THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE LAND: How Nature Teaches Us to Be Resilient Leaders
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
It is more than fifty years since Eileen and Peter Caddy together with Dorothy MacLean enjoyed the mythical giant vegetables they first grew at Findhorn. Yet, the abundance of their simple wisdom continues to be harvested. The soil they found where they pitched their caravan was barren, sandy and rocky and they knew little of gardening. However, growing their own food was a practical necessity, surviving as they were on Peter’s unemployment benefit of £8 per week. How were they to do it in sterile soil with little knowledge or experience? It was Dorothy who first received guidance from within about how to garden co-creatively with the ‘intelligence of Nature.’ Her awakening to direct communication with the unseen beings of the natural world, which she called ‘devas,’ not only resulted in many wonderful meals, it transformed Dorothy’s sense of herself. It awakened in her a capacity for resilient leadership in shaping, not only her own life’s purpose and the future of the Findhorn community, but perhaps the world.
We are grateful to Peter, Eileen and Dorothy (pictured below, left to right) for their legacy, but our deepest gratitude goes to the land itself, the diversity of plants, trees and all the elements that collaborated so that this triumvirate of mystics could remain where they were and ignite what would become the Findhorn Foundation and Community (FFC). In a keynote address many years later, Dorothy said, “Nature is a tremendous force that is reaching out to humanity.” She repeated the phrase “a tremendous force,” underscoring the word “tremendous,” and continued, “Nature does not just want to partner with us. Nature is holding a space of connection with us so that its natural force can flow into the world.” (Positive Energy Conference, Findhorn, 2008.)
The individual lives of Dorothy, Eileen, Peter and their children are woven into the fabric of the FFC story but the main character and the central voice of the story is that of the land. The FFC is an intended as well as an intentional community and it’s the intentionality of the place that has catalyzed the conference, Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth (CCC19). The overarching natural forces that hover expectantly on the Findhorn peninsula await the arrival of human beings to whom they can deliver their guidance. As Dorothy has said, they are “waiting in love for our love.” We live in an intelligent universe that repeatedly extends itself to us, to gain our attention and to awaken us to who we are truly meant to be. Whether one is a parent, healthcare professional or corporate executive, listening to Nature offers the inspiration to lead with power and spirit.
Assertions about the voice and teaching quality of the land, let alone the existence of devas, appear to defy reason. They stand in apparent sharp contrast to the unquestionable hard science that underpins CCC19. In order to be compelled by Nature as teacher, a visceral and embodied experience is necessary. CCC19 is being designed to make that possible for all participants. It has been said that the real cause of climate change is disconnection. Dorothy, Eileen and Peter received healing at Findhorn of their alienation from the natural world. Their experiences of Oneness were sensory and somatic. Nature as teacher transformed Eileen and Dorothy into prophets and seers via communion with the natural world. The location amplified and made irresistible the invitation that is waiting for everyone who wants to experience authentic empowerment.
The interface between science and mysticism is regarded by some as a wobbly position. Those who assert the existence of ‘unseen beings’ are often said to be not of ‘right mind.’ Nevertheless, there are strong parallels between genuine science and mysticism. Both are informed by Nature and require discipline and steadfast rigor. Increasingly, both are coming to the same conclusions about the environment. Ancient cultures and indigenous wisdom were built upon keen observation of the natural world combined with a profound inner focus. And although, remarkable prehistoric feats of engineering, such as Newgrange in Ireland, were achieved without the benefit of clinical investigation, peer reviewed journals or controlled experiment, it’s with the aid of modern science and technology that we’re paradoxically able to appreciate the perfection that arose from astute inner attention spurred by natural world prompting.
It is hubris to assume that human beings are the primary drivers of events, or that people are directed solely by their own inner process or personal history. Inspiration, guidance, or what Einstein referred to as “the imagination,” can spring from Nature and can be the stimulus for scientific discovery or equally, mystical experience. Eileen Caddy and Dorothy MacLean both intuited that each deva had particular work to do. Might it be that, similarly, we are each meant to fulfill a different aspect of humanity’s calling and the destiny of the Earth? Dorothy reported that the deva of the cypress tree revealed to her that plants were long ago given their different assignments. “We each have a portion of our work to do,” the deva told Dorothy. They knew their purpose and lived entirely for its fulfillment. The suggestion that the same is true for us is expressed through the loving compassion that the devas hold for humans. Their patience far outdistances ours. They know that scientists, corporate executives and visionaries must and will come together out of necessity to solve the riddles of our existential crisis as a global community.
Due to Findhorn’s experience and legacy of plant-human communication, Gaian consciousness is strongly amplified there. The discipline of following and listening to Nature that Eileen practiced day after day until the day she passed from her body, has encouraged the devas to be present for those humans who meet them there so that scientific investigation, creativity, imagination, technological innovation, organizing, networking, leadership and education can be fed by their cooperative, co-creative energies. “Just ask for help,” Dorothy said when queried about a troubling problem occurring in the natural world, such as the inexplicable widespread deaths of bees. Instead of encouraging others to rely on her guidance she directed them toward their own. And be open, Eileen said, “Spirit cannot flow if systems are crystallized and rigid….The more you reinforce your identity as the only moving factor in the world the more restricted your life becomes.” Being authentically available for Nature’s guidance will inevitably bring success in any endeavor. “The more you allow yourself to work with us [i.e. the devas],” Eileen was told via her inner guidance, “the more real we become in your life.”
This is why CCC19 will be held at the Findhorn Foundation in preference to anywhere else.
After three years of clear and dependable inner guidance Eileen Caddy wrote, “It was gradually beginning to dawn on me that there might be some underlying purpose behind all that we were being led to do at Findhorn and that we were carrying out some kind of mysterious pioneering adventure.” It is entirely possible that the pioneering to which Eileen refers goes beyond the creation of the Findhorn ‘center of light.’ Could it be that the Findhorn founders, through their humility, gratitude and simplicity, made it possible for the whole global family to hear what Nature is saying?
Eileen Caddy repeated over and over again, in a variety of ways, the importance of being still and listening. She recommended listening to silence, listening to plants, listening to birds, and listening to what is voiced within. It is likely challenging for business leaders, for instance, to see the power and potency in what appears to be simple statements uttered by plain looking women. “She is just like my mum,” one Findhorn community member said years ago. “How could she be hearing God?” Now however, the timing and severity of the crisis suggests that it is actually the voice of Nature that’s being channeled through from them in order to reach us.
I believe that Nature is the real keynote speaker at CCC19. We will assemble to listen to what the land and the natural world are telling us to do, so that we can authentically act out what Eileen called “the realization of the wholeness of One Life.” In 2008 Dorothy said, “We have reached a crisis point. We stand at the brink. We ignore the unseen at our own peril. What community will respond to this crisis? We can give birth to a new consciousness to offset the destructiveness of the planet. This plague of death can be met with our values and our love.”
These words are even truer today than they were when uttered by this sweet, humble and simple woman as she turned to the audience in the Universal Hall and asked each participant with her gaze what they would do with the wisdom she offered. The gentleness with which the question was put forth belies its searing implications. We must, all of us, from all walks of life, revisit that question, in that very same place, at the Climate Change & Consciousness conference. Our answers are needed with far greater urgency than ever before. I have no doubt that we will find them. But more pointedly, we must then act on them.
*All quotes from Dorothy MacLean and Eileen Caddy are taken from the Archives of the Findhorn Foundation. Thank you Keith Armstrong for your support.