Taking Shelter Under a Nuclear Umbrella

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I have been reading The One-Straw Revolutionby Masanobu Fukuoka over the last year. It is a small book, but each essay/teaching/experience/chapter packs a powerful punch and I have taken my time, savoring each section. Usually I am quite greedy when I read a book and devour it too quickly, but this book is one that makes you see things from another direction entirely and it takes a while to allow the ideas to settle in, in fact you just want to take as much time as possible when reading this book.

I highly recommend this book. Masanobu Fukuoka was a remarkable man and I have only come to know about him and is work in the last couple years. Please enjoy the following excerpt from the chapter entitled A Village Without War and Peace by Masanobu Fukuoka:

People choose to attack or to defend. In the ensuing struggle they accuse one another of instigating conflict. It is like clapping your hands and then arguing about which is making the sound, the right hand or the left. In all contentions there is neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. All conscious distinctions arise at the same time and all are mistaken.

To build a fortress is wrong from the start. Even though he gives the excuse that it is for the city’s defence, the castle is the outcome of the ruling lord’s personality, and exerts a coercive force on the surrounding area. Saying he is afraid of attack and that fortification is for the town’s protection, the bully stocks up weapons and puts the key in the door.

The act of defence is already an attack. Weapons for self-defence always give a pretext to those who instigate wars. The calamity of war comes from the strengthening and magnifying of empty distinctions of self/other, strong/weak, attack/defence.

There is no other road to peace than for all people to depart from the castle gate of relative perception, go down into the meadow, and return to the heart of non-active nature. That is, sharpening the sickle instead of the sword.

The farmers of long ago were a peaceful people, but now they are arguing with Australia about meat, quarrelling with Russia over fish, and dependent on America for wheat and soybeans.

I feel as if we in Japan are living in the shadow of a big tree, and there is no place more dangerous to be during a thunderstorm than under a big tree. And there could be nothing more foolish than taking shelter under a “nuclear umbrella” which will be the first target in the next war. Now we are tilling the earth beneath that dark umbrella. I feel as though a crisis is approaching from both inside and out.

Get rid of the aspects of inside and outside. Farmers everywhere in the world are at root the same farmers. Let us say the key to peace lies close to the earth.

-Masanobu Fukuoka

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