. Therefore people of the future will have to nurture themselves from within. They will have to have a rich inner world where they can escape from the external nightmare of pain, deprivation and suffering. They will have to be internally strong so that they can make their weakened, malnourished bodies do the hard labor it will take to survive. The people of the future will need strong characters and good hearts to endure the mess that we are about to leave them.

    We can of course began this process ourselves by starting to internalize our own existences and live more simple and natural lives. Unfortunately a life of dependence on an arrogant system has left our minds and personalities rigid with entitlement and with little experience or training in connecting with our inner resources. In fact our system does everything in its power to dissuade a more internal spiritual existence. We have even externalized God to such an extent that we are trained to believe that to obtain divinity we must first transcend into another plane of existence. The idea that God is already within us is quite foreign and we have little to no ability to make this inner connection.

    Adults cannot be counted on to make these internal adjustments but we can prepare and train our children to live a more balanced existence. In fact, it is our duty to do so. Our children will need different training than the training we received. In many cases they will need the opposite training than the training we received. Instead of gorging themselves on the material world, they will need rich inner lives from which they can draw forth their internal wealth. They will need to develop their hidden abilities of connecting inwardly to the divinity that resides within all of us. And they will also need to refocus to see this same divinity within others and within everything for that matter.

    Because of these beliefs, my wife and I have over the years initiated some training for our children designed to turn some of their attention inward. Along with a natural based homeschooling program and a homesteading environment, some of their education and training is about connecting with the divinity within. We have developed a spiritually based homeschooling curriculum and written a couple of children’s books for it. We have now set up our own publishing company and have released for the general public our first book entitled My Friend Within. It is a spiritually based picture book for young children.

    The book comes with a free 29 page pdf file lesson plan that is designed to help children connect with the divinity that is inside of them. We think that this type of training is essential for all children and we hope that all parents and caretakers will buy this book and do the lesson plan with their children as a start. I think we all can agree that something in our world needs to change and that something is us, is humanity. Children are always the answer when it comes to change so training our children to live in a world that will no longer exist is not only wasteful but irresponsible. Whatever course parents and caretakers now take in educating their charges, they must realistically assess our current state and pray for guidance in leading these children in the right direction. The next few generations will be transitional ones and they will need all the help they can get. That is the least we all can do for them considering we have wasted so many of their resources and left behind for them so much toxic garbage.

    I hope that all of you will agree that there is at least a partial chance that our system will collapse in the near future. If the system that we are 100% dependent upon for all of our needs does collapse then we are all in big trouble. It makes sense then to prepare ourselves and, more importantly, to prepare our children for that possibility. Our children don’t need training in how to indulge themselves on the world’s resources as that isn’t exactly difficult. Rather they need training in surviving in a radically changed world. They need a new training. They need to build new skills and a new and improved character. That is where our duty resides as adults - preparing our children for a worst possible situation that has all but become a certainty. Our duty is towards the future.

    Merry Christmas,
    Paul

    Dec
    21

    Our Thanksgiving Day Adjustments - Eating More Locally and Commiting to More Gardening

    Posted by pockets

    It has felt like ages since I posted last. My adrenal fatigue is worse again and we are having heart-stopping trouble with our computer. My whole thought life is on the computer. Which makes me wildly uncomfortable, by the way. It is dopey to rely upon things that are not reliable, right? I mean that is the whole point of the direction of our lives and the posts on this blog. Sigh. Well, I will deal with that one another day…

    Meanwhile I have been jotting down little notes about posts I want to write on our various blogs. This shorthand list is three pages long. Makes me tired just looking at it. However, I thought I would take the time now to convey a conversation we had as a family on Thanksgiving that will affect the future direction of our homestead and homestead kitchen.

    Just before Thanksgiving, we had to drive to Roanoke. While there, we stopped in at an Indian grocery to pick up a few things we were out of. We eat Indian food here at least three or four times a week and have done so for a long time. In the back of my mind has lurked the thought that someday we may not easily be able to get Indian supplies as, in reality, India is a long way away. But, like the problem of being dependent upon capricious computers, I kept putting conscious thought and problem solving about this off for another day.

    Rice has been expensive for a while now, as you may know. We have discovered during this time that basmati rice may actually be as good a deal as jasmine rice because it cooks up to a much larger volume than jasmine rice does. I guess I would have to do a detailed analysis between price and volume but just from cooking every day in the kitchen, we have found basmati to be a better deal than we thought and not just a rice for special occasions. But still - it so expensive. It darn near takes your breath away to pick up a bag of it with an intention of heading towards the cash register. So, I put that off and headed over towards the bags of mung dal.

