Masculinity on The Farm Commune – and much more!

The following link and quotes are from an extensive piece about both Stephen Gaskin and the gender roles on The Farm Commune. Those looking for insight into various details should read the entire chapter, which was well researched.

As a former member of The Farm, I can attest to the accuracy of many of the quotes and suppositions.

On Sexual Relations

“Gaskin taught that heterosexual union could serve as an important form of yoga: that is, a body-mind discipline that developed individuals’ capacity to focus energy from the astral onto the material plane. He referred to this sexual yoga as tantric loving or tantric balling. In conventional sexual practice, he said, men (who, we will recall, were inclined toward the “hyper–John Wayne” by American culture) tended to rush headlong toward orgasm. What was lost in this egoistic haste was the possibility that the two partners could help one another quiet their minds and concentrate their attention on the flow of astral energy through the nervous system.60 To create this meditative state, it was important to proceed slowly, beginning with a generalized, deep massaging of the partners’ musculature.”

On Marriage

“Gaskin also shocked many in the counterculture with his advocacy of lifelong marriage, but, in light of the spiritual centrality of both karmic and tantric yoga in his teaching, marriage of some sort became a necessary component of his utopia. The law of karma pointed toward the importance of fair dealing with all persons. But the intimacy and vulnerability of sexual relationships—especially those of the tantric variety—presented many ethical challenges for Gaskin and his village of believers, who sought to change the world by introducing a pure, spiritual “vibe” into worldly affairs. ”

On Mental Health

“In one Sunday-morning service, Stephen told his followers that his goal for his students was that, if he were to allow a “fairly disturbed” person to pass through the front gate unannounced, each of them would interact with the newcomer with a compassion and truthfulness that would promptly cure him or her. This musing reflected his faith that an approach to mental health modeled after the “sudden school” of Zen could cure most of the disorders that modern medicine had classified—he believed, incorrectly—as illnesses. One former member testifies that, in fact, serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, proved impervious to this approach. Yet he calls Stephen’s teaching on this point a “small-t truth,” noting that the community’s consistent application of it to cases in which former mental patients had been misdiagnosed, and had come to believe their diagnosis, yielded impressive results. “It took about a week, and people were absolutely as normal as anyone else. I saw that a lot.”

On Division of Labor

“Mothers not otherwise occupied could leave the household to volunteer for work on the farming crew, at community kitchens, the soy dairy, the canning-and-freezing facility, the community’s school, and the telephone switchboard. In place of a dial tone, Beatnik Bell’s users heard a message prepared daily by the system’s operators, detailing items available at the store, as well as the labor needs of various work crews and cottage industries. Women’s labor both inside and outside the household contributed substantially to the community, because The Farm attempted to make up for its relative lack of capital by mustering many hands.”

It’s fair to say this particular online book explores many facets of The Farm in a deeper manner than many others.

Stephen Gaskin, free thinker and founder of the The Farm Commune, passes away at 79

By Craig Issod

Stephen Gaskin – well known founder of the The Farm Commune – died peacefully surrounded by family on July 1, 2014.

As a former resident of The Farm, I am in touch with hundreds of members and extended family and friends – most of whom consider Stephen to have been a force for good in their lives.

Stephen married my wife and I and we had our first child on The Farm – using The Farm midwives. I learned my first trades on The Farm and was able to parlay that knowledge into a number of successful careers.

Here are a couple links to news stories about Stephen’s passing:
Washington Post
New York Times

Here is a link to one of our articles written about The Farm:

A link to the current Farm Community.

I have many of my own thoughts about The Farm and Stephen’s influence on myself and others. I’ll share some here:

“First, I think I learned that brave people are truly few. Stephen, with all his faults, rose way above the pack in terms of bravery (putting himself out front – sticking to ideals). Not to venerate – because I feel that’s a human weakness, but we do need more people who act in the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” manner. On a more personal note, I think many of Stephens teaching were those of the ages…just modified for the way we (in the counterculture/baby boomers) communicated. He also emphasized DOING over being conceptual.”

“Dazzle them with your Fancy Footwork” is a quote I attribute to Stephen – not sure if I just heard it or if it was written.
In context the meaning was “hey, y’all have long hair and a funny way of dressing and talking, so when you go to work for other people do a MUCH better job than they expect and they will react properly”. In other words, hard work and honestly cut across all lines of society. It’s a simple but effective piece of wisdom which probably existed long ago and has been stated in other ways since. But we hippies had to hear it in a way that it appealed to us!”

Stephen’s influence is too wide and deep to fit in any article or book. However, as just one example, here is a small tribute to Stephen written by The Woz – Apple Computer founder – Steve Wozniak:

“In every walk of life we take care of each other and owe all that we achieve to friends and family. How we treat other humans is much more important than creating products and wealth. Our principles in life should always be much more important than that. As much as we can teach others, our actions and examples pass on the goodness in our heads to others.
Thank you for inspiration at a critical time in my life when I was deciding what sort of person I wanted to be.”

I think the Woz summed it up for many of us. Inspiration when we were deciding what kind of people we wanted to be….

And so, let me Thank A Hippie – Thank You, Stephen…

Note – picture below is not posted on this site – it’s from Robert Altman, a famous photographer.
Stephen Gaskin - by Robert Altman