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WHO CAN SAVE THIS PLANET EARTH?

The earth is a living organism. Do you think this earth which hosts such diversity of life is just a lifeless object? It is conscious. It is living. Life originates from life and is sustained by it.

Our physical environment is an extension of ourselves and is the first level of existence, then comes our physical body and mind. There is a need to cater to all these three levels. The earth undergoes changes constantly but what human beings, driven by greed, have done to it is unfortunate. It is human greed for quick profits combined with a lack of sensitivity that is destroying this planet, disrupting the ecological balance, bringing misery and negativity around, and is behind the current existential crisis. Frequent flash floods, tsunamis, and all the other disasters are a result of this exploitation. If we don’t take the right measures to save our planet now, it will create more challenges for us. We need a radical transformation in our attitudes and lifestyle to ensure the sustainability of our planet.

Revive the idea that planet Earth is sacred

All the ancient civilizations including the Indian civilization honoured the earth, rivers, sun, moon, trees, and mountains as sacred. They were seen as divine manifestations. We need a revival of the idea that planet Earth is sacred. When you consider something sacred, then it brings a sense of mindful reverence, a sense of awareness towards it. To be conscious of our environment is something that comes naturally to us. It is only once we start drifting from our very nature, our minds are filled with stress, anxiety, and negativity that we start polluting our environment and exploiting it for short-term gains. We need to revive the ancient practice of honouring and conserving nature.

Who can stop the pollution of this planet?

It can only be someone aware and respectful of the planet. You need a big loving heart to revere the earth, something that seems inanimate. Once you respect other humans, can you respect other sentient beings and objects, and a certain level of awareness is needed for this to happen. When a person is sensitive, he cannot but be nurturing towards the environment instead of depleting, polluting, and dirtying it.

So we must attend to our spiritual roots, and rekindle this awareness. We must attend to the human psyche which is at the root of behaviour that is insensitive and unaware towards the environment, and is also caring and nurturing. If compassion and care are kindled within oneself, it reflects in how we treat the environment, and a sense of sacredness follows. We need to develop a sense of belongingness with the planet; treat trees, people and rivers as our own; and see God in nature and people. This fosters sensitivity; and a sensitive person can’t but be concerned about nature, as we have seen among many tribal indigenous communities in the way they revere and care for their surroundings and nature.

Lessons from nature

Trees are very rightly called the lungs of the planet Earth and we need to plant more of them. In the ancient scriptures, it is said that one who cuts a single tree must plant 5 more. There is a lot to learn about sustainable coexistence from nature itself. If you go to a forest, you will see that so many animals live in it but they do not litter the area like humans do. If you see nature, the five elements in it are opposed to each other; there are species in the animal kingdom that are hostile to each other- and yet there is a perfect balance in nature. Earthworms are a perfect example of how nature digests waste and recycles it to give us something to sustain life.

Cutting down trees, dumping toxic waste, and using non-recyclable materials are all crimes against the environment. Relentlessly ravaging limited natural resources in the name of development without a long-term vision will eventually destroy the ecology, the essential life source. The purpose and intent of development should be to support, revive, and sustain life, and make life better. Then the very process of development will become a conscious effort to preserve the planet and its resources.

Every section of society should focus on minimizing consumerism and developing a responsible attitude towards the environment. We must make judicious use of our planet’s resources while striking a balance between sustainability and development. The Art of Living is continuously engaged in projects like river rejuvenation, natural farming, tree plantation, and use of solar energy where we consciously work towards making the planet thrive by purifying and rejuvenating the five elements.

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR The writer is an Indian yoga guru, a spiritual leader, founder of The Art of Living

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