Course: A Deeper Permaculture: Fukuoka’s Koan

For those arriving here in search of information concerning the course I will be giving at Mas Franch, 4-9th October, near Olot, Catalonia, Spain, please see this page.

This month’s EcoHabitar Magazine has a Spanish language version: Una Permacultura Mas Profunda; El Koan de Fukuoka of this blog post

Feel free to use the tag list on this page or make a word search to further explore the subject matter of the course found on this blog.

For those interested in some detail of the practice of Natural Farming, this blog begins with a rough outline of a book I wrote 7 or 8 years ago, which while perhaps a little dated now, does give some useful information especially on cereal cultivation, vegetable gardening and food forests.

It is a course that I am now hoping will connect not only with those interested in the practice of Permaculture and Natural Farming, but with the broader and growing field of a deepening ecological awareness and a developing path that each one of us can take as we seek to become part of a solution to our present ecological crisis in the context of our own lives.

I’m hoping we can gather together a group of like-minded people to explore this deepening perspective and join in an expanding community of practitioners around the world.

For bookings and more details about the centre where the course will be held please see

I very much hope to see as many of you there as possible and to hear your ideas and experiences to contribute to a community no longer split between East and West, but part of a new world already in the making.

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No. 7 The End of Seedzen


Every end is just another beginning, all beginnings presage their end. And so the world goes.

Telling other stories, those that are lithe and light and can adequately respond to the world today, this must now be the work.

I repudiate nothing that has been written, just the inadequacy of the effect. New stories can be told and words need not be the only form of expression.

All the words that have ever been written in religion, philosophy and science were reduced by Fukuoka to the simple action of Seedballing.

The great wisdom of such non-doing, Daoist wei wu wei, is an important story for the global culture now forming to tell itself.

But such non-doing is still only a reaction to the doing which is destroying the world, it does not dig down deep into the desires which propel human beings out into the world.

Meditation is the ever-giving source of effortless action, because it is itself neither action nor non-action. Meditation is awakening. But it should also be recognised that awakening is meditation.

Very good! The fable has been told and now the moral of the story is clear; meditation is the Way, the Truth and the Light! And after the meditation?

Meditation that remains in the sitting hall is dead. Only when the practice and fruits of meditation return to the world are action and non-action combined, time and eternity then fully live in the moment and it is only in the present moment where we can ever discover our true selves in what we actually do.

I remain here at Chapel Peak, poised on this moment, not knowing yet which way the future will fall. How very open the world is and will always remain. It is only the tales we tell ourselves that limit this vast potential.

Thank you and I hope for some this blog has been of interest.

My email address remains:
Thenfzc at gmail dot com

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10,000 Things


Small, now
A child of hope
Innocent of consequences.

There is no change
It all changes
This moment again.

The fall of light
The drift of thought
Following in the wake.

It was then
In knowing you
I was first ignorant.

It was later
In understanding
I was cast a fool.

In this moment
A silent glide
A jay crosses the clearing.

The wind in the trees
Gentle susurrus
To encompass it all.

Doing only what
Such light beings can do.

Playing light airs
Upon a grateful ear.

A line of words
Marking a pause
In this brief life.

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Problems and Answers

The climate crisis is already here – but no one’s telling us

I have admired George Monbiot’s clarity of vision for many years. The above article expresses well this clarity, seeing destruction as destruction.

Having once been a young journalist, I find myself still drawn to the soap opera of newspaper and media coverage. The Guardian has always been and remains at the forefront of global news reportage. It is a distinct voice and one I hope will find its way through the dark forest of new forms of funding in this digital age.

But to return to the challenge George Monbiot poses; how do we make people see the world as it is and not as they or other people would like it to be seen?

The forces arrayed against seeing are great. Corporations, Governments and, yes, media organisations, are all to blame.

Monbiot is political in his analysis, rightly pointing his finger at all who attempt to draw a veil over the human destruction of the earth.

However, challenging this group or that, exposing the hidden power structures and especially opening ever new vistas of international conspiracy, are self-defeating.

The one and only possible solution to anthropogenic problems is what motivates each and every human being in everything they do.

Which is to say, clearly, until we take personal responsibility for our own desires which Governments, Corporations and media organisations manipulate for their own gain, no solution is possible.

It is no organisation that strips this planet bare, but our desires, each and every one of us.

Unless we turn inward to root out the cause of this infinite drive for consumption, nothing we do in outward change is going to work.

