I had the good fortune of having a chat with a permacultarist recently. Permaculture comes from the idea of working with (rather than against) nature to provide sustainable gardens and farms (Permanent Agriculture). Very little is wasted. The land and the environment are highly respected – sacred even.
This is in sharp contrast to mechanized, industrial farming which exhausts the land – think dust bowl in the American mid-west. I wanted to get his views on God and faith. As one who lives in harmony with the land, here’s what he had to say…
He does not label himself by any faith denomination. To do so would alienate him from others. It would put up a barrier. Religious identity carries too much baggage. Even calling god “God” carries with it biases, history, presumption, all of which risk putting human beings at odds with one another.
His beliefs, or practices really, reflect a variety of faiths – Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity. He maintains a visible respect for all beings, and for mother earth. In his eyes, God made everything.
My friend is much more interested in exploring the commonalities of faiths, rather than religious dogma. He argues that our connection as human beings, and the fact that we share the same planet, leaves us with much more in common than not. To this end, we have an obligation to care for one another and the earth. Judgment is to be left to God.
He also noted that God is bigger than religion, and that there are “many paths to the mountain.” Put another way, go to the buffet of religious beliefs and find what suits your tastes.
At this point, I asked a question that is usually a stopper for most. I asked what he thought of Jesus stating, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the father is through me.” This is often seen as a narrow path, or, the only “path to the mountain.” His answer is the best I’ve heard on the matter.
I can’t quote it exactly, as I stopped taking notes because I was so engaged, but he didn’t miss a beat. He stated: “Of course he’s the Way, he’s God. God is the only way! Jesus was God manifested on earth.”
In other words, he “is” the mountain.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson