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Thought and Representation

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  • jamie
    Hello everyone, here’s the email I referred to previously. It has been fermenting away inside me for quite some time, certainly since Emilia mentioned that
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 26, 2003
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      Hello everyone, here’s the email I referred to previously. It has been
      fermenting away inside me for quite some time, certainly since Emilia
      mentioned that Fukuoka did not want to have his books reprinted until his
      newest had been published – but it also takes in the request by me (and part
      of this group) to ask Fukuoka to think about the copyright of his books and
      more latterly our understanding of Fukuoka’s antipathy to the internet as a
      medium of communication and Michiyo’s observations of both Honma-san’s and
      Fukuoka-san’s reluctance to put down in words the techniques for the
      production of seedballs.

      This is what Fukuoka has to say in ‘One-Straw revolution’ and I believe it
      is a feeling he’s been struggling with ever since:

      “Here I have been talking all the time about how everything is of no
      account, saying that humanity is ignorant, that there is nothing to strive
      for, and that whatever is done is wasted effort. How can I say that and then
      go on chattering like this?
      If I push myself to write something, the only thing to write is that writing
      is useless.
      It is very perplexing.” (page 58)


      Fukuoka recognises along with many Buddhists that direct attempts after
      persuasion are useless and that it is much better to simply give a brief
      indication of a path to be followed, a koan with which to meditate upon or
      simply pass over the matter in silence. It is not that it is useless to
      speak, the conversations of everyday, at home with the family, in the fields
      or at the end of the day with other farmers, are all part of life: even the
      Buddhist who attains enlightenment does not stop the simple tasks of the
      day, but continues them as before except now he/she has a smile while doing
      such chores.

      Fukuoka rightly recognises in the West that the need for explanation,
      detailed scientific explanation, is a desire long since lost to the control
      of those who would employ it. Technology is a tool that has now become the
      driving force of enquiry itself. In the Japanese rush to adopt western
      technology and technological conceptions following the second world war,
      Fukuoka rightly sees the loss of another world view, an older Japanese
      culture that was built not upon the disposable Styrofoam cup but the Tea
      Ceremony – where it is not only the utility of the practice that is
      important.

      I am drawn to Fukuoka because in his agricultural reform he helps liberate
      humanity from this technological conception, enabling us to redraw our
      relationship to the land and natural processes in a way that is not only
      mutually more fulfilling but sustainable. It is not surprising that Fukuoka
      has turned his back on the West and seeks to inspire the developing world
      where he still believes the dominating organisation of technology has yet to
      win a final victory over human understanding.

      But this is where I also part company with Fukuoka. Perhaps it is because I
      do not understand fully, because I am still caught in the western
      weltanschauung. Yet when St. Exupéry writes: “Perfection is achieved not
      when there is nothing more to add, but rather, when there is nothing left to
      take away”, I believe he sees exactly what Fukuoka expresses in NF. I think
      Fukuoka himself is guilty of the same dualism attributed to the West, only
      in this case the opposites are no longer subject/object or nature/humanity
      but simply East versus West.

      But there is a further worry about Fukuoka’s concerns over expressing
      himself in the non-immediate media of books or the internet, or even not
      expressing himself on such subjects at all. That might best be expressed by
      Masao Abe:

      "...because of its standpoint of Non-thinking, Zen has in fact not fully
      realised the positive and creative aspects of thinking and their
      significance which have been especially developed in the West. Logic and
      scientific cognition based on substantive objective thinking, and moral
      principles and ethical realisation based on Subjective practical thinking,
      have been very conspicuous in the West. In contrast to this, some of the
      things have been vague or lacking in the world of Zen. Hence Zen's position
      in Not-thinking always harbours the danger of degenerating into mere
      not-thinking."



      Clearly, Fukuoka cannot be condemned for not thinking, otherwise how else
      would there be a group discussing his ideas. But there is a very real sense
      that by slipping back into the Zen belief expressed by his “the only thing
      to write is that writing is useless.”, he is reneging on the work of these
      early books, the very thing that has brought us to this medium today,
      searching for the answers to our questions on NF.

