CityNews Article Archive:
Keep it Simple

June 1, 2012 -  Muthita Aungurawasaphol

“Thailand these days is perverse for me, even though it is normal in most people’s eyes. Why do we have to work hard to own lots of things and then die having nothing? As we are not an object, this kind of life is depressing, no life at all.”

Jon Jandai – feeling at home amongst nature

While people are busy climbing up to the top of the ladder fighting for their ‘happy’ life, Jon Jandai feels it can be much easier to be happy.

Jon the famer, who used to be an urbanite working and studying in Bangkok, found a way out of what he thought a depressing routine lifestyle. Jon who was born in Yasothorn Province in the Issan region of Thailand used to think that he needed to fight all the way, through university to eventually find a good job to attain a high salary, even though, he says, he was never quite sure what he wanted to do. He just thought ‘high salary’ was what people were supposed to live for. However, he had a moment of clarity and realised that the high salary life was not for him, it was boring he thought, it was a trained robotic life.

“I feel that many people have a very boring life. People work 8 hours a day, and that’s all. Even those top students live their lives the same way,” Jon said. He told me that many people are working so hard without thinking about their destination. “I think life is much more than just earning. We can have more fun and pleasure in life, but we have to realise we are not robots.” He decided to get out of the university and move to Chiang Mai to find himself something different from the boring routine life.

He went to many places to find himself, he says, and finally decided to go back to his hometown, Yasothorn. There at home he grew fruits and vegetables. He felt that being a farmer gave him freedom, it was simple, and it made him feel independent. He started to search for land to farm and found land in rural Mae Tang district, Chiang Mai. There he built his first adobe house.

After building his home people started to show interest, realising that you can have a home without having to spend massive amounts of money, and so they asked Jon to teach them how to build a house like his own.

He later opened a farm as a centre of self-reliance, teaching people the simple way of life. Pun Pun farm www.punpunthailand.org has now become well known throughout Thailand and the rest of the world.

“I teach people who come here that the necessary things in our lives, which are food, clothes, a house, and medicine, are not that difficult to have.” said Jon. “Here we don’t need to buy food such as fruits, vegetables, and fish, they are all here. People will see how they can grow plants by themselves. As for clothes, we don’t need the fabulous labels to live happily. We can build houses with raw natural materials that grow around us and come from the ground. We can also get a lot of medicine from the earth.”

Jon wants to tell people that life is not that hard, we make it hard, but we can have the necessary things without working 8 hours a day doing something we might not enjoy.

He explains that in this new life he understands himself better because he has time to be with himself. “I think the simple life is to live without many struggles, to have freedom, living like this is surely better for us than being stressed and working hard all our lives. I can be with myself, without pressure, without stress, without feeling scared.”

“Doing what you enjoy all the time is a great pleasure for me,” says Jon.

At his farm he says there are new things happening all the time to challenge him, things he enjoys doing. He mentioned that money is not the most important thing in his life anymore, living in the rural area he says he doesn’t need money for unnecessary things. Jon still goes back to town to meet friends, he uses money, though he says he’s the happiest at home. “I think I am fulfilled here. I don’t want any ‘big’ thing anymore,” says Jon proudly.

“In my opinion, it is just a modern trend for people thinking that it is normal to make lots of money. However, for me, life is short and I don’t know when I’m going to die, so I don’t want to waste my time fighting for money. I prefer using my time to understand myself, to find happiness. I don’t want to be in the situation like many people who worry that they will be poor, or feel embarrassed and insecure if they don’t have money.”

He castigates society: “It is sick,” he says, adding, “People work for all that money, and then they die not having a thing.”

He strongly emphasises knowing oneself, something far more important than say “having loads of property.” He says that “To know yourself, you need to have time for yourself. I don’t meaning taking a rest on the weekend after a hard week, just hanging out with friends, or doing something to make you feel temporarily happy which, in fact, is just a way to escape from your real self.”

You must look deeply into yourself he says. “It takes time to know this, but I found out that my emotions, just like other people’s, change all the time. So if we run around in our heads trying to find the exact location of these emotions, we will just get very tired and upset. In contrast, if we accept that our emotions change, come and go, we will be more rational and have less stress in our lives.”

Lastly he explains, “People usually think that they don’t have a choice, so they need to do this and that. I think they are afraid of changing which is very wrong. Actually, life always has alternatives. If you don’t feel happy with what you are doing then change, otherwise how can you find your great happy life?”