Transcript (click to expand)
(Introduction by two speakers: Dr. Richard Cooley & Professor Paul Lee of UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA)
Greetings. Bidens, marigold, tansy…this plant, this flower, as in all creation, has its own individual characteristics. Its habitat is to live neither in water nor on dry land but between the two, in other words, by the side of lakes, of ponds and of waterways; but to reside upon the banks. And here it grows lushly and happily and spreads and blooms and seeds. And when it seeds, because of the summer, the seeds ripen and blow onto the desert where they cannot propagate. And the winds change later in the year and blow the seeds onto the water. And in the water are fish that like to eat seeds; and the seed of the bidens, marigold or tansy, has upon it four horns. Horns, in botanical knowledge, are four little hooks, barbs which are on the top of the seed. And this seed is made to float in the wind and also to float upright in the water with the horns standing upwards. And woe betide any fish whatever that thinks it’s going to have a meal of this seed. Because when the horn catches anywhere in its mouth or gills it’s extremely disruptive and loathes it and spits it out immediately. Whereupon, in due course, the seed floats to the shore and eventually is able to propagate.
This is relative, of course, to all kinds of plants and trees. But what the ancient botanical books have to say about the matter is very intrinsically delightful. And that is that in so infinitesimal a matter as the little seed of the marigold that God and creation should so attend to such utter detail that surely this must give us total belief and satisfaction that His regard for things so small and invisible are so great that everything that to us appears a sorrow becomes a joy.
This is the basis of the whole story of this subject. May I please say to you first: apart from this being a university of vastly experienced professional people, which eliminates me very considerably, apart from that matter, I do confess and express that I both sense, feel, and know that I have no authority to make statements and say things to anybody. That everything that is going to be expressed during these lectures is in the form of a suggestion, and that with all the kindness of Dr. Cooley and Professor Paul Lee, these things, of course, do not emanate from me or my head or my knowledges. They are practically entirely matters which have been bestowed into me by many of the great philosophical “religioso” persons who have lived, and under whom I studied.
Today the talk is very briefly, and partly, a survey of what we’re going to cover, and that beginning next Saturday to start to deal both technically and esthetically into both of the subjects of horticulture and art. It seems to have surprised many people that these two could and should be linked. Very briefly, could I express a view on this? Horticulture is indeed an art; but it is also beyond all comprehension of art. It is, of course, the realm of creation, wherein lie all the answers, both eternal and temporal. Whereas the arts, of course are, indeed, like an exuberance of our delight in living and are, indeed, temporal matters of expression, and do not contain the eternal matters that the horticulture does.
In brief, a word which I hope to use a great deal, classic – “classic” horticulture. And, of course, there is classic art. But there is the whole world between, and that is, relative to what Dr. Cooley and Professor Lee have just said, that Eden or Paradise or Heaven is classic horticulture. And it is in classic horticulture that we, with our very souls, our bodies, our minds and our hands, can intermingle with the totality of eternal matters, and in temporal form. Art is the classical exuberance of the delight, of the prayer and satisfaction of this living. In all things I will trust to be as positive as is absolutely possible. Almost all the way through we will be positive. On occasion it is necessary to give reasons why certain things are at present in deplorable states and appearances. And in these cases, a certain negative-ness must be apparent I would read, if I may, just two statements, which are extremely intrinsic in our procedure. And this is Robert Graves, when he was at the Massachusetts Institute (MIT). And the subject of his lecture was, “The Defense of Human Culture “.
“The decline of a true taste for food is the beginning of a decline in national culture as a whole. When people have lost their authentic, personal taste, they lose their personality and become the instruments of other people’s wills.”
And Lindsey Robb, in an address: Altius, Citius, Longius:
“We have lost that essential unity with the soil. The break in this relationship is first indicated in the disregard for spiritual values and the sense of obligation and obedience to the creative powers of the Universe.”
Which leads me straight in to make these expressions: horticulture is not just a subject. Within the garden and the providence of the garden is also the mystery, the magic, the intangible, and that area of total reality where words also become nothing but an art of expression. And in this I would refer to an educative matter that, could it not be said that classical education is truly story, fable, parable, mythology and all those methods of using the art of words? But with a relationship to every single cycle of every individual, so that every single person listening to one of those tales does not very much listen to words whatever, but lives in a dream of pictures connected with the soul itself and goes through the excitement of the living of this story and digests it in their own individual way. So that in a sense, there is no static repetitiveness to this story. Everybody eats it and devours it in their own manner, of themselves. And that within that story, that myth, that fable, that parallel, is an ideal. But that that ideal cannot be picked out like a plant and saved – “that’s it!” – because it is different for every single person.
And this starts us into the whole realm of the word that [Dr. Rudolf] Steiner first taught me: “biodynamics”. It sounds like a terrible disease. It always did to me, and it still does. It’s magic, of course, unutterable magic. It’s the whole classic vision of – what Professor Paul Lee was just referring to – and what all of us are, both consciously and unconsciously striving at in our interest and our delight and procedure in gardens. And when I say gardens I mean the whole life of living. It can be in complete Nature. But this is gardens – and that is, that we are all indeed, seeking the re-entry into Eden, eternity, the soul of living. And in this matter, this phenomenal magician, Steiner, had this fantastic vision; and unquestionably because he was so fabulously spiritual in his approach.
As you know (or may not know) he was a great scientist. He was also a very great musician, and had enormous literary qualities, and had all sorts of things named after him, you know. But the point was that he held you spellbound even in the vicinity of him, without speech. There was an elemental conveyance and a sense of what he always referred to as aura. And indeed, the aura of this particular person was so intense that you could not approach very close to him; and the moment you did, you had to back away because you realized that he was being offended. This was an acute sensitivity.
Now the word ‘biodynamic‘ which, unfortunately, we’ve got to use a great deal, and we should be dealing with this next time and the time after. But biodynamics, in a brief statement at this stage, means: “relationship and dis-relationship” throughout everything in life. Day and night, hot and cold, black and white, the North Pole and the South Pole, summer and winter, love and hate—you could go on ad lib. The astonishing matter concerning this is that when it is approached, classically and scientifically, combined, it has every answer that everybody and everything ever requires. That is a very big statement and with that statement surely goes education. Just what, indeed, is education?
Can it be anything but a greater comprehension of God and Creation? It cannot totally be anything else but this. And in the relationships and dis-relationships lie the total balance. So that it is perfectly justifiable and feasible to say there is such a thing as good—there is such a thing as bad. But when the classical vision, the classical attitude, the classical approach is there, the balance is perfect. And that is neither good nor bad.
This vision is not an invention. It is eternal. Throughout the garden—and everybody who knows gardens—and that meaning Nature and mountains, and woods, and forests and streams, and breeze on water that ripples, and those fascinations of dawn in June, and the song of a bird at dawn, and all such matters as these—every single person is infinitely, inwardly aware of a world unspeakable—of image, magic; intangible, untouchable and totally, finely, sensitively—touching.
The approach to horticulture, classical, is this huge matter—it is spiritual, but totally spiritual. For life, living, is eternal. There is no time. It has, is, always will be. The ‘toys of the nursery’, the arts, the expressions of happiness are temporal and they are playing on the source of the eternal. Then the approach to the garden becomes a very different vision. And it is this: not, “there is my home, a piece of land. Now, what am I going to do with it? Uh, let me see now, what am I going to grow?”
No, this is not classical horticulture. This is not classical approach. You see, we not only belong in totality, in eternity, but also the temporal exuberance demands the pleasure of our happiness. It demands the pleasure of our pleasure in it. And the entry into the garden is the first step through the gate wherein an individual inclines into his eternal, and enters the gate with a vision of what Nature wants with him. Of what Nature—of birds and animals and insects, and the soil, and the air, and the clouds, and the rain, and the deep, deep soils—enjoy and wish, and request of his exuberance and life within, as a partner. Not as an administrator. And so the home and the garden and the farm and the life, all become totally real and cannot, cannot go awry because the whole of creation, of eternity, of everything in the cornucopia of life, which is endless, is now the river of everything that can and shall be.
The moment that you enter the garden with a temporal attitude and say, “I am a human being. I have my family, I have my house, I have my kitchen, I have my refrigerator. Now, what am I going to do? Um… I am going to grow, um, this crop hmm… more still, or too well … Yes, I need, um, I want, ah, twenty thousand dollars. Yes. Right now. That means half a mile of strawberries. Yes, half a mile of strawberries. Let me see now…twenty thousand dollars…half a mile of strawberries. And that takes so many plants—oh dear—that’s more manure than I can get. Oh well. We’ll have to get the sulphates of ammonia.”
Well, you see, here lies the whole fundamental matter of biodynamics, because you’ll get it. Exactly what will happen, you’ll get it. Any idiot can get twenty thousand dollars. And of course, the tragedy is that he will insufferably get what goes with it! With the other [biodynamics], you don’t even know what you will get with it. And every day, every hour will be a magic, art—the fairy story, the fable, the parables, endless unknowns; faith and belief in the intangible.
And it must be said that this realm of approach ….is lived. There are people who can and do live like this. I had been attracted to Tibet and I thought at first as I approached through Kashmir and climbed the mountains on foot, and passed the streams, through which I couldn’t see the bottom for the trout. And the forests were full of wild turkeys. And I met little mountain bears around the corners, and the snow leopards and the lemurs all came up the mountainside with families holding hands together. [inaudible] And there was also a symphony of ‘unbelievableness’ in the heads of the forests where no sound of disrupt whatever from the whole world was audible, but for the total symphonic song of the Himalayas; an unbelievable, overwhelming song. And one suddenly found that with the most appalling, shocking-looking creature coming in the opposite direction, you suddenly, as you approached, changed a whole suspect of inspection; and as an emanation came which was totally undeniable and unavoidable. And a huge sense of goodness flowed. And of course, there are plenty of people living, obviously, in America, who do have this approach. Now, in saying this I want to become a little bit more practical and tell you of something very serious indeed—two matters. One is our ‘destructibilities’ against Nature and what they must do to us, inherently. And the other is our monstrosities and absurdities amongst ourselves for lack of this classical vision.
I lived in Africa for nine years. And at one time I helped to run the National Theater, a classic arrangement, whereby we toured every little town throughout Africa. And you know, it’s quite a big continent; even bigger than America. And we went to all these curious little towns. And of course, a great many of them way up in the mountains and way off in the deserts, with entirely native population living in original native land – completely – almost unknown to civilization, in a sense. And after a time I got extremely tired of what you would call the ‘African country hotel’, which isn’t very delectable in any way. And I got myself a tent and set it up on the banks of the Zambezi [River] and on the side of mountains, living with the reptiles, the animals, the snakes, the lions, the elephants and all of them—and of course, the natives.
And so I began to envision certain matters fundamental to the idealisms of their living and their classical approach to life. And I found an astonishing matter. I found that in civilized Europe, where I had lived, and lived in the theater—in all the enjoyments of Fantasia—that children have magic. They see a bird and something goes bang! inside, and they almost fly! And there’s definitely a reflection in their soul and there is an awareness of which there isn’t a verbal reiteration. It’s an actual happening. The very soul of the bird, and something of the bird which is totally intangible in words, happens to the child. There is no question that it does.
Now, the moment that a person becomes proper and educated and civilized, um, they must put that down and close the box, and, um, become quite different. I found in Africa amongst these people that it was even the reverse. Therefore, little children were very receptive and ‘reciprocative’ to Nature in that way; that the adults were infinitely more so. In fact, they behaved extraordinarily like mad birds and animals. All their dances and carnivals and everything were much on this line and that I found here an exuberance of living, a true happiness without the spending of any money. Without even toilets or hot water or any of the proper manners that they really did—even, all—everyone of them get up at a certain hour, whilst it was still dusk, in order to greet every dawn, every sunrise, with a kind of carnival
And here was a magic—a magic that was totally real and fortunately, indeed fortunately, because we did try and fail hopelessly, we tried to have conversations. They used to come to my tent. And I used to go, of course, and sit on the edges of their villages and watch and observe them. And occasionally one of them who had known something of our language used to say, “You, Prime Minister ” [I said,]“No”. And of course they didn’t even know who the Prime Minister was. But the extraordinary thing was that we found – because I too, by that time, had become intimately more tangible with Nature – we found that we had the most intrinsic understanding.
Now, I left Africa – driven from it – by white civilization, industry, education and civilization had come in from all the quarters and literally – not everyone, by any means – but by far greater percentage, all pointed their finger at these fantastic children and said, “They can’t live with us. They’re not civilized. I mean it’s unpleasant. It’s really terrible.” And they put them all in barbed-wire fences with no drains, no water—because they said that’s the way they wanted to live; and called it Apartheid.
And at the theater for which I was running, for the exuberant expressions of the happiness of living, classical plays, I was refused to allow any native into the theater. And I approached the government and I said, “If you do this we will cease the theater. For there is nothing else that we can do.” But I said, “Rather than do that, since you have this absurdity, at least agree to this: allow civilized people to one performance and uncivilized people to the other.” And they said, “No, uncivilized people cannot come into the building.” Indeed, there were notices on every seat, on every toilet, on every train, on every building—”Europeans Only“. Well, I gave it up. We closed the gates. We lost the joy of expression. And I went into a great garden and turned it into one of the world’s great gardens of twenty-six acres. (1) And I had twelve of these ‘uncivilized’ human beings as my gardeners. And, of course, they were magic. As indeed, when I was a child, and was born—we had twenty-nine gardeners and many of them were totally illiterate; and they were masters of magic. They didn’t – couldn’t – write their names, but my God! … they could create the most fantastic and fabulous things in which you could sit for hours lost in the world of the spirit, overwhelmed by the fascination and joy of what life deeply and eternally is.
And I became attracted to this and escaped from my German governess who was a horror, and lived under the wings of these illiterate master craftsmen who found that I delighted in how a violet grew and how this happened; and the enchantment and magic of that. And almost without words I was allowed to wander about beside the wheelbarrows and the fence and the rakes and hide under bushes when I heard the governess’s voice. And so they were the first introduction to my life of reality. And from that time on, it grew.
If this magic people, this childhood of native people, who do indeed live very beautifully, and are astonishingly idealistic in their living – their laws of living are extremely idealistic, and would shake a great deal of the European civilization as regards certain elements of family and marriage.
If things such as that can happen throughout a country, a vast continent, if such things as hypnotism, for what else is it, of the ‘verbose’ of the mind, of placards and words, which go on banging away at the temple, driving out the eternal…advertisements? And whole state factories of government thoughts that invented one of the most preposterous of this quarter age, DDT. How it is affecting every person in the world—in the civilized world, in Australia, in New Zealand, way out there in the mad wilds with the Aborigines. How is it that every one of them was bought, was hypnotized into this fantastic and monstrous evil? For it was nothing but a monstrous evil. It was utterly and totally destructive. And practically the whole world now has turned ‘round and said, “This is and was destruction.”
Russia, only a few weeks ago, has discovered and has set to work with scientists, for some long period of time—of which we obviously don’t know—to find, and has found, a bacteria and a chemical that will break down the effects of DDT, which lasts, as you know, something like fifty years, and to break it down in the shortest possible time.
What is the sense that comes in the air with it? What is it? It comes through what realm of information? It’s a warning. It’s literally saying, “We’re finding a restorative to proceed.” And it’s well known that an infinitely worse packet of DDT is already around the corner. And once they prove that they control the effects of DDT, in a very short time everybody is going to say, “Well, if they want to proceed. See what science says. It’s wonderful.“
Classic approach, the classic attitude of horticulture, it just doesn’t allow it. It can’t happen because the matter is not temporal. Classic horticulture is eternal and when you question any matter, you question it from Creation. And because your whole approach the vein of it in that attitude, the whole cornucopia of Creation is waiting; and it can’t, and doesn’t, and won’t go against you. And the balances of biodynamics are forever ‘uplift’.
In continuation of that matter, everybody has, at some time, been to what is known as one of the great gardens of the world. Leningrad, Versailles, Palacio Verde, La Bagatelle, Kew. They’re not, they’re not really great gardens, most of them. They’re huge monstrous architectural madnesses. But botanically some of them are very fantastic wonders. Kew is, indeed, because it’s, ah, it’s a real botanical garden. But some of them are huge archives of buildings, and so on. But they all have a classicism, a classicism of art. But what I’m really alluding to is that, now those great gardens are huge monstrosities brought about by the over-voluptuousness of dominations. But apart from those, there are also plenty of the lesser ones that have been brought about by the over-dominations of the business and commercial people. And all of those have these huge areas of exquisite and fantastic formations and foundations and collections and huge ‘maneuver-ments’ of soil and waterways and fountains; and even rivers! Let alone fantastic buildings and sculptures.
