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Light, Warmth, Devotion

October 22, 2015

By Delmar McComb

Originally published in the Fall 2015 newsletter of the Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC)


cf cows(1)A dear friend asks, “Will the cows be part of the business plan?” It is indeed a fine question. After all, they aren’t currently a “money maker” component of our farm, so including them in the farm business plan doesn’t make sense.

Or does it? If one looks at this question from a biodynamic farm organism perspective, an associative economic model perspective, and/or a spiritual scientific perspective, the answer would be: “Yes, why would you even ask?” The cows are invaluable — priceless even. That is, they shouldn’t be thrown into the purely economic sphere but instead should be seen for the bounty they produce on the farm in the form of fertility, land management, community milk, and the immeasurable addition of soul qualities to the farm individuality.

We all struggle with the challenges of today’s economic system and how to function in this world in a “right living” kind of way. There are no easy answers. Without careful consideration of how a cow, for example, fits into a farm business plan, then a farm can then struggle to the point of collapse because of economic pressures. So indeed, these types of questions must be considered thoroughly.

But really, if we are to ultimately break free of the predominant contemporary world view that imprisons us all in the realm of the economics sphere while eclipsing the cultural and rights spheres of society, we must be bold and learn to trust that higher forces will guide us into new ways of seeing and being. Our minds are full of factoids and words, and endless chatter that tell us nothing. We think we understand what water does when it “evaporates” just because of the word. The word stops our mind there. Or even if we go to the definition of evaporation, “the changing of a liquid into a gas, often under the influence of heat (as in the boiling of water),” it really tells us nothing of this incredible miracle. How about our neighbor the “moon”? Does the word begin to capture even a fraction of the meaning and majesty of this “being” so near to us? Of course not. Cognizing doesn’t happen in the intellect. It happens in the feeling/soul realm.

I bring these two separate subjects, the economic viability of cows and the halting limitations of words and the intellect together for a reason (and yes, I do realize the irony of writing in words to convey this; alas, it is the best we can do in these times to offer ideas). If one looks into the eyes of a cow, there is a seeming infinitude of depth, a consciousness that is not ours but is nonetheless profoundly sacrificial and wise. If we are ever to understand a “cow,” we must be with it, honor it, and love it and learn to sacrifice as it does. If we are ever to understand Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Lectures and his Social Threefolding ideas, we must also learn the arts of collaborative work and sacrifice. And this all must be done out of love. If we do this work Mary Martyr-like, without transforming our consciousness to involve “Mitgefühl” (German for “with empathy”), there is no evolution. “Mitgefühl” was what Steiner said human consciousness needs to evolve to so as to transform the cold logic of the mind. Light,
warmth, devotion in our work are foundational.

This is the task: losing ourselves to gain ourselves. And, in so doing, we assist the living being of the earth while it gives back to us. Our mutual and interlinked destinies can then be fulfilled as we aid in giving the world back to the cosmos in a higher form while we ourselves evolve. This is the heart of Steiner’s work.

Our minds can’t yet quite grasp this, but our hearts can. It is a challenge to all: what are we willing to sacrifice, with “Mitgefühl,” to sneak towards this goal? I have the sad thought that my answer may sound something like “I’ll sacrifice more if you will, but I don’t really trust you, so I’ll keep on doing the same old destructive behavior because I have to survive in this world.”

How can we begin to “heal the wounds of reason,” as the poet Novalis wrote? Are there baby steps we can do together — form co-operatives, barter, start more true CSAs, have more Goethean conversations with each other, etc…? What are your thoughts?


Delmar McComb is co-owner of Blossom’s Farm in Santa Cruz, CA and Director of Horticulture at Suncrest Nurseries.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Keith F. Johnson permalink
    October 26, 2015 8:28 pm

    Delmar, cows could be your best money maker if you look to the grass-fed beef and milk markets. You need to add Regenerative Organic to your Biodynamic principles so you have: no tilling or chemical poisons, continuous bio-diverse ground cover, compost, and planned grazing. This will add humus to your soil and benefit the entire eco-system.

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