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The Way of the Farmer

--by Masanobu Fukuoka (Oct 08, 2012)


Extravagance of desire is the fundamental cause which has led the world into its present predicament.

Fast rather than slow, more rather than less -- this flashy "development" is linked directly to society's impending collapse. It has only served to separate man from nature. Humanity must stop indulging the desire for material possessions and personal gain and move instead towards spiritual awareness. 

Agriculture must change from large mechanical operations to small farms attached only to life itself. Material life and diet should be given a simple place. If this is done, work becomes pleasant, and spiritual breathing space becomes plentiful. 

The more the farmer increases the scale of his operation, the more his body and spirit are dissipated and the further he falls away from a spiritually satisfying life. A life of small-scale farming may appear to be primitive, but in living such a life, it becomes possible to contemplate the Great Way. I believe if one fathoms deeply one's own neighborhood and the everyday world in which he lives, the greatest of worlds will be revealed. 

Lao Tzu, the Taoist sage, says that a whole and decent life can be lived in a small village. Bodhidharma , the founder of Zen, spent nine years living in a cave without bustling about. 

To be worried about making money, expanding, developing, growing cash crops and shipping them out is not the way of a farmer. To be here, caring for a small field, in full possession of the freedom and plentitude of each day, every day- this must have been the original way of Agriculture. 

To break experience in half and call one side physical and the other spiritual is narrowing and confusing. People do not live dependent on food. Ultimately, we cannot know what food is. It would be better if people stopped even thinking about food. Similarly, it would be well if people stopped troubling themselves about discovering the "true meaning of life"; we can never know the answers to great spiritual questions, but it's all right not to understand. We have been born and are living on earth to face directly the reality of living. 

Living is no more than the result of being born. Whatever it is that people eat to live, whatever people think they must eat to live, is nothing more than something they have thought up. The world exists in such a way that if people will set aside their human will, and be guided instead by nature there is no reason to expect to starve. 

Just to live here and now- this is the true basis of human life. When a naive scientific knowledge becomes the basis of living, people come to live as if they are dependent only on starch, fats and proteins, and plants on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash. 

And the scientists, no matter how much they investigate nature, no matter how far they research, they only come to realize in the end how perfect and mysterious nature really is. To believe that by research and invention humanity can create something better than nature is an illusion. I think that people are struggling for no other reason than to come to know what you might call the vast incomprehensibility of nature. 

So for the farmer in his work: serve nature and all is well.

--Masanobu Fukuoka


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On Aug 16, 2014 Rebecca McCarty wrote:

 This morning I sit,  still, in silent beholding. The Earth turns, ever so slowly, revealing our star, first a faint soft light, which grows and grows, until it bursts forth above the horizon, splendid, pulsing with power. Everywhere around me the world pulses with life. The garden bursts with food, beans dangle, slim green spikes, ornamenting their vines, like earrings. The trumpet-like flowers of squashes are full of buzzing bees, busy gathering nectar and pollen for the hive;out in the pasture the milk cows slowly mosey toward the gate for morning milking, calves gambol in the fresh dawn...flowers drip sparkling dew. All is calm. Nature is bountiful, gifting us with life and death also, from which new life springs. Teaching us about the  cycles of eternal renewal ceaselessly turning in every direction. We are part of these great cycles. Our true vocation is simply to be, here, in the ever changing moment.



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On Oct 12, 2012 Suchitra wrote:

 The author has put up the concept of infinity in nature very nicely. I appreciate the message it conveys. In a way we are all extensions of nature, being one of the multitude of creations that exist on the face of this earth. Everything was fine when there was mutual acknowledgement between the species. Man being blessed with the so called higher senses started out on the road leading to developement and sophistication. In this journey, man has cleverly taken over nature in the name of developement and utilized the rich natural resources for the same. The craving/desire for more and better living, is right now the bitter pill which we are unable to swallow. Where is the much cherished nature and species, which are the basis for our existence. Now we are worried and are frantically trying to find solutions for the problems created by man. Yes everything comes at a cost, but definetly not at the cost of the existence of another creature. Live and let live must be the motto for  See full.

