Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Slowing the Pace of Living, Part 1st

Despite living in the age of techno-wizardry wonders that promise to make our lives less stressful, more people than ever say they feel more rushed, not less, in their day-to-day lives.

That time pressure is a common experience is evidenced by the fact that an increasing proportion of the population report feeling short of time. Since 1965, the US time–use researcher John Robinson has been asking adults, “Would you say you always feel rushed, even to do things you have to do, only sometimes feel rushed, or almost never feel rushed?” The proportion of Americans reporting that they always feel rushed rose from 25 percent in 1965 to 35 percent forty years later. Almost half now also say that they almost never have time on their hands. According to most evidence, people perceive leisure time as scarcer and more hectic. And this is also true cross–nationally, where there has been consistent historical growth of busy feelings through the last part of the twentieth century.

Perhaps it is time to think again about the level of progress/development/industrialism that we need, about returning to a slower, more agrarian lifestyle.  Some words from the Japanese agrarian Masanobu Fukuoka are worth considering.  We do not agree with all of his religious views, but overall he is very close to the truth.

Simply Serve Nature and All Is Well 
Extravagance of desire is the fundamental cause 
which has led the world into its present predicament. 
Fast rather than slow, more rather than less — this 
flashy "development" is linked directly to society's 
impending collapse. It has only served to separate man 
from nature. Humanity must stop indulging the desire for 
material possessions and personal gain and move instead 
toward spiritual awareness. 
Agriculture must change from large mechanical 
operations to small farms attached only to life itself. 
Material life and diet should be given a simple place. If this 
is done, work becomes pleasant, and spiritual breathing 
space becomes plentiful. 
The more the farmer increases the scale of his 
operation, the more his body and spirit are dissipated and 
the further he falls away from a spiritually satisfying life. A 
life of small-scale farming may appear to be primitive, but 
in living such a life, it becomes possible to contemplate the 
Great Way [the path of spiritual awareness which involves 
attentive-ness to and care for the ordinary activities of daily life].
I believe that if one fathoms deeply one's own 
neighborhood and the everyday world in which he lives, 
the greatest of worlds will be revealed. 
At the end of the year the one-acre farmer of long ago 
spent January, February, and March hunting rabbits in the 
hills. Though he was called a poor peasant, he still had this 
kind of freedom. The New Year's holiday lasted about three 
months. Gradually this vacation came to be shortened to 
two months, one month, and now New Year's has come to 
be a three-day holiday. 
The dwindling of the New Year's holiday indicates 
how busy the farmer has become and how he has lost his 
easy-going physical and spiritual well-being. There is no 
time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or 
compose a song. 
The other day I was surprised to notice, while I was 
cleaning the little village shrine, that there were some 
plaques hanging on the wall. Brushing off the dust and 
looking at the dim and faded letters, I could make out 
dozens of haiku poems. Even in a little village such as this, 
twenty or thirty people had composed haiku and presented 
them as offerings. That is how much open space people had 
in their lives in the old days. Some of the verses must have 
been several centuries old. Since it was that long ago they 
were probably poor farmers, but they still had leisure to 
write haiku. 
Now there is no one in this village with enough time 
to write poetry. During the cold winter months, only a few 
villagers can find the time to sneak out for a day or two to 
go after rabbits. For leisure, now, the television is the 
center of attention, and there is no time at all for the simple 
pastimes which brought richness to the farmer's daily life. 
This is what I mean when I say that agriculture has become 
poor and weak spiritually; it is concerning itself only with 
material development. 
Lao Tzu, the Taoist sage, says that a whole and decent 
life can be lived in a small village. Bodhidharma, the 
founder of Zen, spent nine years living in a cave without 
bustling about. To be worried about making money, 
expanding, developing, growing cash crops and shipping 
them out is not the way of the farmer. To be here, caring 
for a small field, in full possession of the freedom and 
plentitude of each day, every day — this must have been the 
original way of agriculture. 

 . . .

Source:  The One-Straw Revolution, https://archive.org/stream/The-One-Straw-Revolution/The-One-Straw-Revolution_djvu.txt, opened 28 Feb. 2017

Since Fukuoka-san’s words strongly echo the life lived at typical Orthodox monasteries, we have included a couple of pictures from one, the Holy Dormition Dalmatovo Monastery in Western Siberia, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/foto/set1624.htm, opened 28 Feb. 2017:


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð!

Anathema to the Union!

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