Waking up to Wisdom
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The Difference Between Natural and Unnatural

--by Masanobu Fukuoka (Nov 22, 2011)

For thirty years I lived only in my farming and had little contact with people outside my own community.  During those years I was heading in a straight line toward a "do nothing" agricultural method.

The usual way to go about developing a method is to ask, "How about trying this?" or "How about trying that?" bringing in a variety of techniques one upon the other.  This is modern agriculture and it only results in making the farmer busier.

My way was opposite.  I was aiming at a pleasant, natural way of farming which results in making the work easier instead of harder.  "How about not doing this?  How about not doing that?" -- that was my way of thinking.  I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plow, no need to apply fertilizer, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide.  When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary.

The reason that man's improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques, that the land has become dependent on them.

This line of reasoning not only applies to agriculture, but to other aspects of human society as well.  Doctors and medicine become necessary when people create a sickly environment.  Formal schooling has no intrinsic value, but becomes necessary when humanity creates a condition in which one must become "educated" to get along. 

Before the end of the war, when I went up to the citrus orchard to practice what I then thought was natural farming, I did no pruning and left the orchard to itself.  The branches became tangled, the trees were attacked by insects and almost two acres of mandarin orange trees withered and died.  From that time on, the question, "What is the natural pattern?" was always in my mind.  In the process of arriving at the answer, I wiped out another 400 acres.  Finally I felt I could say with certainty: "This is the natural pattern."

To the extent that trees deviate from their natural form, pruning and insect extermination become necessary; to the extent that human society separates itself from a life close to nature, schooling becomes necessary.  In nature, formal schooling has no function. […]

Almost everyone thinks that "nature" is a good thing, but few can grasp the difference between natural and unnatural.

If a single new bud is snipped off a fruit tree with a pair of scissors, that may bring about disorder which cannot be undone.  When growing according to natural form, branches spread alternately from the trunk and the leaves receive sunlight uniformly.  If this sequence is disrupted the branches come into conflict, lie one upon another and become tangled, and the leaves wither in the places where the sun cannot penetrate.  Insect damage develops.  If the tree is not pruned the following year more withered branches will appear.

Human beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave the damage unrepaired, and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them.  When the corrective actions appear to be successful, they come to view these measures as successful accomplishments.  People do this over and over again.  It is as if a fool were to stomp on and break the tiles of his roof.  Then when it starts to rain and the ceiling begins to rot away, he hastily climbs up to mend the damage, rejoicing in the end that he has accomplished a miraculous solution.

It it the same way with the scientist.  He pores over books night and day, straining his eyes and becoming nearsighted, and if you wonder what on earth he has been working on all the time -- it is to become the inventor of eyeglasses to correct nearsightedness.

--Masanobu Fukuoka in One Straw Revolution 

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Previous Reflections:

On Nov 19, 2011 Tam-tam wrote:

I remember reading Mr. Fukuoka's book, One Straw Revolution, twenty five years ago with the enthusiasm of one discovering about natural farming. I remember him saying that if you encapsulate the seeds you are about to sow in clay  neither will these rot, neither will they be eaten by birds. This is a lot of unnecessary work if you consider, as I do now, that it is natural that some of the seeds should simply rot and some others be simply eaten by birds. Two weeks ago a cat of mine, Tam-Tam, was severely bittten by another cat. She quickly developped a very nasty abcess and would have died if  a vet had not operated her. Was it unnatural to have her operated? Science is certainly not nearsighted: it has done more to enlarge my vision of nature, of the universe, of its marvelous complexity than have any fundamentalists in the realm of religion, nature and otherwise. Some of Mr. Fukuoka's observations are very true concerning modern unnatural farming methods. But his vision may be somewhat too dogmatic. 

On Nov 19, 2011 Edit Lak wrote:

Wow – Okay ‘The Difference between Natural and Unnatural’

I’ve luckily reached 46 years and in that time, I’ve learnt that;


The following method doesn’t work, it dulls the brain and stops the spirit from having passion to, and in, universal life - Unnatural

I’ve learnt, that rushing manicness doesn’t work, it distorts the brain and spirit from actually knowing or learning anything at all – Unnatural.

I’ve leant, being quiet is a cop out – Unnatural.

I’ve learnt, talking to much is ego driven – Unnatural.

Not listening to body and nature - Unnatural.


So,  after spending many years in the Unnatural, I’ve really, really learnt we really, really don’t know where the natural is, because we haven’t been taught to think or develop that way of natural in a busy throwaway society; That is until one day when you awaken to realise there is more to you than a mere body and someon-elses thought, there is a real ‘You’ in the ‘you’ self, and when the two introduce themselves to each other an awakening occurs in the form of reason and rationality..