 The author has put up the concept of infinity in nature very nicely. I appreciate the message it conveys. In a way we are all extensions of nature, being one of the multitude of creations that exist on the face of this earth. Everything was fine when there was mutual acknowledgement between the species. Man being blessed with the so called higher senses started out on the road leading to developement and sophistication. In this journey, man has cleverly taken over nature in the name of developement and utilized the rich natural resources for the same. The craving/desire for more and better living, is right now the bitter pill which we are unable to swallow. Where is the much cherished nature and species, which are the basis for our existence. Now we are worried and are frantically trying to find solutions for the problems created by man. Yes everything comes at a cost, but definetly not at the cost of the existence of another creature. Live and let live must be the motto for existence. 

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On Oct 9, 2012 Rekha Garg wrote:
 Thoughtlessly ruining nature in the name of progress and scientific development is an extremely narrow and near-sighted approach. We need to take only as much as we need and not as much as we desire. Especially dissecting each part of our food into scientific labels is the end of the nourishment, nutritious value and wholesomeness of our food. After all what we are ingesting is not a potion of vitamins and minerals, but its a combination of so many elements of human and natural endeavor from farm to table and then with what gratitude we are accepting this amazing offering called food is what is going to provide us proper nourishment. Closer we are to nature, the more appreciation we would have of the amount of labor involved in the production of food what a crime it is to waste food. Anyone who has done any edible gardening can truly appreciate that fact. 



On Oct 9, 2012 Ronalo wrote:
Wow....great minds everywhere! So many wise......why are we living like we only have two brain cells when the information offered so eloquently has been within reach for hundreds of years. Most people would agree to a more natural and educative way of life........how did we get to this convoluted expression?  

On Oct 9, 2012 Amy wrote:
 It's raining here in Wisconsin today. I say, "yay"!  With every form of precipitation, nature sings in Heaven's renewed baptism of earth (. . . and then the sun awaits just behind the clouds!)  With rain . . . snow . . . hail . . . God calling ALL of nature to come alive!  Be new!  It's a beautiful day!

On Oct 8, 2012 Narendra wrote:

 The author advocates deep observation and understanding of nature - what has been your learning from nature?  For millions of years, almost all life forms have lived “from the heart” as an extension of nature, without a “deep understanding”. However, today, we need to understand the damage we humans have cause to our environment because of our greed, so that we can rebuild our environment for love, not just for our natural resources. The concept that the world was created for human consumption has been the source of this problem. There is no ‘love and respect’ for nature…..The author critiques scientific and industrial dualisms and seems to advocate simplicity - what does simplicity mean to you?…. Simplicity means keeping our needs to a minimum and not being obsessed with wants. It also means being in tune with nature so that we develop reverence and respect for all of nature in all its forms and stop abusing it. The greed ba  See full.

 The author advocates deep observation and understanding of nature - what has been your learning from nature?  For millions of years, almost all life forms have lived “from the heart” as an extension of nature, without a “deep understanding”. However, today, we need to understand the damage we humans have cause to our environment because of our greed, so that we can rebuild our environment for love, not just for our natural resources. The concept that the world was created for human consumption has been the source of this problem. There is no ‘love and respect’ for nature…..The author critiques scientific and industrial dualisms and seems to advocate simplicity - what does simplicity mean to you?…. Simplicity means keeping our needs to a minimum and not being obsessed with wants. It also means being in tune with nature so that we develop reverence and respect for all of nature in all its forms and stop abusing it. The greed based, modern industrial mass-production has lead to wasteful consumption of resources and has created ad fueled material obsession.…..The author suggests that if we were to set aside our will and treat nature as a guide, there would be no reason to starve - can you illustrate what this means to you with a personal story? There are more than 7 billion people to feed. We need industrial production until all are educated enough to minimize our needs. We need a worldwide strategy and education in population control, food production and management. Considering that the rich are still throwing away food in luxury when most of the world is undernourished or starving, the author’s ideas appear to be good but impractical at present. However, in the long run, if we observe nature with respect and an intention to learn we will find answers to many of our current challenges.  As a personal discipline, I try minimizing my needs. This helps me save time and money that I can spend on spiritual-environmental projects.

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On Oct 8, 2012 ganoba wrote:
 As I have moved away from the man-made world filled with violence and arrogance, to the world of nature I have come to discover my true nature. I know now why I am here and am busy performing my role. I am free from fear and temptation.
Life is full of fun now.

