by Alick Bartholomew
Inspired by Goethe, Viktor Schauberger (1885 – 1958) recognised the importance of holism, the interconnectedness of all of life, 50 years before James Lovelock proposed his Gaia theory. He insisted that Nature has both meaning and purpose. His extraordinary observations of how Nature works and particularly the importance of water as the precondition for life, have made him a valuable visionary for our times. He declared “We must recognise that it is Nature, not Man that is omniscient on the Earth, but that if we continue to flout Nature’s laws, humanity may not have a future. So where have we gone wrong?
Earlier civilisations understood more about how Nature works than we do today. The scientists were priests and vice versa; they saw the whole world as indivisible. The building designs of ancient Chinese cultures were informed by geomantic principles which recognised that straight lines fostered disruptive behaviour. Our geometry is Euclidean, using shapes and straight lines that Nature abhors. The Romans and Greeks had porous egg-shaped earthenware pots to keep water and wine in good heath; the Romans used wooden pipes to carry drinking water.
Modern times have seen two major evolutionary changes in humanity — greater emphasis on the intellect — and the globalisation of culture as never before. The biggest shift began about four hundred years ago when the Enlightenment brought the growth of rationalism, with its emphasis on the importance of the individual that has produced a collective amnesia in modern society. It is surely not a coincidence that, in the same period, we have progressively lost the connection with our roots, with the numinous and with the magical essence of place.
Rationalism has caused a great schism in society, a separation of thinking from experience, of head from heart. The outcome is that our culture now sees the world mainly in terms of a material closed system that produces a limited view of reality. Our science is the product of this world-view, as are our philosophy and education, our religion, our politics and our medicine. The so-called ‘Enlightenment’ produced an enduring belief in permanent progress (with no going back). Modern science still tends to think this way, in spite of two world wars and the potential threat of annihilation in a third.
The rationalist movement put Man on a pedestal, introducing the idea that humanity is separate from Nature, and started to interpret all phenomena by a process of reduction into smaller and smaller parts; for example, modern medicine has difficulty with the idea of the human being as an integrated whole. Modern science believes that the Earth is basically dead, and Nature is observed as one would a mechanical system. As a result, we now practise a philosophy that Man can exploit and manipulate Nature with impunity for the imagined benefit of humanity.
This has resulted in a deep split in the human psyche between our memory of being part of the spiritual soul of the Earth — and, in its most positive aspect, the need for independent thinking in order to pursue individual creativity and expanded consciousness,
Though we have almost ceased to pass down our oral traditions, there still seems to survive in our collective consciousness a memory of connection with place and with Nature. During the so-called ‘National Debate’ on genetically modified crops in the summer of 2003, most objectors insisted they knew in their hearts that GM is against Nature, and were deeply disturbed that Man feels he can do anything he wants with Planet Earth. Such a strong revulsion, alien to contemporary morality, may have come from a residual memory.
Our natural world is essentially an indivisible unity, but we human beings are condemned to apprehend it from two different directions – through our senses (perception) or through our minds (conceptual). A child just observes and marvels, but as our rational minds become trained we are taught to interpret what we see, usually through other peoples’ ideas, in order to ‘make sense’ of our sensory experience. Both are forms of reality, but unless we are able to bring the two aspects meaningfully together, the world will present nothing but incomprehensible riddles to us.
This, in fact, is the basic shortcoming of our present human society. It is the great weakness of the prevailing scientific orthodoxy. Some of the pioneers of science were able to bridge this dichotomy. Their way was to immerse themselves so deeply in the world of pure observation and experience, that out of these perceptions the concepts would speak for themselves. Viktor Schauberger (1885–1958) possessed this rare gift. He noted:
The majority believes that everything hard to comprehend must be very profound. This is incorrect. What is hard to understand is what is immature, unclear and often false. The highest wisdom is simple and passes through the brain directly into the heart.
We have experiences every day that fall outside the accepted conventions of reality; like little synchronicities, anticipation of events, the sensing of different qualities of ‘atmosphere’ as emanations from people, situations or places, the power of thought over action, intuitive communication with other people and with animals. At best these phenomena might be labeled wooly, like ‘psychic’ experiences. We are lost because there is no system or structure to ‘make sense’ of an important part of our lives. They are not part of conventional wisdom.
When we gaze in awe up at the Milky Way on a cloudless night, or when we reach the top of a mountain with a view as far as the eye can see, and feel the joyous humility of being a tiny part of a wondrous world — to describe rationally the immense feeling of oneness with the Universe or with Nature is almost inconceivable.
Schauberger’s insights may help us to see our world better as an interconnected whole that resonates with the principle ‘as above, so below’. If Nature is the mirror of the Divine, then one would expect her to have some of its attributes. Viktor Schauberger was so moved by the enormously intricate interdependent and closely linked natural processes, that he became convinced that Nature was guided by the highest intelligence, and was redolent with both meaning and purpose.
Schauberger was able to make startling breaksthrough in understanding the purpose of Nature because he had not been, as he would say, “brainwashed”, by scientific training. Nature was his teacher. From his childhood he spent his days in the virgin forests observing Nature in the raw. Endowed with extraordinary powers of observation which kept him grounded, he had also a keen intuition and sensitivity.
