The One-Straw Revolution (Some Quotes)

Posted by Xiaojuan Shu on Apr 17, 2016
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The One-Straw Revolution had been on my reading list for a while after seeing Nipun list it as one of his favorite books. It's an introduction to natural farming, but it's way beyond farming when he talks about farming. Its impact on me is profound and needs more time to truly settle in. For now, some quotes from the book are enough for me to ponder.

There is no wiser course in farming than the path of wholesome soil improvement.

Growing vegetables like wild plants. The important thing is knowing the right time to plant.

To the extent that people separate themselves from nature, they spin out further and further from the center. At the same time, a centripetal effect asserts itself and the desire to return to nature arises. But if people merely become caught up in reacting, moving to the left or to the right, depending on conditions, the result is only more activity. The non-moving point of origin, which lies outside the realm of relativity, is passed over, unnoticed.

I believe that even "returning-to-nature" and anti-pollution activities, no matter how commendable, are not moving toward a genuine solution if they are carried out solely in reaction to the overdevelopment of the present age.

To the extent that the consciousness of everyone is not fundamentally transformed, pollution will not cease.

When a decision is made to cope with the symptoms of a problem, it is generally assumed that the corrective measures will solve the problem itself. They seldom do. Human measures and countermeasures proceed from limited scientific truth and judgment. A true solution can never come about in this way.

My modest solutions, such as spreading straw and growing clover, create no pollution. They are effective because they eliminate the source of the problem. Until the modern faith in big technological solutions can be overturned, pollution will only get worse.

It would be well if people stopped troubling themselves about discovering the true meaning of life. We can never know the answers to great spiritual questions, but it's all right not to understand. We have been born and are living on the earth to face directly the reality of living.

Living is no more than the result of being born. Whatever it is people eat to live, whatever people think they must eat to live, is nothing more than something they have thought up. The world exists in such a way that if people will set aside their human will and be guided instead by nature, there is no reason to expect to starve.

Just live here and now. This is the true basis of human life.

Broad, transcendent natural farming:
It proceeds from the conviction that if the individual temporarily abandons human will and so allows himself to be guided by nature, nature responds by providing everything. Pure natural farming is the no-stroke school. It goes nowhere and seeks no victory. Putting "doing nothing" into practice is the one thing the farmer should strive to accomplish.

Something born from human pride and quest for pleasure cannot be considered true culture. True culture is born with nature, and is simple, humble, and pure. Lacking true culture, humanity will perish.

Food is life, and life must not step away from nature.

Four main classifications of diet:
Lax diet (Self-indulgent, empty eating); Standard nutritionally diet (materialist, scientific eating); diet of principle; natural diet.

Natural diet: Following the will of heaven. Discarding all human knowledge. The diet of non-discrimination. Nature is in constant transition, changing from moment to moment. People cannot grasp nature's true appearance. The face of nature is unknown. Trying to capture the unknowable in theories and formalized doctrines is like trying to catch the wind in a butterfly net.
When you no longer want to eat something tasty, you can taste the real flavor of whatever you are eating. It is easy to lay out the simple foods of a natural diet on the dining table, but those who can truly enjoy such a feast are few.

Unless people become natural people, there can be neither natural farming nor natural food.

Why is it impossible to know nature? That which is convinced to be nature is only the idea of nature arising in each person's mind. The ones who see true nature are infants. They see without thinking, straight and clear.

An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing.

When he abandons discriminating knowledge, non-discriminating knowledge of itself arises within him. If he does not try to think about knowing, if he does not care about understanding, the time will come when he will understand.

What is smart? What is foolish?
"Foolishness comes out looking smart. Are you trying to become a foolish-type smart guy?"
Before I knew it, I was angry with myself for repeating the same words over and over again, words which could never match the wisdom of remaining silent.

"If you did nothing at all, the world could not keep running. What would the world be without development?"
"Why do you have to develop? If economic growth rises from 5% to 10%, is happiness going to double? What’s wrong with a growth rate of 0%? Isn't this a rather stable kind of economics? Could there be anything better than living simply and taking it easy?"

People find something out, learning how it works, and put nature to use, thinking this will be for the good of humankind. The result of all this, up to now, is that the planet has become polluted, people have become confused and we have invited in the chaos of modern time.

The more people do, the more society develops, the more problems arise... Originally there was no reason to progress, and nothing that had to be done. We have come to the point at which there is no other way than to bring about a "movement" not to bring anything about.

"Where are you from?" I asked.
"Over there."
"How did you get here?"
"I walked."
"What did you come here for?"
"I don't know."

Most of those who came here are in no hurry to reveal their names or the story of their past. They do not make the purpose very clear either.

Born without knowing the reason only to close one's eyes and depart for the infinite unknown--the human being is indeed a tragic creature.

Human beings usually see life and death in a rather short perspective. The joy of life does not depart in death. You are dying and being reborn each day, and yet will live on for many generations after death.

A four-year-old girl asks her mother,
"Why was I born into this world? To go to nursery school?"

Originally, human beings had no purpose. Now dreaming up some purpose or other, they struggle away trying to find the meaning of life. It is a one-man wrestling match. There is no purpose one has to think about or go out in search of.

"It's a one-straw revolution!"

Stepping out of the hut into the afternoon sunlight, I paused for a moment and gazed at the surrounding orchard trees laden with ripening fruit, and at the chickens scratching in the weeds and clover. I then began my familiar descent to the fields.

The recent short interview by Birju Pandya with Jon Jandai deeply resonates with The One-Straw Revolution too.
Q: How do you think about what some call the major global crises currently in the world (eg, inequality, climate change, etc)?
JJ: This is a time of the last straw on the camels back. Multiple collapses of systems may be coming soon. First environmental, which we are already seeing. Second is economy. People are not asking ‘where does money come from?’ only ‘where do I get more money?’ There are 2 places money may be coming from:
1-Processing of natural resources of the earth;
2-Processing of cheap labor, or human resources.

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Comments (1)

  • Zilong Wang wrote ...

    Thank you for saving and scattering these seeds :)