|Blister beetle devouring an ocra flower|
Me: Thank you for having me on the show!
|Blister beetle devouring an ocra flower|
Me: Thank you for having me on the show!
Me, I am here to stay in the farm. Before I sleep – and immediately after I wake up, and also all through the day – I listen to the birds and crickets, to the toads and the dog packs, the thunder and rain, the occasional firecrackers on somebody’s birthday or on one of the many festivals scattered all across the calendar like in medieval Europe. Just now it has been Diwali, also known als Deepavali, the Indian festival of lights. Not so many lights here in Tamil Nadu, rather aircrackers the size of bombshells. No kidding. Don’t go anywhere on Diwali. Children put the damn things in the middle of the road or in a hollow tree trunk by the side and light them just before you are passing by. If your Karma is tied to the tree both of you are going to pass. Just pass. Not by.
|Bodhi the villain|
|just being unique|
Photo by Wikimedia user Colin
There were a few things to say about abrupt climate change, the decline of the biosphere, and the demise of the human species, and maybe those were the subjects that attracted you. For most part, from my perspective, it’s ’nuff said. I am feeling very much like standing on the brink of cutting the web completely. The flood of incoming news is so numbing that more of it simply doesn’t help with anything. During the last year I have been diving into a sea of information and disinformation on climate change and the related social and political issues. I became more active on Facebook, translated fiction and non-fiction, watched scores of reports, essays, documents, and movies daily and have revived my blog after years of abstinence. Found a few new acquaintances, some only recently, who I really love listening to, and learned a lot both about the world and myself. Great thing, and really worth the time; infact, it was a phase that I needed to go through.
“The willingness to face traumas — be they large, small, primitive or fresh — is the key to healing from them. They may never disappear in the way we think they should, but maybe they don’t need to. Trauma is an ineradicable aspect of life. We are human as a result of it, not in spite of it.”
“We need to drastically rethink our relationship with plastic,” [Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at the University of Tasmania] said. “It’s something that’s designed to last forever, but is often only used for a few fleeting moments and then tossed away.”
…provided there are future generations.
|“Dear Passengers! Travelling at our current high speed, we are going to get term… uhm, I mean, arrive at terminal before twenty-one hundred, faster than expected.”|
“What do you mean, crash?”
I breathe in. I breathe out. I am alive right now, along with most of the species supposedly dying out somewhen today. I do not deserve another day; yet I receive this gift and I am grateful for having been given premonition; the chance to witness, to understand… this – neither in panic, nor in denial, but consciously.
This kind of building is usually described as environmentally friendly because it is mostly made of biodegradable stuff, but one has to see that seven billion people living like this would require unimaginable amounts of raw materials:
Monocropping of timber and of leafy plants would eat further into the already distressed environment, requiring also huge amounts of water. Stone quarries cut ugly wounds into the landscape as well. The overall environmental footprint of mankind probably would become worse than it is already.
I seem to have a phase of disorientation lately, resulting in either not knowing what to think (and therefore write), or alternating between multiple ways of looking at the world. The dissolution of wrong and right combined with the study of various solutions to the current crises do me no good, some may say; although I guess this is the only way for me to eventually get rid of a sickening belief in the concept of control over my environment. During the past two years I have learnt to let go of the idea that, by controlling money flow, people’s view of my person and the world, and other variables, I could finally reach a stable state of security, a safe ground to plan the future on. I was taught to believe in the power of control – and believe I did.
The concept of control is an illusion. After all that has gone ‘wrong’ in my life, all failed plans and relationships, hardly anyone around here knows better than me. (I owe everyone hugs and apologies for having been mean, I guess.) Still it ain’t easy to accept and let things come my way, awashed as I am still by Western culture. To naturally let go means to have faith, trust and belief in fate, especially the ways of people. I admit to have a deficit in that field, a deficit that, thanks to Auroville, is not quite as awful as it used to be.
Back in Europe, where I am currently stuck, I am also stuck with developing ‘skills’ like those mentioned above. For how can you trust people in a competitive society, i.e. an everyone-for-themselves system of constant fighting, battling, and warfare? Can people whose whole life is based on againstness and who make a living out of destructiveness show you how to love and feel loved? Would you ask a priest to learn programming?