Seeing is doing. If we see through politicians, business or journalists eyes and not our own, nothing can change.

I do not know if enough of us are able to accept this responsibility, but I do know how it is possible for us to work toward this personal responsibility if we chose to take this path.

It is time for all people of good will to come together and, taking responsibility for themselves, enact the change that is then demanded by each moment.

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What is this?


This little guy arrived the other day, during the spell of hot weather, landed at my feet while I had the phone in my hand and let me take this close-up photo of him.

I don’t have a clue as to what it is, I’m hoping someone more expert reading this can help.

The blue in the photo is not the sky, it is also unfortunately not a swimming pool! It is a tarpaulin I use to capture rainwater – when it does occasionally rain here.

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RCR – Taking Stock


Pausing to take stock of a new situation, project or opportunity, to consider the pros and cons, weigh up the good and the bad, are important and common sensical strategies in our pragmatic culture.

Curiously, however, studies have shown greater success for those who act upon their intuition rather than taking a pause to take stock.

So, then, let us all give free rein to our intuition.

But, unfortunately, intuition is a much contested concept because lacking in a clarity of meaning.

To take a short detour, before continuing to explore this ‘intuition’ which gives us better access to positive outcomes in our lives than rational thinking, it needs to be remembered that no word has a clarity of meaning anywhere and at any time. For, I ask you, consider ‘facts’, those cold hard logical nuggets by which we wish to anchor our lives, are there any ‘facts’ which remain true independent of time and place?

Is a fact then exactly not that, that no fact can be known by anyone, anywhere at any time?

But to return to intuition. What is it? A feeling, a sensation, an idea or even a thought? None of these things? How to define that which has no solid boundaries?

Intuition is then a host of questions in search of an answer.

But if we cannot derive meaning from either the side of facts or the side of intuition, where do we stand in the world? How can we ever ‘do’ anything?

Curiously we find some sense of an answer given by Kant, not a philosopher I would normally turn to for advice. But in a thrust toward the living heart of this problem he says:

“Concepts without intuition are empty, and intuition without concepts is blind.”

I do not know the full history of Heidegger’s debt to Kant, but I’m sure the academic mill has filled this lacuna since I last looked at the infinitely expanding bibliography, but when he says:

“Philosophy as a rationalist creation, detached from life, is powerless; mysticism as an irrationalist experience is purposeless.”

Heidegger is working out of the same ground as Kant.

And, similarly, when Masao Abe, a member of the Kyoto School of philosophy says:

“An intellectual understanding without practice is certainly powerless, but practice without learning is apt to be blind.”

We might well conjecture the influence of both Kant and Heidegger.

But to return to ‘intuition’. It is first defined as the contrast to ‘concepts’, then it is transformed into ‘mysticism’ where it is opposed to ‘rationalism’, and finally it is used as ‘understanding’ in contrast to ‘practice’ in the context of Zen.

The finger points to neither one side or other of any dualistic equation. Truth does not inhere in one side or the other.

Does this then collapse both sides into an indistinguishable oneness, from which nothing for our lives can be learnt?

No. It is neither one side nor the other, nor neither nor both. It is the recognition that intuition is intuition, concepts are concepts and that neither is also not exactly the other.

It is a cycle of transformation where one comes into existence and stands alone as the meaning of all being, until it begins to fade, before the other then stands alone upon the field of being – as long as it is remembered that this cycling transformation is instantaneous in every moment, fully present within the fullness of eternity which is found there.

Now I do not know how useful this will be for anyone looking to incorporate intuition into their lives, so let me say instead that every moment expresses clearly what needs to be done and that if we fall to either one side or the other of the intuition/concept divide, then we will perpetuate the suffering of the world.

Which might also be said that unless we practice meditation then all our fine ideas about morality, right action, saving the world etc are condemned to failure and to support the suffering we wish to overcome.

But this also has to be further refined to saying that unless we take the practice of meditation from out of the zendo to the world we will not fulfil even the first of the vows of a bodhisattva.

Zen is reality. As reality it is not defined either as an intuition, philosophy or understanding, neither is it a concept, rationalism or practice. It is the totality of what is in every moment and our becoming that totality in order let our actions be the doing of the world itself.

But for a pragmatic culture, the recognition of how to incorporate intuition into our lives is of primary importance.

Meditation would be a good place to start.

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Forest Thoughts


After the rain
Mist rising
Forest thoughts.

