Patterns to Details
The Conference came to a ceremonious close last evening, with all in attendance gathering on stage to celebrate the hard work of the event's volunteer organizers and supporters. The evening concluded with a series of regional cultural performances, including a presentation of classical Sufi music and storytelling.
Several songs from regions across India were shared. A particularly memorable piece told the tale of a farmer lamenting the loss of his crops to herds of wild deer. The farmer, intent on securing his yield nonviolently, chose to sit in the middle of his field in the early morning in meditation to protect against the browsing deer. His mind served as the thrown stone deterring his animal neighbors from encroaching; his will, the deterrent.
On the quick heels of a colorful bus journey from Hyderabad to rural Pollam—from the city to the Indian countryside—today's inaugural round of Convergence presentations revisited the story of the meditating farmer. Julie Wright of Coventry University gave the talk "Quantum Thinking for Permaculture: Is It Time To Embrace The Invisible?" As a researcher of indigenous and traditional practices, Wright explores the "invisible or non-material" agricultural practices of various periods and cultures across the globe. One of these happens to be the traditional Rajasthani practice of meditating within one's fields to influence crop growth.
Considering "cognitive justice for indigenous peoples" and the rights for all forms of cultural knowledge to be respected and understood, Wright's research pursues the development of adaptive scientific methods and the evaluation of diverse and—to the Western mind—intangible practices. A major part of her challenge is determining how to conduct research beyond the controls of a laboratory setting.
Guiding considerations include the development of methodologies and tools to measure waves (or patterns) in addition to particles (the component elements of the physical sciences). As quantum theory is the study of energy as small, fast moving particles forming waves, there are opportunities to study the waves of light and sound and their impact upon crops—with regard to yield, nutrient density, function, etc.
Taking this further, the question arises whether human presence and energy, directed intentionally, can similarly influence agricultural conditions—or, more generally, the natural world.
Referring to the metaphor of climate change as a sinking ship from which we as societies are bailing ourselves out, Wright says, "our buckets are full of holes because we are not looking at our inner selves, our spirituality." Studying non-material cultural practices—the spiritual, prayer, intention, and ritual—Wright maintains a scientist's objectivism is seeking to quantify the measurable effects of non-conventional methodologies.
In considering how to measure results outside the laboratory, Wright suggests we "think of replication in terms of generations"—in other words, considering the whole and through time, broadening how we perceive the value of impacts over longer duration and through multiple ecological criteria. In other words, it requires an integrated approach to evaluating design, incorporating iterative feedback loops.
It is easy for the Western mind to quickly dismiss concepts with which we do not have any experience. But it behooves us to look at our snap judgment and question why we react so strongly, so quickly. Do we feel certain in our correctness, the singularness of our truth? Or is our reaction like unannounced anger, difficult to place and seemingly irrational? Moving beyond this reaction, ask yourself: what have I experienced? What have I heard about from others, through story? Without judgment, is it rational that invisible, nonmaterial influences are shaping the world around us? What do I not know that I do not know?
Opening the mind to the potential for new directions in thought and understanding will remain a theme throughout the week, as our global community here in rural India continues to share their research, findings, and vision.