    What I saw shocked me. The price was so high on this ancient, simple food of poor and/or spiritually oriented people that I couldn’t dream of buying it. Rice and dal. Cheap, cheap food. Now so expensive that it is out of my reach. And rice and dal are - or have been up until now - staples in my kitchen. With my mind reeling, we left the store. We had not a bit of mung dal in the house but we left nevertheless.

    I had to work on turning my reeling mind into a mind that simply meditated on the problem and came up with a solution or an approach, at least. I did this and it resulted in a family discussion which I will relate but first there is another strand.

    In homesteading literature, you constantly run into debates about whether it is better to raise cows or goats. We solved this debate for ourselves years ago by doing the rather unusual thing of raising both on very limited land. We love the cows and don’t ever want to live without one ever, ever, ever gain. The goats are fun and easy to manage and child sized and, well… I really love feta cheese. Plus I need all the minerals I can get and goat milk is higher in minerals than cow milk. Anyway, we have raised both and enjoyed both.

    The thing is that my family is very animal oriented. I am very happy to have these animals as companions and do not want to go through life without their energy and intelligence any more. We count on them. However, I am also a very plant oriented person. I crave greens and used to dream about herbs when I was an apprentice to an herbalist so many years ago. We have done little bits of gardening here and there but nothing really major. Everything has gone into maintaining the cows and goats and the many other projects around here like wood-fired earth ovens and outdoor bamboo showers and whatnot.

    But with this economic crisis adding a certain flavor and with our maturing a bit as homesteaders, we are starting to take on a different view and this is really what our Thanksgiving Day conversation was about.

    I talked with the family about my sticker shock with regards to Indian food supplies. I also talked about the significant reading I have done about families that choose to eat locally only. We then all talked about the morality (or not) of shipping food thousands and thousands of miles just so that others can choose to eat what does not grow in their region. The people I have read who have eaten locally for a year, say, all tend to have far more resources at their disposal than we do. Floyd County would be a great place to undertake such a project, I think, but we just can’t afford it. I proposed that we consider making every effort to eat what at least can be available in the United States. So while mung dal would not be available, mung beans would be (I Googled it. They are grown in unexpected places like OK.). What did everyone think of this idea?

    Then I raised the issue of keeping goats when we already have cows and a lifetime commitment to having cows. We need to diversify - we need more than milk and cheese in order to survive and thrive. We need to garden, I suggested. We need to garden A LOT. We need veggies and herbs and so many things. The goats are occupying the space where we would otherwise immediately start expanding our gardens. What shall we do? I asked this with some trepidation because no one here ever wants to give up any animal. But drawing upon my social work training, I had talked with my husband and several family members ahead of time and already discussed their feelings and ideas to a certain extent.

    So we as a family decided two things on this Thanksgiving Day:

    1. We will gradually learn to limit our food choices to those foodstuffs that can be grown in the United States. We are doing this as a preparedness measure in the face of wildly uncertain times and we are doing this as a morality measure as the resources that go into shipping foods such vast distances should really be spent more effectively locally.

    My husband encouraged me to apply Indian cooking spices and cooking practices to more of the foods we will continue to eat and sort of invent a hybrid cuisine that will work for us. I already do this some and I appreciated his practical and supportive suggestion. Now I only have to set about carrying it out. (And get over my heartbreak about eating less Indian food. I am not a foodie. I just have a heart thing with India and an abiding respect for the ancient science of Ayurveda.)

    2. We will sell the goats, our surefooted little companions of several years, and put our energies into getting much more serious about veg and herb gardening. As a matter of fact, a young man with a rather large farm to develop is coming tomorrow to meet our modest herd. It will be difficult to see them go. I have resisted selling them several times over the years but now it is time, as evidenced by the fact that everyone is surprisingly on board. Eager even.

    I have to immediately start thinking about seeds for spring. I have read lately on a number of agrarian blogs that quality heirloom seeds will be more scarce this spring and to order early. So after the goats go to their new home, we will apply ourselves to this next phase of our homestead development.

    Shortly after all of this bracing family discussion and decision-making, I read the following in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver:

    He told us that in India it’s sometimes considered a purification ritual to go home and spend a year eating everything from one place - ideally, even to grow it yourself. I like this name for what we had done: a purification ritual, to cultivate health and gratitude. pps. 338-339

    Yes, this is exactly what it feels like to us. For us this way of life is about more than adjusting ahead of time to straitened conditions. It is about more than spending time together as a family. It is about more than learning to live frugally so that there are more resources available for others. It is about purification. It is about living naturally. It is about easing out of sense gratification and conventional ways of thinking and finding ourselves. And finding inspiration. And peace. And time to look inward.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Dec
    10

    An Intriguingly Personal Human-Cow Relationship

    Posted by pockets

    I stumbled across this amazing little video the other day on a site called Earthsave - the Compassion Campaign. It shows a mutually generous, reciprocal, affectionate relationship between an Indian yogi and his family and their family cow. I personally wasn’t too surprised at how the yogi doted on the cow but I was very surprised at how the cow doted on the yogi!

