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Up to date information on The One Course. The One Course is all about feeling good, connecting with others, learning from nature, being inspirational and taking positive action.

Endless War or Natural Sustainable Systems? Its our choice.

Connecting with others Posted on Tue, May 17, 2022 08:11:33

We know, in our hearts, that what we all really want is a balance of freedom and safety for ourselves and those dearest to us.  War makes us realise this.  It doesn’t matter whether we live in Britain, Europe, China or Russia or even the poor Ukraine.  Until very recently, Ukraine seemed relatively rich in both grain and natural gas.  The leader of Russia wants those riches and so do western government leaders. The resulting wasteful war is very sad particularly for the innocent people of Ukraine.

We do not want our homes and fields bombed and our loved ones killed. The ordinary people of Ukraine are suffering because they are caught up in a continuing power struggle for their valuable resources between other militarily powerful nations. Unfortunately the people in charge of both sides, believe that they know best and they see themselves as the powerful father or mother of ‘our particular country’.  This elected or otherwise surrogate and apparently ‘protective’ parent, backed by powerful economic and military interests, will promise, when in search of power, to keep us safe and protect our freedoms. Once in power, those parental promises are quickly overshadowed by the fear of some external threat and the need for firm control. At some point we all need to stop behaving like irresponsible children expecting our elected or unelected ‘powerful parent’ to protect us, we need to grow up quickly. Our safety and freedom depends on all humans living sustainably on this one planet.  We need to share resources more fairly around the whole world, particularly food and energy.

We need a sustainable system for planet earth and ourselves if most of us humans living now are to survive the next 20 years. The climate is changing and people will continue to argue about the detail of why, whilst the planet slowly cooks.  I think most humans can agree that these inevitable changes to the climate will be enough to significantly disrupt existing economic systems, including food and energy supplies, across the world with or without war.  Some will claim that this trend has already started and is exacerbated by growing global political and social instability. The outlook could be very bleak or perhaps there is hope, because we do have choices.

In the past, many separate countries and even some empires have tried and succeeded in sustaining themselves and their GDP growth model by choosing to gather more resources from ‘other places’ and more recently by choosing to externalise costs to ‘other places’. This exploitation of what appears external cannot continue because it cannot be sustained.  In the new interconnected global economic system there really are no ‘other places’ to exploit. We humans have just one precious planet to call our home and perhaps many more people are beginning to realise we must protect this natural, life giving, support system if we wish to survive and thrive. There is no ‘other’ we are all one.

Now people are realising that most of the technological and economic fixes of the past were only short term solutions. This was only effective for the short term outcomes for the next quarterly company report or the next term of government. Much of this short term thinking is underpinned by the flawed notion of endless economic growth based on borrowing from our future selves or future generations.  A war is good for GDP!  Instead of spending our next 20 years finding and punishing who is to blame for this ridiculous short term thinking we can choose to focus on new creative solutions which will provide a more sustainable future for us all. The apparent economic efficiency of the past is mired in exploitation of people and planet and what we need is ‘real’ efficiency based on more frugal and simple local solutions. We know that technological efficiency gains provide economic growth of about 2%. Trying to achieve more GDP growth than this will always result in misery for someone, somewhere, perhaps in a country near you, or one on another continent.  By some strange coincidence 2% of GDP is what NATO expects member countries to spend on military ‘defence’. At some basic human level we know that fair shares and local sustainability is the right direction; we know this without the need for debate or argument or war. There is only one beautiful planet, for us all to share, in our hearts, we all know this.

I hope we can start to put this instinctive permaculture knowledge into action soon, Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares.

Wealthy Blood Sucking Vampires

Connecting with others Posted on Wed, April 27, 2022 10:14:54

Strange title, I know, but these are strange times. I have often thought about blood, although as Ann will tell you I am not particularly keen on the sight of it, my own or other peoples. Squeamish, I think they call it. My worst, bloody injuries in the last two years have been to do with thumbs, one involving a large hammer and a rock, the other a dropped cordless drill I caught awkwardly.  But let’s talk about blood and the wealthy modern day vampires.

Since childhood, I’ve always thought about what blood is, and what it consists of and how the condition of your blood might be related to your health. I didn’t do biology at school which might be a good thing because I’m not too constrained when it come to new concepts in health. So all of your environment and what you eat and drink in particular, effectively creates the physical you and that includes your blood which is flowing round your body. I say flowing around your body because whilst many people say your heart pumps your blood around your body we now know that that’s not the whole story but that can be another post. Your heart regulates the flow of blood so it’s more like a collection of valves. Your blood is flowing and while it does you are alive. The better condition your blood is in, the better you feel. 

