A Theme Called Origins | Foreword to Issue One by Matthew Taylor
Origins are the point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived; and it is the theme of Advaya Magazine's first edition. There are many ways to think about origins: the small that grow, the simple that become complex, the asleep that wake up, the naïve that learn. So, where should I begin? The origin of the universe? Thankfully I can leave that greatly difficult task to Lisa Friedberg. I will instead follow Lao Tzu's eternally humble advice and start small. I will start with the origins of Advaya Initiative.
As is often the case, Advaya Initiative started with an idea. A beautiful idea shared between two sisters. Next came a discussion among friends in a living room, which developed the idea into a plan. This discussion was followed by action. Action that made use of those friends' varied skills and characters in order to evolve into hosting diverse ecological events and the first edition of Advaya Magazine, for which you read the Foreword.
Advaya's origin, the idea, was to develop a collective of like-minded people willing to devote time to inform communities about the essential and unavoidable connection between our inner selves as individuals and our external environment, filled with all its organisms, plants and landscapes. So essential is this connection, that the inner and outer worlds can be seen to constitute one and the same thing, and in here lies vast potential for personal and universal transformation. Altering how we perceive ourselves and our environment in this way is fundamental to truly resolving two of the major conditions of our time: a lack of individual well-being and the ecological crisis, manifested most of all through climate change. As Lisa Friedberg writes, 'the 21st century is a time for re-learning and unlearning'.
Lisa's article, 'The Many Facets of Origin', grapples with origins' myriad meanings with delightful simplicity. The land where we were born, the origin of the universe and physical realm, the origins of humans as spirits, as flesh and bone or as nature are just a few of the 'many faces' she considers. The idea of humans originating from nature takes centre stage, however, in Nell Benney's thoughtful reaction to an evening spent with Satish Kumar. Mr Kumar's observation that the shared soil of earth is the origin and also the end of all beings spurs Nell to consider humanity's self-proclaimed separation from nature as the source of environmental degradation.
In an interview with artist and Zen Buddhist practitioner Mike Medaglia we learn of the origins of his new illustrated book One Year Wiser. Dr James Mallinson, on the other hand, tells of the origins of one of the oldest Hatha Yoga texts, the Amrtasiddhi. Here you can learn about the early Tantric Buddhist influences of yoga and their teachings of yoga's universality.
From ancient texts to ancient words, I explore the topic of etymology through the origin of the word 'spirit'. Words when put together can form stories, and Augusta Bruce invites us back to the origin of our childhood through the themes of seeds, imagination and story. First she contemplates seeds in some of our most beloved tales, before providing her own story that plays with the boundaries of plants and humans. Seeds are, of course, the perfect image of an origin. They are also the perfect ingredients to Antonia Cantwell's delicious and original recipes, which you shall find in this magazine too.
Well then, here we are. I have tried, perhaps unsuccessfully, to demonstrate the many ways to think about the origins that are offered in this edition. Still, the surface has only been scratched and now I leave it to you, dear friend and reader, to take it from here.
Matt is a researcher, holistic masseur and writer. He studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at the University of Manchester, and completed a Masters in Global Governance & Ethics at UCL. Since then he has worked for non-governmental organisations, such as the Global Hub for the Common Good and the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP). Environmental and social issues resonate with Matt, as do many other things such as music, dance (he has been known to DJ, play guitar and do the twist), cycling (he raised money for Advaya, cycling to Hungary) and photography.