“Farming is not man’s business, it is his moral duty.” Mahatma Gandhi, Third principle of natural farming.
What does farming mean to you?
A dictionary definition of farming reads something like “the activity or business of growing crops and raising livestock.”
Farming, however, represents much more than crops and business. Agriculture has been at the heart of human activity for the last 10,000 years; with the development of grain and vegetable cultivation, came the development of human culture.
Today, agricultural land currently represents over 18 million square miles, or almost 40% of land on the planet. In 1870 America, between 70-80% of the population was employed in agriculture; today, remarkably, that number is less than 2%. In modern culture, agrarian living is generally considered to be an antiquated and back-breaking way of life. Especially, when compared with modern comforts and opportunities of cities, technology, and the like. And yet, for all the progress of the modern world, what have we to show as our prize? Greater harmony? Greater happiness?
While modern technology has allowed much of humanity to experience an incredible expansion of possibilities and creativity, there have been notable drawbacks as well. The world is becoming a desert to Life, to name a big one. As tiller and television have spread across all lands, so the link between mother earth and earth children has grown more separate. The growing awareness of disharmony with and in nature, points us back to the roots of culture – farming.
Farming reveals the collective consciousness of humanity. Regardless of how we define farming as an activity, it’s practice and influence impact everyone. Is the farming we practice based on gratitude and mutual benefit? Or on controlling nature and personal gain? The more separate we feel from the land and nature, inside of our own hearts and minds, the greater the disharmony which manifests in the world.
When we take a moment to experience our relationship with all life on this planet, and not merely the human-centric reality, we lift our consciousness beyond cultural and social phenomenons of the day. We see a much larger role for ourselves, to take responsibility for our actions, to sow seeds of love, gratitude and peace, as stewards of the earth. This is the farming of which Gandhi speaks. Farming harmony of the heart and mind, as One.
In this context, humanity will gradually remember the truth in Gandhi’s principle : Farming is not man’s business, it is his moral duty. Farming is not for the machines, or for the 2% of Americans still stuck in the dredges of history. It is the honor of each and every person to appreciate and steward Life, whether in spirit or in practice.
Whether pitchfork or pencil is in hand, we are all farmers. Stewards of Life on this planet. As the great Indian Swami, Sri Yukteswar, so aptly stated, “so long as you breathe the free of this earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service.”