By now we all heard about the 16-year-old girl explaining the simple unbiased truth to a whole group of politicians and world leaders. She said clearly, don't listen to me but listen to your scientists, our planet is warming and we are very, very close to a tipping point where warming of the planet can not be avoided. It is a truth, obvious to children, but not to the adults in the room.
How is that possible?
I think 95 percent of scientists, if not more, are very clear that the very future of this planet is at risk of collapsing and that this will happen around the end of this century. All other problems we have, and there are many, come second to this, the survival of our species.
And it gets worse:
Scientists know what we have to do in order to prevent this from happening, but elected politicians ignore the obvious truth. Young children have to tell them that their lame response to these crises is not adequate and practical solutions are implemented much too slowly.
I am sure that most of you who will read this are very aware of these facts and I don't need to point out the crises as it unfolds. In Australia, we just voted for a government, that wants to prevent and slow down alternative ways to produce energy. It gives permission to Indian companies to build huge coal refineries, which will expel their water into the dying Barrier Reef.
Examples are of course, endless...
What can Yogis do about it?
I want to look at this from the spiritual background. Why do people in power act like this? And why do people vote for these politicians?
These politicians who, at least in democratic countries, are voted for by the public, are aware of the same facts about the scientific evidence as everybody else. Why do they not see the catastrophic tsunami that is approaching?
When we see a crowd of people we actually see many individuals gathering together, like we don't see a forest but just trees gathering at one spot. As individuals we all have very similar motivations, to please our Selfs. We want to justify our actions in the light of our inner voice, the Self, so we can feel a certain peace within. In this way, we all act selfish, meaning we please our Self.
This self, of course, is conditioned by our likes and dislikes and by our desires and fears.
I use Self, with a “capital S” to indicate our true nature, which is unconditioned, uncreated, limitless and actionless. And I use the self with a “lower case s” to indicate our ego, our perceived identity.
In Vedanta we clearly point out that the main obstacle in seeing clearly is Avidya, ignorance. And to overcome it, we need knowledge. But obviously, scientists have the knowledge, but we don't want to see it.
There are of course many personal and political reasons for it. Let me just mention a few:
We are living more and more disconnected from nature like we often joked, milk is not coming from cartons but from real cows.
Indigenous people, fisherman and farmers in the developing world who are dependent on and closely connected with nature, know about the interconnected relationship we have.
Modern people are often totally disconnected from the change of seasons and the fine balance of weather patterns, that can make a huge impact on the fauna and the animal kingdom.
My suggestion: send children and adults out into the wild, to learn and understand the beauty and harmony of nature.
Once a child experiences this and the changes the warming will have on the planet, they will do everything to help to survive in the future.
Adults often go into nature but their excursions are often disconnected from the rawness of the wild. They are often driving with a huge 4 wheel drive and caravan or parking next to the road with a huge Winnebago. This is just not the same. You need to smell and feel nature in order to connect with it.
One of my old friends went so far as to create workshops were he buried participants into the ground, covered them with leaves and let them be there for a while to "re-earth " themselves. Maybe a bit extreme, but it points to the same goal, the environment is not separate from us. We depend on it with every breath we take.
So, first a physical connection with nature, but this is not enough.
The next step is contemplation and meditation, ways of calming our minds. We need to become more sensitive, vulnerable and receptive in order to assimilate the truth.
Meditation was not meant to be more successful in your business world or to be more able to "get what you want", it always was a method to calm the mind in order to be able to contemplate the unexamined logic and truth of your own existence.
This can be the real contribution Yoga and its students can give to the world.
Through peaceful contemplation, we can demonstrate and teach the sanctity of life to others. Through no judging, we can share our world view and make people in our close environment reflective of the destruction that is happening all around us.
Yes, sometimes, it might mean strong non-violent action, but as the Buddha said: “hatred can only be overcome by love never by hatred”
Time is running out, and I mean that literally.
If we are not able as Yogis, to be an example of the change we want to see, then our children's children will not have a future that resembles the life we enjoyed.
Hari Om Tat Sat
300hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training on Koh Phangan in June 2020
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