      I believe there is no East/West dichotomy in thought, each unity is a
      fiction anyway and there are always a spectrum of thought and opinion in
      each country anyway. I came to Fukuoka through what is known as continental
      philosophy, I reacted to Fukuoka because it touched so many of my concerns
      expressed in this philosophy. I believe the understanding of the world as
      expressed by Fukuoka is as much alive in the West as it is or isn’t
      elsewhere. Whilst I can appreciate the quietism of his ripe old age, I
      believe it is too late for him to turn his back on the project he initiated
      with his books – not just the NF manifesto of One-Straw but the following
      Natural Way, on the Practice and Theory of Green Philosophy.

      I hope we do not make the mistake of attributing to Fukuoka the only true
      cognisance of NF, I believe it is a conception that is as real outside Japan
      or developing countries. But this does not mean that I don’t think that
      input from Fukuoka-san or Honma-san is not important, it would make a
      substantial difference to the substance and direction of this list. I would
      ask Michiyo to talk to Hinma-san to see if there is anyway we might
      communicate with Fukuoka-san, however indirectly. Yet, I also insist that NF
      is a reality beyond Masanobu Fukuoka himself and that if we have been
      touched by what we’ve read then we should continue the journey with or
      without the support of Fukuoka and even with or without the blessing of
      Fukuoka, for isn’t it us in the West (especially in the great GMO heartlands
      of the US) who more than any others recgonise the importance of what NF has
      to offer.

      Jamie
      Souscayrous









      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • sethwai
      Hi Jamie, There is a misconception by most people that Budhhism is about not thinking. That is not the case. There is nothing inherently wrong with thinking.
      Message 2 of 11 , Mar 26, 2003
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        Hi Jamie,

        There is a misconception by most people that Budhhism is about not
        thinking. That is not the case. There is nothing inherently wrong
        with thinking. Thought is a valuable tool indeed. The problem is
        the identification with thinking as who we are. This worshipping of
        thinking as stated in "I think therefore I am".
        What is left when we stop identifying with our physical body and
        thoughts as who we are?
        There's the story of a buddhist teacher who threw a book of
        Buddha's teachings into a fire to make a point to his student. They
        are the finger pointing at the moon not the moon itself. I have come
        to see Fukuokas teachings in the same light. If we treat them as a
        series of techniques to be learned we have missed the boat. Maybe
        that is what Fukuoka is wary of.

        Lew
      • jamie
        Hello Lew, you write, I have come to see Fukuokas teachings in the same light. If we treat them as a series of techniques to be learned we have missed the
        Message 3 of 11 , Mar 27, 2003
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          Hello Lew, you write, "I have come to see Fukuokas teachings in the same
          light. If we treat them as a series of techniques to be learned we have
          missed the boat. Maybe that is what Fukuoka is wary of." I think I agree,
          the instrumentality of technique is very far from where I understand Fukuoka
          to be - for instrumentality is part of the techné (technological worldview)
          of western commercial/military imperialism where achievement is tallied by
          physical counters and not 'hearts and minds'. It may very well be that the
          US/UK coalition forces 'liberate' Iraq, but they will not liberate the
          resentment the invasion creates. Or, to put it another way, when we spray
          our 'difficult grasses' with Roundup, we might well eradicate this
          generation of 'weeds', but what about the next and what about those that had
          not quite germinated when the roundup was sprayed? I'm sure Fukuoka is very
          wary of putting into the hands of a culture (Anglo-Saxons at least)
          techniques which will be reduced of all depth and applied everywhere without
          a single shred of thought for time and place.

