No Wine for Daniel The teacher read an excerpt from the Book of Daniel which describes how Daniel asked the king, Nebuchadnezzar, that he and his friends eat ‘pulse’ and drink water rather than the meat and wine the king offered. Nebuchadnezzar agreed, and after they’d been on this diet for a couple of weeks, he checked them out to see how they were doing. Writes the author of Daniel: “And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm.”
Not only were they ten times wiser than everyone else: they were also healthier. The young Don Tolman was fascinated by the story, and became more intrigued when no one could tell him exactly what constituted this meal of ‘pulse’. “My older brother was really good in school,” Don relates. “I thought that if I could eat this meal, I would do better in school and get my mother off my back.”
From the time he was eight-and-ahalf, he began a quest that helped him acquire a great deal of knowledge, but not in the manner he expected. It also got him the nickname: the ‘Indiana Jones’ of whole foods, for he was indeed searching for an ancient lost treasure.
Finding A Pulse He first went to dictionaries to find out what pulse consisted of, then to university to research it, and never found a satisfactory answer. Being persistent, he went to museums and searched through their rare book collections, and he got special dispensations from the Church of England to study in their library. He even visited the Vatican in his quest to discover what pulse is. He saw places most others don’t; he searched through ancient archives and studied old artifacts and discovered many things, but not what he was looking for. He learned a great deal about all manner of substances people ingest but not what pulse is.
Admitting Defeat He didn’t give up easily, but give up he eventually did. “After 17 years, 4 million air miles and 33 countries, I finally admitted defeat,” Don relates. “Was it just a metaphor? Was it just a magic meal? I couldn’t figure out what it was.”
A man who had been in search of a meal for almost two decades was having soup and salad in a Washington DC restaurant when he struck up a conversation with a well-dressed man sitting across from him. “It turned out he was the trustee for a wealthy family. They had been collecting art and artifacts since 1790, and many of the boxes had never been opened. He asked me if I wanted a job opening crates.”
‘Are you kidding’, or words to that effect, was Don’s response and he soon found himself looking at some amazing works of art, books and documents. It was while he was doing this that he found the answer he had been looking for all these years. In a scroll transcribed in 1896 by Charles W Leadbeater (1854 -1934), a famed clergyman and Theosophical author, were all the elements of the key things in pulse. At first Don couldn’t believe that it was this, but there were seven witnesses that attested to the sacredness of the meals. “It was full of brilliant observations and logical wisdom,” he says.
Everything in Threes “The ancients understood that everything is done in threes,” says Don. “The finger is in three segments, the arm is in three segments and food grows in three levels; the basement, main floor and the second floor.” Don relates these to the levels of the body and explains that food that is grown underground, like the sweet potato, affects the deepest levels of the body; food grown on the ground affects the second floor; and fruit and nuts that are grown up high are brain foods.
Not only what part of the plant the food comes from but the way it looks also indicates what part of the body it will most benefit, Don asserts. He says that all foods have a signature which is a sign of nature that indicates what health benefits the food holds. “For instance,” he says “tomatoes, which are red and have four chambers, are good for the heart, grapes that look like blood are blood and heart food. If you slice a carrot,” he continues “the pattern in the centre looks like the iris. This is why the ancient people believed they were good for the eyes. Similarly, a walnut looks like the brain, with a left and right hemisphere, and today’s sciences confirm that walnuts are indeed good for the brain.” Foods present either a feminine or masculine identity: for instance, an avocado looks like a cervix and womb with a foetus inside, and it takes nine months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripen fruit…just like a baby. Figs, bananas and cucumbers have a masculine identity. The ancients believed that each individual has both male and female qualities, so that each food positively affects each of us…especially emotionally.
Pulse contained 22 whole foods, raw but dried, then crushed into a moist snack meal. Pulse incorporated foods from under the ground, upon the ground, and from above the ground in the trees, and was then mixed. Pulse was made from: dates, figs, oats, kamut, raisins, prunes, sesame, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts, sea salt, a mix of seven grains (depending on the year’s harvest), beetroot, raspberries, blueberries and olive or grapeseed oil…these would vary two or three items, depending on the year’s crops. These foods combined in sacred ratios to measures of the body naturally preserved themselves and could carry the people through times of famine, drought, war and other hardships.
The Meal of Hercules The brilliant scholar, musician and Olympic champion wrestler Pythagoras had all of his students at the Pythagorean Academy eat pulse daily. He called the sacred meal, ‘The Meal of Hercules’.
There is much more to Don’s approach on food – so much more that he has written the two volume, 1,600-page Farmacist Desk Reference, an encyclopaedia of whole food medicine. On his website Don describes this work: “The FDR(TM) is the 21st century’s ultimate (time-consorted) definitive compendium of humanity’s relationship to life and vitality, using plant whole foods as preventative and remissive medicine. The FDR(TM) contains whole food wisdom from the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Chinese, Native Americans, Incas and others who through time treated themselves to high vitality and longevity using plant-produced whole food.”
A Relic of the Industrial Age Food and health are not Don’s only concern. Don says that formal education has become nothing more than a ‘factory’ that churns out and indoctrinates academics and workers. “It is a leftover fossil of the industrial age,” he says. “The problem is the present system does little to appeal to and enhance the naturally inherent ability people are born with, to learn and maximise their abilities through imagination.”
Don believes in learning at the ‘speed of sight, cite, site.’ He has a location for everything he sees and he learns, so he knows where to find it. At a meeting he was passed a list of 25 words that were given to him from the audience, and within seconds he had them memorised and repeated them back – getting all correct.
Boot Camp 4 Brains Don offers Boot Camp 4 Brains, a weekend in which you will discover ‘How to learn information 10 to 100 times faster than you do now.’
Whether it is your health or the way you learn, Don is sure to have some ideas that will make you think a little differently about how to do it. If you want to achieve great success, Don suggests you tap into your natural creative ability.
When trying to understand something new, we automatically look for parallels in our previous experience: we seek examples from the familiar in order to better understand the unfamiliar. Often, this can be helpful, as when we learn a new language and we draw on our knowledge of another language with a common root.
Unfortunately, this strategy can also take us down a path that leads not to greater understanding, but to the confusion of fact with conditioned thought and to a form of distorted vision.
This can readily be observed in the interpretation of animal behaviour by reference to human behaviour, which is one form of what we call anthropomorphism. Myths and fables and children’s tales are so suffused with the granting of human values and character traits to animals that it is hard to think of a creature that has not, in our imaginations, been stereotyped and imprinted with characteristics ascribed to it by someone with a particular point to make, or axe to grind. Thus the fox is ‘wily and cunning’; the dog is ‘faithful and obedient’; the elephant is a ‘gentle giant’ and the snake is ‘sneaky and deceitful’. Aesop probably started the trend, but I prefer to call it the ‘Beatrix Potter Syndrome’, in recognition of her influence on the developing minds of 20th-century children, of whom I was one.
Beatrix Potter was an accomplished illustrator and observer of nature, who, had she been born a century later, may well have had a distinguished career in science. Sadly, she is now only remembered for her children’s books depicting animals in human clothing who walk on their hind legs. From her stories, a direct line can be drawn to the emotionally charged portrayals of animals in many Disney films, while the brutal reality of the lives of wild animals is hidden beneath a veil of sugary sentimentality.
Potter’s assignation of human attributes and behaviour to animals is only one form of anthropomorphism. There are at least two other ways in which we routinely corrupt our understanding of the non-human world by our choice of language: the use of words to name or describe an animal and the description of animal behaviour in human terms.
We can draw examples from the world of bees to illustrate both of these phenomena.
When we label the egg-laying mother of the colony as ‘queen’ bee, we impose on her by implication all the meaning with which that English word is loaded. Thus we may expect to find her as a monarch in charge of the colony, issuing orders and, perhaps, punishments for infringements of ‘colony law’. The term ‘queen bee’ has passed back into the English language as a description of a woman with a controlling and manipulate nature, who likes to have people around her to serve her needs and give her attention. This reinforces the popular but inappropriate picture of a real ‘queen’ bee, which should really be more accurately thought of as the egg-laying servant of the colony and certainly not its ruler. While the queen bee does indeed have a retinue of attendants to feed and groom her, it is they who lead her around and prepare places for her to lay. When she begins to show any signs of a decline in her ability to provide eggs, she will be superseded, ignored and left to starve.