 So, now I know some good balance is to listen, exchange ideas, have debate, love what you’re doing, and be yourself -consciousness , to ask and talk to your spirit, to question and test....


Some trees, the same as humans, from the same crop/life need nurturing, or being attended to, while some others may not.. the way we can find out if a tree – animal – human needs attention in a natural way is to, watch, feel, taste, ask, nurture love and explore from the options that are available to us  For not everything and everyone is the same, and remembering that a patch test  is always a good thing in life and nature. But, but, but.  Other than just giving something a go and taking the risk. I don’t think we actualy know how to do that, yes we have polarity, and we may have taken the risks of not knowing the outcomes of what were doing ,but persist in the endevours anyway,  But how it is to be totally know and be free to try and develop in a true natural, spiritual, nurturing balanced way between ‘Natural’ and Unnatural’  

Maybe, it already just is, and were actually working from a deeper sence of being?




On Nov 19, 2011 Ravi Sheshadri wrote:

Dear Masanobu

I agree completely with you. We have become so unnatural that we are not aware about what our natural self was originally. We have been improved so many times that our original 'avatar' we are not aware of.

I agree totally with formal schooling. We are home schooling our children. Today afternoon itself, I and my were discussing about entering them in school. But your article has given me strength again that we are on the right path. Wrong schooling cannot be undone.

With love and regards


On Nov 19, 2011 susan schaller wrote:

We, in the industrialized world, are so far from what is natural, it is almost impossible to imagine what would be natural.  On one hand, I am thankful to be alive, after unnaturally being cut open and cut up and sewn back together, thus allowing me to continue to be a mother of twins who were only 7.  On the other hand, our society refuses to see death as natural.  We all will die and cannot prevent death.  I am grateful for seeing death so closely, facing the natural mortality of this body I am wearing. I am very happy my twins were not motherless at such a young age.  I am much more grateful, however, that experiencing almost dying in such a vivid way(spelled: p a i n), introduced me to my natural Self, my bigger life that is connected to all of life. I woke up after surgery shocked to be alive.  I had no idea that was the beginning of a new journey, inward, leading me to meet my natural Self who looks just like you. I see Nature, inside and out, with brand new eyes.

"Plunge into the vast ocean of Consciousness and let the drop of water that is you become a hundred mighty seas,..."  Rumi

On Nov 19, 2011 Conrad wrote:

Thanks Somik for the opportunity to respond. What is natural for an aware adult is what one feels, thinks, and believes is natural. If that person does something that he or she feels, thinks, and believes should not be done, then that doing is unnatural for that person. If that same person feels, believes, and thinks one should be doing something that he or she is not doing, then the avoidance of that behavior is also unnatural for that person. This does not justify Saddam Husein behavior because he did not seem to be aware.

What psychotherapist, David Doane said applies: “Learning, government, medicine, psychology, marriage, and religion started as being a here and now experience. Schooling/training has over organized one’s experience into static institutionalization.”  He seem to imply that a here and now experience was natural. He states that as a result of excessive school training we have a reduced awareness/present noticing, and some effects are: …”grades and degrees and schooling usually get in the way of learning, institutional church gets in the way of the religious experience, institutional medicine gets in the way of healing, organized politics gets in the way of healthy governing.”


On Nov 22, 2011 Thierry wrote:

Conrad's reflection, including his quote, sums up fairly well what we are up against, at a personnal and collective level.

We live in a world where each of us is  prey to a thousand  influences and sollicitations many of them unnatural, and this can only accelerate with today's widespread means of communication. To live with or in simplicity would be far from obvious even if conditions were ideal. Even in a quiet, truly sane and nourishing environment one is  prey to likes and dislikes, one may find himself or herself brooding over some deception and give in to the illusion  that the grass is surely greener elsewhere. This tends to happen all too 'naturally'. Psychological unrest, by itself, creates disorder and attracts unwanted= unnatural conditions.

On Nov 22, 2011 Edit Lak wrote:

To further ponder...  So therefore, we are the creators of change. 

And to look upon others indifference, is to look into one’s own self or selflessness?  As the ‘change baton’ is passed from one generation to the next,

So, we are at some point ‘in this life’ the ‘difference’,  

And being that difference, we do what?  

Do we fix the natural to the natural, and what exactly is the ‘fix?

