Hello and welcome to the 10th podcast in our 12 podcast series. It’s been quite a journey so far reconnecting and connecting with the speakers and so many of you. Be sure to get in touch if you haven’t already.
This week’s speaker is John Butler and comes courtesy of Shepheard Walwyn publishers, the ethical publisher I support. John Butler is an 84 year old YouTube sensation with his own channel with 200k subscribers. He had his first book published in his 60s but only really came to people’s attention after a YT interview on stillness and spirituality went viral. That video now has an estimated 10m views on all platforms.
In this conversation, we explore his life and how he’s found “success” in life. John was one of the first organic farmers in the 1960s and collaborated with people like EF Schumacher, author of Small is beautiful and Lady Balfour, co-founder of the Soil Association. He’s also half Russian (his mum escaped Russia after the original Russian Revolution) and lived there for some years.
Whilst this conversation is easily the most spiritually minded of the series, I felt it was a great conversation to include because his ideas on (and experience of) meditation and remaining calm and connected to stillness in challenging situations works at every level. Also, his ideas on consciousness would resonate equally with philosophical idealists such as Bernardo Kastrup and Christian theologians such as Meister Eckhart. His commitment to meditation (almost 60 years of twice daily practice) is staggering and inspirational.
Harmonious relationships are at the heart of everything john has done in his life. He demonstrates this in the way he interacts with others. Interviewing him and spending time with him was a real highlight. I spent most of the day with him recording content for ethical publisher Shepheard Walwyn. The first was interview about his book was in the church in Bakewell, Derbyshire. I will post a link on Friday. The interview we have here was in his “first church” as he describes it, which is the hillside overlooking Bakewell. There is some background noise in this interview so apologies in advance. The worst part is around minute 16 but it gets better after that.
Here’s a summary of what we discussed.
00.00 Welcome and Introduction
03.00 Nature as John’s first Church – seeking space.
07.00 John in Africa – Space, Freedom and Spiritual Connection.
14.00 From organic farming as raising soil consciousness to human consciousness.
16.00 Wanting to be a farmer from before he was born (wind noise worse here).
20.00 Lessons from being a farmer for daily life-The challenge with “helping others.”
22.00 To make whole, be whole and finding meditation.
26.00 Inheriting Three Acres at Bicker Fen, Lincolnshire – Can you farm without destruction?
32.30 How to align intention and purpose.
36.00 Listening to your environment to know what to do.
38.30 Eating his favourite pig – recycling love. TLC in everything you do.
44.00 From tending to vegetables to tending to people. And making the economics fit your approach.
48.00 “Sinners” and “consumers” - are they the same thing? Connecting with God.
54.00 Taking whole.
57.00 The upside of failure and depression.
1.03 Russia and being with your own people for the first time.
1.10 The funniest “additional information” section ever written on a CV – Don’t fence me in!