          Jamie
          Souscayrous


          -----Original Message-----
          From: sethwai [mailto:sethwai@...]
          Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 6:50 PM
          To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Thought and Representation

          Hi Jamie,

          There is a misconception by most people that Budhhism is about not
          thinking. That is not the case. There is nothing inherently wrong
          with thinking. Thought is a valuable tool indeed. The problem is
          the identification with thinking as who we are. This worshipping of
          thinking as stated in "I think therefore I am".
          What is left when we stop identifying with our physical body and
          thoughts as who we are?
          There's the story of a buddhist teacher who threw a book of
          Buddha's teachings into a fire to make a point to his student. They
          are the finger pointing at the moon not the moon itself. I have come
          to see Fukuokas teachings in the same light. If we treat them as a
          series of techniques to be learned we have missed the boat. Maybe
          that is what Fukuoka is wary of.

          Lew



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          fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com



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        • Gloria Baikauskas
          Jamie.......I have been thinking about this again..........When a child is quite small and filled with the wonder of this world it watches in awe and silence
          Message 4 of 11 , Apr 18, 2003
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            Jamie.......I have been thinking about this again..........When a child is quite small and filled with the wonder of this world it watches in awe and silence the butterflies as they flit about like magic bits of color. It sees the bees buzzing to and fro between the flowers. It sees the birds do some of the same, as well as gathering bits of plant material to build their nests. At some point it sees the seed of a tree flutter down in the breeze to the ground. A very young child may come back and one day notice that a tree has sprouted from that seed. But here is where the line splits........because as the human child grows older it can no longer seem to watch the seed fall and fend for itself. Instead the child feels it must now pick up the seed and find the special place for it to grow......where it can be watched and tended. Now instead of bits of leaves and shattered small twigs falling to cover the ground and insulate the seedling where the seed itself originally fell, there is bare soil until the child grows to a point it realizes it must protect the seedling further with something and covers it with soil and perhaps grass clippings. Is that not the place were natural farming by Nature departs and human interference begins? As soon as we move the seeds in the first place to make it more convenient for us we are no longer committing natural farming in its true form.....call it what we may. Is this not why the seedballs come as close to making the bridge back to its purer form as we can accomplish? I have been thinking about something else related to this. When a seed pod is open and ready to spread its seeds into the world at large they spread in several ways from wind to assistance from creatures like birds. Often the seeds end up in a clump to germinate as they will. As humans it occurs to us to thin these plants out to make the surviving plants stronger to produce more food for us per plant. What does Nature do by enabling this clump of seeds to germinate all together? By clumping and growing it succeeds in crowding out other plants as if they were allelopathic. The weaker seedlings die out as the stronger ones grow until only the strongest survive to mature and bestow seed once again continuing the process. Are these new seeds not going to produce stronger, and better plants than if man has separated them..never allowing them to clump and go through the process? Do we continually weaken the plants (seeds) by the methods we use by allowing the weaker ones to also survive? First that maturing child mentioned above will take a stick and make a hole to plant the found seed in the place it chooses. Then the older still child/nearly adult realizes it must thin the seeds as it goes along through the growing process. I guess where I am going with this is this. We interfere in the very first step by separating the seed from the parent and taking it to plant in a place convenient to us.......thus we get farming and not gathering. But when we take the next step in thinning the plants, etc, is that not where we separate ourselves from true natural farming? Are we weakening plants from the very start by taking away the variables that create the strong plants we need to produce our best food crops? This interference idea is driving me crazy with new thoughts all the time now. I keep trying to find the best solution.....without being a part of the problem. Nature set up rules from its very beginning. In that way plant life has survived longer than even animal life. How do we make it right and still farm? For those of you who celebrate it.....Happy Easter!Gloria

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Michiyo Shibuya
            I think that this natural farming may be a temporary method. It always amazes me to see one plant having thousands of seeds, and if human don t pick them up,
            Message 5 of 11 , Apr 21, 2003
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              I think that this natural farming may be a temporary method.
              It always amazes me to see one plant having thousands of seeds,
              and if human don't pick them up, only a few grows.
              But it is like a big bank or rescue party prepared by the earth.
              In emergency, each of those seed has a crucial role, otherwise they can rest
              or sleep
              in their beds waiting.

              And we are in emergency if we see from a human perspective having so many
              people dying with food shortage,
              from the perspective of the earth it may be
              still peaceful and waiting for its turn to help.

