The foundation is love and connection
I was a young hippy in San Francisco in the sixties. I was using LSD to gain spiritual insights. I was reading about Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, the Kabbalah, I Am That (talks of Nisergadatta Maharaj), etc., and smoking weed. But I wasn’t crazy, rather I was somewhat lost, but trying to find my way. I lived in a large Victorian with the Brotherhood of Light who did the light shows at the Fillmore concerts. Eventually, I opened perhaps the world’s first exclusively antique clothing store (elegant clothes from before the forties on back) on Grant St. in North Beach.
I had been terribly shy as a youth, but had gradually been overcoming it. Even though I had graduated from college, I had the revelation of how ignorant I actually was and began reading in a purposeful manner for the next 5 years.
I will not recount all the events and experiences that happened during this time except to say that when I was 27 and a half, I woke up one day and felt that I was a “new person”. Something had changed. This “illumination” lasted 3 weeks and that is a story in itself, but what I wish to recount here is that I could look into anyone’s eyes and a giant rush of compassion would flow from me to the other person with no effort or even desire on my part. I also felt fearless, energized, and very light-hearted. I was very saddened when it ended and it never came back because it seemed that it would last forever, but I had to accept it.
I continued on the path to self-discovery for many years after that of which I had many revelations. I had raised a family and had many interesting experiences. I was an activist and at some point discovered that my comprehension was the same as the ideas of anarchism.
I was one of the founding members in SF of a group called Food Not Bombs. We would feed the homeless organic vegetarian meals in front of the government building and get arrested for that because we didn’t “have a license”. There was no procedure to get one, but that is what the gov’t said to justify the arrests. Mother Teresa’s workers were on the other side of the plaza also giving out food and were never arrested.
We worked with EarthFirst in N. California to help protect the Redwoods and we protested and fed the protesters in Nevada to stop the nuclear testing on Navajo land.
In 2000, I had the largest website on the internet with methods for self-sustainability and was nominated for a prestigious prize in Stockholm Sweden. But shortly after, Google kicked in and I thought that the website was no longer relevant since it was simple to just ask Google for whatever information one needed, but my interest in sustainable practices continued.
Right around that time, due to unusually favorable circumstances I was able to retire. I visited Osho’s ashram in Pune, India and fell in love with a young incredible German woman which lasted only 2 and a half years.
Shortly after I moved with her to an intentional community on the border of Germany and Holland and stayed there for 5 years.
Then in 2010, I moved to Vilcabamba, Ecuador to join another community that was forming but immediately realized that this kind of community was not for me and so, it took me 18 months to find the almost perfect land there to start the first ever mostly Latino, intentional or eco-community in Vilcabamba, which is now 10 years old (chambalabamba.org).
The foundation is love and connection. It is horizontal with everyone having equal say in all decisions and agreements that require 100% consensus. It is a model of anarchism and a very happy place. We have a drinkable river running along one side of the 5 and a half hectares of pretty flat land which is rare in the Andes mountains. That is to say, the land is flat and it is pretty. The weather is spring-like all year around.
At this point, one might consider that I had grown old since I was 68 when it started. But miraculously, I don’t feel or identify with my age and hence, don’t live like an old person and enjoy great health. I was living my spiritual path, by contributing in many ways to the community every day, I was giving love. For me, love is caring. Caring for everyone, and the environment.
Our community perhaps is the most difficult to succeed, that is, to continue to exist. Because if even one person doesn’t have a noble character, that is, to be kind, considerate, honest, humble, light-hearted, reliable, and committed 100% to the community, the community could have monumental problems. I learned this along the way. So now, it takes some time before anyone is admitted as a resident. It’s tricky, because people carry trauma and that sometimes is hard to recognize, some are propagandized and are attached to false beliefs, and people can change.
Many young and sometimes older people come to volunteer for a minimum of one month. For many it can be transformational to live with lovely non-judgemental people. It is an opportunity to learn much, especially about oneself and to develop good character.
There are many dogs everywhere in the world and here is only one. I try to be grateful every time there is no dog barking (this is a joke, but also real).
Most of the time, it is very tranquil in this natural paradise where we have planted tons of fruit trees and have many vegetable gardens along with medicinal herbs, and many amenities.
Because we are 1500 meters above sea level, the weather is spring-like all year round. Our community is always improving, but the weather stays the same, always changing (is this an oxymoron?).
I am devoted to our community and have an equal passion to live in a free and just world. Right now, I have a rather ambitious project to encourage all the indigenous nations and camposinos of Ecuador to unite around an agreement to demand that Ecuador restructure from a vertical to a horizontal government (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wywMhg604W8). We have spoken to most of them and have contacted all of them and are awaiting their responses.
I believe that this would be one large step to ending corruption in the government (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oilxI6Dgoy8&t=5s). And if we are successful, hopefully, it will quickly spread to other countries, especially here in S. America.
I have other strategies that I won’t go into here, but for me, to be spiritual is to be coming from the heart, that is, to be genuinely caring, to be humble (on the absolute scale we are all equal), to stand up against injustices and cruelty, to foster personal integrity, and to recognize the sacredness of everything, while always keeping a sense of humor. That is why I believe that to be truly spiritual, one must be an activist. But I am also one who believes that it is sloppy thinking to attach to beliefs, so I am always happy if anyone can help me to a greater comprehension by proving any of my ideas wrong.
by Tom (MofWooFoo)
‘Atma’ – The Guide of Souls