Here is how Gargi, an budding artist and designer shared her experience of the farm. Thank you Gargi 🙂
I’ve known Jinan ever since I got interested in education. My first interaction with him was in Bangalore while I was working with an alternative school and he was holding a talk. I walked in with excitement and came out disappointed. Then, I found him quite a snob, someone who’s very rigid and frankly just knows how to critique without giving any solution. Perhaps, I was also influenced by peer reviews of him – which stated just what I decribed above.
Few years later, we happen to work together again on a project at Sanchi University. Again, nothing much happened. I was already biased against him. We soon departed.
It took sometime for me to realize that I am not seeing Jinan, I am seeing a picture of Jinan -which is not allowing me to meet him as a person and really hear what he is saying.
We were almost not in touch with each other for quite sometime, till I became father. Now, I was hungry for wisdom about children. I was knocking every door, reading every book, watching every Ted talk on children, pregnancy, fatherhood, education etc. Me and Jinan again started talking and he gave me couple of strange personal advices. One, don’t have gaps between two children more than 2 and less than 1 year. Two, he said – have at least 3 children. I still remember how hesitant he was while sharing this with me. But, at that moment – I heard him. I wanted to understand him. Why he’s saying, what he’s saying !
Don’t get curious about what I did with his advice. Fast forward to 2019, Jinan and I start talking on few more initiatives and the Bhopal and Farm gathering was conceptualized. I happen to spend lot of time with him during session and off session during this time. We travelled together, lived together , ate together. This was perhaps the first time, I was able to see , hear and understand Jinan without my biases and opinions.
Alright, so much for the background story – Let me finally come back to the topic of this blog – what did I learn from him ? Well , I am still chewing on a lot of it and it’ll only become clear with time. But here is something that I can share with you as of today : –
- We’ve focussed too much on “teaching” and have given very little attention to “learning”. Hence, we have made some very fundamental mistakes in the way we raise our children.
- To understand learning, nothing is better than really observing a child.
- There is a stark difference in how children are brought up in traditional , tribal societies and modern societies. A lot of traditional methods were very conducive for child’s growth, most of modern settings are quite detrimental to child’s growth.
- Child learns the world while we get him to learn the word. This create major conflict in child.
- Play is a natural way of learning not only in human but in all species. It’s a very precious, essential activity but we’ve not understood it and have undermined it’s importance.
- Toys are a result of this not understanding child and her play. Toys thus turn out to be quite detrimental to child’s creativity and overall well being.
- Television, mobile and newspaper are something that we need to really worry about , especially when it comes to child’s interaction with it.
- Seeing is the core of learning. To see, is to learn.
- Too much words, intellectualism distorts understanding and ability to see.
- Schools are doing a lot of damage to child’s innate ability to learn, to be creative. Alternative schools, homeschools and the rest of it are no better in deeper sense. They might be superficially better.
- We need to reimagine learning by realigning our understanding of children – not through books, some experiments, ideas or theories but by directly observing children.
- Least interference is the best policy while being with children, for they are complete, intelligent being. Not what we imagine them to be empty slates or dumb young ones.
Well, I will stop here and will continue sharing more learings in different blogs as and when I feel ready.
Overall, I really enjoyed a lot. It exposed my own ignorance and misunderstanding of children and education. I had assumed I knew a lot while all I knew was very superficial. Now, I need to start learning.
I feel deeply grateful for this experience and learning in life. I really thank Jinan and all my friends (Ruchi, Sandeep (both) , Tapan, Kunal, Deepa, Priyamvada, Shantanu and Rekha) who made this gathering possible.
You always end up getting what you desire for. This is the unsaid , hidden law of life. Look around you, look within and if you see very carefully you’d know what I am saying.
What we are today is nothing but what we desired in past. I wonder if you’ve ever sat down and wondered – boy, I’ve got exactly what I dreamt of long back ? It’s almost , always the case.
I can so clearly pin point even the day when I imagined a life that I am living right now. I have seen the same happen to many people around me.
We create a life that we desire. Then why are we still miserable ? The problem is , we really don’t know what to desire.
We seek happiness but end up desiring for misery, mistaking it for happiness. This is the tragedy of human life. We desire for money, fame – seeking happiness only to realize that you are still unhappy. Then we wonder where did we go wrong. Why is suicide, depression and such issues so common in people who’ve almost everything one can desire ?
Once we have a deep desire, we think about it, feel for it, work for it. All our faculties are directed towards it and there is every chance that sooner or later that desire will be fulfilled. So, non-fulfilment of our desires is not what brings us misery. It’s the fulfillment of wrong desires that brings us that.
To be mature and wise means to know what and how to desire.
People who desire for right things end up getting the right things and hence are the happiest lot. One cannot learn the art of right desire unless one is in touch with one’s inner space. More we understand and know ourselves , better we become at desiring right things and hence our overall well being in life is taken care of.
Life has been kind enough to bestow me with insights and learnings that has helped me grow as a person, carry out my relationships better. One such recent learning has been about what we all human beings hate the most. Something that we all detest deeply. Something that is sure shot way to put someone off or even break a relation forever.
