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The One-Straw Revolution

January 5, 2011

Who was Masanobu Fukuoka? What was the truth that he discovered for himself and what did he write about in his revolutionary book – “The One-Straw Revolution”?

Masanobu Fukuoka was born and raised in Japan. He was a scientist and had studied plant pathology. When he was in his twenties a realization dawned on him – “Humanity knows nothing at all. There is no intrinsic value in anything, and every action is a futile, meaningless effort”. Fukuoka left everything and went to farms to test his realization. He spent next 30-40 years on his farm experimenting with “do-nothing” way of farming, understanding nature and letting her play her role and eventually what he discovered was startling.

With “do nothing” farming, which uses no machines, no prepared fertilizer and no chemicals, no plowing, it was possible to attain a harvest equal to or greater than that of average Japanese farm. “Take a look at these fields of rye and barley. This ripening grain will yield about 22 bushels (1300 pounds) per quarter acre. I believe this matches the top yields in Ehime Prefecture. And yet these fields have not been plowed for 25 years now.” he says.

Masanobu spent his life in a mountain hut in the orchard. He has written a book called “The One-Straw Revolution” on his “do-nothing” farming. The book talks not only about farming but about nature, life and it’s meaning and is a must read.

Given below are a few paragraphs from his book, where he talk about Music, Nature and Human Effort –

Teaching music to children is as unnecessary as pruning orchard trees.

A child’s ear catches the music. The murmuring of a stream, the sound of frogs croaking by the riverbank, the rustling of leaves in the forest, all these natural sounds are music – true music. But when a variety of disturbing noises enter and confuse the ear, the child’s pure, direct appreciation of music degenerates. If left to continue along that path, the child will be unable to hear the call of a bird or the sound of wind as songs. That is why music education is thought to be beneficial to the child’s development.

The child who is raised with an ear pure and clear may not be able to play the popular tunes on the violin or piano, but I do not think this has anything to do with the ability to hear true music or to sing. It is when the heart is filled with song that the child can be said to be musically gifted.

Almost everyone thinks that nature is a good thing, but few can grasp the difference between natural and unnatural.

If a single new bud is snipped off a fruit tree with a pair of scissors, that may bring about disorder which can not be undone. When growing accordingly to the natural form, branches spread alternately from the trunk and the leaves receive sunlight uniformly. If this sequence is disrupted the branches come into conflict, lie upon one another and become tangled, and the leaves wither in the places where sun can not penetrate.

Human beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave the damage unrepairable, and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them. When the corrective actions appear to be successful, they come to view these measures as splendid accomplishments. People do this over and over again. It is as if a fool were to stomp on and break the tiles of his roof. Then when it starts to rain and the ceiling begins to rot away, he hastily climbs up to mend the damage, rejoicing in the end that he has accomplished a miraculous solution.

To his readers his says at last –

There is nowhere better than this world. Years ago I realized that we human beings are good just as we are and I set out to enjoy my life. I took a carefree road back to nature, free from human knowledge and effort. Since then fifty years of my life have flown away. I have had some successes, but also failures. Many of my youthful dreams remain unfulfilled. I know my time here on earth is limited… I hope, as the days go by, that i will be be able to experience a day as a year. Then, like the tribal people I met in Somalia, I will not know how old I am. These days I try to imagine that I am one hundred years old… or even two hundred…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. shiwa permalink
    January 14, 2011 12:48

    oye konsti

    regret using blog as a medium to communicate. office restrictions are the culpirts:)

    cycle yatra kaisi rahi dost. It would be nice to read about the experience. so do share as and when time allows.waiting for the trip in march.

    macchar

    Like

    • January 14, 2011 12:57

      Koi nahi dost 🙂 cycle yatra bahut mast rahi.. knees pain kar rahe hain.. likh raha hun yaar.. abhi aaj aur kal mein post karta hun.. kaafi kuch share karne ko hai logon se

      Like

  2. Animesh permalink
    January 20, 2012 17:36

    Quoting from the article above:
    With “do nothing” farming, which uses no machines, no prepared fertilizer and no chemicals, no plowing, it was possible to attain a harvest equal to or greater than that of average Japanese farm. “Take a look at these fields of rye and barley. This ripening grain will yield about 22 bushels (1300 pounds) per quarter acre. I believe this matches the top yields in Ehime Prefecture. And yet these fields have not been plowed for 25 years now.” he says.

    I am curious. Were those naturally growing rye and barley fields?
    If yes: then this finding is absolutely superbly amazing. (There may be problems with feeding the 7 billion people on earth, but that’s a different matter)

    However, if no, then I am really curious. Does “do nothing” exclude sowing? Why? Why is plowing a fundamentally different kind of human effort (or intervention) than sowing? I would like to believe that “do nothing” is really doing nothing. Maybe, being a hunter-gatherer qualifies as doing nothing? I would, sarcastically, like to believe that even plucking a fruit from a tree is doing ‘something’. Clearly, it has implications.

    Realize that I am really trying to understand. I am just playing devil’s advocate when I ask these questions. Also realize that I am not catching words too literally. I am not hung up on saying doing nothing should mean really just laying in shava-asana and not moving at all. I am really saying that where do you draw that boundary? That boundary between doing things that amount to stomping the tiles on my roof and doing things that don’t break the tiles?

    I realize that the answers are in the book!

    Like

    • January 20, 2012 19:38

      🙂 “do-nothing” is not to be taken literally.. Yes, the answers are in the book. As for your question – “Were those naturally growing rye and barley fields?”, Yes these were naturally grown.

      What I understand and agree to from this is that humans have not done so much for the world as we think we have. We might have just caused more harm than anything else to ourselves and the world (this is debatable). But what is not debatable is that we have certainly filled our heads (and continue to fill it) with a lot of farce pride.

      Like

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