Natural Wisdom

by Masanobu Fukuoka, who is a farmer and author of One Straw Revolution and many other books. He is one of the most extraordinary farmers of the 20th century and practises the unique do-nothing farming. An awesome thinker who has profound words on almost anything … farming, education, modern science, life, etc.

“I am a small person, staying on a small Japanese island called Shikoku. I am crazy and childlike. That’s how I would like man to be. I say that because science and intellect are big mistakes which have taken man away from nature. Mind you, intellect here means knowledge gathered from books and science. But I have a different sense of intellect — that which is related to nature. You may call it natural wisdom, but for me it is the perfect wisdom because it is not related to bookish knowledge.

Even small animals and insects have their own sense of natural wisdom which is not distorted. It is only human brains that are warped. Unlike human beings, do animals distinguish between rich and poor? Do they say: ‘I’m wise and you are stupid’? Are they foolish enough to go to war with each other using deadly weapons, or do they say: ‘I am ugly and you are beautiful’?

What is beautiful and ugly anyway? Does applying cosmetics make one beautiful? No. The simplicity of nature is beauty in itself. If you are simple, you will find every being in this world beautiful.

I want to go back to childhood as soon as possible. When I die, I want to go to heaven, which I believe is paradise. Earth was a paradise when it was created about 4 billion and 600 million years ago. It was completely green, till man started its systematic destruction. But I want the other world to be nice, fresh and green. I don’t want a calendar there. Even now, I don’t like to keep track of time, and that is why I do not wear a watch. I’ve always felt that keeping track of time is very restricting. I want to be young, forever.

The way to human salvation lies in returning to Nature. Man has had a big role to play in converting forests and fertile plains into vast deserts and barren lands. I propose to reverse this tide of ecological devastation before it is too late.

For 50 years I have experimented with advantages of reducing energy, the effort expended in growing crops while maintaining yields and building soil fertility. Placing my trust in the innate wisdom of natural processes, I have developed what I call ‘Natural Farming’ or the ‘Do nothing’ method that rejects the conventional notions of modern scientific agriculture for a more gentle approach, attuned and responsive to the elements and cycles of nature.

But in this era submerged in Science, I find very few takers for this method. In the last 12 years, I have been to Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, the US, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Europe. The warmest response to the natural farming method has been from India. Thailand was also enthusiastic. Europe and the US have accepted me partially: though they have welcomed me, they don’t sound very excited.

The worst response is from my own country. There, agriculture is an organised industry. They use the modern techniques, which include the use of pesticides and herbicides, strictly forbidden in natural farming. The multinationals are dead against me and the Japanese farmers ignore my methods. What they do not realise is that if you leave the seed in the soil, it will grow by itself. It doesn’t need any weeding, ploughing or fertilisers. Nature will take care of it. If you allow plants to grow the natural way, you will get a much healthier crop, infinitely more nutritious.

Specialisation, I feel, is boring. For, if you start applying your mind too much, life becomes very serious and complicated. One should have diversified interests. Before I was 25 years old I worked as an insect specialist. But I couldn’t see the beauty of nature. If I were a doctor, I would not have known the beauty of becoming a perfect lover — of perceiving the warmth and love of Mother Earth.

I live in a small hut in the mountains. My house has no electricity, no cooking gas, no taps — just water pipes. My hut is covered with plants and is made of wood which was thrown away by people.

When I’m at home, I cook my own food. I have a big farm in front of my hut in which I grow all kinds of flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Although I am 78 years old, I am as active and healthy as I was at the age of 17. I sleep for just 4-5 hours a day. And that is because I have been living in harmony with Nature. I do not know how long I will live, but I know that I want to end my life swirling in a whirlpool of the Ganges, or in any holy river in Japan — swirling and swirling till I melt and submerge completely in the currents.”

Source: “Communication with Shruti Prasad”, Sunday Observer, 22.12.19 in The Organic Farming Sourcebook, The Other India Press