Beautiful Vision

I was happy to receive the email post on the Drala Jong Appeal – The Art of Living, posted on Monday, 19 October, 2015.  Within was the first “Visions for Drala Jong” posting in a series by Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal who lives in New Jersey.  Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal suggests, as I understand, that Drala Jong could become a Bayul or Beyul, a Hidden Land.  Such places already exist in the Himalayan regions of surrounding countries.  What a beautiful vision.  The very idea touches me deeply and I suggest that it is worth deep and serious consideration.  Perhaps, here in the UK, we might not find a valley.  Surely this will be fine.  Regardless of the ensuing harm being done to our beautiful, living and loving planet, both the source and manifestation of beauty can be found in many, many places.  I realise that some thinkers do not approve of the idea of a sacred place; a special place more sacred than others and propose that all is sacred or none is sacred.  So be it.  I find that some places almost stop my heart with the power of what I can only call beauty.  Thus, I hold to my experience of “especially sacred” places.  Drala Jong can and I hope will be such a place.


How?  Well, for instance.  I am an amateur musician and as would be expected, have some measure of talent and respect for beautiful music.  A musical instrument or a vocal cord may be scratchy, worn, dented; even rusty.  Yet in special hands or people, beautiful music can emerge.  So is the beauty held within the object or within the person?  The answer seems obvious to me.  It takes a beautiful soul expression to produce beautiful music.  Similarly, the common brick, mortar, pond, grove, flower garden, paddock, hill, vale etc., can become especially beautiful and especially sacred from the vision and loving power expressed by those who labour and concentrate the ever present, undiminished loving spirit of the Earth into their work and presence on the land.  Thank you, Ngakma Yeshé Zértsal for sharing your vision of Drala Jong.


Sky McCain

An Aro Friend

21 October, 2015

It Takes a Healthy Planet to Birth Healthy Beings

It Takes a Healthy Planet to Birth Healthy Beings


A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ~ Max Planck


Earth is what we all have in Common ~ Wendell Berry


The other day, weeding the spot where last year’s runner beans had grown, I found a fallen bean that had started to sprout. Already there were little pink nitrogen nodules clinging to its tiny roots and the sight of them took me instantly back to my days in Australia, working to fill our thirty acres of over-grazed land with new trees. One of the important lessons I learned was that in order to ensure survival of nitrogen-hungry eucalypt species, one should first plant hundreds of fast growing but short-lived wattle trees. These take nitrogen from the air, accumulate it on their roots and release it into the soil when they die. This interdependence of living organisms, this beautiful symbiosis that we find happening everywhere we look in Nature is, according to the late Lynn Margulis, every bit as basic to life on Earth as the random genetic mutations theorised by Charles Darwin. Gaia, our planet, wastes nothing, recycles everything. Over and over we find that the waste from one organism is food for another. Interdependence is a basic law of Nature.


Organic farmers and vegetable growers know this, which is why they use methods like crop rotation, composting, companion planting and so on. It is a well-proven fact that organic growing methods and the avoidance of pesticides, GMOs, irradiation or chemical fertilisation, strengthens the health of both the soil and the crops and frequently improves yields. It is also beyond doubt that organically produced food is the healthiest option for all creatures, including humans. To be healthy we need healthy food and to grow healthy food we rely on that great bed of nurturing fertility on the Earth’s crust that we call soil. We need that soil to be healthy because we have learned a lot about how healthy plants grow out of healthy soil. We must also keep in mind that our metabolic regulatory patterns were formed from our environment as we evolved. Thus, it behoves us to study, insofar as possible, the environmental components that influenced our evolution. It is often said that we are what we eat. The nutritional value of what we put in our mouths is paramount in maintaining a healthy body and depends wholly on the quality of our environment. Yet something has gone badly wrong. What has gone wrong and why?


Humans have significantly altered the face of our planet Earth. In North America alone, the Great Plains prairie once spread across 560,000 square miles (that’s a little over twice the size of Texas!)—but less than 2% of native prairie remains today. Nearly one third of the world’s arable topsoil has been lost over the last forty years at

a rate of over ten million hectares yearly. It can take from five hundred to one thousand years to build an inch of topsoil. In many areas, desertification has destroyed topsoil permanently. During all those hours spent on my knees planting trees on those rocky hillsides I was constantly aware of how desperately thin the Australian topsoil was and how the thoughtless importation of European farming methods into such a different ecosystem had worsened the problem in the last two centuries.


