The Boundless Within The Boundaries

20 11 2010

I’ll be going home for Thanksgiving, and I’ve been thinking of how to explain how and why the Camphill experience feels so different from life outside of Camphill. Here’s what I think:

Life in Camphill feels very different than life outside of Camphill.
(Note: Whenever I refer to “outside of Camphill”, I am generally referring to the “mainstream”, government-funded public school, public-school-encouraged college culture.)

Why does Camphill feel different?

Life in Camphill serves a slightly different function than life outside of Camphill. (Warning: the next two sentences are generalizations, and are not necessarily true of every individual… only what seems to me to be the underlying philosophies of these two groupings as a whole.)

Outside the village, people’s primary goals are to fill their own needs.
Inside the village, people’s primary goals are to fill the village’s needs.

Before I arrived here, this fact was laid out before me: I, and every one here, will work where the village needs work. Every individual has the most important say in finalizing decisions, but decisions themselves arise when the village, as a whole community, has a need that needs to be filled. I may have wanted to work in the healing plant garden, but I was placed in the seed garden, because that’s where I was needed. I may have preferred to work in the seed garden, full-time, all year; but now, because there was a need, I am working in the afternoons in another house, bathing and caring for an older, less-able gentleman, preparing farmers’ tea break, and cleaning the house.
If situations are ever unbearable, changes are made; for peoples’ happiness is a need in the village. (writing that just made me stop and think …how bout that?… individual happiness as a need for a functioning community.)

In Camphill, we live by: what is best for one is best for all, and what is best for all is best for one. (Self-development is also a primary purpose of Camphill.)
Outside of Camphill (at least, in much of what the “news” reports on), the all is not too often considered.

Some Native American tribes would ask this question before making any decision: “How will this act affect seven generations from now?”
Camphill isn’t quite there, literally, but it does have an inspiring awareness of the big picture, the whole, in which each individual is an integral part.

Practically, how does Camphill differ?

In Camphill, we coworkers, voluntarily, sacrifice some of our own freedom (i.e. the freedom to walk around naked, the freedom to jump in a car and drive far away any time we feel like it, etc.), for we limit ourselves to being role models of healthy, therapeutic living, and being responsible care-sharers, home makers, and workshop workers; and in that sacrifice, within our limiting roles, perhaps paradoxically, is found an abundance of inner freedom.

Suppose you sit at a restaurant, and are handed a menu with two-thousand options–it can be overwhelming, anxiety-provoking, even burdensome, to feel the need to make a choice. But after the choice is made, a feeling of contentment can be found; a timeless quality of joy, relief, some may even call it grace, can be, and often is, experienced upon making a choice, a conscious, intentional choice: “Yes, I want THIS.”
I propose that this relief, this timeless joy, this grace, seems to be most clear only when particular bounds are set, by a particular choice (be these bounds the boundary of traveling, the boundary of living only in the moment and not worrying about the future or the past, the boundary of a nine-to-five job, the boundary of swimming in a pool, even the boundary of non-attachment). Indeed, Sisyphus could be a happy being, if he so chose to experience joy in the midst of his task.

Freedom is found when one eradicates the mental concept of “boundary”.
Dig: We are always, all-ways bound, if only, at the least, by our breath… or by the living necessity of our will (for as long as we will, we live).  When we actively, consciously, purposefully will, every “mundane” act expresses freedom. Even in the boundary of this blog, in which I intended to write about lifestyle in Camphill, the nature of Freedom has proven itself by directing my writing onto this path. And this path is a boundary. Because I want to write logically, writing a non sequitur would not fit this path. I am BOUND by this writing experience. But because I WANT to write this, because I want to write logically, and I want to express what I am expressing… the bounds melt into the experience, and so long as I am not attached to the outcome, or even the process, of this writing, there is no separation between freedom and slavery… there is only will.

Needs are within limitless-life, and limitless-life flows through needs.

We, who want to be here, wherever here is now, are bound by no thing, for we have all chosen to be here now, wherever here is now. The parent who thinks they are bound by needing to support their children do not need to support their children; just ask Rainer Maria Rilke. Freedom is in the choice.

If you like what you’re doing, keep doing it.
If you don’t, change.

So, if there are no boundaries but in our minds, how does Camphill differ from outside the village?

Simply: the primary intention of Camphill is selfless; and from that, the self lives fully.
(As a zen teacher once put it: “No self, no problem”; and another:
“Only when you die before your death, can you truly Live.”)

Outside of Camphill… well… what is your intention? What do you will?

At the end of the day, perhaps selfishness and selflessness serve the same ultimate purpose… a shared being-ness between the I and the World. It’s just a difference in attitude. A friend of mine once said, “War will end, and Peace will be realized, only when individuals would rather kill their self than kill another.”


The Fundamental Social Law

“In a community of huwan beings working together, the well-being of the community will be the greater the less the individual claims for their self the proceeds of the work done.”
– Rudolf Steiner




2 responses

20 11 2010

The belief “I cannot change” is a limiting boundary.
The belief “I can change” is a limitless boundary.

21 11 2010

So great to wake up to your writing this morning. Living/bringing/creating this holy time of year is often exhausting for the caregiver. I am experiencing some of that exhaustion right now! And it is only 8am. The free will is the source of boundless joy and energy. Blessings on your Thanksiving journey and, thank you.

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