Great Scott! You see, everybody talks today about the essentiality of the chemical-ization and the mechanization of the whole of this matter. But good gracious! Every one of those, every single one of them was made, constructed, thought out, planned, by hands! They didn’t have a truck. They didn’t have a lorry, didn’t have any chemicals. They had the most beautiful paths. They had the most fantastic orchards. The huge period of the French culture of fruit, running into the 18[th century]—they had something like six hundred variations of the most exquisite pears! And where are they? They are down to three or four. And they’re the least exquisite of all of them that ever were. Because they are the only ones that produce a huge crop all in one go, that is possible.
The entry into those gardens was, to a large degree, a classical one…a classical horticultural one. And you see, it truly is a matter of how you place your foot in the garden gate to begin with. And with it goes the future. And here again you find the answer every time, the biodynamic answer to the questions: people, races, the way they live. You cannot judge by what education and parental background has instigated [instilled] into us.
It is because of the monstrosity of procedures of growth, of temporal living, that the youth of today has done this astonishing and ghastly thing of throwing overboard every technique, fabulous and infamous, and saying, “The results are so shocking.” Look at it! Just overboard. Pitch it all out. It fits one purpose, it is one way, and it is not at all a satisfactory way.” But it does mean something! It does mean that there’s a new world on the way and it’s very possible that that new world is very near. And because it’s very near I feel that these attitudes that Dr. Cooley and Professor Lee are wanting to have expressed are so vitally important that the only ground on which you can know that you are part of Creation is this entry, this classical approach. And that the very answers from the whole procedure of a garden, after that, give us our answers.
Lest you should be thinking that this means technical abilities are overboard, it is the reverse. The classical matter of man’s knowledge; and this is the other side, the biodynamic side of the spiritual side of Steiner where he becomes a scientist.
You see, in creation, in the garden, in the farm, in Nature, is everything, that everything that lives, needs – for Providence, for maintenance, for health—everything. In the whole world of the fruit and the herbs and the growth—is everything that we need. And it is well to realize that in those things, is not essentially the way we look at it. Like bidens or marigolds, when you can’t answer what’s going to happen, where it’s going to be, how it’s going to happen—you don’t know! But it’s going to happen.
For you see, that you can have all the synthetic medicines in the world, and you can have an ailment, and somebody will give you one of them, and it will probably put it right in two hours, or half a day. But for sure, you are going to have three other troubles because it is out of…biodynamics. It’s out[side of] of the law of procedure of natural creation. A plant takes a certain time to grow. A moon changes with an inclination of the Sun; and certainly are in relation. And at certain times they are in dis-relation. And indeed there are any amount of plants that dislike other plants. And there are any amount of plants that absolutely adore living and being with other plants, and grow far better when they’re with them. And there are plenty of insects that adore certain plants; as you well know. And there are certain insects which can’t tolerate certain plants. And likewise birds, and likewise animals, and certainly likewise human beings. For there are plenty of people who we meet and see… oh! Fabulous! My goodness! Fabulous! I can never see enough of him! I would like to…listen…always be with him. Always. Actually, no. Oh, no, the chap. No, I can’t stand him.
And you see, that is biodynamics. It is all connected with characteristics and planets. And we should be dealing with this particularly next Saturday and the Saturday after, when we deal with the cycles.
And this brings into a huge vision the entire truth of these matters.
But it is vitally important that…we do not obliterate the beautiful wisdoms that have come about through man’s living in correlation with eternity. These are ‘religioso’, philosophical wisdoms. They are beautiful. They’re undeniable and you sense them. And man is a temporal as well as an eternal. As is a cabbage. As is a butterfly, that turns from an egg into a caterpillar, into an chrysalis, into a butterfly, into an egg, into a caterpillar, into a chrysalis, and into a butterfly.
