Spirituality & organic farming
Can our thinking influence matter, the soil, even the seed? Experiments conducted in India show the effects of meditation on crop yields
The current use of yoga in agriculture began in Kolhapur, 300 km southwest of Mumbai, at one zof the Brahma Kumaris farms. A local gardener piqued the interest of farmers nearby sufficiently to have them leave a small parcel of arid, rocky land idle for some months before sowing a sugar cane crop. For some days, a collective of yoga teachers would sit across from the field and direct yogic energy towards this plot. The farmer, Baha Sahib, reported the highest returns on his cane crop and stunned his neighbors. His approach is now known as yoga kheti, sustainable agriculture, and this method is growing in popularity across India. To date, 7000 farmers have chosen yogic agriculture, and their efforts are the under scientific study over five years by two Agricultural universities in India. (More details at www.environment.brahmakumaris.org/).
Other spiritual centers, such as Findhorn in northeast Scotland (www.findhorn.org) have documented the benefits of directing positive thought energy to crops. They recommend to farmers who take part in the meditation courses organized by the center, to cultivate their fields using “the power of God.”
The principles of yogic agriculture
- The seeds remained for ten days in a special meditation room.
- Daily group meditations were scheduled to load the room with spiritual energy.
- Yogis visualized seven colors of light associated with the seven spiritual attributes charging the atmosphere and the seed: peace, unity, harmony, brotherhood, integrity, transparency, determination – and other variations.
- Farmers participated in meditation before sowing takes place, making an offering to the Gods’ and at the same time to the land, to harmonize the energies of nature. They round off the meditation using ‘red’ light as a symbol of strength and responsibility.
- Once each crop is planted, each Thursday, farmers joined a dedicated meditation in the field. Each element of nature is linked to a color: blue for air and the sky; yellow for fire; orange for water, red for earth. These meditations strengthen each element of matter especially where there is a lack of energy.
- Yogis and farmers set aside 15 mins at dawn and dusk (total of one hour) each day to direct spiritual vibrations to the fields.
- If there are any signs of crop disease, healing meditations are given to plants.
- A flag is positioned at each corner of the field to symbolize that yogic practice was at work.
The Brahma Kumaris conduct programmes in India’s rural areas to educate farmers about healthy living practices. More than 70 percent of Indians live in rural areas and many of them are dependent on tobacco and alcohol, contrary to Hindu tradition. Baha sahib and other yoga kethi farmers, along with expert agronomists and engineers who practice meditation, educate farmers in these yogic principles, helping them break free from these addictions. From initial steps in Maharastra, then Gujarat, the huge northern granaries of Haryana and the Punjab are slowly adopting these sustainable practices too.
The goal is to promote organic farming, and to free farmers from dependence on pesticides, GMOs and hybrid seeds, and integrate the practice of meditation (direct to the seed). The practice is sustained throughout the entire production cycle, from seed to cropping.
A comparative analysis of different fruits and vegetables has shown significant differences in the quality of produce from yogic agriculture. For example, the energy value of 100 gm of tomatoes increased from 19.5 to 22.47 Kcal. The fat content decreased from 0.2 to 0.1%. Such measures, although insufficient to draw general conclusions, however, are encouraging.
(Source: Studies conducted by Dr. SP Raut, Dr. BSKKV Dalpoli, Dr Kewalanand, Dr. Sunita T. Pandey from Dept. Agriculture, Pantnagar (Uttarakhand State).
About the Brahma Kumaris
This community has thousands of centers dotted across India and at least one center in more than 120 countries internationally. Meditation is the core practice and the philosophy is centered on an understanding of the eternal nature of the life force. The BK headquarters is located in Rajasthan, northwest India. The Brahma Kumaris is an NGO affiliated to several UN international institutions. In India, it is active in humanitarian and environmental education and protection of women and children.
Q&A about` Yogic Agriculture
Rajesh Dave, Agronomist, Mumbai: He trained as an engineer and agronomist and through his role with the Federal Bank has brought the concept of yogic agriculture to the state of Gujarat. He is also a student of the Brahma Kumaris. He states: “when I meditate in the field near home, near I invoke spiritual forces to reach mother earth. In that, I also ask Her for permission to use this field, using positive thought. Not a single day passes without me invoking these forces at dawn, as I meditate. I have taught this practice to local farmers too who join him in these sessions”.
Nexus: Do you think that agriculture yoga is accessible to Westerners?
Rajesh Dave: There is a love for India worldwide. People of all nations love India for its vibration; that love fills the atmosphere. Even as a poor country that is dusty, dirty, and overpopulated, where most things are difficult or uncomfortable, people still choose to leave their home comforts and travel India.
We know that all forms of life are affected by vibrations, even microbes and bacteria. We create vibrations with our spiritual energy. Meditation teaches us to generate pure and positive vibrations that harmonize humans with mother earth.
Nexus: What do you want to prove with this practice?
Rajesh Dave: Common sense tells us not to exploit the land, and to protect the soil quality for future generations. This non-violent approach promotes a ‘live and let live’ philosophy and takes account of both the spiritual and physical dimensions of life, preserving natural resources especially because it requires less water.