I have in the past thought about giving blood and blood transfusion and the fact that perhaps your blood being transferred to someone else may carry some health benefits and information too, or vice versa. I personally think perhaps the best blood to have transfused might be your own blood. For example what if you were to take some of your own blood when you were young, fit and healthy, say every 3 months in your twenties, and keep it for when you are old and perhaps a bit unwell? Would that be good? Would that be better than someone else’s blood, which could be from anyone? 

Well some people, wealthy people, have gone one step further than the above idea now. What about just every few months having a transfusion of blood from a young fit healthy person, or perhaps just plasma from such a person? Not because you have been in an accident but because there may be something about “young blood” which makes you feel better. This might be expensive but if you live longer and are able to make even more money then perhaps you could live forever. In the “Land of the Free Market” you can now buy and sell blood through intermediaries. If you are young you can actually sell your blood (or plasma) for a few dollars a pint and that can be then sold to wealthy people who want to feel younger. So perhaps this is something you want to get involved in. Personally, I am too squeamish (and perhaps too old and poor) to become either the willing victim or the wealthy vampire but it’s an interesting concept.  

But if you are interested, companies like Ambrosia(not the rice pudding people), Alkahest and Dr Dipnarine Maharaj are offering young blood and plasma services for between $8000 and $285,000 dollars per person. Perhaps the concept of one of the richest people in the world taking the very blood from one of their poorly paid teenage staff is somehow going a little too far?  But hey these teenagers are doing this willingly, for a few extra dollars, it’s a free market. What the wealthy perhaps don’t realise or remember is what those teenagers get up to in between those blood giving sessions. 

Next steps, make lots of money, create clone through paid surrogate, raise child in sterile environment, transfer brain into young body, live forever. 

Spring Growth

Learning from nature Posted on Fri, March 25, 2022 17:43:54

Spring is finally here in March 2022, the bulbs we planted previously, light up the dark green corners, show their many different colours, waft their varied flowery scents on the gentle cool breeze, attracting a myriad of early buzzing bees after their own long slumber. Gosh, this descriptive prose is difficult, I’m going back to my less flowery, usual style. I really love spring when its finally getting lighter, warmer and we can get on with things outside after a winter huddled by the fire. There seems to be so much to do in spring after we emerge from our retreat and a very necessary rest. Tree planting is my particular favourite at this time of year, a replenishment after all the wood chopping and burning of the previous winter.

We planted 4 small fruit trees this week, 2 cherries, a plum and a coxes orange pippin apple, in a new area of land, cleared and landscaped to mainly facilitate better drainage, parking and turning of cars outside our little house. After 10 months deliberating about the disruption a digger would cause, we decided it was worth it to solve the problems of the previous 10 years. We got a local man with a digger in to remove all the tumbled stone from the old barn, soon to be a new workshop/studio. We also got him to dump the combined mix of earth, rocks and undergrowth in a big heap ready for leveling by hand to create the new parking plot above the drainage channel. It took one skilled man and his machine 2 hours to do what would take us about 2 months. His digger buckets can be seen in the background of the above picture, they are about the size of our small car. Ann built a new dry-stone retaining wall with some of the better stone. The start of this can be seen in the foreground. Thanks to my Irish roots, I helped flatten the new area by hand with a pick, shovel and a rake. When we stood back and looked at all our efforts we both thought it looked much tidier but very bare. Some trees and plants were needed even if it made the car parking slightly more difficult. I wanted something with spring blossom, which I love, so why not fruit trees.

Ann took charge of the lavender, rockery plants, and pots in a newly created bed to cover the drainage pipework and I tackled what I thought was the easier job of digging some small holes for the new trees. We had hoped to get them from a good old fashioned market stall in Villefranche but fell back on Aldi when the stallholders didn’t show. The trees are a little neglected but we treat them like timid rescue dogs and imagine them being re-homed with us after being previously mistreated by an uncaring corporate owner. My conscience eased, I then dig the holes on our newly compacted rock filled car park with much less ease and cart barrows of soil from elsewhere to refill the holes. Throwing some grain in the hole bottoms, a practical and spiritual gesture, the previously clingfilm wrapped roots are released to rest atop of the soon to sprout grain, surrounded by some dark well rotted compost. I feel they are happy in their new home.