Likewise the male bee, or drone, which has inherited the popular meaning of its name as a parasitic loafer, or one who lives off the labours of others. While the male bees do no obvious and visible work compared to their sometimes hyper-active sisters, we know remarkably little about their day-to-day activities due to the comparatively small amount of research that has been conducted on them. I suggest it is highly improbable that a colony would deliberately encumber itself with a ‘useless’ 10-15% of its population at a time when gathering food is its primary concern. Simply because we have so far failed to study them with due care does not entitle us to label them as ‘surplus to requirements’, which is how they are regarded by most conventional beekeepers. In fact, research by Juergen Tautz at Wurtzburg University has shown that drones may indeed have hitherto unsuspected duties within the hive and may well have functions in the outside world that have so far eluded detection. As long ago as 1852, Moses Quinby (Mysteries of Beekeeping Explained) suggested that drones would likely have functions beyond mating with a queen, perhaps including helping to keep the brood warm. R.O.B.Manley noted that his best honey-producing hives generally had “a large number of drones” (Honey Farming, 1947).
When we come to bee behaviour, so much of it is alien to us that we struggle to make sense of it, so it is not surprising that we resort to attempts to explain aspects of their world in human terms. We talk freely of bees foraging for food, scouting for a nest site, communicating by means of the ‘waggle dance’, defending their home, mating and carrying out their dead because these are all activities that we can easily relate to and make practical sense in terms of day-to-day survival in a colony.
What is perhaps more surprising – and infinitely less helpful – is when people concoct mystical ‘explanations’ derived entirely from their imaginations and pass them on as if they had some scientific validity or foundation in fact.
Myths and legends, populated by gods and heroes, are poetic allegories through which we have conveyed information – both oral and written – from generation to generation and thus gained some understanding of our cultural history. Many myths are anthropomorphic in their personification of natural phenomena, but as long as we understand their origins and true nature, we can learn from them without confusing their content with objective reality.
However, as our scientific understanding of the natural world grew rapidly throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was a parallel growth of popular interest in such things as clairvoyance, telekinesis, telepathy, reincarnation, ghosts, out-of-body experiences and suchlike para-psychological phenomena that appear not to be subject to the known laws of physics, chemistry or biology. Despite the lack of verifiable evidence for such phenomena, they appear to occupy a nether region that stubbornly persists in popular culture.
In the context of this article, the consideration of whether or not such phenomena really exist is less relevant than the fact that they have, since Victorian times at least, been routinely presented as if they were genuine by people with a considerably greater talent for showmanship than for scientific rigour. Demonstrations of ‘manifestations from the spirit world’ were fashionable in late nineteenth century society, while Ouija boards and ‘table-tipping’ have floated in and out of fashion almost to the present day, despite the efforts of rationalists such as James Randi and Derren Brown to expose the trickery behind them. Variations on the ‘clairvoyance’ theme have been around at least since the days of the Delphic Oracle – probably the first example of a tourist industry built around a mystical cult – and show no signs of losing popularity, despite various myth-busting public exposures of fraud and trickery.
Rudolf Steiner, in his lectures on bees, delivered in November and December of 1923 at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, sought to interpret the world of bees by means of ‘Anthroposophy’, a Christianized, version of the mystical 19th century eastern-derived ‘religious philosophy’ of Theosophy, whose best-known proponent, Helena Blavatsky, was also a performing clairvoyant. Both Steiner and Blavatsky claimed to derive their occult knowledge from outside the material world, by a process that would nowadays be called ‘channeling’.
Steiner believed that mankind had existed on Earth – although not necessarily in material form – since its creation, and that bees (as well as other animals) were created for our benefit. This chronological reversal of the truth as revealed by fossil evidence – bees having certainly been around for more than 100 million years before Homo sapiens – sets the scene for further dubious assertions, such as when he talks of embryonic queens “giving off light” that somehow causes a colony to swarm from “fear that ‘it no longer possesses the bee poison”.
Anyone unfamiliar with Steiner’s idiosyncratic cosmology and his other writings about the supposed history of the Earth may be surprised by passages such as:
“Our earth was once in a condition of which one could say that it was surrounded by clouds that had plant-life within them; from the periphery, other clouds approached and fertilised them; these clouds had an animal nature. From cosmic spaces came the animal nature; from the earth the essence of plant-being rose upwards.” (Lecture VIII)
Back in the world of bees, Steiner makes much of the 21-day gestation period of a worker bee as being equivalent to “a single rotation of the sun on its axis” (Lecture II), apparently unaware that the equatorial regions of the sun perform a single rotation in 25.6 days, while polar regions rotate once in about 36 days (NASA).
He goes on to say that ‘the drone is thus an earthly being’ (because its completion takes longer than the sun’s rotation – which in fact, as we now know, it does not).
