Another beautiful encounter with an enlightened soul of modern times: Masanobu Fukuoka (1914-2008) was a Japanese farmer who developed what many consider a revolutionary method of sustainable agriculture. The fascination about this method is that it is not only practical and efficient, but also very spiritual.
Fukuoka started as a microbiologist and worked for the Japanese customs until his transformation following an illness and an ecstatic illuminating self-realisation experience. His central insight was: “There is nothing, really nothing at all whether this be the mundane world or God’s world.” After that he gave up science and come back to his father’s farm where he developed his unusual method. In 1975, distressed by the effects of Japan’s post-war modernization, Fukuoka wrote The One-Straw Revolution. In his later years, Fukuoka was involved with several projects to reduce desertification throughout the world. He remained an active farmer until well into his eighties, and continued to give lectures until only a few years before his death at the age of ninety-five.
Today I’ve read The One-straw Revolution -an extraordinary book that distills the deepest of philosophical and spiritual truths into a practical approach to farming that was called natural or do-nothing farming. Since its publication in 1978 in English, the book has shot up to cult status, mandatory reading among advocates of alternative living. I literally “swallowed ” the book, as it was so fresh and meditative…ultimately, it is about quieting our cleverness in a way that allows us to see how we really can do more with less.
I especially enjoyed the way Fukouka came to his conclusions on farming:
“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 [Farming as simply as possible within and in cooperation with the natural environment, rather than the modern approach of applying increasingly complex techniques to remake nature entirely for the benefit of human beings] 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.”
(I wonder if this could be the brilliant hint for a modern man in general, in other spheres of of life? 🙂
So what is that special about his natural farming? What makes it that revolutionary? (more…)