RE: [fukuoka_farming] Re: growing into NF
- Jamie I am at the start point in NF. Your definition. To allow nature
just to be and therefore for us to do nothing are the very selfsame
understanding. surely must be a point along the road, not a starting point.
Can you answer these questions bearing in mind the comments below:
At what point can you move to this level of do nothingness ie. how does a
natural farm get to the state where you can do nothing (allow nature just to
How do you get there from a bare patch of earth, possibly totally destroyed
by chemical farming for generations, without doing something to survive in
And is that not a hunter-gatherer relationship with the earth as opposed to
a farmer? Which is ideal perhaps but then we must cull billions from the
If you let nature run its own course with no human intervention then you
will not have enough food to sustain you on a small area of land, while one
of the key concepts of NF is that you can grow enough to sustain you on just
¼ acre. So your definition of NF seems to be only viable for those with
outside income to buy in food, or the urban hunter-gatherer, which seems
completely against the whole concept of NF.
And my personal bugbear because it is so misunderstood - Permaculture is NOT
gardening or farming or agriculture of any kind, it is DESIGN.
I do understand the issues you have with human oriented design and agree in
soul with them but PC strives to design the spaces in the environment so
that they will work with and for the natural world not oppose them. And yes,
PC strives to do that by following patterns observed in nature. Agreed that
all patterns observed are not all the patterns that exist. The wild spaces
inherent in PC and the perennial, self-seeding nature of PC designs ensure
that nature dictates the spread and development of the plants in the
PC is CONSCIOUS as opposed to what you define as NF which is the unfolding
or unconscious. I simply do not believe any natural farms are unconscious
spaces from day one. In his entire farming life Fukuoka never did nothing,
he constantly manipulated his environment to grow what he chose. He did do a
lot less than most farmers for the same or better result. And we respect him
greatly for that and learn from his techniques. We know we can grow both in
body and spirit following this path.
In peace, Linda
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Jamie Nicol
Sent: Saturday, 30 June 2007 7:21 PM
Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: growing into NF
Dear All, the discussion of PC versus NF has come up regularly on this list.
Similarly, I have often tried to draw discussion away from organic
agriculture (which provides the bulk of the subject matter of this lists
archives) to NF - and, yes, this is an NF as understood by me and not
Fukuoka's NF, just as Jean-Claude's NF is not mine nor Fukuoka's either. PC
is not different in practice or philosophy from organic agriculture and
Fukuoka has explicitly repudiated organic agriculture as simply another form
of the thinking of conventional agriculture.
But the consideration of anything versus anything else is itself the problem
and I have often felt mixing with PCers that many of the practitioners were
striving for something which would not *not* be considered NF too. However,
PC as expressed in the books by Bill Mollison and as currently lectured on
by David Holmgren (Peak Oil, Energy Descent etc) is not in any way connected
There is a quiet tradition in the West, long lost amid the material and
technological ' progress' , that speaks with the same voice as Fukuoka,
Daoism or Buddhism and is alive in all of us - all we have to do is hear it.
But it is this hearing that is the most difficult thing. We are all just too
busy. This busyness is expressed perfectly in PCs desire to impose a human
pattern on a landscape, a pattern that is explicitly created so as to
maximise energy flows. It is not that such an approach does not observe the
landscape first, but that the observation itself is already moving within
prescribed, logical patterns. A pattern is, after all, nothing other than
something always already thought to be understood.
What if we were to hand back to nature the choice of pattern? That is NF.
The reason that this is so difficult is that while we allow nature to do
what it does (because nature knows better than we do) we must find something
else to do. Or not do? That is NF. But there are not two NFs, only one. To
allow nature just to be and therefore for us to do nothing are the very
Those who call themselves PCers but find a spiritual dimension open up are
no different to NFers. Bill Mollison infamously called those who would bring
a religiosity to their farming/gardening, ' woo-woo' PCers! But he missed
the point that that is just what is missing in our lives. Working within
nature can open up the wonder at what is, a wonder that can soon lead to
*the* question, ' Why is there something and not nothing' . When the wonder
at existence works deep there is a transformation.
There are those who understand, there are those who have not yet understood
and there are those who will never understand. PC is no entry into NF nor is
not an entry into NF. Conventional chemical agriculture is not an entry into
NF nor is it not and entry into NF. There is nothing you have to do nor can
do to understand NF, just as once understood there is nothing you have to do
nor don't have to do.
Heraclitus wrote that you cannot walk into the same river twice and I
believe that he is father to the silent tradition I mentioned earlier in the
West. But a follower of his, Cratylus, said that you cannot walk into the
same river even once! If Cratylus is right as I believe, then there is no
PC, nor is there technology or philosophy either. There isn't even NF!
