Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Joy of the Natural Life
In 3rd year grammar school, a classmate would not eat with the other students in the class room but would surreptitiously move outside with something wrapped in a newspaper. All the others, poor as they were, had a lunch box. One day when classes ended early he invited the boy to his house. At home he asked his mother if they could eat together. While the mother prepared the meal, he went outside with the boy and very delicately asked what he had in the newspaper wrapping that he took to school every day. The boy took the newspaper out from his book bag and opened it to show a number of 'hot breads', now no longer hot. They were the ones left over from those that the mother would sell in the market to eke out a living.
He never forgot this, and tells us that he always wanted to be on the side of the powerless. These ideas naturally moved him to want to change society and for his efforts, he was given a life-prison term. This happened during the difficult days of martial law and concern for the security laws of the country in the 80s. It gave him time to read and think about life's problems.
His efforts to help the powerless against the powerful, he concluded, had little prospects of success with the current structures of society. Instead, he believed that working to have a better relationship with our environment will do a great deal more to redress the imbalance between the two groups, who were, he came to see, both victimized by the values that guide our present world.
In prison, he planted medicinal and other herbs in the prison yard for his own use. With these efforts, his thinking and philosophy and view of life changed. Finally he came across a book by the Japanese farmer from Fukuwoka, Masanobu, from which he derived many of the ideas that appeared in his own writing.
He was released from prison after some 13 years and has continued his search for living in harmony with nature. He feels our distancing ourselves from nature has brought on the many problems we face today. The problems between the powerless and the powerful he now believes are secondary; once we go back to nature these problems will be solved.
His motivating themes are now: self-sufficiency in food, peace in life, solidarity in love, and a spiritual community. The road mapped out by Masanobu, he says, is not easy, and occasionally he's tempted to give it up. But the joy and intense happiness that has entered his life have come with this new relationship with nature. There is no dream, he says, that can take its place.