Many people think that when we practice agriculture, nature is helping us in our efforts to grow food. This is an exclusively human-centered viewpoint... we should instead, realize that we are receiving that which nature decides to give us. A farmer does not grow something in the sense that he or she creates it. That human is only a small part of the whole process by which nature expresses its being. The farmer has very little influence over that process... other than being there and doing his or her small part.
I believe that a revolution can begin from this one strand of straw. Seen at a glance, this rice straw may appear light and insignificant. Hardly anyone would believe that it could start a revolution. But I have come to realize the weight and power of this straw. For me, this revolution is very real.
When a decision is made to cope with the symptoms of a problem, it is generally assumed that the corrective measures will solve the problem itself. They seldom do. Engineers cannot seem to get this through their heads. These countermeasures are all based on too narrow a definition of what is wrong. Human measures and countermeasures proceed from limited scientific truth and judgment. A true solution can never come about in this way.
In my opinion, if 100% of the people were farming it would be ideal. If each person were given one quarter-acre, that is 1 1/4 acres to a family of five, that would be more than enough land to support the family for the whole year. If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.
The person who can most easily take up natural agriculture is the one who doesn't have any of the common adult obstructing blocks of desire, philosophy, or religion . . . the person who has the mind and heart of a child. One must simply know nature . . . real nature, not the one we think we know!
One thing is all things. To resolve one matter, one must resolve all matters. Changing one thing changes all things. Once I made the decision to sow rice in the fall, I found that I could also stop transplanting, and plowing, and applying chemical fertilizers, and preparing compost, and spraying pesticides.
One of the most important discoveries I made in those early years was that to succeed at natural farming, you have to get rid of your expectations. Such "products" of the mind are often incorrect or unrealistic . . . and can lead you to think you've made a mistake if they're not met.
Speaking biologically, fruit in a slightly shriveled state is holding its respiration and energy consumption down to the lowest possible level. It is like a person in meditation: his metabolism, respiration, and calorie consumption reach an extremely low level. Even if he fasts, the energy within the body will be conserved. In the same way, when mandarin oranges grow wrinkled, when fruit shrivels, when vegetables wilt, they are in the state that will preserve their food value for the longest possible time.