Tag Archive | lao tzu

Those who would take over the earth, never, I notice, succeed

ks_womenwithseeds

Thinking about the most recent in the GMO debate . . . .

If good science is good for the whole, then agricultural science is a vast and complex study – of soil, of nutrition, of people and society, of plants, of climate, or habitat.   Agriculture itself has empirical demands, hence farmers and gardeners over the millennia of human existence have slowly experimented in endless combinations to develop many seeds and varieties that can sustain us in all different environments and environmental changes.

Recently, in the last few seconds of our human history, we have discovered how to quickly alter the internal structure of plants.  20 years ago the plan was mind over matter, a quick fix to those terrible blights that wipe out crops.   A crazy plan – a plan without long  patient testing, a plan without many different farmers, an irreversible plan  – because the wizards who can change the gene one way, cannot get it all back to change it another way once it enters the soil, water and air.  The plan failed spectacularly, or maybe this was always the real plan: that bio-engineered crops are dependent on high risk chemical fertilization and “pest” control.  Seeds, fertilizer and “pest” control as a big rounded up expensive package of patents, belonging to entities bigger than our smaller nation economies.

Rather: Study with small farmers, not against them.  Study together, study seed freedom, study what works, study variety, study good sense, study sharing, study what the earth herself is teaching.  Teaching free of charge, free of patents, free of any greedy cleverness.

Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.
For a time in the world some force themselves ahead
And some are left behind,
For a time in the world some make a great noise
And some are held silent,
For a time in the world some are puffed fat
And some are kept hungry,
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out:
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself.

  • Witter Bynner translation of the Tao Te Ching, ancient text dated 4th or 3rd Century BCE

oaxaca-corn

Photocredits: ceseedproduction.wordpress.com

Goodness

Wishing everyone a good 2016!

True goodness

is like water

Water’s good

for everything

it does not compete.

(from Ursula le Guin rendition of the Tao Te Ching Chapter 8)

A conundrum in most spiritual, philosophical and religious traditions, is the question of whether being good for reward, is goodness.

If one’s good deeds and practices are said to lead to heaven, paradise, blessings, good health, release of happy hormones in the brain,  enlightenment, good luck, good karma, fortunate reincarnations, becoming a respected ancestor and suchlike…….. are those deeds and practices not their own reward, both now and in the bigger scheme of things.

It (water) goes right

to the loathsome places,

and so finds the way.

Is it possible to be good?   Is it possible to follow the Way . . . .

Gravity and grace

earth africa nasaGravity is the root of grace,
The mainstay of all speed.

(The way of life, Witter Bynner translation, Chapter 26)

This chapter is about not running away with oneself.  Yet moving with skill as a student of gravity and nature, balance and wonderful speed is possible.  Speed not so much for winning as for wonder.

Watch here . . .

 

photo credit – NASA

High summer railway flowers

High summer railway flowers

“Who can by stillness, little by little

make what is troubled grow clear?

Who can by movement, little by little

make what is still grow quick?

 

To follow the Way

is not to need fulfillment.

Unfulfilled, one may live on

needing no renewal. ”

from Ursula K. Le Guin’s rendition of Lao Tzu –  Tao Te Ching.

High summer railway flowers              High summer railway flowers

From a highveld summer afternoon thunderstorm

Warm lively wishes for 2015 from a wonderful warm and wet day of thunderstorms on the highveld.

I am starting the year with a question about insisting.   There are so many ways in which people, peoples, and our planet home are calling out for what is truly needed, for peace, for fairness, for a future.  What is most urgent is often hard to express, difficult to work towards and awkward to sustain when it makes others uncomfortable.   It takes courage to stand up and be counted.   At the same time, if one always sings the same song, it is hard to bring people along.

My paraphrase:  Nature does not have to insist, the wind can blow for only half a morning, and it can rain for only half the day. If nature does not have to insist, why should we?  (Chapter 23 Tao Te Ching Witter Bynner version).

My 2015 question:  How to be faithful to what is right, but also learn from the thunderstorm?