              So I think that all these seeds can be used to rehabilitate the deserted
              lands,
              not only the desert, but cultivated areas, and the garden which we have
              decorated with much effort.
              And it may really not be unnatural, it is like helping the injured person
              with natural medicine.
              but someday, we can stop natural farming and live and see the nature grows.

              When I talked to Fukuoka san, he used the term "less natural" pointing at a
              small electric device and "more natural"
              pointing at a wooden table. He added, "you may think this wood of the table
              is already dead, but there is no distinction between
              living and dead."

              I thought about this idea by myself for a while. And I think that the more
              we process the idea, the more we process the object from nature.
              Decorated products all done by hands is more natural than products made in
              factories,
              because the latter required much more previous thinking of thousands of men.
              "Thinking" I used here is the opposite of what we have once discussed as "do
              nothing"; craftsman can make things being in a state of
              "do nothing", but factory workers cannot.

              Seedballs may not be the best solution, but I like it because first of all,
              I cannot make a conscious choice of where to plant anything I like,
              (and I am already losing my particular taste over others--I don't have
              favorite plants)
              and second, by making a ball with 3 seeds in, only the strongest and fittest
              can grow.
              It is somewhat cruel because even if the seed is a healthiest one, it still
              has to test its luck
              for survival.


              Michiyo
            • Lance Bermudez
              Man is as much a part of nature as anything else. One doesn t need to contemplate the boundary between the two because there is no boundary; the two are
              Message 6 of 11 , Apr 23, 2003
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                Man is as much a part of nature as anything else. One doesn't need to contemplate the boundary between the two because there is no boundary; the two are really one.

                Maybe it's just me.

                Lance


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Don Graves
                I agree with Lance & Michiyo WE HUMANS ARE PART OF NATURE WE ARE NOT APART FROM NATURE We humans are subject to Nature s LIMITS limits of non-renewable
                Message 7 of 11 , Apr 24, 2003
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                  I agree with Lance & Michiyo

                  WE HUMANS ARE PART OF NATURE

                  WE ARE NOT APART FROM NATURE

                  We humans are subject to Nature's LIMITS
                  limits of non-renewable resources, (like soil & oil)
                  & limits of time available to avoid, remedy or mitigate against effects of
                  historic landuse methods
                  & many more human, social & environmental limits too

                  eg.
                  tillage-like physical soil disturbances do occur in nature
                  .... in wet landslips & beside waterways during floods
                  However MOST modern farmers continue to use repeated physical disturbances
                  (CONVENTIONAL TILLAGE)

                  CONSERVATION TILLAGE methods aim to preserve soil surface mulch & crop
                  'residues', which
                  protect against wind or water erosion, & reduces soil runoff effects on
                  water quality etc.
                  The use of strip or blanket herbicides or heat has hugely increased the
                  acreage of grain crops which use conservation tillage, or direct seed drill
                  technologies.
                  I am not advocating that 'organic' growers should use herbicides, but some
                  commercial organic alternatives are now available too (ie. 'osmotic-burning'
                  herbicides made from pine or fish wastes) .

                  However, if people can experiment & risk some small scale failures, we can
                  learn to grow living mulches of ground covers which do not excessively
                  compete for crop available nutrients or soil water solutions.
                  I have previously used a ground hugging (low growing) 'Sub-clover' or
                  Subterranean Clover grown under vegetables.

                  Here are a few matters (as I understand) about competition between
                  groundcovers, weeds & crop plants,
                  Plant nutrient & water competition is most critical during crop flowering,
                  so avoid competition from weeds or groundcovers which may otherwise flower
                  at the same time as crop plant

                  For annual weeds it is best to cut back shoots to reduce light competition
                  between weed & crop plants.