This is the story of the forested hills of La Garrotxa and what they say to the world.

These hills have been worked for centuries. Even here, on the high ridges, low terracing walls designed to slow the passage of rain are still visible in the dense forest which has grown up over this once rough grazing.

It has only been 50 years, but there is a forest here now which seems timeless.

From the sharp backbone of the ridge that was never cut, the acorns of the small drought twisted evergreen oaks have fallen, rolled and scattered down the hillsides to quickly take root where they came to rest and create a dense shade from which have sprouted other trees such as poplar, whose seed blows in on late spring thermals, while other trees have risen out of the wet, cool depths of the gorges and valleys; maples, hawthorn and even, eventually beeches.

Walking through these forests now is to be blessed by their cool, leafy shade year round, which buffers the extremes of summer heat and winter cold. And, of course, those very cool leaves condense the sea breeze which drips on to the deep leaf mould beneath and encourage the rain to fall as the clouds touch the forested peaks.

This water harvesting and storage service takes no effort or money to set up nor run, yet year by year becomes ever more efficient.

It is the effortless miracle of nature doing what nature does. It is perhaps necessary to pause a moment to understand just how these hills have become so vital to counter the effects of climate change.

These effortless forests have arisen simply because human beings have stopped trying to make pastures, fields and gardens of land that was never suited to such practices.

The gain is not just in that these hills, which stretch across thousands upon thousands of hectares, have forests regulating the climate, replenishing the aquifers and reservoirs to water the droughty, coastal, urban strip, but that the human energy that once blocked this vast engine can now be turned to other activities.

There is in the example of these hills a lesson for us all, to stop trying to improve the natural world and give over our energies instead to improving the human realm.

For there is in all of us the same effortless capability yet to be fulfilled, revealed in the genius of these forests.

Human action across centuries has wrought great devastation, this is something which we are all having to come to terms with now. Agriculture, while having been a blessing has also been a bane.

We need to see the devastation we have caused and where forests can no longer grow and flourish, we must undertake to bring back the seeds.

This is a call then to those people who can see the devastation, a call to those who now recognise that their great potential is to be nature’s seed carriers and bring back the seeds so that the earth can flourish once more.

There is no soil that is dead, not even a desert. The evidence of our eyes reveals that after rain whole deserts bloom! And that nature needs nothing more than a stock of seeds and then to be left alone to produce great forests.

So let human beings fulfil themselves as they will. Let the scientists explore, the engineers build, business trade, let each one flourish as they will, but let there also be people who take seed back to the earth and then protect these seeds from interference, so they may soon grow into forests and the forests grow rain.

Let those of goodwill come together, those who gift their land to regeneration, those who gift their energy to seeding this land, so that the great gift of life can return where it has been lost, to release the great potential of every living being so that it may fulfil itself, effortlessly.

Seedball the world.

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This and That


This expression
That experience
Where do the two meet?
Don’t say the One.

But the danger is
For the one saying it
For the other understanding it
Thinking comprehension.

Settled here now
In the lee of the summit
Sliding down North slope
Into cool beech trees.

A woodpecker taps it
Swifts wing it
Downways a wild boar
Wakes into the early evening.

It is so vast
Swelling here in my chest
It will spill out
And cover the cosmos entire.

These summer dry leaves
Sly underfoot
Make waying an adventure
Ever downhill.

These woods are empty
No-one ever comes
Yet even here
Traces remain.

Who was ever called by name?
Who was ever saved by hand?
You want it to be
But who was ever fullfilled by want?

Sudden still
Who can say this
Who can say that
The silence of the forest.

As long as this
An indrawn breath
As deep as that
The very next thought.


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Wild clematis
Scent Spring fresh
This spent high Summer.

Aching down
Weight of sun
Shallow breath.

Coming here
Many times before.

Grass lit meadow
Forest edge
Aflame with shadow.

Yes, coming here
For want
And wintry days.

For far sights
Open spaces
Forgotten prospects.

Full sun fills South
With relief
Glad wind in poplars.

This speaking breath
Seeking less

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First Sun to Last


New sun
Condenses mist
From first light.

Silvered now
It glitters
Down valley deep.

Soft stirring
Wind wakes
The air to dance.

Rising tide
Brims the ridge
Flows through trees.

This skin sense
Morning touch
Wonder feels.

How heavy
Liquid burst
From giving sky.

And then the earth
This earth
Dark with must.

First sun to last
With wandering
Empty cloud.

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