Trees are our closest relatives. What they exhale we inhale, what we exhale, they inhale

Sadhguru: Trees keep our lives going, just like the outer part of our lungs. You cannot ignore your body if you want to live, and in no way is the planet different from this. What you call "my body" is just a piece of this planet. And the very essence of the spiritual process is about just this.

When we say "spirituality," we are not talking about looking up or looking down. It is about turning inward and knowing the nature of what "this" is. The first fundamental fact of looking inward is always to see that you are naturally very much a part of everything around you. Without that realization, there is really no spiritual process. That is not the goal of spirituality, that is the fundamental – that who you are, or what you think you are, is just a part of everything else.

Today, modern physics is establishing that the whole existence is just one energy. Scientific evidence is establishing that every particle in your body is in constant communication with the whole cosmic space. The spiritual process is about enhancing one's perception and bringing this into one's experience. Anyways, what is a dry scientific fact that doesn't change anybody's life except trigger the imagination? If instead it becomes a living experience, then to care for what's around you as you care for yourself is just a natural process.

A tree is not a project for you; a tree is your life.

It is an outside part of yourself. It breathes for you every day. It is more than your lungs; your lungs cannot do anything without trees. We made people understand this in very simple ways and the rural folk, the way they stood up and the commitment, focus and enthusiasm with which they went about, has been so phenomenal. Just seeing this has been such a joy.

When I go to the villages and see people who have to work for their bread every day, when I see them taking time off and doing this work, it really brings tears to me because these are not people who know what climate change is. These are not people who know what global warming is. These are people who have the least in the world, the smallest carbon footprint on the planet, if they have any at all. Even a sparrow leaves a larger carbon footprint than these people because they just live off the land. They don't have power in their homes, they are not burning anything. They are the most eco-friendly people, but we are asking them to do this. And their response and their enthusiasm have been so fantastic. I hope these simple folks' audacity and concern to plant a seemingly impossible number of trees will inspire many across the world.

The above article is an excerpt from Sadhguru's acceptance speech when he received the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar, India's highest recognition for environmental work. The award was given to Project GreenHands on June 5, 2010, for its efforts in mobilizing over 2 million volunteers to plant 17 million trees.