Conscious Living, the Only Solution for the Environment
June 5 is celebrated as Environment Day every year. In this article, Sadhguru explains why we should appreciate our planet and shift from compulsiveness to a conscious way of living.
Q: Sadhguru, why do we spend billions of dollars looking for life on other planets, while spending trillions of dollars destroying life on earth? What is wrong with us?Sadhguru: What is wrong is, we are looking for boundless expansion through physical means. You want to go to the moon but you are on a bullock cart thrashing the bulls. You may kill the bulls but you will not make it this way. This is the fundamental flaw.
A human being is constantly longing to be something more than what he is right now. If he knows only money, he is thinking of a little more money; if he knows power, a little more power; if he knows love, a little more love. There is something within him that will not settle for who he is. In whatever way you know best, you are trying to be a little more. But if you apply your awareness and look at it, you can clearly see that you are not seeking money, property, love or pleasure. What you are seeking is expansion. How much expansion would settle you for good? If you look at this, you can clearly see that you are looking for infinite expansion. Every human being wants to expand in a limitless way. But right now, we are trying to become infinite through installments of conquest, by capturing the world, or shopping. The longing to expand is finding expression in so many ways, which are all physical.
The physical realm, however large it may seem to you, is a limited realm. Right now, our very economies are built like this: it is all about more, more and more. Every country is talking about growth rate. This means everyone has to buy more and use more. But where is that “more”? So people are thinking of harnessing some other planet. But destroying that planet is also just a question of time.
Our Fantastic Planet
This is a fantastic planet – it has nurtured not one or two life forms, but millions. The sheer variety of life, of animals, birds, plants, insects, worms and microbes that we have on this planet is mindboggling. Though we have discovered a few million life forms, even today, every year, over 10,000 new species are being found. But we think things will be better somewhere else.
The longing to expand is compulsive. Because we have not found any other vehicle through which we can expand, we naturally think exploiting physical resources is the only way. This is what our idea of science has become unfortunately. If scientific research is going on into some aspect, you can be assured that when they find something about it, they are going to look at how to exploit that. We exploited the land and oceans, now we want to exploit what is beyond. Our idea of life has become exploitation. People are making proteins out of microbes. They don’t even spare the damn bacteria!
It has come to a point where every creature is in need of protection. A fierce animal like a tiger needs protection! Just the word “tiger” is supposed to terrify you but now the poor thing has to be protected.
Because we have largely exploited everything we can over here, and we know it is going to come to an end, people are looking for another place to exploit. The moment they find such a planet – I hope they will not – you can imagine nations going to war with each other out there. Even if we make a movie, if we say “stars”, they say “wars”!
A Dark Environmental Age
We are in this exploitative mode not by choice, but by compulsiveness. The only solution for this is consciousness. When humanity begins to operate out of consciousness, compulsiveness will not rule us, and we will do just what is needed, nothing more, nothing less. If this does not happen, India will be among the first countries to be hit big time by the environmental disaster that is evolving. The rivers in India are in a serious condition. On an average, all rivers in India are depleting approximately 8% every year. So in fifteen years, most rivers will be gone. Most rivers already do not reach the ocean for most months of the year. This depletion is seen right across.
Today, if you look at the potable water per person in this country, we have only 25% of (water/person) that we had in 1947. By 2050 they say we'll have only 18%. It’s time to get ready for bottle baths – you must be able to have a bath with one bottle! This is a very serious issue. If people on the street do not have water to drink, let no one fool themselves that our lives will be safe and well.
Raising River Awareness
One thing that needs to be done is to create a catchment area for a kilometer on either side of the river, all along its course. There should be no ploughing and agriculture there. If it is government land, plant forest trees, if it is private land, plant horticultural trees. Distribute free saplings with subsidies for a few years till the trees yield. We have to do whatever is needed to ensure there are trees, not ploughed land with heavy fertilizers next to the river. I have been pushing for this for almost ten years and now the leadership in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have taken this suggestion seriously.
The farmer is just working for his livelihood. He does not know anything about the unfolding ecological disaster. So we need to create a movement and make people realize this is necessary, and then make some policy decisions.
To do this, in Madhya Pradesh, on November 10th, we are launching a movement where 100 people will walk down the river, creating awareness. It is nearly 1400 kilometers and they will cover this distance in 90 days. Along the way, more people can join for a day or two. Meetings will be held in every village as they go. The Chief Minister will be there at least for a few days, and I am planning to be there for a few days too. All the young people should go and walk!
We want to make this into a national movement, so that we can stretch the life of our rivers a little more. This is not a solution, but this will at least slow things down. But the ultimate solution is that people start living consciously. This is the only way.
Editor’s Note: To read more about the state of the environment and what we can do about it, download the ebook, A Tree Can Save The World.