Ground Zero: Permaculture of the mind – Lantanaism

Preface: I like a holistic approach to life and that means looking at all of life’s aspects. Commonly overlooked is ground 0, otherwise known as the inside of your head, but more accurately as your state of mind. Considering this is an area that will undoubtedly affect all other aspects of one’s life, I think it’s always worth setting aside some time for self-examination. 

Recently as a friend of mine, Tanya Burke, was clearing away a patch of Lantana from the bush on her Mandalong property, she was pondering life philosophies and came up with a cracker. She told me about it and I urged her to write it down so it could be shared with the world. This is what she came up with…

LANTANAISM

If I were to describe some of the basic tenets of one of the world’s great philosophies, would you be able to guess which one I was talking about? Let’s see.

This is the nature of all things:

  1. Impermanent. No matter what you think, feel, say or do you can be absolutely certain things will change, grow, decay and die.
  2. Impersonal. Every animal is driven by instinct to learn the lessons key to their survival and humans are no different. As babies we spend most of our waking hours testing and retesting the natural law of cause and effect because at that age we already understand the importance of that law. We then go on to forget that lesson and begin to take life personally. But life itself remains the same – one long and infinitely complex sequence of consequences that would be entirely predictable if only we had an infinite brain.
  3. Not inherently satisfactory. There is no thing that exists that will cause us to feel perfectly and finally satisfied, forever. Nothing we can have, do, think, say, believe, feel or sense has the characteristic of being perfectly and permanently satisfactory.

 

Now that we understand the nature of life, what is the purpose of life?

To open to our connection to the Source using a most unlikely and fortunate event – this human form at this exact point in the history of the universe.

The ‘Source’ is the creative, reproductive energy that forms, shapes and subsumes all manifestations of life and fuels the never ending process of cause and effect. Call it whatever you want, it won’t get offended. After all it is impermanent, not inherently satisfying and, yes, completely impersonal.

 

So what is the path that leads to that ultimate purpose?

  1.  You must start, and keep going.

That’s about the sum of it, though most of us like to talk about what starting really means and how we can do this thing called ‘keep going’. Because of this many philosophies have developed rules and guidelines and steps and anecdotes that we can continually read and talk about, become expert in and teach courses on. Mostly this all holds us back from the important business of starting and keeping going but sometimes it inspires us to start and keep going.

So have you worked out which philosophy we are talking about yet? Buddhism? Tantra? Taoism? Permaculture? Christianity?

None of the above. This is an organic, homegrown philosophy for those environmentally conscious folk who like to know where their stuff comes from and what the production footprint was. And whether any humans, animals or ecosystems were tortured to bring the product to your plate. And best of all it is like one of those pick-your-own farms – you have the opportunity to try it out for yourself. Enlightenment in one page, complete with a free trial? Where can I get it?!

But wait… this is going to take a lot of practice. And that little detail at the end of the instructions: keep going. That’s the one that trips most people up. This philosophy is not for the faint of heart. It is… Lantanaism.

All are welcome to Lantanaism. Here’s how you can practice Lantanaism in your local place of worship:

Remember that the aim is to be open to the Source. Being open to the Source means that we are fully in the flow of life. In order to open something, and in order for anything to flow we first need to clear away the blocks and defilements. So pick a space that you would like to clear of the defilement commonly known as Lantana.

Start. And keep going.

Ask yourself who you do this for. If not for yourself, then for whom? And why.

Start. And keep going.

If you work diligently you will begin to see results. If you are lazy and slipshod you will become frustrated by your lack of progress.

Start. And keep going.

If you cut the defilements at their base they will grow back. If you pull them out by their roots and then make the environment inhospitable for them they will not grow back.

Start. And keep going.

If you let your defilements grow unhindered, so that they flower and seed and flourish, they will impact upon those around you, and those around them so that your defilements will become a blight on all of life for all of life is one.

Start. And keep going.

If you carefully remove all of your defilements the space you have cleared will be a thing of beauty and inspiration to all those around you and those around them so that your work will be a blessing to all of life for all of life is one.

Start. And keep going.

If you find it very difficult to uproot your defilements then you are working against the law of nature. Try a different way, try again in different circumstances, use tools or ask for help. The more you practice the more expert you will become.

Start. And keep going.

With equanimity approach each defilement. It is what it is, the result of cause and effect like all else. React to each defilement with neither craving nor aversion.

Start. And keep going.

Don’t let a sense of triumph or pride guide you, equally don’t be disheartened or overwhelmed by the task. Devote yourself to your practice and submit to the process without hopes or fears of the outcome.

Start. And keep going.

The seed of a defilement, if planted and tended, can only grow into a defilement. If you wish to grow something more useful, then plant and tend the seeds of something more useful.

Start. And keep going.

A defilement that has been left to grow old, deep-rooted and sprawling, that has entangled with other defilements and wrapped around all in its way will be more difficult to remove than one discovered at the earliest stages.

Start. And keep going.

Remain in the present, aware and mindful of the true reality of the moment. A sustained and discerning awareness will allow you to spot the seed of a defilement before it germinates. A sustained and discerning awareness will also develop in you a perception of all that remains around, beyond, beneath, above and within the defilements.

Start. And keep going.

All that remains when the defilements are gone is all that was there before and all that you plant according to the universal law of cause and effect. Cause and effect.

Start. And keep going.

If you wish to be truly free of defilements then not only must you remove all your defilements, you must be careful not to plant or tend any more.

Start. And keep going.

If your friends insist on spreading defilements where you have worked to clear the space, then find wiser friends. But friends who help remove your defilements, help plant and tend more useful seeds and bring no further defilements to your space are one of life’s most precious gifts.

Start. And keep going.

Ask yourself, does this make sense to me? Do I see results? Is this the way to clear this space of defilements? Am I becoming more aligned with the Source, more in-tune with nature, more understanding of the natural laws and more expert at designing and implementing my own plan for this space? If yes, continue. If no, find another way.

Start. And keep going.

Define yourself not as Lantanaist or in any other way. Waste no time differentiating yourself from others or trying to convince another to walk the same path as you.

Start. And keep going.

Where the defilement called Lantana is unavailable to aid your practice then vast tracts of paramatta grass, fireweed, purple verbena, running bamboo, asparagus fern or any other endemic noxious weed will suffice.

Start. And keep going.

The easiest path is not always obvious. Defilements are most simply uprooted using an uphill motion.

Start. And keep going.

Pay careful attention to the nature of life represented within you for this is all you can truly experience; your mind, your emotions and your sensations or intuition. There you will find that thoughts and feelings and physical sensations come and go, are created by no-body and are not inherently satisfactory. The closer you look the more you will realise there is nothing to be found there, nothing to be held onto, nothing to be pushed away. Only the practice remains.

Start. And keep going.

Don’t disturb yourself with details and intellectual considerations. You will notice the difference as you clear your space. You will see that which you could not see before through the thickets of defilements. As the Dzogchen tells us, “finding nothing is the most you can find.”

Good luck with your practice. May the Lantana bow to your intention and through your great effort may the world be rid of all that defiles it. If you need advice on finding a local tract of weeds to work on Lachie is one of the great Masters of Lantanaism and could point you in the right direction.

– Tanya Burke

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