As the leaves fall, the sticks fall, and make the soil that is the birth for the seed of the next year. Life into death, into life, into death. Life into death, eternally. And there is no time. But, it is essential, it is good, that we hold the techniques of procedures, that the wisdoms that have come about, should indeed be held and learned and studied. And having attained these, to grow upon them and enlarge upon them; giving more unto the world than we could ever take from it. And is this not the whole law? The beautiful exhibition of creation itself? The oak tree, the cow, the snail, the flower, that all make more than they ever take. This we will also discuss next Saturday. We will endeavor to see how clear it is that everything in some ways—not always within our vision, is a gift, born; and itself is not a vision.
What can we do? What have we done in the garden, in this world? Fantastic! It’s one of the most exuberant matters connected with some of the deplorabilities of humanity. It is truly fantastic! If you go to anybody’s garden, that the more perfect the garden you go to, what do you find? Everything that…everything that grows in it. You see, if you go to cut a lettuce to make a salad, what have you done? You have used the ancient leontodon, or a dandelion. And man says, “In my image, my delight of the spirit of eternity, I would like to have a dream. I would like to have it a little bit more yellow, a little bit more tender. And perhaps something more of a heart. And, I’ll do this to it, a little manure, a little cultivation, and it’s better.” Intermarry [this one – variety] with another one, of another kind, and you’ve got a [unique new] lettuce.
And the whole garden, the whole farm, the whole orchard, and your trees, and your shrubs, and the birds that go with them are all a magnification of this matter of what you are given to make a joy of. Because it wants us to make a joy of living! Oh! Incredible creation! And this is the whole vision of the approach: that once you do this, you don’t want anything. You just adore creation, and you make it! And you can’t stop it once you’ve started! You can take the seed of a flower. You can take a raspberry cane, and you can plant it, and you can regard it and love it, and look after it with that classic approach. And before you know where you are, you’ve got a classic, great garden, which you hardly know how to deal with.
And when people say, “Ah, but yes, my dear sir, but don’t you realize, the population, what are you going to do about it?” The answer is, of course, you don’t do anything about it. But return to God in the classical approach. And you don’t have to answer anything, because you didn’t make it. You didn’t make a strawberry or a raspberry or an anemone. It’s made by creation! It’s for us to live! And in life there’s nothing we can make.
Every single thing that we have in this world, even the abomination of a motor car, has unfortunately, a mimicry of everything that God has given us to live with—biodynamics, you see. But this is the point—that everything we have: a carpet, is the leaves, or the moss on the ground, a carpet; the curtains are a copy of leaves and greenery, every single thing is a copy or a mimicry. And it can’t be anything else because the whole of our living is “being with”. Great Scott! I think that…did you happen to mention about interval [Alan’s next address] next time?
We have rather arranged between us [Alan & Dr. Cooley] that, you see, we are going to talk a great deal more technically in future, as well as otherwise, and we are rather going to make some sort of vision between the whole world of vision in art, and its conjunction with this vision of horticulture.
However, just before I close, I would like to say something of what this brings about with a thought to ‘envisionment’ of living; of a university. How fabulous, and how basically tangible it would make things if a university were built within such an attitude of surroundings. For how important in art is all inter-reflection? That all people who have said anything in music or painting or dancing or literature, have always understood that it is not because of just the color [that is] there. It is also the texture. And it is not, clearly, the color and texture of this at all. It’s the light that is upon it; for if it’s dark, it isn’t anything. And even that has really nothing to do with it because it is intrinsically the air and space, [the aura] which is magic; which is around it.
And so, the effect of interplay, which is still so vastly overlooked amongst us. Our interplay amongst ourselves and the way we live. The noises we make or do not make, the food that we eat, which as Robert Graves said is so intrinsic, the color that we live amongst. The way, obviously, in which classic poise is balanced on the ball of the feet, as it seems the ancient Greeks were the last to know. And deportment, and the delight of meme, and the use of the charm of speech in words—all these things have a huge interplay in our lives. And since the youth in a university, from their homes in the country, are here to be gilded for life. To be given wings of freedom to fly out of the cages—should it not be that they should have the vision of the spiritual life as their basics? And the toys of the nursery as [merely] the toys of the nursery? Thank you.
— END TAPE —
- The Admiralty Gardens at Cape Town, South Africa in the mid-1950s.
Archive ID: CA1002
Title: Biodynamics of Horticulture, Lecture 1: Intro
Date: 22 Jan 1972
Location: University of California, Santa Cruz