Recently Amma was invited to attend a climate summit entitled Protection of the Planet in Paris. She was not able to attend because she was concluding her North American tour, but she sent a video address to the summit. You can watch or read the speech here. You may have also read about Pope Francis (he is SO AWESOME!)’ recent encyclical calling for swift action on climate change. Care of the environment has been a long-time interest of mine, and I do as much as I can to act in ways that that are as sustainable as possible. I could do better, and do endeavor to do more all the time. I realize in writing this article that I am probably “preaching to the choir,” and that maybe all of you are doing your part to nurture Nature but it’s what’s been on my mind a lot lately, so here you go. Hopefully something is meaningful or inspiring or interesting in all this!
I have vivid memories of going to Washington State University football games and picking up bags and bags of aluminum cans after the end, as well as picking up bottles and cans along the country roads around Pullman, WA when I was a little kid to take to the recycler to make money for UNICEF and church-sponsored good works. My parents were ahead of the curve in many ways. We saved newspapers and cans and other stuff and took them to the recycler once a year or so, way before you could recycle them at the street. And recently I’ve been lovingly remembering my one and only act of littering. I was a relatively new driver stopped at a stop light and threw the Big Gulp cup out onto the median. There was a girl and boy with me, neither of whom I remember, and the girl said, “You can’t do that!” in a tone that I knew I couldn’t do that, and I never did again. Who was she? I think the Divine Mother, honestly. I also remember riding my bike my entire life and having other adults including my dad who also rode a lot. I feel truly blessed to have the second shortest commute of anyone I know, but do know that that is completely by choice.
Yoga means, in one sense, literally “union.” When we hold ourselves separate, from Nature, other people or society, or from ourselves, or even from any part of ourselves, we suffer. Period. It’s that way because we have to live and maintain an untruth, a perspective that is contrary to Reality, contrary to What Is. If we want to just practice “yoga” on the mat and not in Life, then that’s fine, keep going. My firm belief and experience is that if we honestly endeavor to practice repeatedly and sincerely being aware in the moment, we will eventually see what is right there and has been there all along, and that is Union, our Oneness, or Interdependence (to borrow Thich Nhat Hahn’s term). If we want to be happy AND we want to harbor selfishness (for the seemingly small, seemingly isolated self), then we will fail or possibly meet with limited and temporary success. If we want to be happy AND we want, and can actually ACT, for ALL being to be happy, then we can know a real and lasting happiness beyond the little momentary pleasures to which we are accustomed, and we might even be able to keep the human species going on longer than a “business-as-usual” attitude will get us.
Considering the environment in our actions is important if we really want to progress in our Yoga. Simple things we can do will probably not save the human species but ARE completely necessary steps to begin-simple things like the following:
-turn off the water when you’re not using it, or
-“mellow with yellow, down with brown,” or
-taking your own bags to the store and buying things on purpose that have less packaging, in the rare instances when that’s possible,
-recycling what you can (PROPERLY please = don’t put your trash in the recycling and make more work for someone else down the line = know WHAT recycles and how and where in your community),
-putting your trash in the trash (and not taking it to the thrift store if it’s not usable, one of my personal pet-peeves) and
-picking up trash even if it’s not yours,
-buying as much local and organic and in-season as possible,
-having a meat-free day or meal each day, if only because it is SO MUCH less CO2 producing,
-riding your bike for short trips, carpooling or driving less (a LOT?) less, and
-planting as many trees as we possibly can, but I figure at least 5 a year per person is a good place to start.
Less simple things may also be or become possible for us as we realize the urgent need for it-things like the following:
-driving a more fuel-efficient car,
-having a garden,
-planting LOTS of trees, or sponsoring rain forest or other carbon-zeroing activities,
-keeping bees, which Amma has recently started to stress and which we know is a potential(?) major issue for the human (and animal and bird) food supply,
-going vegetarian or vegan, again even if only to so greatly reduce the CO2 you produce,
-driving less (a LOT less?),
-having or building a smaller house and less stuff, and
-perhaps most importantly, advocating for a quick and complete transition to fossil-fuel-free economy! (which, of course, partly means voting out the poor deluded ones with their heads in the sand [or worse!] owned by those who profit from the exploitation of the Earth and its people!)
It’s difficult for those of us who care to live in a world in which our interactions with each other are based first on greed (that’s Capitalism), one of the traditional 7 deadly sins, and just an all-around bad idea, and also on an assumed lack (that’s modern western economics). Offering a donation yoga studio is part of my response to these sociopathic problems. These “twin pillars” have brought us to a dark time and toward the possible destruction of the human species, at least as we know it. The science is completely clear on the way Nature is going (read here or here for two of my most recent reality checks and inspiration), never mind what the disturbed minds of some politicians believe, but I no longer hold to the false religion of science. It sees a piece of the picture. BUT I do have faith in Grace and the power of the human Spirit. My little mind cannot and does not know the whole picture, yet, though I do believe that it has the capacity. I know I can muster in my heart some feeling of caring and Loving Kindness toward ALL beings; I can make life choices that had seemed challenging (and certainly others have made much more difficult choices than I have); and the world has given us many examples of people who could hold to LOVE and service above all else, Given all of this, maybe we can sustain. Yoga and meditation practice can help. See and heal the “inside” leads to and aids in seeing and healing the “outside.”