Mountain Gardens



A friend set up this blog for me several years ago, and it has since lain fallow. But recent developments have inspired me to activate it: an upgrade to the photovoltaic system which allows for more time on the computer than just answering email, and the fact that, as doom clouds darken, certain profound truths which would show the way to our salvation remain largely unacknowledged and unspoken. Although we are all very happy that our government is now in the hands of intelligent people, it is already apparent, if it was ever in doubt, that the most we can hope for is a slight braking of our headlong rush to destruction. And it should never have been in doubt: there can be no hope that government will solve the problem because government (the State) is the problem. It’s entirely up to us.
But this blog is not going to be about radical politics, nor about impending doom. My mantra is ‘Paradise or Bust’ and what I want to write about is Paradise. What’s needed is a radical shift of values, a changing of the tide compared to which the American, French, Chinese, etc. revolutions are just so many waves rolling in. A change from people living and defining their lives as components of the State/ the Economy, to people living and defining their lives as an integral part of the great, single life on earth: Gaia.
All science, and especially its two recent branches evolution and ecology, proves that life on earth (and presumably the universe, but I won’t go there just now) is a single living organism; but refuses to say so. Evolution tells us that it all began as one – so when did it stop being one? Ecology teaches that no living creature on earth can be truly understood without eventually having to understand all. Yet science will never acknowledge Gaia, the unity of life on earth, because the consequences are devastating to the way we live: if life is one organism, then human civilization is a cancer in its body. I am not going to argue this point here (see article Paradise Gardening elsewhere on the website). I take it to be self-evident to anyone willing to take a wide view of the situation. And although I am always up for ‘reasoning together’, because only upon the bedrock of a solid understanding of where we’re at will we be able to build a new world (the Greeks called this ataraxy), my real purpose here is to reach out to like-minds and reason together how to get out of this mess.
Because we are all part of the cancer. We were born into it, it is our world, even more real to us than the real world Gaia. For all of us, ‘making a living’ means ‘making money’ – and money is the life blood of the cancer. We turn to nature for beauty, inspiration, solace; but our life support system is civilization, the State/Economy, which grows by eating away and poisoning Gaia. To recognize this is one thing (actually, a very big thing), but it’s not the answer; it’s just accurately defining the problem.
All we can do is walk away from it, which means, at the simplest and most obvious level, making less money every year. Without being any less (actually, in my experience more) happy and healthy. This is accomplished by fulfilling the needs formerly satisfied with money directly from the earth, like every other living creature. This activity, properly concieved, I call Paradise Gardening. In the world which I imagine, each family or, better, band, or even small village, would be the nucleus of a Paradise Garden cell. I believe we are right now at a point where we change – or bust. We began as hunter-gatherers, from which happy and healthy state we were shanghied by greedy men (“Civilization begins in conquest and continues in repression” – until by now most have no idea how repressed they are). Since then we have come a long way and done a lot of damage – to Gaia, to each other, to ourselves. New York City perhaps approaches in complexity the disappearing Amazon rain forest. But at least some of us have learned a lot from our mistakes. So now, or never, the next step in human evolution, the New Age. Hunter-gatherer (who we really are) plus what we have learned from Civilization generates Paradise. The gradual development of a Paradise cell around you equals your gradual withdrawal from the cancer. I’m not talking about a way to live on earth, I’m talking about the way to live on earth, the way that is in our bones and genes: occupying our rightful and ordained niche. Of course these Paradise cells will be all different, varying with bioregions and topography and personal proclivities. What they will share is richness of diversity and fertility. This, at the simplest and most obvious level, is the ‘purpose’ of Gaia: ever increasing diversity and inter-connectedness, an ever denser web of life woven around the planet. (Of course there are many other levels on which to consider the ‘purpose’ of Gaia, and of humans within her, and in the future which I imagine many of us would devote much of our abundant ‘leisure time’ to such considerations, and to practices opening ourselves to conscious communication with Gaia, but right this minute the house is on fire.) We must walk – don’t run – away. Calmly, considerately, and immediately, we must begin to walk away. We must begin to get and spend less (it wastes our powers anyway) and enjoy life more. 
There is the Great Fear to confront, fostered (actually, shoved into us almost from birth) by the state, the medical-parmaceutical-insurance industries, the educational and all other professions and industries (see Ivan Illich), that we are not capable of living on earth without them. But the beauty (if I may say so) of my proposal is that we need not confront this fear in one mighty battle, but can chip away at it. Day by day and year by year, walking away. And another beautiful aspect of the return to Paradise: the best thing you can do to avoid Bust is also the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for it: encase yourself in the rich array of a Paradise Garden, an environment which can provide all your needs. I’m no survivalist – I think if it came to chaos, somebody with a gun would sneak up on me at night and steal everything I’ve done, until someone with a bigger gun, etc. – I wouldn’t want to survive in that world, my efforts are all towards avoiding it, but, again, it’s the same thing.
Of course we are capable – we are probably the most capable creatures Gaia has yet come up with. Professions and industries have coopted our basic needs (and addicted us to a lot of new ones) which, to every other creature, as part of the Whole, are freely given. That’s the deal: you work for Gaia, she takes care of you. And of course there’s pain and suffering; creatures eat other creatures and are eaten in turn, it’s Gaia’s circulatory system. Paradise is not freedom from any pain or suffering (though I think there’d be a lot less there than we got now). But to wake up in the morning and step out into a beautiful world, free to do anything you want, as long as you come home with a basketful of food for dinner should be enough for us, as it is for every other creature. And if that seems insanely far-fetched, it’s not so many generations back when our ancestors had at least one foot in such a world.
On the physical plane (and all the others, but it’s the physical that is the immediate crisis and sine qua non) our health (hale, whole) and Gaia’s are identical. You can’t have one without the other. That, in a nutshell, is the philosophy, and I’ll be happy to enlarge on it if requested. Otherwise, future blogs will be focus on the various ways we are trying to live this philosophy at Mountain Gardens.

Joe Hollis