The expression: ‘Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are!” also has its origins in sustainable practices. A peaceful person will act in peace and generate an atmosphere and culture of peace. In turn, the foods produced in this way will carry peaceful vibrations. Peaceful farmers can rebuild land that has been depleted by the use of fertilizers and chemicals. Eventually soil dies as a result of the artificial treatments found in modern agriculture; like a gut devoid of intestinal flora. Do we wish to inflict this state on our children’s children?
Sadly, suicide in farmers is reaching alarming levels worldwide due to shrinking profits, financial ruin and extreme weather. Yogic agriculture offers a lifeline back to the sacred role of agriculture where the farmer is affirmed as a caretaker or custodian of the earth. This honoring of the noble relationship between humans, weather, earth and sun can be an important step forward in restoring the mental well-being of farmers. As mentioned above, some farmers in India have integrated meditation into their lifestyle and are learning to nurture an inner world where they have greater reserves to weather the fluctuating circumstances and find alternatives to age-old practices or new solutions. Yogic agriculture helps restore faith in the self and life’s circumstances. These farmers have also found an avenue to be free from feeling indebted to experts and multinationals who put profits before people. Yogic agriculture emphasizes quality over quantity and sets new, improved benchmarks for pricing and consumer demand. Time is proving that consumers will place high value on superior taste over and above simple access to supply.
Piero Musini, Organic farmer, Gubbio
In 2009 I decided to apply yogic agriculture to 200 acres of arable land near Gubbio in the Perugia province. My first challenge was to shift from conventional farming to organic farming, and to obtain certification. Initially farmers who worked these lands were reluctant to change their working methods, but with gentle training, by 2013 the whole farm has been certified organic.
Nexus: What is grown in your fields?
Piero: I have searched for ancient non-modified seeds that are neither GMO nor hybrids. We grow barley, ancient durum wheat, farro-spelt, blond and black millet, buckwheat, chickpeas, lentils, flax seeds and sunflowers. All our seeds are grown using methods that differ from those used for hybrids. Hybrids make me think of junkies who need their dose of pesticides to avoid going through withdrawal. With an ancient seeds, production is considerably less, but the flours are more nutritious and do not cause the allergies in people who are intolerant to gluten.
Nexus: What form of tillage practice do you use?
Piero: We use crop rotation and steel discs that shift between 10 and 20 cm of soil each rotation. In this way, the seeding process does not damage the underground microscopic life that is latent in the soil. We do not use herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.
Using this approach, we have observed many plant species emerging in the soil, from seeds we have not sown, which suggests they are dormant in the soil until optimum conditions prevail.
Nexus: Do you meditate on seeds, as they do in India?
Piero: Yes, as far as it is practical. Considering the volume of seed that we plant, we cannot position all bags of seeds in one room. So we place seed samples in the meditation rooms that are used each day. Group meditations and workshops are held at our property to build an atmosphere of respect and regard for Mother Nature. Naturally this atmosphere builds over time and the benefits flow onto the crops.
Recently, I toured the yoga farms in India and now follow their example of placing a meditation flag at each corner of the field to remind workers, including myself, to sustain the meditative practice whilst at work. Whenever I look up, there is a reminder to meditate while working (karma yoga) so I nurture my dream.
Nexus: What motivates you?
Piero: I practice the ancient raja yoga (learnmeditationonline.org). I want to have a clear mind and a healthy body; this calls for healthy foods. The air we breathe is also our food. Part of my life purpose is to offer people quality food. Yogic agriculture restores a ‘golden age’ in our agricultural systems. We offer nature optimal conditions for expression. In many ways, this approach is a love story between the craft and Mother Nature. Each party is enriched by positive intention. That way, as we come to know each other, we find ourselves.
Nexus: What were the outcomes?
Piero: We planted seeds in September 2012 and by the following spring, we discovered a wild oats in great quantity. We called this outcome ‘neighboring plants’. This side-effect did not bother us. Instead, we sought to understand why the wild plant was stronger than our seeds and in the end, chose to let the ground be free to grow what it wanted, and not impose our will.
My head farmer has this attitude naturally. He studied the history of farming in this region and learnt a great deal about what grows naturally in Umbria. He is my teacher.
Nexus: But aren’t profits important?
Piero: Time is showing that yogic agriculture does not diminish profits. Even we produce 20 percent less with yogic methods, the price differential works in favor of improved taste, higher nutrition and less prone to disease and pests. Consumers are willing to pay 30–40 percent more for KeBio than common conventional non organic brands.
Even the ancient seeds are more profitable. In 2014, hybrid corn seed was sold at €0.20 on the European market, while Kamut wheat was selling for €0.70.
A local pulp mill that sells my favorite flour meal also prepares an organic flour. They analyzed KeBio flour and that brand of organic flour and confirmed that KeBio flour had more protein and a firmer structure than the organic one. Although the starter seeds were the same variety, the farming method and the soil made a difference.
Being located so close to Assisi, I am convinced that sanctuary of world spirituality also has an influence on our KeBio crops and the soil. For some, the difference may seem to be just a matter of chemistry, but because seeds are living, meditation does have an impact and shapes the life force within each seed. Life is not just about chemistry.