                  Mulches help suppress grasses, however mulches are less effective against
                  perenial weed plants with underground storage of nutrients like big tap
                  roots, bulbs, corms, or rhizomes & are thus obvioulsy more difficult to
                  reduce the effects of, but sometimes we must.
                  For example
                  DOCK (Rumex obtusifolia & Rumex longifolia) are a very 'hungry' weeds if
                  growing too close to a crop plant. Dock also does a good job to bring up
                  minerals from deep in the soil, & dock roots can reduce negative effects of
                  soil compaction by draining & aerating soils
                  my solution to removing dock & roundweeds is simple:
                  a LAWN WEED HANDTOOL
                  About 7cm to 10cm (3-4 inches) below the soil surface,
                  CUT a tap root & at the same time gently pull on the shoots,
                  & remove the uppermost root & plant food storage, thus reducung the survival
                  / re-emergence chances of the lowermost roots
                  As a substitute to a bought 'lawn weeder', it is also possible to adapt a
                  large screwdriver, with a "V-shaped" groove ground out of the shapened edge
                  of the screwdriver head.


                  SOME of us home or small growers prefer
                  LOW-TEC / APPROPRIATE technologies,
                  the KeepItSimpleStupid (KISS) principle
                  NATURAL FARMING - FUKUOKA et al.
                  NO-DIG NO-WEED etc
                  Other animals like to or need to DIG SOILS too,
                  just not as enthusiastically or repeatedly as we humans can do!!!

                  Are we behaving more like naughty, cheeky & reckless young monkeys?
                  or are we capable of forgiving our human past & present carelessness
                  & becoming caring & inquisitive humans?

                  We humans may understand a lot more now
                  but have so much more to learn too


                  regards to all


                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "Lance Bermudez" <becnal@...>
                  To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2003 1:01 AM
                  Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Thought and Representation


                  > Man is as much a part of nature as anything else. One doesn't need to
                  contemplate the boundary between the two because there is no boundary; the
                  two are really one.
                  >
                  > Maybe it's just me.
                  >
                  > Lance
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                  > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Robin, Maya, or Napi
                  Thank you for the dock trick, Doc. ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  Message 8 of 11 , Apr 24, 2003
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                    Thank you for the dock trick, Doc.

                    Don Graves wrote:

                    > I agree with Lance & Michiyo
                    >
                    > WE HUMANS ARE PART OF NATURE
                    >
                    > WE ARE NOT APART FROM NATURE
                    > sometimes we must.
                    > For example
                    > DOCK (Rumex obtusifolia & Rumex longifolia) are a very 'hungry'
                    > weeds if
                    > growing too close to a crop plant. Dock also does a good job
                    > to bring up
                    > minerals from deep in the soil, & dock roots can reduce
                    > negative effects of
                    > soil compaction by draining & aerating soils
                    > my solution to removing dock & roundweeds is simple:
                    > a LAWN WEED HANDTOOL
                    > About 7cm to 10cm (3-4 inches) below the soil surface,
                    > CUT a tap root & at the same time gently pull on the shoots,
                    > & remove the uppermost root & plant food storage, thus reducung
                    > the survival
                    > / re-emergence chances of the lowermost roots
                    > As a substitute to a bought 'lawn weeder', it is also possible
                    > to adapt a
                    > large screwdriver, with a "V-shaped" groove ground out of the
                    > shapened edge
                    > of the screwdriver head.
                    >
                    > Other animals like to or need to DIG SOILS too,
                    > just not as enthusiastically or repeatedly as we humans can
                    > do!!!
                    >
                    > Are we behaving more like naughty, cheeky & reckless young
                    > monkeys?
                    > or are we capable of forgiving our human past & present
                    > carelessness
                    > & becoming caring & inquisitive humans?
                    >
                    > We humans may understand a lot more now
                    > but have so much more to learn too
                    >
                    > regards to all

                    > ----- Original Message -----
                    > From: "Lance Bermudez" <becnal@...>
                    > To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
                    > Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2003 1:01 AM
                    > Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Thought and Representation
                    >
                    > > Man is as much a part of nature as anything else. One
                    > doesn't need to
                    > contemplate the boundary between the two because there is no
                    > boundary; the
                    > two are really one.
                    > >
                    > > Maybe it's just me.
                    > >
                    > > Lance


