He who is contented is rich.  ~ Lao Tzu

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Ground:   a village, rice fields, work that contributes, elders’ council, considering becoming ‘modern’
Light:       community, nourishment, offering one’s gifts, weighted wisdom, considering the ‘whole’

On a trip to Indonesia, my friends and hosts, Tami and Api, took me to spend a day in Api’s village outside of Yogakarta. We shared lunch with his family. As we sat in a circle on the floor of his parents’ home, Api’s father spoke. Api translated for my benefit.

He said, “Recently the village council, the elders, seriously considered buying a tractor. My father is relating their deliberations to me.”

One elder said, ‘A tractor would be much more efficient than using the water buffalo. And we would become a more modern village.’

‘But,’ another elder countered, ‘We would then have to generate more money to buy petroleum.’

‘And,’ added another, ‘Some of the people of the village would not have work as a result.’

Currently, most able-bodied adults tended the fields and animals, prepared rice for storage, and did other tasks related to sustaining the village. Elder women and children worked in a small, labor intensive cracker factory. They sold the crackers to neighboring villages as a way to generate income for village needs that go beyond the basic needs. Small children and those unable to work enjoyed their freedom and each other.

“After a lot more deliberation, in the end,” Api said, “They decided not to buy a tractor.”

As I understood Api’s translation, their reasoning was that everyone was currently working and eating, living and loving. They had no designs for conquering the next village. Their conclusion was that the tractor had more potential for damaging the fabric of their community that for developing it.

Adapted from Leadership in A Challenging World: A Sacred Journey
by Barbara Shipka, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997.

All photos are scans of 35mm slides taken on the day of my visit.
Opening photo above: The village barn

Lunch at Api’s family’s home (Api’s father)

A village elder

Villagers and ducks harvesting rice

Tending the goats

Making crackers in the cracker factory

At play

An elder elder