    I was keen on my husband and children watching this video to see what their reactions would be. Everybody enjoyed it a great deal with almost everybody being really surprised at what they saw. My husband was particularly surprised at the cow looking for affection in the way that it did. Our cows seem very self-contained by comparison. But our middle daughter said she was not surprised at what she saw, interestingly enough. She commented that she thought that the video showed a natural relationship the way it should be and wishes that we had something more similar with our cows. (Watch the video and imagine how challenging that would be!)

    I was intrigued by how commonplace an occurrence this arrangement of yogi and cow apparently is in this household. With everyone situated just so, the yogi carried on conversations and read his scriptures and carried on with his daily life in a very life-as-usual way.

    I wonder what that would be like…

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Dec
    04

    Activity Filled “My Friend Within Lesson Plan” is Our Free Gift

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross posted from Bamboo Grove Press Blog.

    The modern human being is filled with unrealized gifts, abilities and talents.

    Given the limitations and diversions of modern day society, we do not generally receive the training and experiences necessary for drawing out the higher, more noble qualities that exist in all of us. Technology and industrialization have become crutches that have kept us from having to realize our full innate abilities. Instead we have become dependent upon man made systems and hypnotized by materialism. In fact, most of us have become “disabled” in a way because we have no working relationship with the Divinity that resides within us. Everything in our consumerist culture pulls us outward and away from our true Divine inner nature. All of our intentions, goals, and actions tend to be of a material nature while our sacred inner relationship with the Divinity within is left to wither and die.

    For this reason, my wife and I have made providing experiences, training and education geared towards forming an inner relationship with the Self or Master our top priority with regards to raising our children. We have always felt that our primary duty as parents was to provide the circumstances necessary for our children to uncover their true wealth, the Divine being that resides within them. By creating an enhanced environment through prayer, intentions, training and experiences, we are giving them the very best chance to become what they are meant to become and succeed in both their inner and outer worlds. With their inner Friend to guide them on their path, success will be assured and their true inner natures will be honored. Our ultimate goal is not to give them fish or even teach them how to fish but rather to provide them with all the tools and time necessary for them to find their “Inner Fisherman,” so to speak. With their “Inner Fisherman” in the lead, a lifetime of fishing will come to them naturally and successfully.

    Out of this inner compulsion my wife and I share, we have spent years developing spiritually based lesson plans and activities of various sorts for our children and, really, for all children. In order to make these opportunities potentially available to all children, we have published My Friend Within, and have a few more children’s books to come that are along the same lines.

    We are also now very happy to provide, at no cost, a complementary portion of our general lesson plan to people who purchase a copy of the book.

    My Friend Within cover

    Anyone has purchased My Friend Within need only email us and request the My Friend Within Lesson Plan and we will send back the 30 page pdf file of activities, games and experiences designed to nurture the innate relationship between the child and their Friend who resides within them.

    While it is true that children are born with the innate knowledge that God is within, any innate knowledge that is not triggered by models and experiences in the child’s environment will tend to lay dormant or even disappear entirely. We parents should do our best to not let that happen, especially when it comes to our children’s relationship with the Divine. It is our deep hope that as many parents as possible will get a copy of My Friend Within and use the Lesson Plan as well as develop activities of their own to further enhance this training for their children. In fact, we hope that someday nurturing a child’s inner relationship will be considered as mandatory a requirement as teaching a child to read. There is no greater gift to our children than aiding them in allowing their true inner nature to emerge into useful practice.

    Here is a five part video series featuring our now older children doing some activities from the Lesson Plan. In the first video, I talk a little more about about some of the ideas in this blog post while spending time with our cows out in the pasture.

     

    In this video, the children read My Friend Within aloud.

     

    In the next two videos, our children play The Exploration game. With their eyes closed, they use their senses, including their inner senses, to figure out what objects, food, smells and even some of our farm animals are. Even at their somewhat older ages, they still love this game and ask to play it.

     

     

    This last video is some old video clips I found. The first is of the children doing one of the circle exercises from the Lesson Plan. The second clip is from three years ago when our youngest son, then three years old, read a copy of My Friend Within back when it was called He Sits.

     

    I have watched this last video five times in the last few days and I still am filled with joy and laughter each time I see it. I wish for all parents, teachers and children to find their own joy as they connect with their eternal Friend within.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,
    Paul

    Dec
    03

    Laughter and Water and Prayer All Rolled Up Into One - A Hand Washing Laundry Postscript

    Posted by pockets

    About a week or more ago, my boys did a father-enforced deep clean on their rooms and finished switching out their summer clothes for winter clothes. This resulted in a sparkling room for them but a rather large pile of laundry for me.