Any guesses ? Well, we have become so fragile and our relationships have become so shallow that the list may actually go quite long.
- I hate being judged.
- I hate being disrespected.
- I hate being underestimated.
- I hate being considered insufficient.
- I hate being hated.
- I hate being treated unfairly.
- I hate when people consider me insignificant.
- …and the list may go on for pages.
All of these are true but their root lies somewhere else. Hence , If I may submit to you –
What we hate most is – someone wanting us to change.
No brainer, I guess. Not worth all the build up , isn’t it ?
I wonder if it really comes out as an Eureka or a nudget of wisdom for you, but it certainly did so for me.
I saw what puts me off most of the times, I recollected why I gave up so many relations/ people in past, I remembered what did I say/do that created a deep hurt in the other. All the arrows led to one place.
“I hated people who wanted me to change.”
“People hated me / got hurt whenever I tried to change them.”
Ofcourse this is not true when we are open to change – consciously, which are rare daring moments in our lives. Most of the times, we all hold ourselves so high in our own minds, we are so rigid that anyone’s demand for change (right or wrong is immaterial) is seen as a direct attack and we either react voilently or we simply take it as a hurt inside.
Almost a decade back, I asked a Zen master (Kenichi San) – What is love ? and his response appeared so ordinary that I was not at all impressed but it makes so much sense to me today.
He said, “Love is accepting the other , as she/he is.”
Acceptance is love. Seeking change in others is at least voilent – if not hate. Seeking change in ourselves is equally voilent. This is not to say that we don’t change, improve, overcome our devils or we must bear all the shit coming from others. Action has to be practically wise and need based but the emotion behind, the deep intent has to be of acceptance. To accept ourselves as we are, to accept others as they are is fundamental of love.
To impose or expect change is voilent, to accept is to be at peace. Surprisingly, acceptance is the best catalyst for change.
For a long time, I’ve been wondering what can we do to make this world a better place ? I’ve given it a lot of thought, experimented with many options and tried various paths. Finally, it seems it has just dawned on me. And I was looking for a complex equation while the answer came as a nobrainer – Children and Plants. If we can nourish children and plants , they both have power to nourish rest of the world.
Unfortunately, both children and plants are facing some of the toughest times. Scenrios today, systems today are not very conducive to their growth. Infact, most of the systems in place are quite detrimental to both of them. In both of these , lies the future, the hope.
On one side harmful schooling, incomplete education and ineffective parenting is affecting our children badly while on the other side our so called development, chemical farming, industries are badly affecting our ecosystem.
I think the way forward is to nourish both of them otherwise we are writing our own suicide note.
How do we do that ? Well, many rays of hope are already emerging in form of natural farming, sustainable industries, eco-friendly lifestyles, child friendly learning and parenting methods. We need to support them , take care of them, fuel them so that we can nourish both our children and plants who’d then be able to heal our sickening planet and our bruised people.
I wonder if anyone is reading these blog posts or not. We are slowly slipping into oblivion for the world. Boy ! We all are so busy moving forward, running the rat race , finding the solution to our own personal problems – that we have no time at all to stop at look at what’s happening with others. It’s true for us as well. We are no exceptions. We are also so damn busy making our own lives better in this small piece of land.
Is it enough to be happy alone ? Can one be happy alone or is being together a precondition for happiness ?
What positive action can we take while living a simple life at the farm ? Is it not a positive action in itself ?
Farm is growing in its own speed. Things are evolving, lots of new trees are up and alive. Cows have increased. Soil appears stronger, biodiversity looks better. Human relationships remain an issue. Why is it so difficult to work together, live together ?
Nevertheless, we still sleep with a smile on our face at the end of the day. Our health and happiness is growing, no doubt – it’s not as rosy as it appears to others. Most importantly, we do get a feel that we are definitely living a real life and this journey is so much worth. Every pain, every learning, every day is just such a blessing that we can’t be more grateful. 🙂
I am sure when you come to farm’s website and see now new updates on timeline, no new posts, no new event announcements – you may wonder, if we are dead already !
Well, farm is up. We are still living here. Our experiments and explorations are On , it’s just that we have become too lazy to come over the net, write an article about something. When we began years back, sharing our story was an important aspect of our lives. I would regularly take out time to update website and send updates. In fact, I almost rolled out a quarterly newsletter at one stage. But things change, farm changed, I changed.
I slowly started seeing futility of the exercise. I was no longer moved by accolades that I would receive for the work we are doing. I was no longer depressed by strong criticism. To be here, to walk into forest, to spend time with my wife and my child, to water the plants, to spot a new bird, to escape a scorpion bite – such tiny things appear enough.
I no longer enjoyed receiving guests who would ask the same questions, throw back same compliments and then go back to their same old life. They’d talk great things about us, their own lives untouched. It makes me lose the very motivation to put efforts in spreading the word about what we are doing and justify our lifestyles. So, slowly I’ve stopped doing almost everything.
