The Mother Divine
Change Font Size 

One evening, in a Tibetan settlement, while he was without amusement or work, a Lama handed a copy of Permaculture: The Road Back To Nature to the publisher of this magazine. The author of this book, Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher, has been celebrated world over for his shizen nōhō, natural farming, also known as “the Fukuoka Method”, “the natural way of farming” or “Do-Nothing Farming.”

The publisher read through the first few pages of the book. The preface itself, so entrancing and engaging, just pulled him into the world of Fukuoka’s thoughts. There was no electricity in that solitary settlement that night, but the desire to go on reading could not be contained; so he turned on the torch in his mobile phone and continued reading until the wee hours. The words he read filled him with awe and wonder. It is not that Fukuoka’s genius was unknown to him, he had always adored this Japanese stalwart, but there was something new here –Fukuoka’s mention of God in the Preface! It was a first!

We discussed this after he returned with the book. ‘He is a sage, he is a sage…’ the publisher friend kept repeating and he insisted I read the book.

Returning to nature, according to Fukuoka, ‘represents the effort to reunify God, nature, and man— which have been split apart by mankind.’ In my mind, this immediately resonated with the triad of Prakriti, Purusha and Jiva and the relationship between them, the overriding quest of all the ancient Hindu sages.

A person like Fukuoka, having spent his entire life contemplating about Nature, had hit upon the fundamental truth. He said, ‘Unfortunately, man cannot be successful in his attempts to return to nature unless he knows what true nature and God are.’ And this is what impressed us the most. Here was a voice not subdued by the scientist’s and psychologist’s allergy for God. It takes courage (not common among scientists) to admit the limitations of human intellect and this Japanese scientist-turned-farmer had had the courage to admit the truth.

There had always been a mystery that surrounded Fukuoka’s sudden exit from the world of plant pathology and his quitting the promising job of a research scientist. Why did he have to do it?
Fukuoka caught pneumonia in his mid-twenties and was left alone in hospital without company. Dancing with death, he questioned his prior existence and the life he led. He survived but left a changed man.

Soon after, he climbed a hill overlooking the harbour and collapsed underneath a tree. In a daze he watched the harbour grow light, seeing the sunrise, ‘yet somehow not seeing it.’
As the breeze blew up from below the bluff, the morning mist suddenly disappeared. Just at that moment a night heron appeared, gave a sharp cry, and flew away into the distance.’

Fukuoka experienced a change of heart.

Everything I had held in firm conviction, everything upon which I had ordinarily relied was swept away with the wind.’

He resigned from his job and created a natural farm. This was in 1938.

Fukuoka wanted to practice what he had envisioned that night under the hilltop tree: a philosophy of returning to nature and understanding time as an illusion.

This experience transformed his world view and led him to doubt the practices of modern “Western” agricultural science. He immediately resigned from his post as a research scientist, returning to his family’s farm on the island of Shikoku in southern Japan.

It took him many years to admit the true import of that life-changing experience:
What happened, very simply, was that, taken aback by the vision of an ideal paradise before me, I turned around and bolted from reality. Although I had noticed that our world was a garden of Eden, I turned my back on this knowledge and, without fully realizing it, chose instead the road of a dilettante farmer tilling a lost paradise.’

This is not Fukuoka’s story. This is not just his experience. This is an experience everyone goes through at some point of time. In India, we can easily name it, we can separate the mundane from the spiritual; we can break the walls of dry intelligence with intuitive processes and welcome God. We can challenge the fragmented and diffusive development of knowledge, which expands outward without aim or direction as Fukuoka views it, and embrace the higher unitive reality even if we are in the danger of losing the very ground we stand upon. To a practitioner of Sanatana Dharma, there is no fear in admitting God and reaching out to a higher source, there is no insecurity in admitting to the inadequacy of human understanding. We trust and we follow. Ours is a legacy of fearlessness in embracing the highest ideal. We as amrit putras, the sons of immortality, are given assurance by our Gurus and the Scriptures. We are taught not to turn our back on God and betray ourselves.
In India we swiftly give ourselves to the light that may still be breaking out like dawn for it might be too late by the time it’s morning. What we can learn from profound remorse of Fukuoka is never to abjure God and evade the promise of life divine.

Fukuoka said, ‘of course, on that day in my far-off youth when I knew God— from that, day forth, I should have followed His divine will. I should have walked the proper road for man that had been pointed out to me. But at the time, I was just a stupid, good-for-nothing youth hopelessly corrupted by the secular world. Overwhelmed with awe and amazement at the indescribably glorious sight of God, I shirked my duty. Whether it was cowardice or arrogance I do not know, but taking advantage of the fact that God gives man no instructions, I turned my back upon Him and began to walk the road back to my own egoistic self.’

How insightful are these words! It is true, God gives man no instructions and yet it is Him who we must follow. But how can we do it? There’s help. The Guru and the Shastra (scriptures) can tell us how to read what God’s instructions in our lives are. If we let go of our tradition, the longstanding values and wisdom of the classics, that teaches us to revere these maha pramanas, the highest precepts, we can lose our way like Fukuoka did. He found that the soul of nature is also the will of God who dwells in nature. No science can fathom this. But Hinduism lays it out straight and clear when the Vedic seer says:

Om dyauh shaantih Antariksham shaantih
Prithivee shaantih Aapah shaantih
Oshadhayah shaantih Vanaspatayah shaantih
Vishvedevaah shaantih Brahma shaantih
Sarvam shaantih Shaantireva shaantih
Saamaa shaantiredhih Om shaantih, shaantih, shaantih!

May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere. May peace reign all over this earth, in water
and in all herbs, trees and creepers.
May peace flow over the whole universe. May peace be in the Supreme Being Brahman.
And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone.

Om peace, peace and peace to us and all beings!
We can be helped by what Fukuoka called the understanding inherent to man (transcendentally perceived knowledge). But we all know, it is forever clouded and confounded by the culprit that he identified as human intellect and what we call reason.

Unless we simplify our lives, unless we discard that which is superfluous to our existence, the material abscess and the synthetic thought systems, we cannot reach the understanding that is in us and that is meant to elevate us. Natural farming was Fukuoka’s way. The natural or sahaj in the broadest sense has been the way of this land. India has been a sahaj civilisation.

Let us walk according to credo of sahajata that Gita advocates when it says Yadriccha labha santushto –satisfied with whatever comes by its own accord (Gita 4:22). That path which is bereft of strife and artifice, indulgence and extravagance, aggression and intrusion, strenuousness and invidiousness is ours without much effort. It is the road back to the Self!

Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)