    When laundry day dawned (for it is still a weather-based activity for us), I was dismayed at the formidable mountain of laundry waiting for little ole hand washing me to tackle. My husband responded by pointing out that we still have our old washing machine in the basement. He thought it would be a good idea to hook it up, use it to wash all of the extra laundry this one time, but just stand there through its cycles to stop the machine as it started to flood.

    Now that was a very logical, thoughtful suggestion. But you know what? I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. Even though hand washing our laundry takes so much time (and would especially take so much time in this circumstance) and I get absolutely starving from doing it (!) and I am usually in pain for a couple of days afterward (I am plagued by loosey-goosey joints), I just couldn’t go back to using a machine even in the face of an unusually large pile of laundry. I just couldn’t.

    I said, “Thank you but … well, I would know that those clothes aren’t really clean.” (He understood what I said and, I think, understood what I couldn’t quite say.)

    OK. Yes, it was partly that I guess. But, honestly, it was much more than that. There is something about doing laundry this way. I don’t know if I can quite put it into words. It is the elemental simplicity of it. It is the sound of the water and the rhythm of the movements. It is the quiet attention you can pay to each piece of clothing and each beloved family member to whom it belongs. It is the feeling of connection with brothers and sisters all over the world who wash their clothing in a similar manner. It is working together with enthusiastic children and strong, broad shouldered husbands to accomplish this necessary task of daily living. It is laughter and water and prayer all rolled up into one “mundane” activity.

    What else can I say? I think that it is the naturalness of it. Yes, that’s it. The naturalness of it. Hand washing the laundry and hanging it up to dry feels congruent. It feels right. It feels … well, natural.

    African mama's quilt

    A slapdash, machine-made, apparent efficiency cannot make up for laughter and water and prayer and naturalness. All the machine really does is move clothing mindlessly from one pile to another. Hand washing the laundry, on the other hand, always holds the potential to increase awareness, build muscles and character, and extend love. It fits into a natural day like the in fabulous quilt above. See the block showing hand washing laundry? It is all of a piece.

    I never, ever would have guessed this on my own. Only doing the work, paying attention to the actual experience, and submitting to the discipline of it showed me. I am truly grateful for myself personally, and am so glad that the children will grow up with more naturalness in their lives. Functioning a bit more naturally will come naturally to them. I view that as a good thing.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Nov
    29

    Three Ennobling Truths Contained in “My Friend Within”

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross posted from our Bamboo Grove Press blog.

    It appears to be a small thing, really, to make the switch from focusing on an external God somewhere off in the distance to an internal God or Friend that is right there in your heart as your constant companion. In reality, however, having made this small change is what has brought us so many great Masters, saints, prophets and mystics. All the Masters of the major religions made this small switch from believing in an externalized God to finding and merging with the God that existed within them. Each of these Masters brought some transformational quality to the human experience which has benefited us all. After thinking about this, the questions then become, “What would the world be like if all of the people who inhabited it made that same adjustment and formed a minute by minute connection with the Divinity within? What if the world were populated by saints and Masters? What if we had a society of Buddha’s, Christ’s and Krishna’s? What would such a world be like?”

    This small adjustment from an externally viewed God to an internally experienced God would change just about everything within the human condition. It would be like how land mammal ancestors of whales and dolphins, after living for thousands of years in both the worlds of water and land, finally took their permanent plunge into the sea. Since making that shift, they have thrived as kings of the ocean. It was perhaps a small adjustment over a period of years such that each succeeding generation lived more and more in the sea until, finally, they became sea mammals. However they did it, their land existence soon became a faded memory.

    As we humans currently face a multitude of self-inflicted problems, we can see all around us the many success stories of other creatures that successfully adjusted themselves to a new way of living out of sheer necessity. Unfortunately, humans do not seem to be there yet. Rather we are still looking to change the world around us. We are still trying to impose our collective will on the world while we ourselves remain relatively unchanged. It is obvious that our orientation to the world isn’t viable and yet we still expect the world to change rather than us. The majority of us still seem to think that by winning political or economic or military power, we can continue to force our way and continue to enjoy our vast array of comforts. This is incorrect.

    Fourteen years ago I was introduced to the Sahaj Marg raja yogic practice and given the wonderful opportunity to meditate on Divine light in my heart. It seemed like a foreign thing to do at first and I did not know what to expect. As the years went by, however, I began to see more and more changes in myself from meditating in this way. My patience and tolerance levels increased. My ability to solve problems and choose the right path was enhanced. My ability to bear pain increased. Spiritually based opportunities increasingly presented themselves to me while unhealthy elements in my life seemed to just dry up and blow away. Significant and beneficial people started to populate my life helping me farther along the spiritual path. I no longer felt lonely or depressed as there was always my eternal Friend within to accompany me during dark times. When I regressed into old negative patterns, something quickly pulled me back onto the proper road. And perhaps most significantly, my capacity to love grew from the very first day and has continued to grow ever since.