Are we even aware in that moment of creating the change, that we are the change? And what impact will that change have latter on down the track..  Remember the feminist movement ‘burnt the bra’ to have families now with two working parents and no one home to establish a safe home!!!!!    Hmmm, does Fix =  Impact???   

Does our own insecurities have its own reasoning and then we realise we are not adult responsible enough , or not even wanting enough to be the change we crave for, because that means work, and voice and expression and living..  And even maybe looking at ourselves in a deeper stronger way what some ‘cannot’ cope with...


We have spent centuries saying ‘Myself’ instead of being and saying ‘Ourselves’

and there lies just one problem of the my, my, my, me, me factor,

compared to the us, us, we, we factor, as the ‘we’ is working together for a better natural..



It’s true we cry and complain as we have nothing, and we cry and complain when we have much of everything, we criticise others and suffer ‘tall poppy syndrome’


Is it possible to clean our own back yard each day first, then creating the capacity and room to see our own potentials to assist and help others..  I think we can, we just need to fix our own unnatural to naturals first, with all the impacts, and move forward to the better and safer natural...

On Nov 24, 2011 elizabeth wrote:

 Reflecting on this passage, many veins of thought wee touched and opened.  One of them, the nature of action- of right or aligned action.  When the idea of doing is raised, I become aware- or just imagine- that there are at least two minds in me, or two me's.  One of them feels to be more associated with the front body and the other with the back body- the latter with awareness that does not leap out and push ahead at the behest of impressions.  

In Sanskrit and Greek- for instances- there was a mode called the middle voice.  The Middle Voice was used to indicate action that was done not of the will of any man nor by accident, but by the highest common will, by nature; the individuals involved were understood to be conduits of an action that came through him or her.  In one's present participation, an act in harmony with nature can come forth.

A passage from the Book of Chuang Tzu, a Daoist classic, came to mind:

"The Hui family is poor,' said Yen Hui, ' and we have not drunk wine or eaten meat for moths.  In this instance, will this count as having fasted"'

 'This is fasting for the sacrifice, but not fasting of the heart.'

'Then what is fasting of the heart?'

'Your mind must become one, do not try to understand with your ears but with your heart.  Indeed, not with your heart but with your soul. Listening blocks the ears, set you heart on what is right, but let your soul be open to receive in true sincerity.  The Way is found in emptiness.  Emptiness is the fasting of the heart." 

    -"Out and About in the World"



On Nov 24, 2011 someguy wrote:

I agree completely with the idea that we are no more in harmony with the world around us. We first make excesses and then in a perverse way try to deal with things. It sometimes feels we are creating solutions but in essence we are mostly creating more problems with each solution. But in our perverse ego, we can't make peace with the fact that we perhaps are not as good as we think or others think and keep on trying to prove a point. Little accomplishments are sufficient to boost our ego and we get more distanced from the reality and after a point we have come so far away in our path that it is simply impossible to accept things in their real form - an ideal ground as to how dictators are born. But guess thats how this game of life is intended to be. The nature wants enjoyment out of us humans and deludes us. We set to enjoy it and it enjoys us eventually to keep on running its show and we act as a willing accomplice albeit in delusion.

On Nov 25, 2011 Dinesh Mehta wrote:

Audio clips from this week's circle of sharing...

On Nov 27, 2011 Derek wrote:

I stuggle to understand at times the importance of humanity's connection with nature. Yes, our association with nature brings about obvious benefits to our health, mind and soul. It also gets us in touch with our anceastory. But this passage from Masanobu Fukuoka brings the lessons of nature to a much deeper level. It's really something to contemplate. Thank you. 

On Jan 4, 2012 Trupti Shelke wrote:


I am trupti from India, Mumbai the article by Masanobu Fukuoka is something I too belevie, even I keep on saying to my father farming has to be done by being the part of nature and no extra practice needs to be done he say in countary like India highest population we have to take help of latest technology other wise its difficult to provide food supply to so many people, so I keep his rational to him and follow my path. I will continue to spread the same message to everyone.

Like to share about a person called Bhaskar Save a National Award Winner in india do belive and practice natural framing at Gujrat Umbargoan I too met him and had spent day working in his farm it was great experince wish I too aim at pleasant natural farming Its great to know about you. I work as Counseling psychologist in India.

With Warm Regards,

Trupti Shelke.

On Mar 20, 2012 adewareley wrote:

On Apr 18, 2012 David wrote:
 A famous quote by a 4th century BC Greek philosopher pretty much sums up the lesson here: "You can never step in the same river twice, for you are changed and so it the river." - Heraclitus

Also, Newtons's Fundamental Laws -- action reaction, natural state, equilibrium all have elements here too.

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