It sure takes a peaceful environment and a loving teacher to develop the qualities mentioned above. You cannot do it all by yourself in environments like the one I have been in all my life. Therefore my longing for a fundamental change in the ways of the world. And yes, there is an emphasis on ‘my’, as I might share this longing, this need, with other fellow creatures, but can only speak for myself. When I once adopted Jacque Fresco’s vision of a resource-based, fully-automated civilization, I had the dream of cutting off the crap, preserving only the best of nowadays’ society. But shortly after, I had to learn that, right when I got where I was intellectually going, the road was still stretching a long way in front of me.
Yes, there is the need for a very different social environment, but no matter how you put it, the way there starts with a thought, feeling or intuition, rather than with an action.
If we are able to survive the next 100 years, The Venus Project may very well become a reality. But the longer I go into the subject of improving the world and ourselves the more I doubt the necessitiy of having a civilization at all. If we ourselves did the work that sustains our lives, it would be the ultimate means to reconnect to the foundations of existence and the happiness of being one with what we separated ourselves from as “environment”. It would be the ultimate means to free ourselves from governance and 8 hours or more a day of alienating work. Instead, we’d spend just 2-4 hours on occupations we care about, and that were really satisfactory as they make us learn, grow and survive. It was civilization that made work such an uncomfortable experience. It was civilization that made us needy and greedy. It was civilization that created organizational structures bigger than a single individual can handle. You hardly find people complaining about such things in tribal, spiritual or buddhist environments for instance – which are based on contentment with what IS rather than what could come.
Under such conditions there is no need for insurances, money, global markets and all the like. There is also no need for cities, industries, robots and all the technologies that endlessly distract and amuse our minds, separating us from the real world around us, and that demand for solutions to problems that haven’t been there in the first place.
We know that people can be happy without possession. We know that we can be happy with living off the land, not wanting anything but a little bit of company. In fact, it is the wanting that makes us (and others) suffer, for it creates discontentment; in other words unhappiness; in other words conflict with our situation.
All that boils down to the question: What do we actually need? How did we ever come to the idea we could not live without all the stuff that surrounds us today, along with made-up concepts of “society”, “institution” and “civilization” that have materialized in our lives without any basis in the material world whatsoever?
Of course we are a species that doesn’t like to relinquish even the slightest bit. It would be hard to change ourselves to being content with less stuff than we own today. But isn’t that exactly the walls we are running into all the time? People refusing to give up the pieces of shit they have, despite accurate information of a better world where there is no ownership, no fight, no oppression?
Then how much does it actually take to make our existence worth living?
I’d say, it is just a change of mind on the deep spiritual level – which no technology in all the world will be able to bring about. Whether or not there will be highly developed technology in the future hence doesn’t make a difference in bringing about such a process. On the level of ideas I am not against the direction of The Venus Project in so far as we want the same: The end of the monetary madness giving path to something much more healthy.
It is only that I highly doubt we’ll be able to trigger a general paradigm shift as long as we are organizing at the millions, while using technology as a means of control. To learn how to govern yourself you would want to live with and by yourself; to learn how to heal the world you would actually have to stop treating it like disposable, dead lump. To know what is real we have to get rid of the symbol, the word, the rational logic, and “get in touch” again.
How do you do that within our culture? – You can’t! It is the culture’s aim to keep you off this path. It provides no means by which to achieve it, even destroys you if you try too hard. You cannot change it as a whole, yet need a place to stay.
And there I go, off into the wilderness, into communes, or whatever my path may be. As I leave, as we leave one by one, the culture of competition, againstness and destruction dissolves, and society falls apart in yet another way than the self-defeating rip-off of nature’s gifts.
Recently, I read a blog that really impressed me with its reasonable criticizm of The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM). Although Jacque Fresco’s vision of a resource-based economy (RBE) is one of the most desirable to me, Fresco and TZM are missing one thing that is absolutely necessary for bringing about fundamental change: The values on which an RBE is based have to be part of people’s world view FIRST, before they are going to actually work towards a transition. Otherwise people will just perpetuate their previous ways until someone does the revolution for them.
The real revolution takes place in people’s individual heads, just like Jiddu Krishnamurti said, or it will stay “a theoretical fantasy that will appease those who still want both their gadgets along with their clean air”. As a matter of fact, many TZM members are in for saving their asses from the grip of impending poverty.
The new society cannot work if the paradigm it is based upon remains a mere intellectual knowledge instead of becoming a fact of (everyday) life.