    There were many material changes since I started Sahaj Marg as well including marriage to a fellow practitioner of this system as well as the grand appearance of six children. There was my family’s eventual move back to the country and the subsequent wholesale plunge into a more natural way of life. There were other material changes too in those early years as I earned both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The former had eluded me for twelve years and three colleges prior to my starting the Sahaj Marg internal meditation on Divinity within. So for me the internal and external growth that came as a result of being guided to connect with an internal God was both astounding and, in some ways, even miraculous.

    It is very distressing to me that most if not all religious and spiritual movements eventually seem to steer people away from connecting with the divinity within. Instead they often settle into teaching complex and often counter-productive methods for reaching God. However, living in connection with our eternal Friend within is our birthright and the key to our becoming all that we can be. It also frustrates me that the world leadership employs externally-based methods to pacify the populous rather than encouraging people to seek answers within. It is only the latter, to our way of thinking here at Bamboo Grove Press and Pockets of the Future, that can provide real solutions to the problems of life.

    So for my wife and me there is only one lasting answer to our current predicament and that is for us all to put a large investment into connecting with the part of us that is eternally connected to all and everything. It is imperative that the world’s peoples develop the Divine instrument of their hearts and let their eternal Friend within guide them in all decisions big and small. For us, then, the path is very clear. If human beings are going to survive and develop into what they were destined to become, then we have to make the subtle yet profound shift from begging an external God to deliver to us our desired lifestyle to a new orientation of connecting with the God or Friend within and, therefore, allowing ourselves to be guided from within towards our best life.

    So in this spirit we are happy to release our first book, My Friend Within, for general publication. This short, colorful picture book for children presents three simple ideas:

    1. God is in everything,
    2. Most personally, God is within the child themselves, and
    3. God is the child’s eternal Friend.

    The ideas seem simple and straightforward enough but consider this - the worldwide acceptance of even one of these ideas would change human experience profoundly for the good. If we collectively accepted that God was within everything and we lived and breathed this principle, it would be difficult to impossible to abuse other people, animals, the world or anything else. We would see God in all and everything and, therefore, when in the act of mistreating any aspect of the world around us we would see that it was God we were mistreating and stop ourselves.

    The case would be similar if we saw and connected with the God that is seated personally within us. Whenever we mistreated ourselves and made self-defeating or self-sabotaging decisions, we would see that we were only punishing ourselves by cutting ourselves off from the Divinity within us. By contrast as we deepened our inner relationship, we would want to consult the God within in us before making decisions or pursuing courses of action. Our hearts would cry out to us if we were about to do something wrong just as our hearts would sing to us as we followed a proper course of action. The responsibility for our lives would not rest upon the mercy of an externalized God but within our own system. We would be responsible. We would recognize that we were responsible.

    Lastly if we accepted that God was our eternal Friend, our whole perception of our world and our situation would be transformed. The hostile lens through which we see an evil world inhabited by evil people would not last in the face of the new knowledge that there is a benevolent God within us that only wants the best for each of us. Demons would now be viewed as helpers who were placed there by our Friend for our benefit. Problems would become blessings, and everything that we received good or bad would be received as Divine gifts from our Divine friend. We would believe that everything comes from God and since God is our Friend, then everything that He gives to us is for our greater good. There have existed souls in this world who have taken this perspective and they have inspired great movements and improved the human condition greatly. Their examples pointed towards a path all could eventually take. Given our current dilemmas, there is no better time than now for us all to step onto that path.

    So we are releasing our first book containing these three ennobling ideas now as it is patently obvious that there is no time to lose. And our first book is directed towards young children because there is no better time to get started with this important inner work than at the beginning of one’s life.

    We are also making available a free lesson plan/activity book to accompany My Friend Within for parents and teachers to use to help pull out this knowledge that already exists within the child. We are all born knowing that God is within all and everything and most importantly within us and that he is also our beloved Friend. We only need some gentle guidance to help these truths emerge from within us. I hope parents of all religions, races, and ages will purchase this book, undertake the simple accompanying activities and lessons with their children, and start them solidly on this wonderful path of becoming the best person they can be. Then these children can in turn go on to help create the best world that humans can create.

    Please help us spread the word about My Friend Within and the free lesson plan so that many may benefit from it. Thank you.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,
    Paul

     

    My Friend Within cover

    Nov
    25

    My Friend Within - Our First Bamboo Grove Press Release!