Substantial stakes, of tubular aluminium, rescued on their way to the tip provide luxurious support to our new fruity friends. We feel this is far better use of these poles than holding up a weather-beaten nylon fence around a chlorine filled pool of some very good but considerably wealthier friends of ours. Just to make it clear we didn’t steal these poles. Our friends have swapped to a saltwater pool now, which is much better, remodeled to incorporate easier steps and an alarm, so hence, no need for the previous fence, or poles. They are lovely people and always give me first refusal on things they may considering releasing to the local landfill and recycling centre. Sadly, as Ann knows, I’m a dreadful hoarder. In one sense I know the poles will ultimately be recycled after being sorted and smelted but to me it seems simpler to reuse such things closer to home if I can, than send them all the way to China. So, I am slowly finding different uses for 38 black painted poles at our place. Two of them went to another friend to make a water-polo net over another pool. We don’t have a pool but have many friends who do, even some with a natural swimming pond and its perfect to have friends like these especially in Summer.

The trees are now in and well watered, but there’s still an annoying bare patch, so another tree another day, perhaps, this year or next. The good thing about trees is that we can really never,ever plant enough. I think, globally we humans chop down about 2 fully grown trees every year for each person on the planet, about 14 billion beautiful, majestic, enormous pairs of green lungs, which were until that point, helping us and our grandchildren breathe. So my simplistic reasoning is I should plant at least 2 trees every year, just to do my bit, more if space and funds allow. There was a time Ann and I planted many more each year on a wet, windswept northern moor back in the UK but we then had 12 acres to fill. At least here the planting conditions are more favourable to us older humans if sometimes a little dry for the younger saplings. More trees, this is the sort of growth we want.

Spring, I really do love it, so much potential being shown by everything in nature. At this moment within the global non-natural systems there seems somewhat less environmental potential in spring 2022, although politically we are told things are looking up, now the pandemic is over. Growth, growth, growth, maybe of the wrong sort, the stockmarket is looking good. A global system that works mainly in favour of economic outputs can’t seem to ever afford a season of retreat like winter so the system requires permanent spring or preferably a never ending summer. Winter season and even Autumn, like an impossible debt we owe, is put off well into the future while we try to keep the economic Summer sun shining all the time. More economic growth will sort it out, we humans say, even if this means another war against the latest tyrant we have found to blame. Maybe economic growth, including military spending, really does raise all the boats, large and small. I tearfully disagree as poor migrants drown and the wealthy nations continue to fight over oil, gas and money.

Perhaps in this current economic system of ours, which we humans created, we could do with a voluntary autumn and a winter once in a while, a time for retreat and reflection for leaves to fall and maybe even some snow. Maybe winter is underrated and spring overrated. Perhaps it is a moment to stop this endless quest for growth for a while, to pause and think about how nature looks after itself and how it really looks after us. Can we, together with nature, create this new system, perhaps we can try, this year, or perhaps next?

Even the plants are listening!

Learning from nature Posted on Wed, March 29, 2017 14:09:27

The Plants are listening, perhaps they have feelings too!

With all this talk in the media about, plants, wire tapping, surveillance and police infiltration of environmental groups, I thought I should post something about who or what is really listening to us, all the time. Just over 50 years ago a CIA lie detector specialist called Baxter did some research on plants. He wired up the leaf of a plant to a lie detector and he simply thought about setting fire to one of its leaves. The plant instantly responded the moment he thought about setting fire to the leaf, and continued to register until he put the matches away. It’s not that I believe that plants really have feelings but I think perhaps they respond to our moods.

Baxter continued to experiment with plants and later human cells, and produced some very interesting information.

One of his later experiments involved monitoring the moods of people over time in response to external stimulus. Baxter checked for a correlated response in real time with some of their previously removed white blood cells. It seemed the cells in the lab could detect any severe mood changes of the person over time, even at a considerable distance. I think we can only speculate what is going on here and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this too. My plants may also be interested.

So, what do I think is happening? Perhaps the whole universe is listening. Everything is connected and always has been connected since the birth of our solar system or perhaps even before that. We are all made of the same stuff, stardust, atoms, etc. Once something is connected it remains connected or entangled at some fundamental level. The matter changes into a different form but somehow remains connected. I think, it is this connection or one-ness which we are sensitive to. All other things are sensitive to this connection too. Perhaps the degree of sensitivity depends on the level of consciousness of the thing or person. Well that’s my thoughts, what about you, Hyacinth!

Immigrant Robots are coming

Inspirational Posted on Sat, March 11, 2017 14:08:31

The Immigrant Robots are coming, what is our purpose then?

