Life in Syntropy — Bloom Interview
I realise that I have been either on-location working or just too busy to do proper sit down interviews. I hope this one inspires. For Syntropic Embodiment Practice training with me just reach out here.
“What’s most intriguing to me about this field of work is that it relates directly to life and how Life functions all around us. It even shows us how by adopting #syntropicthinking we ourselves can become more free, enabled, empowered and effective in the work we do for the world we live in.” — interview for Bloom Magazine
Emma: Sjoerd, explain to me the difference between syntropy and entropy… I gather it’s about systems either working in order with each other, or fragmented in disorder?
Sjoerd: Well, syntropy also referred to as neg-entropy (negative entropy) is the life bearing, life enhancing and self-organising “formula” that nature operates from to sustain itself and all living organisms it is. All living systems have mechanisms working towards syntropy ingrained at their cellular level. The opposite, entropy, is more of a man made idea. Talking about entropy is basically talking about what Life isn’t. So when we apply this to our way of thinking it can either be syntropic i.e. life affirming — as in abundance, peace, collaboration based on trust or entropic — meaning scarcity, lack, competition based on fear. So syntropy and entropy are two opposing principals which have a profound impact on how we relate to life, how life relates to us and how we navigate life with the resources we have.
Emma: Wow! So you recently took part in the first Syntropic Farming course in Australia, how was that?
Sjoerd: Yeah, it took place in Byron Bay and was the first time that these courses had been translated from Portuguese into English. It was a great experience which has really allowed me to get an accelerated introduction into where the #futureoffood is heading.
Emma: How did this system of farming develop?
Sjoerd: Syntropic Agroforestry was formulated through many decades of direct observation, direct experience in the forest, on the land and through indigenous wisdom directly derived from the people that still live with that knowledge today in Central America. There’s so much wisdom there, and they’ve kept that up because they know it is truth, and we see it now resurfacing because industrial agriculture is simply not sustainable. The birthplace of this work is in Brazil and yeah it’s beautiful to see how the country with the highest deforestation happening gives rise to the wisest way of reforesting the Earth.
Emma: Isn’t that how cultures used to live? They would watch the land and follow the rhythms of nature? Seems like our deep connection to the Earth has been lost since industrial agriculture paved the way…
Sjoerd: Our current farming situation is based on an entropic system that is outdated and unsustainable. The entropic industrialized food paradigm that our supermarkets rely on comes from a dependency based system that disempowers farmers in their ability to attain natural knowledge of how to grow nutrient dense food in abundance. It causes the people involved to operate out of fear because of money and lack thereof, and the need to create profit to retain their mortgage. All of that is an emotional mental approach to life, yet natural knowledge can never be dismissed or eliminated from our own connection to Nature. Natural processes can be altered, people can be distracted but life is life, and yeah, you can try and mess with it but life processes are going to remain the same. When I look at innovative food systems such as regenerative agriculture, biodynamics and food forestry, these are the systems that will provide real empowerment for farmers of the future. If we start feeding life to the soil with bio-fert, with microbe rich composts, with microbial cultures that are teeming with life, while including forest dynamics in these systems well, we’re going to have soil that is rich in life which is the foundation to all life including ourselves.
Emma: So true, soil health is so inextricably linked to our gut and overall health.
Sjoerd: So if life is about nurturing and biodiversifying life, then life will build the layers where more can be grown and yielded. For example if we take a tomato, cut it in half and take all the seeds we could dry those and you could have a 150 tomato plants. Now you might not want 150 tomato plants but that’s life’s principle, it’s not an accident, it’s not like it’s producing out of fear or out of security to ensure in the future there will be tomatoes on Earth. No, this is just how life works. It creates surplus and abundance all the time. Now when we understand how those principles work and when we feed more life in the ground, then it’s naturally going to keep coming back to us.
A lot of climate change movements or environmentalists live from fear about running out of resources, I’m not saying that we’re not, but living in a fear and control based paradigm is not being part of the solution. You’re only responsible for you. So, is fear driving your choices? Is fear driving your motivations? Are fear, lack, despair and scarcity driving your way of relating to life? If so then you’re operating from someone else’s belief system. Life is actually very lush, very loving, very supportive, very nurturing, and I see that the future of food is really, really prosperous.