As we learned from the Gaia Theory formulated by Lovelock and Margulis, Gaia has been able to regulate temperature, atmospheric content and many other factors, including soil, to stay healthy. When we fail to observe this and ignore Gaia’s modus operandi, we endanger all life. So why do most farmers continue to deplete the fertility of the soil and make it so much harder to produce healthy food?


There is no simple answer. Claiming that farmers are greedy is not a good place to start. A reasonable starting point might be with the realisation that we are strongly conditioned by our culture’s language. In our minds, ‘Nature’ and ‘Earth’ have been separated. We learn that ‘Nature’ refers to all living things outside of ourselves that the Earth is a lump of rock that we live ‘on’. Thus we grow up with the illusion that:
1. We are not part of Nature, and…
2. Although Nature is alive the Earth is not.


Many of us talk about how deeply we feel connected to Nature. But this doesn’t go far enough. Our observations that we are ‘connected’ to the Earth are valid, but connectedness paints a fairly dim image of our relationship to Gaia and obscures its fundamental truth. In fact, we, Nature and Earth are all one and the same. The truth is that we do not just live ON Gaia, we ARE Gaia.


Consider a tree. We use our thinking function to subdivide a tree into parts such as leaves, trunk and roots. But referring to the leaves, for instance, does not negate the fact that the leaves are the tree. The trunk and roots are also the tree. To say that the leaves are connected to the tree obscures the fact that the leaves are the tree. To say that my hand or arm is connected to me obscures the fact that all my parts are me.


We see ourselves as advanced, self-organising living beings and most of us also consider ourselves to be conscious beings. Yet although we are entirely dependent on Gaia for our health and survival and our very existence, we often fail to appreciate that our planet itself is a living, self-organising organism, even more so than we are. We need to recognise that the wondrous beauty, diversity, and life-supporting qualities of Gaia are not due to dumb luck or the result of random shakes of cosmic dice. Gaia has a development and maintenance system that we must examine from the realisation that using machine-checking instruments to probe what we view as dead matter will inevitably result in further destructive behaviour. The carbon cycle is a good example of one of the many ways in which our planet exhibits self-organizing and self-sustaining behaviour. By interfering with that, we have created problems that at best will stretch Gaia’s healing abilities to the utmost and at worst could totally change the shape of life as we know it.


A further obstacle to working in a way that is healing for us and all life forms and the planet is our anthropocentric outlook which sanctions governments to treat Gaia like a vast cookie tin with a label on the top that says “for humans only”. We are egocentric and not ecocentric in our outlook on land use. Again, our use of words such as ‘resources’, or phrases like ‘ecosystem services’ constantly reinforces the view that Gaia is simply a source of wealth for humans only.


Once we truly understand that we are the Earth, that the Earth is a living, conscious being and that it is NOT all about us; we will surely recognise that our health and Gaia’s health are not just connected but utterly intertwined, joined and interdependent. They are one and the same. Our healing and the wellbeing of all life are dependent on Gaia’s healing. Neither we nor any other living organism can be healthy unless Gaia is healthy.


So what can we individuals do? So much of the environmental destruction we read about is caused by forces beyond our ability to influence. However, taking an interest and supporting the production of clean local food is a realisable goal for every single one of us. The higher the demand for organic, locally grown food, the more the market will respond and the more the farming sector will be encouraged to turn to decentralized and diversified farming practices that naturally boost soil health and farm resilience. These include: crop rotations, cover crops, reducing tillage where it makes sense, and building local food systems. We all need to encourage our local food stores to accept nutritious locally produced food.


Recently, a food survey conducted by Oklahoma State University found that: more than three-quarters of the consumers polled said adopting a more ‘natural’ agricultural production system—that includes additional local, organic and unprocessed foods—would be most effective at addressing the future food challenges rather than adopting a more ‘technological’ agricultural system.  Science, New Series, Vol. 267, No. 5201(Feb. 24, 1995) 1117 – 1123.


And we can plant seeds. Even if it is just a container on the windowsill or a planter on a balcony, we can all grow something to eat. This year, I shall plant my runner beans in a different spot to maximise the health of the soil in my garden. Knowing that the more local my food is to my bioregion the lower its carbon footprint, I shall be shopping once again at the farmers market. Every little helps when you want to become a healthy planet.

