The Mother Divine
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by Masanobu Fukuoka
Translated by Frederic P. Metreaud

I have chosen to call, this book The Road Back to Nature, but because there may be some uncertainty as to precisely what I mean by this, I would like to begin by clarifying the notion of "returning to nature" that I have in mind. To me, this represents the effort to reunify God, nature, and man— which have been split apart by mankind. Unfortunately, man cannot be successful in his attempts to return to nature unless he knows what true nature and God are.

Some people say that nature ravaged by man is still nature, that the wasted desert lands left in the wake of human civilization are nature nonetheless. Yet, however far he may wander through such fields and mountains and however long he may live in a secluded glen from which issues a mountain brook, man can only gaze upon nature's outer shell; he will never have access to its true inner heart and soul.

The soul of nature is also the will of God who dwells in nature. This is not something that scientists can find by dissecting nature. Indeed, scientists are incapable even of knowing that they are in no position to understand the soul of a flower in the meadow.

In the belief that they are exploring the root of life, geneticists extract and synthesize the genes present in the cells of living things. But nature's soul does not lie hidden within DNA. Nor is this where God resides.

Recently, physicists claim that the mental attitude embodied by the Eastern concept of nothingness (Mu) appears close to resolution within the realm of the quantum theory, and I’ve heard it said that astronauts floating in space are able to sense God's presence while in a weightless state. But God and nature lie beyond the grasp of the human intellect. No matter how much he dissects nature or with his own mind denies the existence of human intelligence and calls everything "Mu," far from being able to observe the real state of nature and grasp the essence of God, man only moves further and further away from both nature and God.

The fragmented and diffusive development of knowledge which expands outward without aim or direction has brought human thought to the extremes of confusion, recklessly splitting apart God, nature, and man— originally one indivisible — and leaving only a legacy of incoherent chaos. Science has gone on a wild rampage, and the global disruption this has caused is only now becoming clear. Quite frankly, there no longer seems any hope that man will succeed in returning to nature and reuniting with God.

I, who received a revelation of God one moment fifty years ago, was so taken aback by the vision I saw that I failed to advance along the road I should have. Instead, I turned my back on God and tried to follow quietly the path of a solitary farmer. In time, I came to call the road I had passed over "the road back to nature" and, growing arrogant, professed to practice natural farming.

Although I claim to practice natural farming, all I have really done is to haphazardly conceive of a form closest to the image of nature and grow crops in accordance with that form. Of course, while I felt that the purpose of this should always be the revival of nature and the manifestation and concrete expression of the God that lies hidden deep within nature, there was little hope that I, having once ignored the will of God, should find a proper way.

Even so, I am grateful that when, spring arrives at my free-spirited farm, for a space of several days the cherry, plum, peach, and pear trees in my orchard, and the semi-wild vegetables growing beneath them, all break out into bloom, mixing with the green of the foliage. As I look out upon my orchard now, it is truly a sight to behold. The flowers of nature bloom of their own accord and scatter without care or concern,
Looking at the plum blossoms radiant in the morning light and the whiteness and blueness of the daikon (Japanese radish) flowers, and noting the beauty of the iridescent shower of falling petals, visitors to my orchard call this an Eden, a paradise on Earth. But as soon as they finish clicking the shutters on their cameras, they hurry off home to the towns and cities. Even though they call this place beautiful, people today no longer have the time or ease of mind to immerse themselves in such sensibility. Rather than indulging directly in the raw, unrefined beauty of nature, they return, home with their rolls of exposed film and are content to enjoy the natural beauty captured in their photographs. They don’t call upon their innate sense of beauty, finding instead a greater attraction in nature as an object for self-expression. Nature remains only as a means for cleansing ignoble man.
People bring home flowers and display them in vases, vying with each other in the art of flower arrangement. Caught up as he is with the image of himself represented therein, civilized man today is no longer able to see the flowers (God) in the fields.

Modern man, who drops the flowers in the fields to embrace the wildly and falsely blooming flowers of vast civilizations, no longer understands what it means to return to nature. Where is the key that will open up the road back to nature?

Man has persistently believed that by amassing knowledge, sharpening his judgment, and deepening his ability to reason, he is able to exploit natural resources, advance human culture, and bring happiness to himself. But intelligence and reason were nothing more than perverse pranks. The greatest, enemies responsible for man's loss of his native aesthetic sense and of the understanding inherent to man (transcendentally perceived knowledge that is the basis of good sense) are the human intellect and what we call reason.

Reason and understanding are mutually antagonistic. They play opposing roles. The intellect attempts to open up nature, but succeeds only in closing it down because human knowledge is in fact nothing more than a accumulation of judgment by the human intellect. At first, reason appeared capable of becoming the means necessary for conversing with God, but instead it turned out to be a dangerous weapon that strips man of wisdom and brutalizes God.

The flower perceived innocently is itself divine nature, but when examined with the intellect, this is transformed into the cold flower of reason, the heart of which nature shuts out.

What I want to say is that God did not create heaven, earth, and the cosmos. Rather, when the Earth was born and the meadow flowers bloomed, the butterflies fluttered about, and the birds sang, God came of his own choosing to dwell there.

Instead of praying to God as a mighty power that reigns over the heavens, man should have frolicked innocently with this wonderful sprite, this angel, inhabiting the fields. That was the shortest road back to nature and at once the Great Way back to the side of God.

Look how beautiful, the flowers of the earth!
This is the land where live the gods;
A perfect, faultless, natural paradise.

Now in the deep slumber of spring in my Eden,
I dream a private dream of returning to nature.
Here there is nothing that must be done;
No effort is required, not even courage.

But no one even bothers to look back.
Will the road to nature fade again
Into the mists?