Emma: Ahh I see… so syntropic farming is actually much more than a farming system, you can actually expand this into a way of thinking and your approach to life!
Sjoerd: Yes studying nature, life and the syntropy within can give us beautiful insights as to how we can grow and feel enriched in our own lives. By observing how nature operates from grasslands to complex rainforests, nature can show us where we need to change. But that’s also where the hard parts come up — as we humans have been gifted with emotions and memories based on impressive experiences. What I realised through adopting syntropic thinking was that I was seeing and processing life through a pre-programmed set of entropic beliefs. For instance, believing that weeds are bad is a very entropic fear-based, control based and lack based idea that life or nature would do something against itself or that it would do something to harm life, it just doesn’t work that way. The label weeds is already a judgment, it’s a human created noun that actually doesn’t exist because it’s actually a plant and the plant has a plant species name, and the plant species has a function in that system. For example, one of comfreys functions is that it has a really deep taproot to bring up minerals that are much further down into sub stratus of the soil that other plants can’t get to and it brings it up and when you chop and drop it makes that bio available.
What I’ve learned from this course in syntropy; is that every element in life has a function, and when we discover what the function is in relation to the larger organism, we’ll know how to work with it. When that clicked for me, it was like Wow!
So, the bottom line of this is that life only collaborates. It only works to create more life, more abundance, more support species, more water, more oxygen, more carbon to the soil, more carbon storage, more nitrogen fixing, more mineral releasing, more everything more…
Emma: I read a quote by Pedro Diniz, CEO Fazenda da Toca, who points out “If we changed our perception and recognised nature as a great ally, a great inspiration, we would really change the way we behave towards the planet.”
Sjoerd: Yeah nice, that’s something I’m witnessing through my new way of relating to nature is that humanity has been substantially hijacked to believe that operating from fear and living in the sense of needing to be in control is the way to feel safe. The origins of these global issues are man-made and man-induced entropic way of thinking and therefore only a major paradigm shift in human mindset and behaviour could solve these global issues we face today… Have you seen the latest Lego Batman movie?
Emma: I think so…
Sjoerd: It’s full of inspiration and what struck me was when Batman said a quote out of Michael Jacksons’ song Man in the Mirror “if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change oooh!”
Emma: [Laughs] Love it!
Sjoerd: So are you willing to have a real look? that can be really confronting for a lot of people but if we don’t get real with ourselves, then we’re not going to be free, we’re not going to thrive and we’re certainly not going to offer the next generation something better than what we’ve received.
Emma: Because… what are we modelling to them?
Sjoerd: Exactly. We are part of life and if a tree doesn’t get certain nutrients in the beginning stages of its development, we call it nutrient deficient. As humans we have multiple needs beyond nutrition, we have emotional needs, we have spiritual needs, and I see that if we don’t get certain natural frequencies as a child, we’re still going to be looking for it as adults, especially if we got the opposite of what we anticipated. This is where it really hits home; it’s about resolving something within. If the root is in deficiency, then the deficiency is going to remain until you actively go there.
Emma: and resolve it…
Sjoerd: yeah… so everything around us… every human, every business, everything that we as an individual can experience, can potentially perform a function for us. A function for growth, because that’s what life wants. In my experience the people that have triggered me most (and I would have blamed them in the past for triggering me), have been my biggest growth factor. So now I’ve been able to see that hey, these people that I’m blaming for myself not being happy are actually an opportunity for me to look inside, wow! they’re performing a really beautiful function for me. Every emotional reaction about what’s happening around us is an indicator of what’s unresolved inside.
Emma: Just like weeds! They’re an indicator of missing nutrients in the soil.
Sjoerd: [Laughs] Yes! So when I judge, it’s actually really helpful because I want to grow, I want to be free, so every time I react, it presents something that isn’t free in me yet, it’s coming up. It’s saying “hey, this is an opportunity for me to become free!”, then it’s my choice if I go into that part and work out how to free it, and in my experience all of it has been connected to emotions. This can get really raw for a lot of people and that’s why it’s easier to just judge, but if we keep judging then we carry on living in a fear and control based state which is not being part of the solution for the future. Remember what Lego Batman says “if you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make the change!”
