In a beautiful land 6km outside Gubbio, South Italy, Piero Musini is combining his love for nature with spirituality in a unique way. Surrounded by three lakes and woodland with a wide variety of fauna and flora, Casa Sangam operates as a Retreat Centre for the last 15 years. The house is a restored old stone farmhouse dating from 1300, made with natural materials. Part of the energy used in the house is solar. The place offers a physical platform for learning, relaxing and experiencing peace and well-being. Behind this is Piero Musini; Casa Sangam embodies his vision of offering a place in nature that is sustained by natural principles while facilitating a spiritual space for those seeking one.
What is the story of Casa Sangam? How did it start?
It all started the year I was in a deep search for spiritual answers to my quests. That year drama brought me a good opportunity. This property belonged to my family. My grandmother gave a house to each of her grandchildren, so this is the house that was given to me. That time I decided to take a sabbatical year, so Ι moved from Milano to Gubbio and that was actually the beginning of Casa Sangam.
Before deciding to leave the city, I owned a production company, which I gave up to become a freelance director. By that time, it became very clear to me that this place could become a very good retreat centre for the people who have spiritual quests and want to come and learn about spiritual paths like Brahma Kumaris.
What was your inspiration?
I liked the idea of creating a place - a kind of monastery - where travelers on spiritual search could stop and be fed spiritually and physically. I saw potential in this place and along with that came the idea of having people involved in its operation. I never imagined myself doing this venture alone. I always had a pull towards creating a community and that’s how it started.
At first, the place was not formed as it is now. When I first moved here, the upper floor where the living quarters are now, was still a stable and the ground level was a cowshed. Then, with some financial help from the European Community and my family we restored the upper floor and changed it to the retreat centre it is today.
We see that you are also involved in some organic activities. Which methods do you use for the cultivation of the land?
Since the last three years, I have been involved in the farming of the property that belongs to my family and I have changed quite a few things since. One of these things is not to breed animals on the property in order to produce meat; we now keep only a few horses. A second thing was to implement organic agriculture as well as permaculture. According to the law, it takes 3 years to be converted from conventional to organic. The idea is to move into this permaculture system in which you find what is best suitable for the soil that is in each field and then you start to have a permanent sustainable product produced. At the moment we are mainly growing durum wheat - Spelt which is an ancient variety. So we engage in collecting and planting old seeds that have not been manipulated, so that we can keep and produce our own. These seeds become very strong if utilized on the same land over and over again. They get stronger, so the production gets bigger and bigger because it comes back to its own origin in a way. Due to their strength they don’t have many requirements and are more resilient to strong weather, such as heavy cold, heat or drought. Most of the seeds we buy today are hybrids and manipulated. So what we do is return to original seeds.
What is your experience from the cultivation of these original seeds so far?
What one notices is that the whole field sends out an amazing liveliness. If you go in one of the crops where the wheat is, underneath you see a sort of a micro vegetation growing which is an indication that it is a complete organic system with its own lives sustaining each other. Bringing this to the entire farm may take another 1 to 2 years due to the transformative period that it has to undergo. That’s the idea behind it. Then, what I want to do is hold a local production of bread, pasta and fresh vegetables so that the local people can enjoy clean and energetic food. With the remains I intend to make products like biscuits that I can sell. What I am not interested in is selling in bulk, because you then need to mix them with other seeds, eventually losing its unique type.
An innovation that we experience here is the use of yoga in farming. Would you like to tell us about it?
Besides the care and attention of the organic farming, there is also the spiritual aspect of passing pure and special thoughts to the fields where the seeds are planted. This is still in an experimental phase but since three years now, there has been a study conducted in India by the University of Gujarat regarding the influence of thought – which is also called meditation onto the crops – and the results are amazing. We like this idea and model and we try to dedicate some time every week to spread good vibrations to the crops where the seeds are planted and see the results. There are also very interesting examples of the influence of thoughts on water and the amazing results that have actually been proven!
According to your opinion, what is the connection between our thoughts and nature?
It all derives from the idea that thought affects matter and even new science is proving that. So by spreading good thoughts and positive vibrations onto physical matter like plants and seeds, we can have a respective result.
For instance, if one considers the cycle of plants, one can notice the three aspects of its life: being a seed, then its plantation and finally its consumption. It is a process that can be visualized, and our positive thoughts can be projected to the seeds. The person who eats the grains - whether in the form of bread, pasta or biscuit - will notice the difference, its exceptional attributes and this will be the result of the thinking process that has influenced positively the matter, the material seed.
How does food affect the mind?
Taking the example of water, if we put on a bottle a label that writes ‘I love you’ and on another bottle a label that write ‘I hate you’, the water that you will drink will have a positive or a negative affect on your body and cells. It’s like every cell is sensitive to the energy fields. So if we apply this to our daily food, which is also made of particles, the effect will be great.
We have to pay attention to the way we interact with nature, the way we interact with food while we cook and the way we interact with food when we eat it, because each time there is a deep influence of our thoughts on the food and if we want to have a balanced, positive, calm and enriching life in terms of feeling good and healthy, we must be very much aware of this.
What does nature represent for you?
I don’t know what it would be like being without nature in a living form. I take great pleasure when I let myself be surrounded by nature and see the beauty of every small particle of nature. Like now we are sitting on this grass field, if you look around in a little place of 5 square centimetres the variety of life that exists with different forms and colours - this micro world is a representation of the outer world. That’s why I like the idea of interacting by noticing, understanding, respecting and being aware of the fact that we are part of the same show in a way and so it brings up all these values and awareness to the self.
I also enjoy the things through which nature shows its real form, like the volcano in Iceland that has stopped transportation around the world for weeks and no matter what kind of planes and mechanical means we may have, still there is nothing that one can do against nature. I like to be reminded of that so that I keep my place with a lot of respect towards others and nature.
Considering the rise in numbers of the population, would you say that it is possible for people to return to a more natural way of food production and still produce enough food for all?
I think we could idealize the return to a natural way of life so as not to grow fruits in large amounts with chemicals and pesticides. Before we do that, we first need to achieve two things: a) become vegetarians since the available land is big enough to feed all the population if not used for breeding animals for nourishing and b) learn to eat in a different way and be sustained by different things. For example, alfa alfa, a very good and highly nutritious hay that is used to feed the animals, could also be used for consumption by humans. According to a study, this could be the solution for all the countries that do not have enough food. Following a very simple technique, it can be transformed into food that is available for all.
So people would have to implement big changes, because universe has to regain its balance. I believe the world has come to a point that if simplifying our lives and understanding universal laws that regulate and bring back the right balance doesn't take place soon, the elements of nature will show their force and power in a hard way, as they will need to reset the balance of using and abusing nature and its resources.
What is the deepest truth you think humanity has lost on its course?
The fact that people don’t know who they are. If you ask someone ‘who are you?’ the answer is more likely to be linked to the role that person has in terms of position, name or job. The loss of spiritual identity that lays within us has led people on an outer level, losing their connection with their inner level of consciousness. At that outer level is where all problems rise, all the conflicts are driven by the clashes of ego and the truth is that we all need to return to the spiritual truth of being a spiritual being before being a physical being. Only then the understanding of the universal laws can be applied.
Piero Musini was interviewed by Vasia Pelegrati