The Principles Of Natural
The essential principle of the Natural Agriculture method can
be summed up best in the words of Shinji Shumeikai's
founder and the creator of Natural Agriculture, Mokichi
Okada, "The principle of the Natural Agricultural method is
an overriding respect and concern for Nature. Nature can teach
Understanding Natural Agriculture
Without an understanding of the spiritual aspects that underlie
all physical existence, it is impossible to understand Natural
Agriculture. Because of this, the Natural Agriculture method must
be approached more as a philosophy than a technique of food production.
As with Shumei's other activities, Jyorei and Art, the motivation
behind the practice of Natural Agriculture is to promote the happiness
and wellbeing of others. The spiritual and physical health of
both the environment and people are the byproducts of this desire
to make life better.
Reverence for Nature
Natural Agriculture was born of a deep reverence for Nature. It
is as much a spiritual practice as a method of food cultivation.
Natural Agriculture's spiritual basis sets it apart from other
forms of food cultivation.
Balance & Harmony
Modern science, which began in Renaissance Europe and now is the
heritage of the entire world, is responsible for much of the material
benefits that we enjoy today. However, science is limited. It
can give us the facts but never the truth. Its approach is purely
materialistic and can be nothing else if it is to be true to its
own discipline. Science's spectacular success has overshadowed
developments in art, philosophy, and spirituality. And society
has come to expect science to fulfill all its needs to the neglect
of the spirit. Consequently, at the beginning of the Twenty-first
Century our deeply materialistic society is in a state of imbalance.
Man, all life, and all things are spiritual as well as physical
and unless spiritual as well as physical needs are met this imbalance
Because much of contemporary culture is based on
the consumption of materials, we have lost the ability to control
the products of science and technology. Conventional agriculture
is a good example. No reasonable person could deny the benefits
brought to humanity by modern agriculture. Within one century,
we have gained the potential to wipe out hunger, yet we have not.
Feeding the world is still beyond our grasp and famine still is
an ever-present threat to too many people. We do not feed the
hungry of the world because it is not as profitable to do so as
it is to supply consumers who can pay a dearer price for food
they do not need.
As great as the advantages of conventional agriculture
are, they come with a heavy price. We can produce much food, however,
we have lost control of these methods. The more natural practice
of working with the soil has been ignored in favor of forcing
the soil to produce crops that are more profitable. The heavy
use of chemicals to produce vast quantities of food is poisoning
both the people who eat it and our environment. The intensive
use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides necessary to maintain
colossal yields is poisoning not only the food we eat but also
the environment we live in and their steady use may actually be
depleting the soil.
Our food looks beautiful but is strangely tasteless.
Family farms have been replaced with vast multinational-agriculture
businesses, destroying rural communities as they eat up the land.
And the majority of people, both farmers and consumers, in industrial
and post-industrial societies have become alienated from that
which gives them life -- Nature.
One of the purposes of Natural Agriculture is to
help balance and harmonize the science of agriculture with the
art of agriculture, the physical with the spiritual, the body
with the mind.
The Play of Elements in
There are Spiritual Cords or bonds between those
who grow food, the soil, the food produced, and the people who
eat the food. This spiritual aspect of food production and consumption
directly affects both the spiritual and physical wellbeing of
the farmer, the consumer, the community, and the environment.
They are all elements in the production of food. All are part
of Nature and each should play its part in harmony and balance
with the others.
Shumei's emphasis on spiritual purity and its belief that all
the difficulties that plague humankind essentially are of a spiritual
nature carries over in its approach to food cultivation. Just
as spiritual impurity or Spiritual Clouding causes
all life's troubles, all problems associated with food production
have their roots in the pollution of the environment. The produce
of Natural Agriculture are grown with pure soil and water. It
is only when the purity of the soil from which all our food comes
is treated with care and understanding that the products of the
soil will manifest their true and full power.
Fertilizers, insecticides, and chemical soil treatments
are never used. Only naturally occurring nutrients enrich the
soil. Compost is not used as a nutrient but only to keep the soil
moist, warm, and soft.
The result is crops that are more resistant to disease
and pests, better tasting, that stay fresh longer, and are more
nutritious than those produced by standard industrial farming.
Fundamentally, the practice of Natural Agriculture is not only
a business but also a spiritual pursuit. When practicing Natural
Agriculture, it is important to observe a reverence towards both
the soil and its bounty, and to cherish and honor that which gives
us nourishment. This requires spiritual nourishing, which is the
basis on which all physical nourishment depends. Because of this,
much depends on the attitude and commitment of the farmers who
choose to pursue Natural Agriculture. Their occupation is more
a vocation than a business. They must not only have the physical
means, diligence, training, and intelligence of conventional farmers
but also be open to the spiritual aspect of their profession.
It is essential that they be dedicated to improving the spiritual
and physical wellbeing of others. It is also essential that they
love and enjoy what they do.
The Earth's Healing Touch
Whether professional farmers or not, all who practice Natural
Agriculture, even on a modest level, will benefit both physically
and spiritually. All Shumei members are encouraged
to grow some of the food that they eat, whether in a kitchen garden,
working with others in a communal lot, or growing herbs in a clay
pot on a windowsill. The touch of the pure soil has healing and
restorative properties, and growing plants fosters a respect and
veneration for Nature's beauty and wisdom. The practice of Natural
Agriculture also aids emotional wellbeing. An appreciation of
Nature and the food that we eat engenders a love of life.