On 6/29/07, Sara Mandal-Joy <smjlists@...
<mailto:smjlists%40gmail.com> > wrote:
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> I disagree with your definition of permaculture. Although a few folks
> do practice in that form, so do some folks talking about "doing" NF.
> The people I know and have researched who practice permaculture are not
> at all head centered, nor even heart centered, but deeper, dropping into
> their own roots in being and FEELING the connections to all that are
> around them, letting earth be the teacher, not another human "master"
> with their own unseen hangups and unrecognized mind controls, but
> letting earth itself be their teacher, listening and learning and
> adapting and responding to what they learn from the Earth itself, and
> all forms of life therein, and all extended expanded forms of life
> extending out from the land with which they are interacting. I think
> you need to look into it a little further, based on your thumbnail
> definition. Just my perception. Sara
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- No, not to esoteric. Thank you. This message rings resoundingly true for me.
I look forward to creating my future in NF and hopefully sharing some of it
with the wonderful souls I have met and will meet on this journey.
Bless you all, Linda
[mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Jamie Nicol
Sent: Wednesday, 11 July 2007 8:59 PM
Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: growing into NF
Dear Linda, you ask "what does someone who wants to practice natural
farming, to find the path, do, if they have not had this experience,
not reached the realisation of nothingness?"
To this I would answer that there is no path to find. It is common to hear
people speak of 'the path' but this only confuses the issue: paths are not
found they are made - made by the actual choices (actions) we make and thus
every path is unique to every individual and when beginning a path there is
just no way to see where it will lead.
Therefore, the question becomes, how do we make choices that get us onto a
path which might be called Natural Farming? The answer to this is by no
means clear but is at the heart of the struggles we all have in our lives...
...when we want something we can normally see what we need to do to get it,
however, in NF there is a problem that arises, namely, that NF is prior to
any subject-object dichotomy. Therefore, however much I might desire to do
NF, NF is itself not an object that can be obtained. There are just no
conditions that will enable me to attain an end that is impossible to grasp!
Every effort I would make to attain NF is self-defeating; but, then, if I do
nothing it would seem that I shall get no nearer my desire either.
How can we escape this dilemma often called the 'paradox of practice'?
There are perhaps two possible answers to this dilemma, both reacting
against our thought-constructed dualism between practice as a means and
enlightenment as a goal, each attempting to overcome any separation between
practice and enlightenment. The two main ways are either to subsume means
into ends or ends into means. Specifically this can be understood as
enlightenment being prerequisite to the practice of NF or the practice of NF
being the prerequisite of enlightenment. In Fukuoka's case it would seem
enlightenment comes first - but despite how my contributions might sometimes
sound, I do not see any reason why to actually practice the NF as described
in Fukuoka's books cannot be enlightenment itself - providing it is
practiced wholeheartedly (mindfully).
But what is most important about both ways of being, is that they end up
with a nonduality between means and ends, subject and object, us and them,
humans and nature...etc i.e. the only path to follow is no-path!
Does this help? I hope it doesn't sound too esoteric. Hopefully it does mean
that we can all, individually, find our way. For myself, a path opened up
when I realised there was just nothing I had to do with my life - it was
only then that I began to feel I understood what Fukuoka was saying.
Unfortunately, it was only a fleeting glimpse some 3 years ago. It was no
stunning, life-changing vision, such as Fukuoka enjoyed and I find myself
stumbling on this path with only a very occasional sense of confidence in
the unfolding direction. Any confidence I might suggest in my emails to this
list come from having closely read the books of Fukuoka and practice growing
veg, not due to a stunning vision that has banished all doubts that it would
seem very few people enjoy and certainly not any belief that I am
On 7/11/07, Linda Shewan <linda_shewan@...
<mailto:linda_shewan%40yahoo.com.au> > wrote:
> Hi Jamie,
> To understand NF as practiced by Fukuoka there needs to be the experience
> insight into this 'nothing', however fleeting or shallow.
> I agree totally. I also think many who wish to begin NF have not yet had
> that experience.
> SO my final question (I promise) is. what does someone who wants to
> natural farming, to find the path, do, if they have not had this
> not reached the realisation of nothingness? Are they 'out' of the club or
> it ok to practice Hinayana natural farming and accept that as their garden
> progresses so will their spirit (this is I think what happens with a
> majority of people).
> If we accept Hinayana NF is a valid form of NF then we should be able to
> answer practical questions in a practical way and spiritual questions in a
> spiritual way without returning to spiritual rhetoric when someone clearly
> wants a practical answer. Or at least a practical answer as well as a
> spiritual answer.