He spoke of sitting by a stream and “allowing the water’s consciousness to enter my being and tell me what it needed in order to stay healthy”. In a similar manner, he discovered how a trout could stand motionless in a raging torrent, or surmount a high waterfall.
Known as “The Water Wizard”, Viktor Schauberger has greatly increased our understanding of water’s role in the life process of all organisms. Water is so basic to life that one could call it ‘Nature’s pathways’. It provides life-giving nourishment, for all organisms require water to stay alive; it carries information and nutrients specific to each organism; water helps to create the most beneficial micro environment, it moderates climate; it carries energy healing and removes wastes. We all know how calming water can be. Linked to the human emotions, water can also be a source of inspiration, whether it is moving or still.
Water is a living organism; Schauberger called it “the blood of the Earth”. Natural forests are the cradle, the generator, of high quality water; loss of forest means loss of water. Our failure to understand the need to protect the quality of water is the principle cause of environmental degradation on this planet.
A healthy river is self-cleansing. By creating a vortex down the river length, it concentrates into the cold center-stream negatively-charged carbonous elements that drive impurities to the outer stream where the positively-charged oxygen-rich elements transform the impurities into harmless substances. This is the river’s immune system, just as trees and mammals have immune systems to keep disease-causing organisms in check.
In recent years pioneers like Jacques Beneviste have demonstrated how water has memory. Water is like a magnetic tape; it can carry information that may either enhance or degrade the quality of organisms. Viktor knew that and much more. Not only do water/sap/blood (they are all basically water) carry nutrients, but in their own way they have consciousness.
This business of consciousness is hard for us to understand, for we have little real awareness of holism — every thing being dependent on everything else. For every participant in a natural process to play, to ‘know’, its part in the operation, there must be a level of consciousness. Just imagine how human society might operate on Nature’s principles if it had not been poisoned by ego concern and anthropocentricity!
Nature always makes use of everything, even elements like pathogens which, when they get out of hand can cause disease but, when cooperating with the evolutionary process, break down, in order to recycle organisms whose life force has expired.
An essential condition of Nature’s evolutionary process is the need for balance — balance between species, between energies and environments. Nature is always striving for balance between active polarities, for she is never at rest. Yin and yang, negative and positive, feminine and masculine are always present in Nature’s processes. For creative evolution to proceed, all processes should be weighted towards the yin or feminine.
For the last three thousand years, and increasingly in the last centuries, human society has been out of balance, operating in a predominantly masculine mode. There should be this form of weighted balance between chaos and order, egoism and altruism, quantity and quality (the last a particular confusion of our present culture).
Basic to Schauberger’s world-view is the purpose of Nature. He defined evolution as the continual refinement of energies to promote greater complexity of inter-relationships; to facilitate the emergence, and to raise the consciousness, of higher life forms. Human society urgently needs to understand Nature’s imperative for diversity — in human society, in husbandry, in agriculture, fishing and forestry.
None of the vital processes governing the creation of life can be understood from a purely material perspective (the 3rd dimensional aspect of contemporary science). Nature’s processes operate at subtler and more rarefied levels (the energy domains of the 4th & 5th dimensions (see diagram). Schauberger would constantly remind us “we need to think an octave higher”.
The supreme consciousness (or God) has endowed higher sentient beings with a need for meaning, without which human beings have difficulty in striving creatively. Schauberger pointed out that the extraordinary fecundity of Nature, as indeed all her processes, are endowed with both purpose and meaning. While purpose is like a community of bees at work, meaning lies in the one-ness, the unity, of all creation.
Life forms respond to each other by means of resonance, ‘Gaia’s glue’. It is the language of communication and response. Resonance is what holds Nature together; it is the law of attraction, bringing the lichen to the rock, the orchid to the tree, the butterfly to the buddleia. The quality of life is supported by vibrational energy. When this energy is compromised, the result is environmental decline.
All life is in motion, the quality of the movement determining whether a process is life-enhancing or for breaking down or recycling. Temperature is Nature’s catalyst: small changes in temperature, and whether falling or rising, also determines quality enhancement or degeneration.
There is no morality in Nature, whose evolutionary imperative is part of the Divine Master Plan of creation. Similarly, Nature’s cosmic face, Gaia, is required by the Plan to ensure the most favourable environment for life on Earth, despite the Sun’s inconsistent output of energy. The Divine experiment to grant humans free will, self-reflection and a moral sensibility seems to have required periodic visitations by emissaries of the Supreme Intelligence to keep us descending into moral depravity.
Viktor Schauberger was a genius whose ideas were far ahead of his time. Passionate about trees, he warned that deforestation would deplete the world of water and destroy fertility, causing deserts and climatic chaos. He developed implosion technology that produced prodigious amounts of sustainable energy, with no waste, pollution or damage to Earth’s fragile ecosystems.
Schauberger’s insights into how Nature works are essential to show us where we have gone wrong and to indicate the way ahead. “How else should it be done?”, he was often asked. His answer was straightforward and uncompromising — “Exactly the opposite way that it is done today!”