Integrity in Construction
Dusyanta dasa: In Oxford in the UK a farmer had made a grandiose plan that began in 2012. His idea was to show and illustrate in a practical way that the whole contamination of capitalism can be defeated by individuals. As devotees this is one of the purposes of Iskcon ; to live a simple lifestyle that is natural and then to teach that to others, to escape from the ugly capitalistic influence. And in the beginning of Iskcon this purpose was not possible to illustrate because the model of Iskcon was still just the Temple model that we all wrongly thought we had to copycat and replicate ad infinitum. As Iskcon devotees we had not experienced any other lifestyles other than that Temple model in Iskcon, that Temple model at that time was the only model available.
But now the time has changed and that Temple model is only for a small minority of devotees whereas before it was for the majority. The mantras from the past for devotees to work by were “do the needful, don’t ask any questions, do the needful.” But they simply don’t apply nowadays for the vast majority of community devotees. We don’t have to work by that model, community devotees can’t work by the temple model. What we are trying to achieve in today’s expansive community styled Iskcon is to achieve the purposes of Iskcon that have not been realized. That is, we are trying to aim at the simple living and natural harmonious lifestyle that is the alternative to capitalism.
As long as we all keep subscribing to the capitalistic dream, the future lifestyle for our children and their children will just enhance the struggle for survival. Capitalism is conceived and executed for the minority and underlines the principles of atheism and greed and operates in the two lower modes of nature, that is the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance. Capitalism is exploitative, abusive and hedonistic. It focuses on the rugged individual so that the material dream of achieving whatever you like can be gained, of course that’s all just a lie but it’s a gamble to hook you onto the concept. Yes there is a possibility you may become rich, have a beautiful wife and lord it over all you survey, capitalism helps reinforce that desire.
In the capitalistic mode there are no ethical principles to follow, as long as we make money then that is the justification for the means and the end. But as devotees this is where we differ, and we differ considerably. We don’t want to exploit, we want to live with the minimum amount of violence. We don’t want to work like asses just to pay for a mortgage or high rent just to sleep, eat, mate and defend. That’s not our purpose. We want a very simple life, with minimal confrontation, where our ethics are high standards that are harmonious with nature. We actually require very little materially and that can be reflected in our lifestyles now that Iskcon has grown past the Temple model.
And this farmer back in 2012 was also planning to achieve this goal which he did easily. In our Iskcon goals we have to achieve many different levels of simple living and harmonious lifestyles. There are all the different levels of Agriculture, the different levels of Cow protection, the different types of communities based on these agrarian principles, the types of governing principles of consensus, but one of the most important principles we have to achieve is the construction of dwellings, the construction of buildings that we manifest our faith in the future and all our agricultural buildings.
What the Oxford farmer was trying to teach the public in the Uk was that we don’t have to suck up to all the greedy principles of capitalism. The high demanding restrictions that capitalism pressurizes each individual to commit to in our lives. Why do we work all of our lives just to pay a mortgage for a dwelling and work just to pay for all those inclusive bills? So the farmer built his house using the ancient technique of cobbing. This is where in the summer months a mixture of water and soil with straw and cow dung are mixed together and the walls of a building are constructed. Amazingly cheap but also mode of goodness materials and no greenhouse gases, in other words in harmony with nature and ecologically friendly. The inside walls covered with a mixture of plant resins and naturally occurring chalks, which produce relaxing colours and a dappled artistic effect.
Then by using a beautifully integrated connecting pattern of wooden rafters that are self supporting the roof is constructed. By using old methods of thatching a totally waterproof and insulated roof is constructed and alternative roofs can be built with soils and meadow flowers and grass as finishing materials. In this beautifully designed curvaceous construction nothing artificial or man made is used, not even electrical power tools are necessary, and not one 90 degree corner to be seen so the ambience of the building is welcoming in itself. By using wooden window frames and door frames with well insulated glass your dwelling is practically finished. Heating is by using wood burning stoves that are nowadays 90% efficient, cooking by using ranges produced by Rayburn or AGA companies made from cast iron. These cookers are the Rolls Royce of cookers that have to be put together on site because they are so well made and last for generations with superb cooking qualities using wood and naturally homemade methane gas.
In the farmers example he used a nearby well that he located near the front door to be used for fresh water and refrigeration. The single storey building is an aesthetic delight to behold and uses all the natural ways of composting to deal with household waste. In combining household waste with cow dung, methane gas can be generated in a domestic situation for cooking, lighting and heating, refrigeration and hot water if necessary. The farmer completed his dwelling in two years and cost him a total of £5000 today. He dis-proved the capitalistic belief that houses cost a lot to construct, and have a value of way under the real amount that they sell at in the house market. Basically we have all been ripped off because we all believe in the system; capitalism is only a belief system and that’s what we perpetuate by participating in that system.
In Iskcon it becomes our mission to illustrate the alternative to capitalism by constructing our very own harmonious buildings in a similar way to the farmer so that community devotees are not forced to work like asses all their lives just to pay for their houses and all the artificial ancillary bills connected. We have the perfect opportunity to pave the way to the utopian future for devotees. On our own land we can construct these simply beautiful buildings and eat our very own wholesomely grown minimum violent food, and protect the cows. The symbiotic arrangement could not be more perfect, it is the only ecological answer on the planet and it potentially shows the alternative to all other lifestyles.
We have the opportunity to practically explore this dynamic alternative by following these ancient solutions. We can by-pass all the synthetic artificial and false capitalistic principles. The idea of the purposes of Iskcon for the members of Iskcon is to live this simple and natural lifestyle, after all these years we now find the evolution of Iskcon at this crossroads where we can rise to the challenge of our mission by showing the alternative society, the society of the International Krishna Consciousness movement. By illustrating this alternative and by living this alternative we will attract many to Iskcon. By showing how to construct buildings with real integrity, by living in our own buildings, by housing our blessed protected cows, by growing our own wholesome naturally grown food will show how deep our faith is for the present devotees and the many generations to come. What better way of showing the faith in our own lifestyles than by constructing our own villages that will last for generations.
As in the past, faith played its part in defining and shaping society. And that past society with its faith in God and everything that society held dear to its heart is still found in places in the Uk today. We can still find buildings that are hundreds of years old some that are thousands just because the constructers of these buildings had the vision that the buildings would be needed for a long time in the future. Societies were built on faith in the future because it was faith in God. Churches, agricultural buildings and houses, dwellings, all built for the same purpose and all built with integrity so they would stand the test of time. In the future, Iskcon wants people to see that we had that same faith in God that we constructed our buildings so that they would last the same as our faith. Otherwise how do we demonstrate our faith to be strong if it is not through our society?