He further elaborates on this thesis:
“The drones are the males; they can fertilize; this power of fertilization comes from the earth; the drones acquire it in the few days during which they continue their growth within the earth-evolution and before they reach maturity. So we can now say: in the bees it is clearly to be seen that fertilization (male fecundation) comes from the earthly forces, and the female capacity to develop the egg comes from the forces of the Sun. So you see, you can easily imagine how significant is the length of time during which a creature develops. This is very important for, naturally, something happens within a definite time which could not occur in either a shorter or a longer time, for then quite other things would happen.”
As happens numerous times in the Lectures, Steiner makes a statement that is demonstrably erroneous, and then goes on to elaborate a sequence of specious arguments from it, which, being derived from false premises, must inevitably lead to false conclusions.
It would be tedious to cite every instance where Steiner is obfuscatory, unnecessarily mystical or just plain wrong. Suffice to say that, while not being totally devoid of interest, his Lectures are about as useful a source of insights into bees as a medieval book of medicinal herbs would be for conducting modern surgery. Indeed, Steiner even betrays his lack of basic understanding of the functions of the human body (Lecture VII) in saying that:
“…it is represented as though the heart were a kind of pump, and that this pumping of the heart sends the blood all over the body. This is nonsense, because it is in reality the blood which is brought into motion by the ego-organization, and moves throughout the body.”
However, Steiner does make some non-mystical statements that must be considered, as they at least fall into alignment with observable reality. He warns against pushing bees for over-production, drawing a parallel with the dairy industry (Lecture V); he emphasizes that “… the bee-colony is a totality. It must be seen as a totality.” (Lecture V); The one much-vaunted but often mis-quoted, ‘prediction’ made by Steiner, usually misrepresented as a ‘prophesy’ of the general demise of bees, amounts to a rather mild criticism of the then relatively new practice of artificial insemination: “…we must see how things will be in fifty to eighty years time…”.
Right at the end of the final Lecture, we find clear evidence that Steiner’s view of nature is actually highly anthropocentric:
‘Thus we can say: When we observe things in the right way, we see how the processes of Nature are actually images and symbols of what happens in human life. These men of olden times watched the birds on the juniper trees with the same love with which we look at the little cakes and gifts on the Christmas tree. “…I have therefore spoken of the juniper tree which can truly be regarded as a kind of Christmas tree, and which is the same for the birds as the blossoms for the bees, the wood for the ants, and for the wood-bees and insects in general.”
And so Steiner’s personal mysticism, as well as his sentimentality, turns out to have a large component of anthropomorphism lurking within it.
Having reached this point in our analysis, we have to consider what is left to us: what would be a legitimate methodology for the study of bees, that would be free from the elephant traps of anthropocentrism, anthropomorphism, sentimentality and mysticism, yet can encompass the sense experienced by many who come into contact with bees that there is ‘something else’ present, beyond the purely material?
A rationalist would say, ‘observe without interpretation: see what is there and describe it as accurately as possible, but without overlaying it with meaning. Be true to observable reality’.
And yet, many people report some kind of transcendental experience in the presence of bees en masse, so are their reports to be written off as mere whimsy?
Speaking from my own experience, I can say that while working with bees and maintaining a calm, unhurried demeanour, I have had moments of inner peace akin to that I have also experienced while meditating or engaging in certain martial arts practices that aim to ‘still the mind’. Having one’s unprotected hands in a hive containing 50,000 fully-armed bees has a way of focusing the mind very much in the moment, while any deviation from the ‘now’ is likely to be punished more rapidly and more severely than by a Zen master’s staff.
Being present ‘in the moment’ is a rarer – and thus more precious – experience for the 21st-century Twitter-dweller than for our ancestors. For the opportunity to experience that sense of timelessness in the company of a wild creature so many millennia our senior is a privilege that beekeepers should celebrate and cherish.
Mysticism has had its day. We are grown-ups now: we have seen the atom bomb and the double helix and we need to come to terms with objective reality in all its wonderful forms without ascribing all phenomena just beyond our understanding to the work of gods, aliens, faeries or gnomes. We can appreciate nature without projecting our aspirations or values onto it. We can observe without always needing to know the ‘hidden meaning’ of what we see hear, smell and taste. We can be elevated by what is around us and enjoy all the sensations available in this remarkable, natural world. We can even compose poems and songs, myths and fables to entertain us and our children, but we no longer need to sit at the feet of all-too-mortal men who exert power over the ignorant by interposing themselves between us and authentic experience of the mysteries of life.
