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Wisdom from a humble farmer

In the words of the Agro Scientist, Masanobu Fukuoka, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings!”. Six years ago, I realised that plants and trees fascinate me more than debits and credits! And I shut shop, surrendered my Certificate of Practice and plunged into full time farming. Looking back, each day on my farm has been one of learning, and awakening.

Here are a few life-lessons I gleaned from my farm and my life in it:

1. Search for light:

The coconut trees on my farm grow tall on their own accord. Despite being a motivational speaker, not once have I given them a motivational talk on growing tall! They simply don’t need it. They grew not out of inspiration or competition, but out of their search for light!

Contrary to what most people think, we don’t need competition to grow in life! What we need is a constant search for light – the light of a higher purpose or meaning! Once we realise this, and once we find our higher purpose, we step out of the rat race and stop squandering our energy in comparison and competition. We can then channelise all our energy towards living our purpose!

2. Spread your roots:

Looking at the height of a coconut tree, most people would wrongly assume that the roots of this tall tree are really long and deep! “How else can it hold such a mighty tree intact?”, one would wonder!

It was when uprooting some old, barren trees that I awakened to reality! The roots of the coconut tree do not run very deep, but they run very long! The roots of one tree intertwines with the roots of another tree, thereby creating a strong web of roots! Together, they stand tall!

Being the social animals that we are, we can weather storms only if we have a strong support system! Begin spreading your roots on breezy days, so that they sustain you on stormy ones!

3. The trees speak:

My dad often tells me, “Spend enough time in the farm, and the trees will speak to you!” As a novice farmer, I brushed it off as insanity. But as years rolled by, and as I began spending enough time in the farm, the trees indeed began speaking to me!

In other words, as I began spending a lot of time in the farm, I began noticing even the minutest of details! I noticed the tint of the leaves, the moisture (or the lack of it) in the leaves, the size of the coconuts, the number of buds, etc.

If you want the trees of your profession to speak to you, please spend enough time there – both quantitatively and qualitatively.

4. Pinch the buds:

One practice that shocked me during my initial days of farming was pinching or removing the buds off baby plants… I considered this a sheer act of cruelty, until I was taught the science behind it. If a baby plant bears a lot of buds, much of the nutrients we give the sapling (baby plant) go towards feeding and sustaining the buds. And that results in nutrition deficiency which adversely impacts the growth of the plant. Until the plant grows tall and strong, growth should be the sole objective!

In our quest for growth, even early rewards or recognition can end up stunting our growth! Find the buds stunting your growth, pinch them off ruthlessly – even if it pains a little. You will then grow into a mighty tree!

5. The cows always know:

One legend that fascinated me as a novice farmer was that no coconut or coconut leaf has ever fallen on a cow! I have heard the elders in my village swear by it, “It has never happened! The cows always know intuitively, and they move away!”

The cows in my farm graze under the trees for at least eight hours a day, and I’ve never seen a coconut fall on a cow! Seems like they always know! I have however heard of plenty of incidents of coconuts falling on homo sapiens!

Reflecting on this, the only practical answer is this: the cows always know because they are always in the present moment! They are not thinking of sleeping or returning to their sheds while grazing…

If life throws lemons at you, you can make lemonade out of them. But if life throws coconuts at you, you need to learn to dodge them! The coconuts of life keep falling on us because we are lost in countless distracting thoughts… If we too learn to be 100% where we are, if we learn the art of mindfulness, then we too shall always know!

Conclusion:

A Zen master once kept pouring tea into an overflowing cup and the baffled student remarked, “Master! The cup is already full, you cannot pour more tea into it! Doing so will only cause a mess here!” The wise master then replied, “Precisely my point! If you are so full of yourself, how can I pour wisdom into you?”

Friends, nature is brimming with wisdom. If we can stand humbly and mindfully before it, it has so much to teach us! May we intertwine our roots and grow together in search of light!

 


About: Mr. P. Shandip Sabapathy,

Shandip Sabapathy, a Chartered Accountant by qualification, is currently a full-time farmer by passionate choice. Out of his fervent passion to study the human mind and behaviour, he did his Masters in Applied Psychology at Barathiar University after which he earned a certification on Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He has contested and won numerous speech contests conducted by Toastmasters International, USA and has addressed over 1,00,000 people in the last decade. He is a faculty member at the Coimbatore branch of SIRC of ICAI since 2014 and mentors CA students to help them achieve academic excellence. He is the founding mentor of Chaplin Speakers Club, a public forum exclusively for students. He loves to read, travel, learn, and share knowledge.

He can be reached on : shandipspeaks@gmail.com