Sustainable Development and Yoga at the United Nations
When we say “Sustainable Development Goals” we are talking about addressing human wellbeing as seventeen different issues which are concerned with poverty, nourishment, health, women’s issues, environment, etc. This is the effort that has been going on in the world for a long time. We want to transform the world, but we are not aiming at individual human beings. The world is just a word. It is just you and me. If there is no change in the way we perceive, experience, think, feel and act in this world, how can you change the world? We can pump in money, have projects, but they will all go up and go down. Only if we transform human beings on a large scale will there be true transformation. This is why yoga becomes significant. Today, the United Nations is taking up this International Yoga Day. It's a very important step.
Q: Can you explain what yoga really is and how it can help attain the SDGs?
In pursuit of human wellbeing we have been doing all kinds of things. We have been looking up for a long time, which has led to humanity being divided in the name of religions, caste, creed, in so many different ways. Now in the last fifty years, we are seriously looking out and ripping the planet apart. All the environmental degradation that we are talking about is just in pursuit of human wellbeing. In the last hundred years, definitely we are the most comfortable generation ever. But people are not happy or peaceful because we have not addressed one’s inner nature.
When you address human wellbeing in a scientific way, this is yoga. The word “yoga” literally means “union.” It is a scientific way of obliterating the boundaries of your individuality. What this means is – right now as we sit here, this is me, that is you – it is distinctly clear. But we are breathing the same air, we are a product of the same earth. What you call as “myself” is just a pop-up on this planet and it will pop out one day. But in this little bit of time, we have become divided in such a way that we cannot meet. Yoga means you obliterate these individual boundaries not intellectually, by belief or by ideology, but as a living experience. If what people think of as “myself” goes well beyond the boundaries of their physical nature and becomes a living reality, then fulfilling these goals that the United Nations has for the world becomes much more possible. Right now, we are trying to push in one way, but a whole lot of people are pushing in the opposite direction because they don’t even see it as theirs.
Editor’s Note: Watch the full UN talk at webtv.un.org