Where Permaculture meets Buddhism

Permaculture and BuddhismThere has been hardly a day this Spring and Summer when Bealtaine Cottage has not welcomed visitors.

permaculture and BuddhismOften times I am left exhausted by the challenge of working, to keep production going and keeping a “welcome for all”

Permaculture and BuddhismThere have been occasions when I have had to turn away requests to visit…and I spend time regretting it, but I work on my own and have others to care for at times.

Bealtaine, where Permaculture meets BuddhismThis morning I received an email from visitors who came to see Bealtaine on Friday last.

Permaculture and BuddhismI thought I would share this with you, for what Michael has to say is thoughtful and profound. 

Hi Colette 

This is Michael!

I visited you on Friday with my partner Mairead.

Anyway I just wanted to say thanks again.

You’ve really awakened in me the real magic and mysticism held within our mother earth.

I was beginning to think permaculture was just another ego trip men were on, trying to use wacky methods to grow food, rather than cherishing and learning to live in harmony with mother earth and all her creatures.

The voluntary work I had done with some ‘permaculture’ enthusiasts had left me feeling very uneasy that this might be another path of excess, rather than simplicity and harmony.

I sort of turned away from the permaculture ideas.

I felt the Buddhist ideas of how to live simply and compassionately towards all of the earth’s sentient beings were being left out of this approach. Permaculture and Buddhism

Michael goes on to say…

I watched this documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FumyvVOVbaY a few months ago and was extremely moved and humbled by how simply the monks lived in harmony with their surroundings taking very little from it and not disturbing any of the life around them.

I began meditating in the Zen tradition a while ago.

And after initially thinking it would be a way for me to find some peace and quiet in a busy world, the practice soon began to awaken in me the sacredness of the world around me and soon the practice became my life.

Visiting your place has made me realise how much the earth wants to come to life.

It’s hard to describe but the plants and insects and all the life in Bealtaine seem so alive and ultimately happy!

Its like the teachings I’ve been reading in Buddhist texts are alive in Bealtaine.

It’s like a microcosm of how the world would be, if we lived compassionately for all creatures, down to the tiniest microbes in the soil.

It’s truly a living revelation.

I had these strong questions in my mind about how to connect the material and spiritual world in a harmonious way, so that we can live balanced between the two, not giving too much time to either so that all life can flourish.

I had asked a lot of people, including monks and meditation teachers, but it took seeing your place to realize what needs to be done.

I think I had spent too much time over the last while being to into spiritual practices, thinking the earth might be better off without humans, but seeing your place has given me an understanding, that as conscious beings, we have been given the role of caretakers of the planet, but its something we’ve yet to realise.

I’ve read so much about balance, but It took seeing your place to see what balance is.

I’ve met so many teachers who seem to cling to one approach but my intuition has always kept me thinking that both the outer and inner worlds are equally important and need equal care.

Bealtaine really is this sacred balance and thank you for nurturing it to life!

I hope to visit it many times and please keep us informed of any courses. 

I thought I’d share this page with you..

there are some great lectures. the first one by Dr Vandana Shiva and the ones by Deepak Chopra and Helena Nordberg Hodge are particularly inspiring.

well have a great summer and hopefully we get to visit again in the not too distant future. and if you ever need a hand with anything, please let me know, I’d love to come and learn from you!



Permaculture and Buddhism


  1. What an absolutely beautiful post you have put on here. I really enjoyed reading about the reflection and spirituality when combined together make up the most beautiful relationship. It’s amazing how many things come back to us when we reflect on our lives I really enjoyed reading this and I look forward to more of your work best wishes Julie X

  2. What a beautiful tribute to you, to Bealtaine and the work you have done/the life you are leading!! Makes me want to come all the more and experience it for myself. Deep love and gratitude!!

    • That is so wonderful – the mail itself, and your amazing endeavours that prompted the mail.
      I loved: “Visiting your place has made me realise how much the earth wants to come to life.”
      Colette – 2 thoughts – Firstly, please please please pat yourself on the back, and understand what a phenomenal thing you have achieved – first in creating it, then in sharing it and inspiring us all. Secondly – it was occurring to me, while reading, then he mentioned it himself: get an exchange of energies please. At this point, it is becoming essential, I feel.
      Keep a list of things that others can help you with, and have all visitors spend an hour or two doing them – moving stones, chopping wood, planting, harvesting – whatever. Also – please consider having interns visit to help out – either local people (don’t know how feasible that is?) or WWOOFer types – people who are interested in permaculture practices, but don’t know how to apply them, or who want experience for their portfolios so that they can go on to become permaculturists themselves.
      Also – please consider going to permaculture and spiritual events, and speaking about permaculture techniques as you have applied them, not just what can be read in a book. If I could afford to bring you out to Minnesota to do this, I would in a heartbeat – there are so many people here who would be inspired by you.
      Seriously – you are going to go down in permaculture history with the greats – no exaggeration. Ireland can and should learn from you, and the rest of the world can benefit from your knowledge. You are the Jack Monroe of permaculture in my book, and there really is no higher recommendation than that…

      • I am overwhelmed by your words, Janette thank you so much, for I am uplifted by what you say!
        I will take on board all your wise advice! Thank you for that…and blessings to you XXX Colette

  3. Good Morning Colette, My initial reaction to your blog was…Black and white pictures?…disappointment….but the reading of Michaels email put everything into perspective. The black and white was perfect…color would have drowned out his sage thoughts on Buddhism and the simplicity of life. I have been trying to increase that same level of simplicity in my life, but as an artist and herbalist, I find I have so many things that I need. first for artist creations, then recycled objects for storage of herbs etc.Okay I am a recycling pack rat! But in the last five years my study of Zen Buddhism has totally change my life.
    You are an inspiration to me as I garden in huge pots at the foot of my Apt. house stairs, hoping someday to have a permaculture garden. It would be so very Zen for me to have this activity.

    • I once lived in an apartment in London and gardened in pots and loved the challenge and the fact that so many people got to see and enjoy the garden! Then I got an allotment and branched out…I’m laughing just thinking about it all…halcyon days. Enjoy all you do and share…
      Colette X

  4. Colette,
    I too understand Michael’s previous experience.but I think more and more people are finding the true meaning to permaculture… Your blogs are always inspiring but yesterdays blog was a true tribute to your good works.
    Blessings to you

  5. A truly beautiful email from Mick. Thanks also from me Colette for a truly amazing magical day. I could feel the positive energy as soon as we arrived. Hope to see you and your fairy wood again before too long. Mairéad

  6. Reblogged this on Laura Bruno's Blog and commented:
    A lovely post by Colette, which ties in nicely with yesterday’s Robert Jensen post, as well as my Joanna Macy references, since she approaches permaculture from a Buddhist background. In this post, Colette shares a letter she received from someone who visited Bealtaine Cottage. Michael describes the special reverence we can all engage in on this planet, truly stepping into a role of caretakers rather than simply takers. A really lovely post!

  7. Reblogged this on Hawthorn Rising and commented:
    Another beautiful post from Colette. One of her visitors describes the feeling of ‘connectedness’ to the earth and nature, something missing from some permaculturalists.

  8. Wonderful!!
    I think I understand Michael’s previous experience with permaculturists – too often I’ve also felt the connectedness with the land and it’s beings not being fully recognised.
    Thank you for your efforts to show what IS possible♥

Your comments are welcome!