Tao by Matsumoto

Practical uses

Tao Agriculture


To you, nature is something to conquer?

When did we start thinking that we are capable of conquering nature.

Historians and ethnologists may give us various answers about when in the history of human beings supposedly started intervening the natural process.

One of the answers could be when we began agriculture.

We plough. We sow. We weed.

We "do something" to influence the course of nature. Materially, we have become rich.

Thus, "doing something" has gained such an important part of our mindset and, consequently, "doing nothing" is labelled with unwelcoming words like lazy or languid.

Having invested too much time and energy for literally thousands of years, now we have a very artificial agriculture, and, ironically, it does us more harm than good, due to chemical fertilizers and insecticides.

Facing the serious deterioration in human health, the pendulum of people's awareness finally swung back in the other direction.

So, it is not in the least surprising to see a farmer who says, "Stop doing something and do nothing".

Masanobu Fukuoka, who went the way of nature in the summer of 2008, was called a modern-day Lao Tzu, and his idea is revolutionizing agriculture.

Having worked in many projects of replantation of deserts in Asia and Africa, he won Ramon Magsaysay Award, an Asian equivalent to Nobel prize.

His idea was quite simple.

Instead of interfering with nature, he let it work by doing nothing.

He chose a handful of various plant seeds and made a ball with them. That's all.

He threw it in the desert and waited.

Some fifteen years later, they would see a forest where it had once been a dry patch of land.

The secret of the magic is the combination of the plants. They help each other to create shades and to keep water.

Nature is perfect unless someone stupid interferes it by saying, "I know it better because I have a better degree from a better university. Let's do it my way, which is more cost effective, in order to maximize your profit".

Having written important books, notably "The One Straw Revolution", Masanibu Fukuoka ended his agricultural and spiritual adventure at the age of 95 in his native village of Sikoku, Japan, not particularly with plenty of money or status he deserved.

He had been working on his "do nothing" farming without chemical fertilizers and insecticides in front of the skeptical eyes of his neighbors.

It took him thirty years to finally have the same amount of harvest as that of chemical farming.

Japan is the fastest aging society in the world. Old Japanese farmers cannot carry the burden of "working hard" any longer.

Late Fukuoka's agricultural method is desperately needed not only tired by tired grandfathers but also by Nintendo-playing younger farmers, who are not so industrious as their predecessors.

"Not so industrious" is a good sign.

It took the Japanese more than a century to remember "playing is good".

The Japanese society had never been filled with robot-like human working machines up until recently.

A geisha living in the floating world Ukiyo would laugh at a tired salaried worker sleeping in the commuter train.

High school «ko-gals», the modern-day reincarnations of geisha girls, used to do, but, after the decade of stagnating economy, they are well integrated into the market of cheap labour.

Now they are tired, too. In the train, those girls sleep with their mouth open next to a good old «salaryman» in his dark grey suits unless they have got a little energy left to hit the keys of their mobile telephone faster than an industrial robot working in a Toyota factory.

Be lazy.

This is Lao Tzu's teaching. Fukuoka applied it in agriculture. It is about time other people used this wisdom in other fields.

Late Masanobu Fukuoka did not seem to happy when people mixed "hard working" organic farming with his "do nothing" natural farming.

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Masaru Emoto 江本勝 is well-known for his «Messages from the Water». He is another underrated giant from Japan.

-Chapter 3 Do Nothing. Before World War 2, they were able to swim in most of the rivers in Japan. Now, there are no kids swimming in a river in town. What did we do really?

  In 50s, we had Japanese dreams, well, kind of a copy of American Dreams, much more modest, like having a house and a car, both of which were much smaller than the American counterparts. It was natural it was not long after the American occupation.

  In 60s, we "worked hard" and destroyed hills and dumped the earth into the sea to build reclaimed lands.

  In 70s, we kept on working and believing, sacrificing our health.

  In 80s, we got rich. Some Japanese even bought some American symbols like film studios and landmark buildings though they had no idea about what to do with them.

  In 90s, the burst of the bubble economy. But Japanese girls kept on buying Louis Vuitton bags and turned the country the biggest market for the French company.

  Now, in the floating world, everyone is tired.

  It's time to go home. It's time to go back to where we come from.

  Stop working for the sake of working.

  Do nothing.

-Masanobu Fukuoka@wikipedia

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  [Practical uses]  Tao Agriculture

«Sowing the seeds in the desert» and «Mu 1 God Revolution» by Masanobu Fukuoka.