Sky McCain

June, 2015








Films that can Inspire Change

“For the continued survival of life on Earth it is our mission to improve wildlife conservation and environmental protection through the education of the public and those with political power. We are in a period of man-made mass extinction, with rates already many thousands of times the base-extinction-rate, and greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase despite decades of warnings about climate change. Film-making whether it be for cinema, television or the web is a powerful tool for education and can inspire change. The Wildeye Conservation Film Festival aims to seek ways to utilise this inspirational tool for maximum power in effectively educating and motivating audiences.

The vision for the annual Wildeye Conservation Film Festival is to not only provide an empowering forum for film-makers, web/broadcasters and conservation organisations to discuss better practices for conservation-related productions, but also to celebrate, and bring larger audiences to, those films which make a difference.”


The Festival Directors are Piers Warren, founder of Wildeye and & Jason Peters, editor of this newsletter! We really hope that past students, members and subscribers/followers etc will get behind us and the festival aims. It’s Time To Focus!!



Cut Staff hours to increase service, who do you think you are Kidding?

Bowing to Demands of Wall Street, Walmart Cuts Hours to Trim Costs




“The company is now assuring the public that that focus won’t be sacrificed with the new schedule changes. The company spokesperson said reductions in hours won’t affect the focus on better staffing stores, reducing checkout lines, and filling shelves. “[W]e are committed to improving the customer experience and we will protect the investments necessary to achieve this goal,” Greg Foran, head of U.S. operations, said.”


And how will they make this happen?  The only possible way and that’s to make fewer people take on a greater workload.  Believe me, I’ve been there. When a corporation eliminates a requisition it means that when the present worker quits, retires, whatever, the position is not filled and the work is spread around to those who remain. If you grumble, then you go on the sh** list and are eliminated next. Eliminating requisitions is also a common means of eliminating the Non-team player or highest paid employees.

Stop killing trees!

Stop killing trees!


“A new report  [] sic  from the Center for Global Development  [] sic , released Monday, warns of what will happen if world leaders don’t take stronger steps to cut down on deforestation — that is, if we follow a “business-as-usual” trajectory. By 2050, they estimate, an area of forest equal to the size of India will be lost. The researchers came to their conclusions by using published satellite data on global forest cover from 2001 to 2012 to assess current rates of deforestation around the world.”


Destroying trees is one of the most harmful activities we humans engage in.  The results fly right back in our face.  Unfortunately, the financial elite think their wealth will protect them.  That’s arrogance talking.


“At the beginning of each interglacial period as the ice receded from the land, vast numbers of trees spread north and performed a carbon sequestering service.  They also released water vapour which stimulated cloud cover that increased the albedo effectively taking the place, as far as albedo is concerned, of the miles and miles of ice that had melted. With that negative feedback firmly in place and the orbital forcing factors favouring cooling, the downward cycle of Gaia’s temperature was assured and triggered the end of the interglacial period.

As I have pointed our already, unfortunately for all, these natural feedback factors been destroyed by humans.  Millions of trees over thousands of years have been chopped to build armadas and commercial shipping, other war implements, and shelter for humans as if they were useless to anything other than to serve the greed of humans.


“Apart from he profligate burning of fossil fuels and releasing the earth’s long-term carbon and energy storage depot that has taken millions of years to lay down, deforestation has been the main contributor to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that has resulted in global warming.1 Energy capture and storage is absolutely essential for the survival of the planet, just as energy capture and storage is necessary for the survival of individual organisms.”  (Ho, M. W., 2008, pg. 81)


That’s why I emphasize that we are asking the wrong question perhaps too late.  How will Gaia halt the present positive feedback loop?  Could it be the halt of the Atlantic Current because of the rapid melting of northern ice?  If the Atlantic Ocean cools sufficiently to absorb enough CO2 to counteract the other positive feedbacks, then possibly global cooling will be triggered.

We have James Lovelock to thank for prompting research into how the Earth self-regulates its temperature.  How severely have we weakened Gaia’s ability to self-regulate effectively?  When and if Gaia achieves temperature stability, what kind of environment will we have to adjust to?  We simply cannot answer these two questions.  We don’t know and we don’t even know if we can ever know.  No sane gambler would play a game with such dismal odds.  Perhaps our leaders are insane.”