On Oct 7, 2012 david doane wrote:

 The author sounds angry, not peaceful.  What I learn from nature is that nature is everything, that is, peaceful, violent, consistent, inconsistent, always changing.  I and everyone and everything are part of nature and are like nature.  It makes more sense to accept and go with nature rather than to fight it.  It makes sense to respect nature and treat it well since I am part of it.  Simplicity means to me to have an abiding awareness that I am one with nature, an expression of it, and thus to respect it and live in alignment with it.  I think the author is saying that if we would live in harmony with nature there would be food to eat and water to drink.  Greed and disrespect for nature are ways of not living in harmony with nature and result in catastrophes like people starving.  On a very simple level, I have an apple tree and some tomato plants in my back yard -- I do very little for them or to them, and they provide me with apples and  See full.

 The author sounds angry, not peaceful.  What I learn from nature is that nature is everything, that is, peaceful, violent, consistent, inconsistent, always changing.  I and everyone and everything are part of nature and are like nature.  It makes more sense to accept and go with nature rather than to fight it.  It makes sense to respect nature and treat it well since I am part of it.  Simplicity means to me to have an abiding awareness that I am one with nature, an expression of it, and thus to respect it and live in alignment with it.  I think the author is saying that if we would live in harmony with nature there would be food to eat and water to drink.  Greed and disrespect for nature are ways of not living in harmony with nature and result in catastrophes like people starving.  On a very simple level, I have an apple tree and some tomato plants in my back yard -- I do very little for them or to them, and they provide me with apples and tomatoes, with no worry or greed necessary on my part.   

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On Oct 7, 2012 Ricky wrote:

Many species take time to rear their young and care for them and feed them and teach them how to go out into nature and sustain themselves before setting them on their way, and many even develop extended family units to facilitate this…i.e. whales, lions, elephants, wolves, dolphins, crows.  We humans, in industrialized civilization, send mixed messages to our children.  Instead of helping them to understand where their food comes from (sustenance), we now substitute the ritual of gathering , preparing , and eating the meal together with an overscheduled after school regime of sports and activities in the name of getting ahead and then gather at the pizza place or McDonald’s as a way of nourishing the body.  YIKES!  We are presently raising a generation on fast food, completely disconnected from nature and how she operates, and the result is expanding the implied need for intervention by way of the health care system.    Big box stores and big  See full.

Many species take time to rear their young and care for them and feed them and teach them how to go out into nature and sustain themselves before setting them on their way, and many even develop extended family units to facilitate this…i.e. whales, lions, elephants, wolves, dolphins, crows.  We humans, in industrialized civilization, send mixed messages to our children.  Instead of helping them to understand where their food comes from (sustenance), we now substitute the ritual of gathering , preparing , and eating the meal together with an overscheduled after school regime of sports and activities in the name of getting ahead and then gather at the pizza place or McDonald’s as a way of nourishing the body.  YIKES!  We are presently raising a generation on fast food, completely disconnected from nature and how she operates, and the result is expanding the implied need for intervention by way of the health care system. 
 
Big box stores and big corporations continue to thrive in the name of capitalism and progress and are entitled with help from many highly placed former executives and lawyers in governmental jobs to justify a right to greed, all in the name of the American dream-prosperity, and at all cost.
 
I teach agriculture education.  Here urban and rural students learn about agriculture through classes such as animal science, horticulture, floriculture, agriculture science, farm business management, agriculture issues, and also shop.    Some would like to be farmers even though most arable land is owned by big farms around where I live.  What I have noticed during agriculture teacher education is that land grant universities where teachers are certified to teach don’t enjoy as much governmental support as in the past, so grants and funding support from big agriculture, big corporations, and special interest groups have been used, and in my opinion have skewed some of the research in favor of bigger is better, more efficient, and more mechanized.  This means teachers coming out of education preparation have a focus on accelerating the natural life cycle of plants and animals rather than nurturing their health is the way to teach youngsters.  We are losing the intuitive nature of sharing love of soil and farming to corporations who supply both seed and pest intervention poison, on a scheduled spray regime, also supplied by the corporations.  Recently, though, one behemoth is taking come significant heat!   Monsanto’s attempt to condemn the scientific evaluation of the results of a recent French study conducted on the link between genetically modified engineered seeds and cancer in rats has actually helped stir the debate about the wisdom of patenting life.  I think this and the proposition 37 fight in California that requires labels to include genetically modified food on packaging and in produce in the United States finally helps begin another shift in thinking.  And with this in mind, my hope is that we continue toward Mr. Fukuoka’s way of the farmer…smaller, more connected, simple, with an emphasis on allowing rather than manipulating nature to care for the seed, and us.  The planet requires it, as do all its inhabitants, no matter the species.
 