Born in Chiaravalle, Italy, in 1870, Maria Montessori exhibited a strong personality during her childhood. At a young age, she aimed to become an engineer and attended an all-boy technical school, even though her father did not approve. She went on to attend the University of Rome, studying medicine. Obviously ahead of her time, she was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School and in 1896 became the first female physician in Italy.
As a member of the University of Rome’s Psychiatric Clinic, Montessori went on to work in the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology. She developed an interest in the treatment and education of children with special needs and mental challenges. She was appointed by the Italian Minister of Education to direct the Scuola Ortofrenica, an institution dedicated to children labeled mentally retarded. While testing her own theories of education, the children under her care improved remarkably in the areas of reading and writing, and even surpassed normal achievement scores.
Montessori was soon asked to direct a school in a low-income housing project in Rome. Opening in January of 1907, the now famous Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, became a revolutionary experiment in Maria’s career. Maria was focused on creating an environment where children could learn and develop their skills at their own pace, a principle which Montessori called “spontaneous self-development.” The teacher’s role in the classroom changed dramatically to discover the potential of each individual child and follow the lead of the child in the process of learning. Word of the ability of the children to absorb knowledge and concentrate on learning soon spread around the world, and the Casa dei Bambini became the basis for what is now known as the Montessori Method.
The impressive results of the natural learning method founded by Montessori soon brought fame and invitations to travel. Dr. Montessori visited the United States for the first time in 1913. She had strong supporters in America including Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Helen Keller. In 1915, she spoke at Carnegie Hall and was subsequently invited to the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, where she set up a glass-walled classroom for four months. Spectators were invited to observe the 21 children who were in the classroom, all of whom were new to the Montessori method. The exhibit earned two gold medals for education and the attention of the world was now focused on Montessori’s visionary method of developing the innate potential of the child.
Dr. Montessori began conducting teacher training courses and speaking to internationally known educational organizations. Societies were formed to promote her methods. She was invited to open a research institute in Spain in 1917. In 1919, she began teaching training courses in London. Although she remained highly regarded in Italy, she was forced to leave in 1934 because of her opposition to the fascism of the Mussolini regime. After initially traveling to Spain, she subsequently lived in the Netherlands and continued on to make her home in India in 1939, at the invitation of the Theosophical Society of India. Although detained in India because of the war, Montessori went on to develop a series of training courses and create a strong foundation for the Montessori method in India. Her son Mario, born in 1898, assisted her to develop and conduct these classes in India.
In her later years, Dr. Montessori conducted training courses in Pakistan, London and the Netherlands. Montessori traveled worldwide for over 40 years, establishing training courses, lecturing, writing and promoting her principled method of learning.
She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. She moved once again to the Netherlands in 1949 and lived out the remainder of her years there, passing away in Noordwijk aan Zee in 1952.
Dr. Montessori leaves behind not only an outstanding body of research work and observation of children and their abilities to grow and learn, but also a system of education which promotes the freedom of the child to become more concentrated, creative and imaginative as he develops intellectually and emotionally. Her lifetime work studying child development and education remains well known internationally, numerous organizations promote her methods and Montessori schools are prevalent in both the United States and many other countries.
On January 6, 2007, the ascended lady master Maria Montessori spoke through David C. Lewis to spiritual seekers about the education of the children of the seventh root race:
When I contemplated all that was inspired unto me in the way of discerning how the inner truths of the soul may be brought forth in a very ordered pattern through materials and through an environment that allowed the inner genius and creativity of the child-man-in-becoming/the child-woman-in-unfolding [to blossom, I saw the] miracle whereby through the guided instruction naturally presented to that child, the very Christic patterns of [that one’s] own soul could harmonize with that which [her] own Higher Self would bring forth. Therefore, blessed ones, it is not so much a teaching or an impartation of wisdom as a natural unfolding of that innate wisdom from within the one for whom the teacher is a servant.
Each of you may take the very principles that I was privileged to encapsulate in what has been called the Montessori method and apply them in other areas of your life-in business, in commerce and even in the organization of your Hearts Centers and the establishing of your communities. For these principles are universal in nature and when fully embraced and understood will allow that floral gift of virtue and of the Buddhic pathway to emanate through all that you do, all that you perceive, blessed ones.
Learn more about the ascended lady master Maria Montessori and other ascended masters and their teachings through our website listed below.