Thunder Bay biologist learns lessons from indigenous people


Thunder Bay biologist learns lessons from indigenous people

Close links to the land lead to valuable climate change observations, says Gleb Raygorodetsky

CBC News Posted: Aug 23, 2015 8:00 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 23, 2015 8:00 PM ET


Capitalism Just Isn’t Working

The Evidence Keeps Pouring In: Capitalism Just Isn’t Working


Global Failures


“Capitalism hasn’t been able to control runaway global inequality. For every $1.00 owned by the world’s richest 1% in 2011, they now own $1.27. They own almost half the world’s wealth. Just 70 of them own as much as 3.5 billion people.”


“Nor has capitalism been able to control global environmental degradation, with trillions in subsidies going to polluters that don’t even pay their taxes, and with corporations ignoring any semblance of social responsibility as they seek ways to profit from global warming.”


Wildeye Conservation Film Festival

Wildeye Conservation Film Festival


If this event even approaches the quality of the last two Wildeye camera courses I’ve attended then it is a sure bet and not to be missed. 40 percent of adults on Earth have never heard of climate change – The Washington Post 27 July 2015.  Yes, yes, inspirational wildlife films CAN make a difference



“For the continued survival of life on Earth it is our mission to improve wildlife conservation and environmental protection through the education of the public and those with political power. We are in a period of man-made mass extinction, with rates already many thousands of times the base-extinction-rate, and greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase despite decades of warnings about climate change. Film-making whether it be for cinema, television or the web is a powerful tool for education and can inspire change. The Wildeye Conservation Film Festival aims to seek ways to utilise this inspirational tool for maximum power in effectively educating and motivating audiences.


The vision for the annual Wildeye Conservation Film Festival is to not only provide an empowering forum for film-makers, web/broadcasters and conservation organisations to discuss better practices for conservation-related productions, but also to celebrate, and bring larger audiences to, those films which make a difference.


The inaugural festival will take place at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK from 28-31 July 2016.”


This lovely Being


“The life of a warrior cannot possibly be cold and lonely and without feelings, because it is based on his affection, his devotion, his dedication to his beloved… The Earth knows that he loves it, and it bestows on him its care. That’s why his life is filled to the brim and his state, wherever he’ll be, will be plentiful. He roams on the paths of his love… This Earth… Only if one loves this Earth with unbending passion, can one release one’s sadness. A warrior is always joyful, because his love is unalterable and his beloved, the Earth, embraces him and bestows upon him inconceivable gifts. The sadness belongs only to those who hate the very thing that gives shelter to their beings. This lovely Being, which is alive to its last recesses and understands every feeling, soothed me, it cured me of my pains, and finally when I had fully understood my love for it, it taught me freedom. Only the love for this splendorous Being can give freedom to a warrior’s spirit; and freedom is joy, efficiency, and abandon in the face of any odds.”

Tales of Power Carlos Castenada

This is the fourth book in the series and was published in 1974. Carlos Castaneda was a mystic and the content and style of his descriptions of Don Juan’s teachings in no way detract from the value of his ideas.  We tend to like those ideas that fall in line with our present beliefs.  His stories about Don Juan and the experiences he describes hold great value to me.  After all, who decides what truth


I also think it is safe to say that Carlos was not influenced by Lovelock and Margulis.  At the time of Castaneda’s 4th book preparation, the Gaia Hypothesis had not been published.  Even if it had, Lovelock and Margulis did not describe Gaia as “a living Being”  They spoke of the Earth as, I paraphrase, acting as if it was a living organism.  I suspect they were not game to venture that far from mainstream science.  I do respect their desire to publish within the confines of what would be interpreted as “sound science”.






Many more people and far fewer jobs.  What does that add up to?



“…there’s little doubt that the main thrust of the research is accurate: lots of non-routine, cognitive, white-collar as well as blue-collar jobs are going to be eliminated in the next two decades and we need to be planning for that contingency now.”


“Combinatorial innovation is a different kettle of fish, because it feeds on itself and grows exponentially. Given that we’re bound to lose this race against the machine, isn’t it time we began thinking of how we might harness it to improve the quality of our lives, rather than merely enrich the corporations that own it?”