Questioner: Sustainability – ‘Is Consciousness the Key’?
Consciousness is that dimension that takes us beyond the compulsive nature of our existence. This compulsive nature has come to you only because you are wrongly identified with what you have gathered, starting essentially with the physical process of your body. Once you are identified as a physical body, it breeds boundaries – boundaries of individuality, boundaries of family, boundaries of ethnicity, boundaries of communities, boundaries of nations, etc… and wanting to be exclusive becomes natural for you. Only when your experience of life transcends the limitations of the physical, then the very nature of life is inclusive; there is no other way to be. When your experience of life is inclusive, nobody has to talk to you about sustainability because whatever you experience as a part of yourself, you will anyway protect and nourish it.
Today, people across the world are aspiring to achieve the material standards of the United States. If every human being on this planet lives like an average American, we will need 4.5 planet earths, as per the Living Planet Report. People talk about the planet being in peril, the planet is not in peril – it is just human life - which can be driven to horrible distress if we do not conduct our lives consciously. The United Nations is projecting that by the year 2050, we will be 9.6 billion people. That means we will have 40% less resources than what we have right now – less water, food, air. This is not a far away thing that may happen, we are getting there very rapidly. Either we consciously come to a solution, or nature will do it to us in ways that we cannot imagine.
You know you exist only because you are conscious. If you fall asleep right now, you will not know whether you exist or not. So your very existence is only because of your consciousness. Consciousness is in a certain pitch, where it leaves you aware of your existence. If you fall asleep, now consciousness falls into another pitch where it keeps you alive still, but you are not aware of your existence. Even in sleep you are aware, but not aware enough to know that you exist. If I poke you, then you come out, but if you are dead and I poke you, you don’t come. A sleeping person and a dead person, for an outside observer, look about the same, but if you poke a sleeping person, he comes alive; if you poke and he doesn’t come alive, he is totally unconscious.
So death is a completely unconscious state, sleep is a little bit conscious, wakefulness is a little more conscious. Now we are talking about being much more conscious. If you become much more conscious, you clearly see that what you gather is not you. What you gather is maybe yours for now, but not you. Once you are aware that this physicality is not “me”, this whole convoluted idea about boundaries and exclusivity will just evaporate from you because once you are not identified with the physicality of who you are, suddenly, the way your mind functions is completely different. Now I don’t have to tell you take care of the planet, protect the planet. If right now your body does not constantly transact with every plant life on the planet, it cannot stay alive for a moment. It is not just in terms of breath, it is a scientific fact today that every atom in your body is in constant transaction with everything else. It is just that your consciousness has not risen to a pitch high enough to experience this. So if you sit here and you are conscious enough to know that, actually, you are in constant transaction with the whole existence, and the boundaries are all your making, the very way you function, the very way you craft your life, the very way you design your societies will be different. Now, we are still remaining in the physical identity and trying to change it. So every change looks like a conflict between you and me - "Who should do it?" The question of who should do it would not arise if you are consciousness of the highest nature.
So what have we done in human societies to enhance human consciousness? Individual people might have done something, but no society has created any kind of infrastructure, no government on the planet has invested anything to raise human consciousness. Unless humanity invests in consciousness actively, sustainability will be just a subject of conferences.
Excerpt from a talk delivered by Sadhguru at the House of Lords - UK Parliament, London, 19 October 2010