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross posted from our Bamboo Grove Press Blog.

    We are very pleased to announce our first Bamboo Grove Press book release!

     

    My Friend Within cover

    My Friend Within encourages children to follow their natural yearning to find God seated in the center or heart of all things, including themselves, and to take delight in the mysteries of spirituality. The appealing art work and simple, rhythmic text provide a gentle way to spark an awareness of what is deeply rooted inside all of us. As children embrace the idea that “God, my Friend, is within me,” they are setting the cornerstone of the foundation for their future spiritual lives. (From the back cover)

     

    Here my husband Paul Romano, author and illustrator, sits down to talk briefly about the timeless messages waiting for children in My Friend Within and why we chose this particular book to be our first publication. We feel, and it is our daily experience, that the ideas contained in My Friend Within are the single most important principles to reinforce in children in order to prepare them for a vibrant spiritual future during rocky, uncertain times.

    My Friend Within is also just plain fun and contains many opportunities for conversation and exploration. In the video, Paul talks about the fun we had as a family developing the complementary lesson plan we are offering with My Friend Within, out of our desire to support parents, teachers and children as much as we possibly can.

     

    For more information on how to purchase My Friend Within, please visit our E-store.

    We hope My Friend Within benefits your family as much as it has benefited ours and that you will join us in helping children everywhere become adults who act based upon the promptings of their Friend within.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,
    Leslie

    Nov
    23

    Sharing Our Passion for Living a Natural Life Through Bamboo Grove Press

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross-posted from our Bamboo Grove Press Blog.

    My husband and I were raised with pretty much the same attitudes as any other middle class Americans. Yet somehow, we ended up here. Where is here? Well, we are out in the country with six children, an assortment of rare breed dairy cows and goats, chickens, a garden and so on. Here also includes baking in an outdoor wood-fired earth oven, taking showers in an outdoor bamboo shower (during the summer!), hand washing our laundry (all year), making all of our food from scratch, building all of our outbuildings from scratch and so on. Furthermore, here includes homeschooling, heartfelt meditation, ongoing scriptural studies and daily relationship building in a very intimate family setting. And, honestly, it feels like we have only just gotten started.

    So how did we end up here? We ended up here because my husband and I share a passion for answering the question “What does it mean to live a natural life?”

    What does that even mean … a natural life?

    Discovering answers to this question endlessly fascinates us here. It challenges us, inspires us and constantly reshapes our thoughts and actions. Let’s see, living a natural life surely includes eating locally grown, organic produce and learning to tough out humid summers without air conditioning. Right? What else? It surely includes being willing to use our hands to carry out the tasks of daily living and living with far fewer possessions than is the norm. Yes. What else? We think it seems to include stepping away from cities and disengaging from a wide range of urban attitudes and dependencies. Definitely yes. But still - what is all of this? Does living a natural life go beyond lifestyle concerns and economic choices? Why do so many people crave “a natural life” and yet not know how to create one? And how did our passion for this question get us here?

    What we have realized after years of considering these questions is that living a natural life means living according to the Original Design. It means that we live contentedly (obediently even) within the supports and guidelines of “natural laws.” It means that we are willing to scrap virtually everything we have been led to believe is true or necessary for a successful life and aude sapere - dare to think - for ourselves. Dare to think fearlessly, creatively, In harmony with each other, by looking within for answers, and, most of all, in faith.

    There is an Original Design for humans and human life on this sweet, green Earth. We only have to keep editing and editing and editing out what we humans invented over millennium until we find what the Creator designed for us and in us in the first place. Pretty much everything works better according to original plans and instructions, yes? This is no less true of human beings. And this is rather less a statement about technology than it is about inner attitudes and ways of acting.

    Being passionate about something brings an inherent discipline and responsibility with it. As I read this morning:

    Anything you don’t give your life to is not worth doing. Swami Vivekananda said, “Give me men of passion.” Passion does not mean sexual passion; it means a passionate nature, that if I do this, I must do it perfectly. I must do it as well as I can. I must do it now. And promises do not constitute work. He who wants to give must give now. Youth: A Time of Promise and for Effort, vol. 2, p.157 P. Rajagopalachari

    Our passion for this ongoing process of discovering what a natural life can be has brought us such a deep feeling of well being and has provided so much “grist for the mill” for our growth that we have for some time now felt a likewise passion for sharing what we are discovering with the many other uncomfortable people who also crave a natural life. It is for this reason that we write extensively on our Pockets of the Future blog and share photos, videos and information there and on our POTF web site. We are pleased that so many people are finding these resources useful for expanding and re-shaping their lives. But we are restless to do more.

