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First Rule of Intitiation - The Josephine Porter Institute

First Rule of Intitiation

According to Steiner, the first rule of initiation is not wanting things to be other than they already are. This is a difficult idea to stomach. In Buddhism, this is close to the two "bitter pills" of karma and reincarnation, namely, that what is happening to me is actually destined for me and bears the hallmarks of my own character approaching me from outside. Which is to say, rather than struggling against the world, the first rule of initiation suggests that we first accept it as it is, as being divinely provident, and from there see how we can improve the lives of others. 

In Farmers of Forty Centuries, about the splendid legacy of traditional farming in China, it is shown how land in China was conventionally rated not as "good" or "bad" but based on how many labor hours would be needed to make it productive. In a region where all the land needed to be made productive, there wasn't an option to judge some land as "bad" and not use it -- it all needed to be made productive. 

If we approached our farms that way: first accepting things as they already are we would be in a better place to improve them by valuing conditions as they already are. You might think this is merely a psychological trick: if you practice looking for value and appreciating life as it already exists, you'll start seeing more value. This doesn't mean blind optimism or callously telling someone grieving that everything happens for a reason, but rather appreciating what happens to me as having hidden values (not preaching such a message to anyone else out of heartless abstraction). 

For example, during a bad tomato year when all the plants are damaged by blight, the farmer will be tempted to see everything as a failure. But if you recognize that development is accelerated under pressure, much like food is rendered more digestible by cooking, you'll see that a bad crop year is a paradoxically good year to save seeds. Look at your damaged tomatoes and see which plants have been damaged least: you will be select for disease-resistant plants immediately. If you continue this process for several years, you will have created disease-resistant plants that are also acclimated to your bioregion rather than being imported from out of state. If we accept things as they are and look for their hidden value, we will find secret possibilities. This isn't blind optimism, but objective impartiality. This is also how we open up the possibility of developing a "personal relationship with manure" which is, lets face it, probably pretty icky (to most of us) when we first start engaging it. 

We could extend this image: if we don't first accept there's a problem we also can't fix it. So the first step is not hiding in denial but accepting the exact conditions as they are and looking within those for hidden possibilities. This is the very basis of fertility for the farm organism and even the emergence of the biodynamic preparations from latent potential in manure and humble weeds. 

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