So, yes you can say – I’ve grown lazy. I’ve grown little indifferent. I’ve grown little cynical. I am just happy that I am growing.
Looking forward to seeing you at farm someday. We still await and cherish guests who can relate to true spirit of this place, of this journey. Come….
We had a very unusual get together at our farm recently. A hindu saint from Himalayas was invited to our farm along with his few friends who delivered a small discourse and stayed overnight. People from nearby villages were also invited. Interestingly this was the first time we had so many villagers visiting us in 5 years !
Swami Nityanand Giri Ji is a hindu saint who lives in Kailash Ashram nea Rishikesh. He was a direct disciple of Swami Shri Ramsukhdas Ji Maharaj ( Who is one of the main author of many books published by Geeta Press, Gorakhpur).
With Asharams, Ram-Raheems and Nirmal Babas leading the Saint fraternity…I frankly had little hope in anyone with orange cloths! However, i just happen to meet Nitryanand Ji in a religious event in a nearby village and could clearly see in just few minutes of his talks and behavior that he is not the same team. He belonged to the group – which includes very few saints who are trying to maintain the santicity of orange cloths.
He was with Central government working in Delhi before he decided to dedicate his life to inner search. He is far from money. Doesn’t take money for anything and a sincere celibate. What I like most about him is – he walks his talks ! Whatever he teaches others – he himself does it sincerely.
Nevertheless, It was a very differnt kind of joy to have all these saints here and talk about Law of karma, social situations today and various other questions till late night of wintery January. It was a celeberation of a different kind. What also astonished us was the deep faith that people still have in religion and how it has power to bind people. People who were enemies to each other , came and sat in the same area on this night !
There was so much I learnt …so much I enjoyed….I am just so grateful to all the saints and all the people who came !
I’ll end it with one of the quotes by Shri Ramsukhdas ji Maharaj –
God has full responsiblity for your needs and has no responsiblity for your wants. So, worry not about your needs, they’ll be met. and Worry not about your wants – for they will never be met. Just don’t worry and live every moment in Joy,
I owe an explaination for non-updates on timeline, on our blogpost, emails, newsletter, discouraging visits since Jan this year.
The reason for all of it has been my disappointment with how things were going. When I started this journey , i had an idea in my mind – an imagination of how life here would be, how things will evolve and where the madman’s farm will be in 3-4 years ! That was my mistake ! Life is unpredictable, doesn’t run on our whims and fancies !
I was imagining – how things should be and naturally things were the way they were ! It took my sometime to realize, accept that “which is” ! Initial disappointment has now replaced acceptance and celebration of what is.
To be specific, things didn’t evolve the way I had imagined –
1.) I had imagined I’ll have a food forest ready by 3 years eating various fruits like papaya, banana from our own farm. We will be growing lot of vegetables and become self – sufficient in food.
What happened was, i still don’t have any fruit tree fruiting, 3-4 vegetables growing. We are almost self sufficient in grains and cereals but still need to work on productivity and quality.
2.) I had imagined community will evolve, with Shantanu moving in with family – i was hoping more people will get associated and slowly a vibrant community will evolve.
What happened was, we are still almost alone – community aspect is almost absent. Infact, we have failed to maintain synergy even within 3 families at farm.
3.) I had imagined, our work will be appreciated by villagers and soon a small social change movement will begin. We will have healthy relationships with nearby villages.
What happened was, we are still seen as outsiders. We do have few good friends from near by villages but many still see us with negative emotions..
4.) I will be self sufficient financially and will be able to contribute to others in need of money.
What happened was, even after 3 years my expenses are not met entirely by farming activities. Though we are getting there. I still need to borrow money at times.
5.) I will have lot of time to meditate and my inner journey will accelerate like never before and I might almost become enlightened in few years !
What happened was, I am still almost the same person.But whatever little changes that have come in my are significant and deep.
6) A lot of wonderful visitors will come and we will be making lot of new good friends.
What happened was, limited visitors came and some of those who came were quite difficult to deal with. Some brought us negative image in front of villagers. Only handful of those are now in touch with us.
Last winter gathering was the trigger point for all of this ! The gathering had to be disturbed before the last day due to some conflicts within the group. This led me to retreat back and reflect on what is happening.
Nevertheless, I am now in terms with “what is” and the energies are back again ! Moving forward, some things will change which are all for good , I believe.
I personally would like to pay my heartfelt thanks to each and everyone associated with the farm, everyone who has visited us, was part of our gatherings and has been in touch with us over internet. Your contributions are what making me grow…Thank you !
Frankly, this talk was not very well prepared and hence I do not consider it as a worthy talk. Also, it was long since I spoke in public – so my language, my speech all went for a toss. Infact, I missed many of my core points (like impact of media on our choices). I forgot some of my examples. Infact, after the speech I think I left audience more confused than clear.
One of the listener comes to me and says, ” So, what do you do now ? ” and I was like …damn…did I really mess up my speech !
Nevertheless, here is the talk anyway. I enjoyed the whole process. From trying to think of one idea worth spreading from your life to actually speaking it out. It was a good instrospective exercise.