    As such, my husband and I are very pleased to announce the launch of our family-based publishing business - Bamboo Grove Press. Through Bamboo Grove Press, we will have the means to share much more of what we have been blessed with and what we have discovered during our own transformation. We will be able to share our delight in family life, our complete dependence upon a spiritual perspective, and the fruit of skill building in many areas. I am happy to say that we will be publishing books for children as well as for adults. (We even have a game in mind but we will see how that goes.) We will just generally be leaving as complete a paper trail as possible so that the many people who will be increasingly craving a natural life themselves will be able to have companions in their homes on their book shelves. While remolding oneself and one’s family life into a life that is more natural brings ease and contentment, it is nevertheless a profound transformation to undergo during otherwise hostile and uncertain times. Companions, friends, associates can help so much. We want to be that, to the extent that we are able, for brothers and sisters now and in the future.

    Last week, P. Rajagopalachari advised a group of young people to:

    Be Natural, Be Fearless and Have Faith

    It is on that basis that we present Bamboo Grove Press for your consideration.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,

    Leslie

    Nov
    22

    As Long as We are Hand Washing Laundry, Why Not Consider This Too?

    Posted by pockets

    I am not a moody person and I don’t wake up in moods per se. But I do sometimes wake up with some kind of call to arms such as “I have to write this,” or “Let’s get rid of stuff,” or “Let’s try ________ today!”

    The idea I woke up with the other day, I cannot just implement off the bat. It will require family enthusiasm as well as strategizing. But I figure I might as well share the idea and some resources with you all in case you can implement it right away. In any case, it is something I am finding very interesting to think about, to mull over, to imagine in the future of the family.

    How about living without refrigeration??

    I know this is kind of radical. And the many “large family” lists and web sites and so on I have been reading for years and years all extol the many benefits of going in exactly the opposite direction, i.e. cooking in bulk and then loading up multiple freezers and refrigerators with spare parts for future meals.There is great utility in this approach. Cooking enough for eight or ten or more people requires enormous amounts of time and planning. It is a significant time-saver to be able to cook up a double batch of beans, say, and then freeze half of them for a future time-crunched dinnertime. I have been doing this for years and, in fact, often wish I had been doing this even more than I have been.

    So no refrigerator at all? Hmmm….

    Well, I know it can be done because it always was done by everybody and often is done today by many people all over the world. Just like hand washing laundry, see? There really is a choice - we just have been unconscious of it because we are so accustomed to the mechanized, technology-driven, whenever possible use a machine to fill in the gaps that require having to exert physical effort or having to adjust to natural ebbs and flows approach. But if we set that particular calculus aside (or change the values of the variables for which we are calculating), we discover that we actually have a choice. If we were to stop and honestly consider this choice of keeping food in a cold, metal box or not, what would we choose?

    Some background reading is in order here! Here are a few of the articles I have been reading since the “no refrigeration” idea popped into my head.

    Don’t Fight Room Temperature - What’s in Your Fridge Does Not Need to Be There
    This is a brief summary of the some of the flow of the “no frig” way of thinking in the last couple of years. A great introduction.

    No Refrigerator - for 30 years
    This was apparently a seminal article from a most interesting blog, Little Blog in The Big Woods. Do investigate this blog for other interesting perspectives.

    We Make Do Without a Refrigerator - South central Texas homesteaders have learned to survive without a fridge and urge you to do the same, regardless of geography
    This is from a 1976 issue of Mother Earth News.

    Living Without a Refrigerator The no refrigeration section is at the bottom of the page.
    This thoughtful bit is written by Jim Conrad, naturalist and world traveler.

    Living Without a Fridge
    This article is from the British GoSelfSufficient site.

    I am always interested in how becoming more “self-sufficient” invariably increases awareness and shifts our rhythms significantly, sometimes dramatically. Along those lines, there are a few observations from these articles that I have been thinking a lot about:

    My experience is that when you have a refrigerator you develop addictions to foods and drinks that are richer, more caloric and more sense-deadening than need be. You don’t know your senses are dead until you have been free of your addictions for some time and find that foods and drinks you thought were bland and characterless begin pleasing in subtle ways. You don’t know how wonderful a cool drink is until you’ve been away from ice awhile.

    It’s beautiful to see wholesome grains, fruits and vegetables on shelves in my daily living space, not sealed inside a vibrating metal box… It’s liberating to not have to pay for the electricity and maintenance having a refrigerator demands.

    And it contributes to my spiritual well-being to know that I no longer require a kitchen with a refrigerator humming away every hour of the day sending out this message to power producers: “More, more, more, send me more electricity, no matter what the cost or consequences… ” Jim Conrad

    I can imagine the truth of this. The less I need, the better I feel. It is just so liberating to be able to do without. Or rather, it is just so liberating to be able to do with what Nature provides. There is always a lesson in it.