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Robin, Maya, or Napi
                    Something with two long, sturdy, spirally enfolded first leaves is coming up thickly in the garden here, from who knows which one of many envelopes & bags of
                    Message 9 of 11 , Apr 24, 2003
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                      Something with two long, sturdy, spirally enfolded first
                      leaves is coming up thickly in the garden here, from who knows
                      which one of many envelopes & bags of seeds from various donors
                      to the school garden, randomly dumped & scattered by the
                      children. One of the traditional gardening parents suggested
                      that we had better thin it, whatever it is. We were speculating
                      that this was one of the lessons that this year's garden has
                      offered us, to see what happens next. We spoke of how some of
                      these leaflets will become the food for the others as they are
                      overtaken by the stronger growers.
                      As the children have been asking, prompted by some goading of
                      a non-vegetarian parent, "Do plants want to be eaten?" We say
                      that plants get to be & do & know some new things when they
                      become part of a person who eats them. & we get to be & do &
                      know some new things with plants inside us." Then they get me
                      with, "Would they rather be eaten by animals or by each other?"
                      Yes, yes, over-anthropomorphic use of 'want' & 'rather'. Then
                      springs up the image of spider hatchlings, eating each other &
                      their mother to get some of them going. One sensitive
                      ten-year-old cries for the seeds that fall on poor soil, never to
                      sprout, or those that try, & almost make it, then are doomed to
                      die overshadowed. We, as part of nature, have developed that
                      tenderness that is giving us what amounts to a special needs
                      garden here, where those weak seeds will be nurtured by some
                      little elfin soul who heard them cry out, "Me, too."

                      Gloria Baikauskas wrote: Often the seeds end up in a clump to
                      germinate as they will. As humans it occurs to us to thin these
                      plants out to make the surviving plants stronger to produce more
                      food for us per plant. What does Nature do by enabling this
                      clump of seeds to germinate all together? By clumping and
                      growing it succeeds in crowding out other plants as if they were
                      allelopathic. The weaker seedlings die out as the stronger ones
                      grow until only the strongest survive to mature and bestow seed
                      once again continuing the process. Are these new seeds not
                      going to produce stronger, and better plants than if man has
                      separated them..never allowing them to clump and go through the
                      process? Do we continually weaken the plants (seeds) by the
                      methods we use by allowing the weaker ones to also survive?
                      Gloria



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • AaronBrachfeld@aol.com
                      And docks are tasty, too! Just as good as the plant it is competing with! --Aaron Brachfeld
                      Message 10 of 11 , Apr 24, 2003
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                        And docks are tasty, too! Just as good as the plant it is "competing" with!

                        --Aaron Brachfeld
                      • animaphile
                        A very good written point was made by Lew in a previous post - see below. For example to understand the point about what is meant by the word nature
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jun 30, 2003
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                          A very good written point was made by Lew <Sethwai> in a previous
                          post - see below.
                          For example to understand the point about what is meant by the word
                          nature in non-materialistic usage as compared to the use of the word
                          nature to refer to the physical matter of living organisms.

                          And also after my previous post by Kevin Gilbert about the meaning
                          of the words of the Bible rather than the attachment to the
                          repeating the saying of the words of the Bible.

                          To understand what is meant by Shizen Nouhou Spontaneous Nature
                          Farming Methods as compared to Farming Methods.

                          To understand Wanna-be natural as compared to being natural 'any-
                          things' - people, land, plants, animal foods...

                          etc.

                          --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "sethwai" <sethwai@y...>
                          wrote:

                          ...

                          There's the story of a buddhist teacher who threw a book of
                          Buddha's teachings into a fire to make a point to his student.

                          ***They are the finger pointing at the moon not the moon itself.***

                          I have come to see Fukuokas teachings in the same light. If we
                          treat them as a series of techniques to be learned we have missed
                          the boat. Maybe that is what Fukuoka is wary of.

                          Lew

                          ***********************************************************
                          with my emphasis added.

                          Thanks Lew,
                          Beauty everyone,
                          Animaphile
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