Arise and Awake!

On October 24th 2009, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for action on the climate crisis. On the same day 30 Yogis gathered together in Vienna to meditate on becoming more aware of the environment, to send healing positive energy to our mother Earth and to understand the crucial link between Yoga and Environmental consciousness.

Yoga, the ancient science of consciousness always had a comprehensive approach towards life and living. The philosophy of Yoga is based on the concept of “Pinda = Brahmanda” (microcosm = macrocosm), which states that the body (pinda) is a replica of the Universe (Brahmanda), or microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. The individual was the sub set of the whole. Every experience that raised the consciousness of a yogi made him/her more aware of the surrounding. In fact, if I could summaries the process of yoga it is nothing but broadening of perception and thus becoming more sensitive and accountable for the individual self and others.

Goddess Earth For the ancient Yogis, Earth was Goddess Vasudha, the cause of stability (adhara Shakti), opulence and their very existence. She sprouted the feed for their survival with nutritious sunlight from the Sun God .What Goddess Vasudha gave to them was a blessing, she was the source on which the development of their society crucially depended. Goddess Vasudha was not only very much alive but also a spiritual Being. On a gross plain she has a body with rivers, mountains, forests, trenches and valleys. On a subtle plain she is throbbing with Prana driven by a purposeful nature, to take care of the ones who live and thrive upon her. The grace of the Goddess was never forgotten. Whenever the farmers reaped crops or the fishermen had a generous haul, mother earth was always invoked and thanked. Whenever the priests prayed or the merchants made wealth the value and vitality of Earth was accepted with gratitude. Their respect towards the nature and its components is very beautifully described in the hymns of the Vedas which were chanted for thousands of years, deeply allowing this sense of gratitude and respect to sink into the deeper recesses of the mind.

Before the seventeenth century and even as late as the eighteenth century, the nature of our planet was universally assumed to be similar to the organic and spiritual nature of man himself. Not just the Yogis of ancient India but also the esoteric circles from Pythagoras onwards to Gnostic-Hermetic initiates, ancient cosmologists and the Cabalistic-Hermetic believed the Earth to be a living entity. In the eyes of the ancient philosophers the Earth was a living creature, to quote Vasilus Valentius, an alchemist of the middle Ages “The earth is not a dead body, but is inhabited by a spirit that is its life and soul. The spirit is life, and it is nourished by the sun and the stars, and it gives nourishment to all the things that shelter in its womb.”

Somewhere around the 17th century the West went thorough a decisive phase of rewriting its concepts which changed the way the world was perceived. With the rise of thinkers like Francis Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Newton a definitive crack in the earlier view of Universe was evident. Under the influence of these scholars humanity developed more decisive and definitive methods of dominating nature, limiting them to rigorous analysis of what is measurable and quantifiable in sensible phenomena. The rise of engineering, a spate of new discoveries, inventions and flirting with the natural resources to tap into excess was the seed of what we call as the mechanistic revolution. The east was influenced by this concept because of the rise and dominance of the west and thus slowly the whole world was under the magic of the mechanistic revolution. The mechanistic world-views have no need for a wider perspective of things, indeed, they deliberately exclude it. They view the natural world like a machine. Rupert Sheldrake the biologist author of The Rebirth of Nature summarizes this beautifully by saying, “According to the new theory of the world, nature no longer had a life of her own, she was soulless, devoid of all spontaneity, freedom and creativity. Mother nature was not more than dead matter, moving in unfailing obedience to God – given mathematical laws”.

Mere two hundred years later we are sitting on a time bomb of global catastrophe. The science is clear: global warming is happening faster than ever and humans are responsible. CO2 (the most important gas) has risen from 280 ppm to 379 since pre-industrial times and its growth seems to be accelerating. Average global land and sea temperatures are rising. The incidence of droughts, wildfires and flooding are increasing globally. Glaciers and the permafrost are melting. Ice at the North and South Poles is melting and breaking up. Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are increasing in severity. Fresh water resources are diminishing. On the social side, people are already being displaced by rising sea levels. Agriculture and food supply is being affected by droughts.

Countries are suffering loss of life, homes, and livelihoods from the increased severity of hurricanes, storms and flooding. Insurance costs are spiraling due to ‘natural’ damages. Disease carrying insects are moving into new areas as temperature increases. Populations of other insects, like the pine beetle are exploding with devastating effect. Poorer countries like Africa will be amongst the most severely disadvantaged as they have few resources to adapt, and the regions are devastated by climate change. Rivers have less regular flow, and water for drinking and crops is drying up.

These facts are alarming, scary actually. But the point is to consciously start acting as soon as possible. This can be done by becoming more and more aware of oneself and the environment. As Mr. Gandhi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. Let us promise ourselves to become more aware and conscious of our habits, attitudes and behavior. Let us reduce wastage of energy both personal and environmental by becoming more accountable towards our body, mind and surroundings. Finally let us all “Believe” that it is possible, because the real change starts in the mind, with a firm resolve and  Love that has power to bind us in a strong support system. This would be the living and practicing of true Yoga philosophy.

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Om Shanti,

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