Journal April 2024

Garden of Nâm Living

This edition is inspired by the landscaping work and contributions of Chris de Waard. Chris helped us from the very beginning to revive and shape what was once a dried-out and almost lost piece of land that, nevertheless, with the dedication of a few pioneers and the visionary support of Yoginâm, had the potential of becoming an Andalusian oasis of tranquillity.

It is Sunday the 31st of March early in the morning on a rainy day. Two visitors enter the Garden to find their way. They are heading to join a Sunday morning Yoga class. Recently they have stayed here to enjoy an event but today they have come to help Chris in the Garden. The wood stove has a nice fire and radiates a comfortable warmth. Right after the lesson, the morning meditation starts. Quietly, people enter the room. After rattling, a deep silence sinks in, with a friendly ticking of spring rain against the windows.

When it rains, you have to behave according to a rainy day

Over a cup of coffee we decide what to do. According to the forecast the weather will be much better tomorrow; a lot of sunshine and no rain are to be expected! So, the plans are changed. “Let’s come back tomorrow!” But, will it still be possible to do all the preparations in time for the intended sowing and planting? Fortunately, the next day was very nice and to everyone’s surprise we even ended up ahead of schedule!

It was funny to discover that the rain for one is certainly not the same as for another. For the Spanish farmers the rain, in this semi-desert area, is a huge blessing. But for an English guest who is used to it and who is hoping to bathe in the sun of the Andalusian sky, the rain is kind of a disappointment. While for one, working in the rain is a nice and fresh experience, for another it can be an uncomfortable situation that is best avoided, even when wearing appropriate clothing…

Experiences follow meaning

It reminds me of a passage that we were reading last week in our SIWEB reading group. “Experience is always determined by the unique ´I/World´ that you are.” Indeed! Yoginâm describes this with an example of ´sitting in a boat on a lake´: “All your senses and your thoughts determine that ´I/World´ is at that moment the Experience of sitting in a boat on a lake.” “ (…) You can like sitting in the boat or dislike sitting in the boat” and find that natural or strange.” This becomes clear when you “sit in the boat and suddenly remember an engagement that you have forgotten about.” Suddenly, the situation gets a completely different meaning and you may now want something different than being the Experience of sitting-in-a-boat-on-the-lake. Suddenly you do not like it anymore and urgently may want to go back. In this way Spirit impulses add to the sitting-in-the-boat Experience´. Our likings or dislikes may seem completely normal and natural, however, they are the result of the way we, ourselves, are habitually shaping Experience.

From Economy to Ecology

How far this reaches is often illustrated in the lives of people who experience a fundamental shift. Sometimes this shift is triggered by circumstances, sometimes by a growing feeling that there is something missing. In all situations one starts to wonder and ask fundamental questions. The same goes for Chris, who works as an ecological landscape artist and is helping us to cultivate a sustainable, beautiful and edible garden. Chris initially started his studies and career working in finance, but its paradigm of growth didn’t bring fulfilment. Growth, in a linear way, has its value but the view is incomplete and therefore it creates fundamental crises. So instead of aiming at increasing profit, Chris found it much more interesting to study how different aspects are working together and discovered that enriching an environment is much more beneficial than exhausting it. Diversity appeared much more stable and reliable than monocultural ways of control. He found that living with nature is much healthier and more successful in the long term than a dominating approach. So he started to study biology and found his way to ecological landscape architecture. Now he is part-time working in the field on actual projects and part-time being a teacher sharing his unique expertise. Of course, making a living is still needed, but there is no longer the idea of needing ´more´. This allows Chris the freedom to donate support and expertise to projects like ours. By contributing to a healthy environment he is actually living his philosophy. A much more fulfilling life!

From egocentricity to eco-centricity

Chris: In an urbanised society cities have become the normal habitat of the contemporary human being. However, city life alienates from the very nature that our existence depends on. We are part of that nature and are in constant interaction with it. But can we still see the consequences of our behaviour? Instead of putting ourselves at the centre, we could also explore the world that we are living in and study how everything is working together. How certain developments influence that whole and therefore also its parts. We could try to trace and cultivate what is beneficial to that whole and avoid what is detrimental. In this sense working in a garden can be like a moral compass. A tangible way of rediscovering the interdependency of everything and gaining more eye for the value that it has in contributing to balance. When we place that whole in the centre, we become a different cause. Working in a garden and being part of it helps to shape a completely different, more holistic, way of living.

From City to State

Chris: Walking through Amsterdam it struck me, seeing all these big buildings with many people living and working there, that all these people were sitting in separate boxes. On their own, many of them alone, living their lives without having a natural sense of relationship; estranged from each other, estranged from nature and therefore also from themselves. No wonder that for so many people the meaning of living is getting lost. Working in an ecological garden and being in a place like the Garden of Nâm, can bring back to a more natural sense of living. Instead of ruling nature, we can work with it and learn to support life more optimally. Awe and Wonder may return and from these states the orientation of living may also change. Towards a more open perspective in which it is less logical to compete and control and more natural to navigate and feel connected.

Eco-logical movie tip from Chris: Biggest little Farm

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One Comment

  1. A very good story from Chris on this beautiful sunday in The Hague. There is a lot to be grateful. Thanks, thanks to nature!

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