> I guess that is all I ask and want from the group. Not a rejection of
> but recognition that both are valid parts of NF and all NFers should be
> given the same level of respect - regardless of their spiritual space at
> this moment in time. From earlier posts it has seemed to me that some feel
> that unless you are at Mahayana then you are not really practicing NF and
> need to 'get it' first. But no one can just get it - you need to
> that moment when it all becomes clear - it is not an intellectual process
> and we need to allow time for it to happen to each one of us, when we are
> spiritually ready.
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> On Behalf Of Jamie Nicol<mailto:fukuoka_farming%40yahoogroups.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, 11 July 2007 2:01 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: growing into NF[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> Dear Linda, I quite understand your frustration with any facile statements
> of the kind that we should all eat immediately from bare fields only
> the use of seedballs. Such advice would be thoughtless.
> Particular emails in this thread seem to either fall into one of two
> extremes; either the 'spiritual' (of which I think you class me) or the
> 'pragmatic' (which would include yourself perhaps and Bob Monie?). And, of
> course, you wont be surprised if I suggest that such a dichotomy is itself
> the problem - and I have the sense that you would see the construction of
> such a dichotomy as a problem also.
> So, indeed, we agree on much. Certainly, I don't think you have misread
> those passages in One-Straw or Natural Way - Fukuoka is ever practical
> farming and it is indeed true that he changed a great deal in his practice
> over the years and has continued to change down to this day.
> Yet, the point that seems to have been forgotten, ignored, or perhaps
> observed in our struggles to promote a more spiritual or more pragmatic
> sense of Fukuoka_Farming is that the beginning of NF came not in Fukuoka's
> father's paddies or orange groves but in the vision of nothingness he had
> the age of 25.
> You make just such an ommission when you write: "I have read the analysis
> the different types of natural farming and I believe it is a journey to
> there - not something we can just assume to do straight off. It took
> years of experimentation to refine his techniques and methodologies on his
> unique piece of land before he was at 'do-nothing' (but let us not forget
> that he was still 'doing' - just not as much as other forms of farming)
> yet some people seem to assume we should behave, both physically and
> spiritually, as if we are there already."
> Fukuoka began not with gradually learning to do nothing as you suggest but
> with the realisation of nothingitself *this* is the start of NF.
> He writes:
> "Recently people have been asking me why I started farming this way so
> years ago. Until now, I have never discussed this with anyone. You could
> say there was no way to talk about it. It was simply - how would you say
> - a shock, a flash, one small experience that was the starting point. That
> realization completely changed my life. It is nothing you can really talk
> about, but it might be put something like this: "Humanity knows nothing at
> all. There is no intrinsic value in anything, and every action is a
> meaningless effort." This may seem preposterous, but if you put it into
> words, that is the only way to describe it."
> From the first paragraph of the second chapter of One-Straw.
> To understand what Fukuoka means when he farms and when he writes we need
> first of all get a sense of what it was that he experienced when he was
> otherwise Fukuoka will sound just like Bill Mollison with some added
> religious bits! But the point that I'm sure you feel too, is that there is
> no separation between spirit and practice, they are the very same thing.
> NF didn't begin with the idea of being (whether we call this being God or
> Truth, Beauty, Justice, The Ideal, The Absolute etc) as we understand it
> the received wisdom (common sense) of the West, but in nothing.
> NF continues to be regarded as PC with added religion! To understand NF as
> practiced by Fukuoka there needs to be the experience of insight into this
> 'nothing', however fleeting or shallow. Because, once there is this
> experience NF isn't difficult or complicated, it has no techniques but
> neither does it not have any techniques - it becomes the methodless
> Quite honestly you can do anything and still call yourself an NFer because
> there is nothing, no-one, who can say you are either right or wrong.
> If I seem to be excessively 'spiritual' it is simply because this is an
> that rarely gets mentioned on this list. But as the quote above makes
> patently obvious and, in the same way so does, "NF is not about the
> of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human being", the status
> techniques (seedballs, food forests, ploughing or pruning) in NF is rather
> But, perhaps such sentiments are wasted because while we can and do talk
> endlessly about techniques, to talk about the inspiration behind NF is far
> more difficult as Fukuoka says: "You could say there was no way to talk
> about it." I think he's right and probably I was wrong to even try.
> If I finish my contribution to this thread in a slightly terse manner I
> you will forgive me, but, for the life of me, I cannot understand why the
> majority of the conversations on this list ignore what Fukuoka plainly
> wrote: NF is a methodless method that begins with the realisation of
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]