What is also sad is my culture’s view of a farmer, that it is hard thankless backbreaking work, and doesn’t pay enough to get you anywhere in the definition of success as an American.  Jason, a homeless 26 year old I met a couple weeks ago with a baby on the way, told me what he really loves to do is work in the soil, and when I asked him why he wasn’t doing it, he said his family discouraged him from following this path because it wasn’t lucrative enough, he had much more ‘potential’ than that, and thus did not financially support his education and/or pursuit of this passion.  Being disconnected from his passion was one cog in the wheel that disengaged after he graduated from high school which has set him on a path with a series of choices and events that brought him to the place he is now…homeless.  I see this so often recently how students and graduates suffer under the guidance of well-intentioned but culturalized thought focused on greed and more and according to Mr. Fukuoka, ‘Fast rather than slow, more rather than less’.  
 
On another vein, after I read the passage, ‘but it’s alright not to understand’, I heard the news report of Earth’s Chorus as recorded by NASA from the Van Allen rings around the earth and found this link.  http://soundcloud.com/carlfranzen/earth-chorus-emfisis I taped it on a voice recorder and shared it at the beginning of the high school yoga class.  They were utterly mesmerized by the music, and I asked them how it is possible to be somewhat fearful about the future and what it holds for them when the earth is singing with such joy, encouraging us to dance!  To once again rejoice in a simpler way of living.  Studying the environment through conservation and preservation can begin this awakening.  In the presence of soil, sun, water, and warmth the seed is nourished, and not only the plants thrive but also the farmer who works the land, by hand, with bare feet even.  Several books that have been of great insight to me are ‘Ancient Mysteries, Modern Vision’ by Phillip Callahan, ‘Civic Agriculture’ by Thomas Lyson, and ‘Micro Eco-Farming’, by Barbara Adams to mention just a few.   A quote from Rumi’s God in the Stew poem; ‘…Anyone who steps into an orchard, walks inside the orchard keeper.’  To me, this is how farming and even the act of rediscovering nature according to Mr. Fukuoka can be…such a deeply connecting spiritual experience.  And it remains a strong priority if we are going to heal anytime soon.
 

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On Oct 5, 2012 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:

 All of my learning has been from nature.  Even my striving to learn has been "natural".  I agree it would have been more "natural" and peaceful if I did not strive as much.  Simplicity to me means noticing I am one with everyone and everything thereby being peaceful and allowing me to more easily follow  the 12 mental stem learnings mentioned below.  The 12 points below also often set aside my will and allows me to treat nature is a guide.  I don't do these 12 events very often but when I do I am more peaceful and whole.  These 12 were sent to me by Dr. James Guinan. 1.  Increase the tendency to let things happen rather than make things happen. 2.  Have frequent attacks of smiling. 3.  Have feelings of being connected with others and nature. 4.  Have frequent, almost overwhelming, episodes of appreciation. 5.  Have the tendency to think and act spontaneously, rather than from fears bas  See full.

 All of my learning has been from nature.  Even my striving to learn has been "natural".  I agree it would have been more "natural" and peaceful if I did not strive as much.  Simplicity to me means noticing I am one with everyone and everything thereby being peaceful and allowing me to more easily follow  the 12 mental stem learnings mentioned below.  The 12 points below also often set aside my will and allows me to treat nature is a guide.  I don't do these 12 events very often but when I do I am more peaceful and whole.  These 12 were sent to me by Dr. James Guinan.


1.  Increase the tendency to let things happen rather than make things happen.

2.  Have frequent attacks of smiling.

3.  Have feelings of being connected with others and nature.

4.  Have frequent, almost overwhelming, episodes of appreciation.

5.  Have the tendency to think and act spontaneously, rather than from fears based on past experiences. 

6.  Have an unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment, and to make the best out of each experience.

7. Lose the ability to worry.

8. Lose interest in conflict.

9. Lose interest in interpreting the actions of others.

  10. Lose interest in judging others.

  11. Lose interest in judging self.

  12. Be compassionate to self and others without expecting anything in return.

        

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