Farming with the Tao :: acceptance

The Tao Te Ching is a philosophical and often spiritual text of meditative verses. The Tao Te Ching is a book of ancient Chinese wisdom written sometime around 500 B.C.E by the sage, Lao Tzu. The book has endured thousands of years because it has timeless understanding of life. Second only to the Bible, the Tao Te Ching is the most translated book in the world.

In this series, we are going to approach the Tao Te Ching from a farmer’s point of view. Let all of us– backyard farmers, market farmers, chicken raisers, and “wannabe” farmers alike– take on these poetic truths together.

Farming with the Tao series

Drought burns basins to dust,
Light rain is a dew of mockery.
Receive without complaint,
Work with fate.

The Tao Te Ching thinks of everything, I tell ya. I set out this morning to find a verse that fit my current mood towards the farm. From a few of my past posts it is easy for one to see that I need a new lesson in patience, endurance, and faith. Once in awhile I just need to close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. Once I read this particular verse there was just no way that I would find a more fitting or more relevant passage.

Despite my best efforts, even when the land is choked by drought, it is useless to complain. When light rain barely moistens the ground, we need to accept it. We need to learn to accept what comes.

We can plan for the future and have an utopian view of time and space that works within our schedule and knowledge, but the universe has a different sense of time; universal time bends and twists. We (more specifically, I) can cry and whine in frustration over rainfall, but those who accept the fate of the universe are, or work to become, prepared.

This is not to say that acceptance is fatalism. We should not stand by, inactive and let time pass by. Instead, we need to work within our circumstances.

This year we have experienced an exceptional drought so I should now be conserving water and setting up methods of saving future water. Because if there is one thing that the universe is always sure to do, it is balance itself out. I will do my best to take the remainder of this land and farm production drought without complaint, work with what I have, and prepare for the future when heavy rains, baby animals, and the milk and honey are sure to flow again.

*Tao Te Ching translations by Ming-Dao Deng. Unsightly opinions by Sarah.

4 thoughts on “Farming with the Tao :: acceptance

  1. I love reading the Tao Te Ching, a copy has sat on my workspace desk for many years. It really can be applied to all facets of life, this is a wonderful series you’re doing. The drought, sigh. I’m very grateful that last year we ripped out our front lawn and planted California natives. Most of it not only has survived with no water but some of it is even thriving. The rest of our little yard though (garden, citrus trees, apple, pear, avocado trees, etc) is certainly not thriving, but hanging in there. “If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – one of my favorites from Tao Te Ching.

    • Thanks! It is surprising how well the Tao Te Ching can be applied to all facets of life. We also have a few copies sitting around the house. It has always helped me find a new way of thinking about a situation or challenge. With the farm, I have seeemed to need more “reflection” than usual so I thought I might as well make a blog series out of it and maybe it would get someone else thinking too.

      I think it is wonderful that you are growing so many California native plants! I would love to hear more about what you planted that is doing the best. Wouldn’t it be nice though if the fruit trees were as tolerant of drought as other plants? At least they are pulling through it.

  2. Another wonderful post in this series. I’ve been feeling sad over my little attempt at a vegetable bed this year, it used to thrive but not anymore. Not sure why, quite possibly my inexperience, but this passage is mind-changing. I will learn from this first garden experiment, and apply it to next year’s. Be prepared, we only fail if we stop trying.

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