    By living without a fridge you will be more in touch with the food you eat. You will be much healthier as a result of eating fresher food, and you are less likely to waste food if you do not have a fridge to store it in (you will not buy it in the first place). GoSelfSufficient

    This would definitely apply to me. Somehow as I get older I become more and more of a “If I can’t actually see it, it no longer exists in my mind,” person. If I see the broccoli, I will remember the broccoli. If it is locked up tightly in a drawer in a refrigerator, well … then all bets are off.

    Much of the rest of what folks use refrigerators for clearly comes under the category of “luxury”. Ice cream; beer, pop.

    Would you be better off if they weren’t so handy? If you’re like me, if the ice cream is there- I’ll eat it. Then buy more. How much of our obesity epidemic is due to having a handy supply of treats in the fridge- all the time? …

    This, potentially, is a big deal. Refrigerator lust is one of the things driving huge energy use increases in the developing world- everybody wants one; it proves you’re modern.

    If we start a movement here in the Overdeveloped World to get RID of them in homes (sure, the restaurants, the stores, need them) - some folks in the OverdevelopING World would pay attention- and perhaps put the brakes on their country’s rush to refrigerate. Maybe.

    I’ve worked in China- in places where the nearest refrigerator was probably 100 miles away. Guess what? They manage just fine- and don’t “need” it, until you tell them they do. Little Blog in The Big Woods

    We don’t have any those luxuries anyway although I would probably be happy to have to gobble up some ice cream all in one sitting once a year or so! Imagine having the nearest refrigerator 100 miles away. That implies so many things.

    Makin’ do without a refrigerator isn’t easy at first. Like riding a bike, however, “it’s simple once you know how”. Mother Earth News

    I really, really want to know how to make do without a refrigerator and then always know how. I think that would be great and I want to learn the lessons just waiting for us within such a shift. I don’t know when, but I am sure we will try this. We are hard at work right now on a very big project which we will be telling you all about next week but maybe after that…? If we could be wild enough to start hand washing laundry just before cold weather sets in, perhaps we could be prudent enough to start going without a refrigerator when the great out-of-doors could make a suitable substitute on most days anyway.

    I will keep you posted.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Nov
    18

    Feeling Connected Through Hand Washing Laundry

    Posted by pockets

    Hand washing laundry is as ancient a practice as wearing clothes made of fabric. Furthermore, and perhaps very surprising to Americans who generally only know about washing machines and will travel miles to use one if necessary, millions of people all over the world still wash their clothing by hand.

    While using water is a constant across time and cultures, other aspects vary. Agitating or bending and twisting the fabric to help loosen dirt is accomplished in ways as varied as rubbing and twisting, beating against a rock, beating the fabric with a wooden bat, or using a washboard. Additions that help the water work more effectively have ranged over time from fermented urine (used extensively by the Romans; it was the ammonia salts in it that helped whiten togas) to soaproot to handmade laundry soap to modern day chemical based detergents.

    Regardless of which method people are using to hand wash their laundry, I know that no matter when I am hand washing my family’s laundry, people all over the world are also hand washing theirs. My imagination wanders to the various cultures I know something about. I wonder about the lives of all the people squatting down over water and soap, working, working, working to get their clothes clean. I think about their hand movements. I think about how they often are washing together in groups. I think about how their children are hanging about or helping or playing. Images go through my mind and prayers go through my heart. I feel a deep sense of connectedness to brothers and sisters all over this fair green planet, all using her resources of water and sun and time to clean away the grime of every day life. With practiced movements and ceaseless conversations about the shared sufferings and shared celebrations of community life, people everywhere use their minds and hands to accomplish the sublime task of getting just a little bit cleaner.

    Two Sundays ago, I spent a couple of hours going through videos on YouTube that show people from around the world hand washing their laundry. I really enjoyed watching all of them and I learned a great deal from them as well. A few particular images were before my mind’s eye the last time I did our laundry. Those images kept me company and added a deep resonance to my somewhat arduous task. I could hear the laughter from far away and feel the tears and only wonder at the grace of the movements. Down below are links to a few of the videos I discovered. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and for those of you who wash your laundry by hand already, I hope you feel your sense of connection expand greatly. After all, we are all trying to get clean and Nature, as always, provides the necessities.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    The Ukraine - such vigorous use of a washboard!

    Nicaragua and Brazil - The image of the girl laughing in the one from Nicaragua stays with me.

    Various locations in Africa -

    This one from Bangledesh pulls at the heart strings -

    The Philippines -

    Here are some from China. Notice how nicely the little girl does her share of the work in the first video -

    And, finally, here are several from India. Notice the very beautiful hand movements you can see in so many of them -

    And this last one from India with a mother and child playing together -