It’s a few months since I did a blog post for the onecourse. A lot has happened, BREXIT has started, President Trump is in the Whitehouse and Marie Le Pen ascends in France. My initial hopes of people flooding(like immigrants) to our onecourse did not materialise, my interest drifted a little and my attention was diverted by other shiny more tangible things, Robots! Whilst we are all busy worrying about or discussing BREXIT, Trump and Le Pen, and Immigrants we should really be focussed on Robots, because that really is going to be the next big thing.

Image result for robots building robots seattle

I trained as an engineer and I have always found the idea of machines and Robots fascinating. Imagine a future where humans live a life of leisure whilst the machines and Robots do the work! Robots can perform similar functions to humans and animals and once they have been created their limited needs can be met by providing them with one thing, energy. I can understand Luddites raging against the machine but I doubt the inevitable ‘progress’ of the machine will ever be halted whilst it is profitable. So here is my own prediction for the next 10 to 15 years of Robot and human interaction.

2017 Background. The earth, all humans and other species are undergoing tumultuous change. The economic and ecological systems are facing huge challenges and it is very unlikely that things will remain as they are. The current systems that we humans have developed are unsustainable and new systems are needed. Algorithms are now in charge of the worlds financial systems because it is too complex for humans to respond quickly enough to changes. Even the humble electric toaster is wifi enabled. The current economic system relies on perpetual growth on a finite planet using up valuable energy on transportation. Corporations, pension funds, and individuals chase better returns on financial capital, thus money is invested in activities which maximise profit. This speculation leads to high profits but at an enormous cost to the environment and significant human exploitation. Increasingly large volumes of technically complex consumer goods are manufactured with minimal wage related costs. Retail businesses employ fewer people as more shops move online. If wage costs of a company can be reduced close to zero, that company will become highly profitable and the home for an increasing amount of investment.

2022 The Immigrant Robots arrive. The costs of Robots is falling and once it reaches a point where acquisition and running costs are cheaper than human labour, Robots will replace humans. The first wave of Robots will be built by humans in low wage economies, but eventually, even these human workers will be replaced by Robots. Robots building Robots! These Robots will be comparatively low cost and sufficiently flexible to carry out the vast majority of the paid work currently done by humans. They will come in their hundreds of thousands or even millions to developed economies where wages are high and cheap human labour is in short supply. The location for the first wave of mega Robot factories are likely to be anywhere with abundant space, raw materials, energy, and political stability. An ideal place would have access to abundant solar energy and a means of energy storage. I am thinking of batteries but energy stored in any form would suffice.

2027 Robots breed like Rabbits. Low cost sites within developed urban population catchments will be ideal locations for the second wave of Immigrant Robots . They will come to build the factories and infrastructure, to farm, to build more robots, and to make the consumer goods. The day of the factory worker, driver, admin worker, salesperson and most other workers will be numbered. Imagine an economy trying to function within the existing system, with 60, 70 or 80% unemployment. Do we then want to increase the population simply to increase the number of consumers? The time is right to rethink our relationship with our planet earth and with each other. What do we really care about, what do we really love? Is it shiny, tangible consumer goods, Robots, or other people and our planet earth.

The above thoughts cause me to ask a question which you might have a go at answering in the comments below.

What is our purpose as a human species, and our purpose as individuals?

I believe this same question will be asked by many people in many countries over the next decade as the Immigrant Robots arrive. So perhaps the onecourse or something similar is needed after all.

A garden for growing people

Inspirational Posted on Mon, April 04, 2016 11:59:08

Ann and myself had a wonderful experience this week. We visited a place called Embercombe in Devon. A 50 acre garden for growing people. The people we met who have planted themselves there seem to be growing very well. Embercombe has 8 staff and 10 or so associates and many volunteers some who live on site in a variety of cabins and yurts. They build shelters, grow most of their own food but more importantly welcome hundreds of volunteers and students to the site each year.

The business leaders, volunteers and students come to Embercombe to learn about our fragile world and how we can all play a powerful leadership role in transforming our own future. The most amazing thing is that 20 years ago this garden didn’t exist. It was a small private Tarmac runway and a couple of aircraft hangers in the wilds of Devon.

Then along came, one man, Mac with an idea of a garden for growing people. Mac is amazing and we are very pleased to have met him. Mac has inspired a whole host of people to help with his vision. We also met other lovely Trustees, a great MD and some fantastic staff. They are all inspired by this same vision and have transformed this Tarmac strip and hangers into a beautiful place which has most of the elements needed as a model for a new sustainable society. It is not perfect and they still need help to take it to the next stage. If you have some time or money to spare or want to do a course we would highly recommend it.