Emma: [Laughs] So it’s about confronting and embracing all our emotions in a positive way, because life wants us to grow…
Sjoerd: Our natural ability is to love, to care and to nurture others. These innate natural abilities can’t come from the current emotional state where humanity is operating from which is fear lack, control, scarcity, rush, rush, hurry, hurry. We’ve surrendered so much of our ability to think for ourselves, out-sourced it because we’re too busy or too rushed, but in order to free our minds it’s about tapping into how you really are feeling. That requires a lot more than just to applying some practices and principles. It requires some form of comprehending our life experiences, and with that weaning ourselves off from fear, lack and control. This requires human cultural change.
Emma: So how can we shift out of fear based thinking into a syntropic way of thinking?
Sjoerd: The only formula that I’ve discovered in order to erase this emotional imprinting and for that to be freed is this: deal with your shit. Get real with your story. Be vulnerable. Be really real. Allow your feelings to be acknowledged and expressed, perhaps even having a cry.
Emma: So our internal beliefs reflect our external world — what we see is based on what we believe. So if we want to see a positive, loving world then we need to do the work within to set ourselves free?
Sjoerd: Yes. The world doesn’t need change because life can actually be really good without us. What we really need to do is change ourselves internally, and then the rest is not just going to be sustainable; it’s going to be regenerative, it’s going to be next level, it’s actually going to be restorative. And when we’re in that state of I am enough, the world is enough, then naturally by the law of attraction, we’re going to attract these things. We’re part of an intelligent system and if we can see ourselves within that, and part of it then we don’t have to dominate and control and deflect and reject and protect, no we can just allow. Nature is more than just the visible elements; it’s a network of relationships, dynamics, processes and constant changes and exchanges which are also central to Syntropic Farming.
Emma: Just like holistic health. It’s not just nutrition or fitness or emotions, or mindset… it’s everything; it’s the whole system working together as one.
Sjoerd: Yes, and where I see we can really accelerate our personal evolution is using ‘willingness’ because that’s our authentic truth. There’s no denying the core of our truth when it’s tied to the will. It’s about tapping within and asking how does your will really feel? This is what I really enjoy when working with people because it’s real and authentic. The ‘will’ does not get strengthened by being a hero or some sort of goal orientated success driver, that’s all total……put that on the compost heap, that would make really good compost. No, the ‘will’ gets really strong, resilient, clear, loving, compassionate and perfect by being vulnerable. That is the true strength of a human.
Emma: So nature is always regenerating and wants to grow, I guess we can apply that to ourselves by chopping down old growth (old programming and beliefs) and allowing for new shoots to pop though (new perspectives and beliefs).
Sjoerd: We also need to take full responsibility of what we’re passing onto the next generation, apply our will and commit ourselves to internal growth.
Emma: So internal growth is about loving the weeds,identifying what’s lacking, digging deep and getting to the root cause?
Sjoerd: Well if you choose to pull out a dandelion, the only way to really get it out is by digging deep all the way to the tip of the root, because if you break a piece off it’s going to grow again, and you can keep mowing and mowing but it will just keep coming back. To properly remove a dandelion it needs to be delicately scooped out and taken to a place where it can be a contribution.
Emma: That’s beautiful…
Sjoerd: Change always takes effort. One can either resist it or embrace it. Life is Syntropy.
More About Sjoerd — Life in Freedom
Former Creative Director of the social enterprise RealFood Network and co-founder of the Sustainability Alliance FNQ, Sjoerd has been instrumental in networking farmers with community members who want clean, trustworthy food. Grounded in #PermacultureEthics — People care, Earth care and Fair Share, Sjoerd actively assists farmers in adopting sustainable agricultural solutions.
With innovative ‘alternative agriculture systems’ now shaking up the foodparadigm, #SyntropicFarming has become a current field of interest for Sjoerd. “What’s most intriguing to me about this field of work is that it relates directly to life and how Life functions all around us. It even shows us how by adopting #syntropicthinking we ourselves can become more free, enabled, empowered and effective in the work we do for the world we live in.”
Once a year Sjoerd co-organises a Thrive Hive co-living experience where he brings his knowledge of the human sphere together for the growth of others who want to get really real with themselves.
Occasionally, Sjoerd publishes some of his comprehension through podcasts on Anchor get one of the latest one here: