Friday, April 14, 2006

"Life is Easy"

The following essay is by a Thai farmer named Jon Jandai. Jandai is the co-founder of Pun Pun, "an organic farm, seed-saving operation, and sustainable living and learning center" in Northern Thailand. He created Pun Pun in 2003 with his wife, a Coloradan named Peggy Reents. Since then, the community has grown into a small village of adobe houses populated by an eclectic mix of individuals committed to putting ideas about self-sufficency and sustainability into action.

Mr. Jandai's "Life is Easy" article reminds me of that great part in Kerouac's Dharma Bums, when the character Japhy Ryder (based on Gary Snyder) goes off on the wanton materialism that governs the lives of most Americans. "See the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers," says Ryder (Snyder), "Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn't really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume."

Home for Dharma Bums would look a lot like Pun Pun.

“Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?”

by Jon Jandai

To be given life is the ultimate gift. When we are first born we have the right to cry or laugh. When we grow up we have the freedom to choose the way we want to be. Humans were born with rights equal to every other living thing but because of our unlimited desire human life is often of less quality than most other animals.

A small bird wakes up early in the morning singing a song waking the other birds, merrily looking for food, spending a short time to get all the bugs and grain she needs to fill her small stomach, then spending the rest of her time playing, singing, and courting. She spends a few days to build her beautiful nest. She doesn’t work too much to get the food she needs everyday. Her life is easy. She has a lot of time to play and enjoy living together with the other birds.

Humans have small stomachs as birds do. Just to have enough to eat we too do not have to work a lot in one day. If we want to build a house, we can build one in a few weeks. We can then have a lot of free-time in our life to play and enjoy life together as well. Now days people choose to work very hard, at least 8 hours per day. They work like machines just to have some food to eat even though the food they eat is not good quality. They eat the old plants and animals that have been dead many months in a can or in frozen packages. They have to live in a crowded house like a termite. If they want their own house they have to spend at least one half of their life or maybe all of their life to work for that house. Life is busy and hectic all the time.

We can see only complications with no space for beauty and freedom. We create suffering for ourselves because we don’t know the purpose of life. We are blinded and our soul turns to darkness. We can’t see beauty. We can’t enjoy living. We have only fear growing in our minds everyday. We begin to distrust other people. We cannot be friends with others around us, even relatives or family members. Our lives are lonely, even though the world is full of people. Even though we have a lot of material goods and wealth we still feel like it’s not enough. Even thought other people give us love, we still don’t trust them. We are even disturbed by the rooster’s morning call and we’re proud to say in the middle of this confusion and suffering that this is development and we are civilized.

Why do humans choose to live their life in a difficult and complicated life like this? What do we receive from our hard work all our life? Why is the simple and peaceful way not attractive to people? Life is easy, why do we make it hard?

If we think we are the most clever animal in the world, why do we make our life full of bitterness and suffering more than any other animal? Why do we have to work harder than other animals? Why do we make our lives so boring? Why don’t we have time for our kids and family or even time for ourselves? These are the instincts of all life. In 24 hours we spend more than 10 hours struggling with what we call work or said nicely, “making a living”. We spend on average less than hours sleeping and 2.5 hours a day eating, maybe .5-1 hour bathing/dressing. This leaves 3 hours left for ourselves and our family in our day. Mostly we spend this time intoxicating ourselves with entertainment such as drinking, going to parties, shopping, watching movies or watching TV. Even on our day off we love to spend the time on entertainment. We don’t see the importance of spending time with family or ourselves because we think we don’t have time. So we are not different from machines or robots because we have lost our heart and soul.

Our kids are like our pets. We take care of them enough to feed them and keep them safe but we neglect to think about their mind and soul. Kids want to be loved and cared for and to feel close to their parents but we think it’s a burden so we push them away by sending them to pre-school. Then we appease ourselves by telling ourselves we’ve done the best by them by giving them good food and expensive schooling so we can have more time to give to working and we can tell ourselves that we work for our kids. But we don’t know if the kids want what we give them or not. We assume we have given the best to them. If the kids know how to compare, they must be jealous of other animals like ducks seeing their whole family playing and looking for food together. But to be born as a human kid is so lonely. They become orphaned even though they have parents. They spend more time with strangers than their parents.

We are losing our instincts. We are destroying the system of life which our ancestors developed and lived successfully with for many thousands of years. Now we become the only animals that work this hard. Even in the past people didn’t work as hard or long as they do now except slaves and prisoners. What made people see slavery as progress or development? What is the reason people choose to live like this? Life is easy, why do we choose to make it so hard and complicated? What makes us think life has no choice when in fact we have a lot of choice?

Click on the link to Pun Pun in the "Lifestyle" section of my link section to learn more about this unique community.


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