Bombings in Brussels

Connecting with others Posted on Fri, March 25, 2016 12:24:07

Ann and myself have been thinking a lot about the recent Brussels incidents over the last few days. It is very sad for everyone, especially the families of those killed and injured. It is extremely sad that a very small number of disturbed human beings have caused such suffering to many other innocent humans. We have been thinking about the friends and families of the victims. How do you to come to terms with such an event. We have been thinking about how other people usually react to this type of event, especially politicians and the mainstream media. Perhaps we all need to think about what our individual human responses could be to an event like this. Anger? Fear? Something else?

The usual reaction from most people is a mixture of anger and fear. This is a normal reaction because we feel threatened. The level of threat we feel is magnified by the reaction of others. Many politicians in France and the U.K. have said we must increase our security and step up the intensity of the ‘War on Terror’. We need to put more resources into fighting the people who are to blame. They are at the root of this. Drop more bombs on terrorists and potential terrorists in other countries. There will of course be some unfortunate ‘collateral damage’ of more innocent humans. This is an inevitable consequence of a war that we need to win at any cost. We need to put more resources into protecting our borders and we need more surveillance of everyone. We must be vigilant and spy on each other. Extreme events seem to be producing an extreme response. Is there another response which may reduce this threat? I feel that although I don’t have an answer, a very wise monk living in France may have an idea.

One of the benefits of our wonderful life here in France is the time we have to spend thinking and reading. I have read a couple of very good books by Thich Nhat Hanh.

He is a Vietnamese monk who also lives in France not far from us. He influenced the work of Martin Luther King and campaigned in the USA against the Vietnam war. During the campaign the monk met an angry American who berated him for coming to the USA and told him he should “get back to Vietnam where the real problem was”. After a very deep breath and thought the monk said something like “to help a plant to grow you need to water the roots, not the leaves.”

I think we need to look for the “real roots” of these very big problems we have in the world. I think that some of the roots may be in the complex political and economic systems we have created and are desperately trying to protect. Within these complex systems, countries, governments, corporations and individuals compete for resources. There are sometimes unintended feedback loops in this competition for resources which can often make bad situations worse. So I think to start with we should try to feel LOVE for the friends and families of all the victims in all affected countries. If we can begin to feel that connection to them as individuals, just like us, rather than ‘others’ perhaps we can begin to change the systems which I believe are contributing to the problem.

You can find out more about this amazing monk here

The Wizard of Oz

The One Course Posted on Mon, March 14, 2016 12:37:58

The yellow brick road of fear – Victim or Hero – the choice is yours!

The Wizard of Oz is a very odd film, I watched every Christmas as a child, and it left an odd impression, in particular that yellow brick road. The world is changing, constantly changing, more quickly, each day. This road into the future can be a source of fear but these changes will continue to happen. Why not accept this reality and simply decide what you want your role to be, in this constantly changing world. If you are reading this it is likely that you have some choice in how your your life could be. The choices you make can create a new reality for yourself and others. Along with choice comes responsibility, which sometimes makes the choice difficult. What if I make the wrong choice? Even if it is difficult, the choice must be made. At some fundamental level we know which choice to make. The choice is yours, victim or hero.

I know that life is difficult for many people on this precious planet. People are struggling with basic needs such as food, health, shelter and companionship. Many of these people have no choice and really are victims of systems beyond their control. But if your basic needs are met, you can start to think about what else you want, and what you want to give. I am guessing that if you are reading this, your basic needs are met and you are able to choose what to do with your life, or as someone put it to me recently, what is it that you love? How to spend your precious life? We choose how to spend our money but our lives are much more valuable. Being in a place of choice is a luxurious place to be, a place of great privilege.

Let’s not waste any more of our precious time on pretending we are victims and waiting for a hero to rescue us. Who is the hero we are waiting for, a spouse or parent, a child, a government, a corporation? Instead we can all become our own heroes. It is wonderful to sit and think, meditate or even simply do nothing at all, for a while. Eventually though, we have choices to make on how to move forward with our lives. Making these choices can be difficult but by making them we can stop being the victim, overcome fear and become the hero of our own life. Also, if we truly care about the real victims in this world, we can choose to do something for them too as we walk our own yellow brick road.

In The Wizard of Oz, for me, the yellow brick road is the frightening path of choice which needs to be walked by each of the 4 main characters. By walking it, we find ourselves, by facing our fears and making difficult choices. So look within, become your own hero, become powerful, take some action in your own life, and walk that road.

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