“My argument is”, says Mark Boyle, “that under the vision that Peter [Joseph] and Jacque have, people will be so far disconnected from the things they consume to have (or maintain) any respect for them now or continuously. I also believe they will have no understanding as to why we need to change so drastically to begin with.”
The lack of understanding within the front rows of TZM has shown blatantly since late 2009. In fact, the request for a practice-what-you-preach approach has been regarded as a threat to the integrity of a movement that is, in contrast to its vision, busy with aggressively self-protecting its hierarchical chain of command and telling their members to proceed with supporting the monetary system til doomsday.
“The low-tech but completely organic society I am proposing, whilst not as attractive to the addicted masses, I believe is actually possible and not just a fantasy that looks great and will appeal to people who want to continue with their fantasies and addictions. – Walden versus TVP, I guess, as a solution”, states Boyle, author of “The Moneyless Man”. And I agree, because I see the need to first reconnect people to the foundations of their lives before enabling them to toy around with nanotech and other stuff from which we would really benefit… provided we became wise enough to avoid self-destruct.
Given a real shift in how we look at the world, a low-tech resource-based approach will offer at least as much contentment in life as Fresco’s technical wonderland. The change we need, no matter if we go for huts or skyscrapers, is a progress in our social abilities which are horribly retarded compared to our scientific achievements. It can only result from inner observation and understanding the processes of the mind. Such an understanding will manifest, without effort, in behaviours much more sane. And no matter what type of society structure we erect then (likely some sort of RBE anyway), it is going to be a highly desirable one.
Do-nothing farming, also known as natural farming, Fukuoka farming, and The Fukuoka method, is an alternative permaculture farming method to chemical or traditional farming. It reduces human intervention to an absolute minimum, allowing nature to do the work. As odd as it may seem, do-nothing farming is able to produce at least as much food per acre as any other method, without tilling, nursing, pruning, planting in tidy rows, or using machinery, fertilizers, compost and pesticides.
The One-Straw Revolution
The method became widely known through the book The One-Straw Revolution, originally published in 1975, by Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008), a Japanese microbiologist who tested spiritual insights on his father’s farm.
He began his career as a soil scientist specializing in plant pathology. In 1938, he began to doubt the wisdom of modern agricultural science. He eventually quit his job as a research scientist, and returned to his family’s farm on the island of Shikoku in Southern Japan to grow organic fruits, vegetables and grain. From that point on he devoted his life to developing a unique small scale organic farming system that does not require weeding, pesticides, fertilizers, or tilling.
The One Straw Revolution has been translated into many languages and usually sold for the net cost price. Fukuoka shared his knowledge with everyone interested and allowed people to volunteer on his farm for days, months or even years.
Going through a crisis at the age of 25, Fukuoka had a revelation: “In this world there is nothing at all.” There was no reason to worry about life because he suddenly realized that “all the concepts to which he had been clinging were empty fabrications. All his agonies disappeared like dreams and illusions, a something one might call ‘true nature’ stood revealed.”
This insight, and the observation of a rice plant growing wildly on an uncultivated piece of land lead him to the notion of do-nothing. But having ruined his father’s tangerine garden that way, his first important lesson in natural farming was that one can’t change agricultural techniques abruptly. Trees that have been cultivated cannot adapt to neglect. Newly-planted untouched plants can, he found out. They seem to somehow remember their natural offspring which required no cultivation whatsoever. Human intervention weakens plants, so they get addicted to pruning, fertilizing, plowing, additional watering and pesticides.
During the following years, Masanobu Fukuoka developed, by observing nature and trial, simple methods for a natural way of doing agriculture.
A Way of Life
Fukuoka insisted that natural farming was not just a method but a way of life based on simplicity and oneness with the Earth. Ideally, all people would become farmers. He predicted that a large-scale change in consciousness would lead to the fall of governments and whole economies, for a human being, independent of external food supply, would be no more prey to manipulation, power games and consumerism. He wanted man to reexamine his relationship with nature in its entirety. That would be a revolution triggered by straw. But it requires that people shift to seasonal, regional and vegetarian diet rather than consume exotic and/or protein-rich food.
Fukuoka saw an opportunity that people could live in harmony with each other and with nature: “Natural farming is not simply a way of growing crops; it is the cultivation and perfection of human beings”, he said. “Most people do not yet understand the distinction between organic gardening and natural farming. Both scientific agriculture and organic farming are basically scientific in their approach. The boundary between the two is not clear.”
