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Lessons from a Long Time Indian Farmer

Thursday, December 4, 2014

If you've ever spent time with farmers, you know. A farmer's perspective on the world is… different. Their entire livelihoods are in the land, the sun and the rain. A few degrees in temperature can make the difference between an OK year and a great year. The same soil under their fingernails also puts the roof over the heads and their children through school.

For the rest of us, our daily interaction with “the land” is usually limited to the sidewalk. But deep, meaningful friendships with a group of traditional farmers in Northern India have opened my eyes. These farmers grow and harvest organic healing herbs that have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and for the last 15 have farmed solely for our company’s herbal teas and supplements. They are deeply spiritual, committed to the sustainable health of the Earth and careful to surround their herbs with loving, stress-free energy so as not to tarnish their integrity.

These men and women, many in their 80s and 90s, have never been outside their small town in rural, Northern India. Their schooling was limited, many cannot read. They follow the same routine, or dinacharya, everyday. But their wisdom, passed through generations of farmers who gave themselves to the land, is powerful. Here are a few pearls I have collected from our farmers, some of the most powerful teachers I have ever encountered, that otherwise may never be shared beyond Uttar Pradesh:

“Trust in God. Be honest. Do your best.”
This comes from the very first farmer to grow Tulsi with us and helped us build trusting relationships in the North Indian farm communities, Kailash Singh. Kailash is a respected elder in his late 80s and is pictured on our Tulsi Green Tea box. When we asked him to share his wisdom with us, what advice would he give to a younger generation, he laughed and then replied with the only words any person on this Earth would ever need for a life of quality.

"A viper without fangs is like a piece of rope."
This is a call to value the qualities that make us, us. The otherness that we fear is also our potency.

"Regularity is the best medicine."
Yes, this does refer literally to digestion - Triphala is a staple in many a North Indian medicine cabinet. This is also a lesson not to be held up in the process.

"The living things of Earth depend on each other just like the limbs and organs of the body do."
We are connected. And when we don’t live closely with the land, we don’t see first hand how each step leaves a lasting footprint.

"Saving the mustard seeds that are in your hand might cause you to miss out on getting a watermelon." Having the courage to let go of what is familiar can open us up to even greater opportunity.

For the gift of this wisdom, a gift that one can never have too much of and never goes out of style, we are grateful.