Monday, 31 January 2011

A Positive Vision from Prince Charles: Our World is in Harmony


Book Review: Harmony, A New Way of Looking at our World, by HRH The Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly (2010) London: Blue Door and imprint of HarpersCollins Publishers.

“Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law My Services are bound.” William Shakespeare

Like my blog, Prince Charles’ new book starts off a bit rough. I even had tears in my eyes after turning the first page. But once I got past the reminders about climate change, piles of rubbish, industrial farming and other such well versed present day calamities, I settled into the reading.

As many would know, Prince Charles has been interested in architecture a long time. I share this interest and in 2010 a friend gave me his book, A Vision of Britain, A Personal View of Architecture (1989). He brings more thoughts and history about architecture to this new book to develop his theme of harmony with Nature. Besides historical architecture, Prince Charles also draws upon religion, philosophy, art and music to make his points. I felt in good company again because I did a similar thing for my 2010 Retreat. Prince Charles seems to have gone on a retreat of his own because he says:

“Revelation is not deemed possible from an empirical point of view. It comes about when a person practises great humility and achieves a mastery over the ego so that ‘the knower and the known’ effectively become one” (p 13).

I agree with Prince Charles that we are following “an approach to life that places the greatest value on a mechanistic way of thinking and a linear kind of logic” (p 20) which is evident in many of my blog articles. In addition, it was good to read that he shares my view and that of many that ‘organic farming’ is “an unfortunate term because it has the ring of an alternative approach, or even a new one, when it is actually how farming was always conducted before industrial techniques came to dominate agriculture” (p 57).

Prince Charles mentions Norman Borlaug, who won a Nobel Prize for peace because of his involvement in the ‘Green Revolution’ and especially for spreading intensive agricultural practices to undeveloped countries such as India. This caught my eye because I had remembered F William Engdahl mentioning Borlaug in Seeds of Destruction where he pointed out that Borlaug was involved with the Rockefellers. Prince Charles is tactful throughout the book though in that he does not seek to name individuals or companies to place blame.

A true gem for me was when Prince Charles referred to “the business model of the madhouse” being in operation today. I used this theme in my poem Cloning Craze and article Positive Vision No. 3 from my 2010 Retreat.

Prince Charles seems to have latched onto a good explanation to back up his hunch of why we are moving in the wrong direction. I was glad he shared it because I too had a similar hunch. With the help of Dr Joseph Milne of the University of Kent, he discovered that since the 13th century, God began to be defined as separate and disconnected from Nature as opposed to the previous view of being one with Nature and connected to and in all things. This was a shift in consciousness and is a good explanation for the development of our destructive attitudes towards Nature.

His studies with Dr Milne also led to a discussion of law, which got my attention because of my legal background. Prince Charles talks about when there was no separation between creation and God, an ‘Eternal Law’ was practiced because it exists in the mind of God which is in each one of us. Recognition of a universal law, ‘ever-living law’ or the law of nature, and justice and the common good in union with the natural world was the basis of civilization for centuries. But the same shift in the 13th century that made God into a separate being also caused the fragmentation of the education system into distinct and divided disciplines. From this time, the law developed into an ‘artificial’ practice that was to be used foremost to curb man’s ‘savage inclinations’. It was no longer grounded in any universal natural order.

Another explanation given by Prince Charles for our current problems and the trend towards sameness was that we have been driven by a combination of competitiveness, a monocultural ideology and a top-down globalization. He advises that “[c]ompetition takes us so far, but collaboration is also needed across sectors of industry to solve the complex challenge at hand. All this is about culture and how we do things” (p 286).

“With our thoughts we make the world.” Buddha

As Prince Charles reminds us, the Buddha said that thoughts are important. This is interrelated with his discussion of age old historic references to reality being like a dream and how consciousness gives rise to matter. To this end, I went to Belgium for the conference on Positive Visions for Biodiversity in November 2010 and a retreat in December 2010, and since then, have been creating my own positive visions and affirmations on my blog. All in all, Prince Charles gives much food for thought for many positive visions, but the overall one is that our world is in harmony. Based on these ideas and in keeping with the title of his book, I think the positive affirmation for reading this book and reflecting, thinking or meditating on what he says in it (with the help of his co-authors) is: mmm.......... harmony.

In conclusion, Prince Charles calls upon each and every one of us to redress the balance of Nature, both within us and without, by developing and putting into practice a philosophy of life based on the organic grammar of harmony. It is a royal invitation to each of us to join him in a sustainability revolution. How can anyone (in their right mind) refuse such an offer? RSVP