While nature is the real expert in growing stuff, Fukuoka says, man’s intellect has distorted this wisdom. Modern science, along with industry and government, is leading man ever further away from the community of life. We seem to be “so steeped in science that a method of farming which discards science altogether will not be digested.”
Despite the catching phrase “do-nothing” there still is some work to do, of course. But it points out that many agricultural practices, which generally are regarded as essential and indispensable, can be left out, which results in a significant reduction of effort, money and time to be invested.
The method, originally developed for Japanese conditions, got successfully adapted to other places around the world. In India, for example, natural farming is often referred to as Rishi Kheshi.
Green Manure only
Fukuoka mixed seeds of white clover with rice or winter grain. A ground cover of white clover will grow under the grain plants to provide nitrogen and keep weed plants from overpowering the crop. Weeds are also considered part of the ecosystem, periodically cut and allowed to rot on the surface so the nutrients they contain are returned to the soil.
Ducks are let into the grain plot, to eat slugs and other pests. They leave just a little bit of manure.
No prepared compost or chemical fertilizer must be applied.
In order to protect seeds from being eaten by birds, they have to be dampened a bit, then wrapped in a layer of clay powder, compost, and sometimes manure. The seeds necessary for 1/4 acre can be prepared within a few hours. The result is a denser crop of smaller but highly productive and stronger plants.
Little or no Tillage
The seeds get brought out on the surface of the untilled earth to grow. Tillage is usually unnecessary if the ground is not too hard. Plowing severely disturbs insects and worms which keep the earth fertile.
The ground has to stay covered all the time. The clover does that during the growing season.
Shortly after the harvest, the complete straw is scattered loosely (not straight!) in thick layers as mulch. The straw decomposts until the next harvest time, giving back all the taken-out nutrients from the previous crop.
Fukuoka used short-stemmed grains which had a spike to halm weight ratio of 1:1
By observation of natural processes, Fukuoka learned about the optimal moment for seeding, and also which plants best complement with each other. He only intervened when necessary.
Regarding grain, he brought out rice and winter grain in rotation. Each grain crop is sown two weeks before the previous one is harvested. This is done by broadcasting the seed among the standing crop(!) During the harvest, the new shoots get trampled down, of course, but they recover quickly and begin to sprout.
This sort of double crop rotation can be done over and over on the exact same spot, without ever depleting the soil. Mulching by clover and straw even enriched its fertility over the years.
Fukuoka seeded rice directly on the spot where it finally got harvested, without transplanting from a nursery field and without the use of paddy fields. With very little irrigation and just one week of water standing in the field, the do-nothing method saves enormeous amounts of water and labour (i.e. transplanting, min. four times of weeding a year, flooding) and thereby avoids overly methane production.
Natural Pests Regulation
Instead of trying to root out pests, natural farming lets nature have its way. The insect population in and above the ground is much higher than in plowed and sprayed fields. Predators like mice, birds and spiders are allowed to roam. The species control each other and keep balanced. Plagues appear rarely and never mean the loss of whole crops.
Trees and bushes never get pruned. Branches and twigs arrange themselves so they each get the optimum of sunlight. An already pruned tree has to be withdrawn carefully over at least two years before it adapts to do-nothing farming. A wide range of grass species on the ground and mixing various tree species keeps the orchard healthy.
Scattering and Mixing
Vegetables can be grown wherever there is a small unused piece of land, preferrably among fruit trees to enrich the soil. Varieties should be brought out mixed with each other on the already existing vegetation cover.
Fukuoka’s labor resulted in an equal or higher amount in crops than traditional and chemical farming in the same area, while the fertility of the soil constantly increased over the years and natural balance was kept. This balance self-regulated pests so there have been little to no losses in crops. With an average of about one hour of work per day, Fukuoka was able to get as much grain from a quarter acre of land as needed to feed a family of five. Costs reduced to almost zero, as no fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, heavy machines or food had to be bought to run the farm.
* Masanobu Fukuoka: The One Straw Revolution – The Natural Way of Farming.
* Masanobu Fukuoka: The Road Back to Nature
* Masanobu Fukuoka: The Natural Way of Farming – The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy
1. ↑ http://www.onestrawrevolution.net/Masan
2. ↑ http://www.onestrawrevolution.net
3. ↑ Masanobu Fukuoka: The Road Back to Nature p.363
4. ↑ http://www.rmaf.org.ph/Awardees/Biograp