My greetings and prayers to you all during these challenging times. I wrote these lines before corona virus became dominant. I believe it still carries importance for some of us.
I would like to share some of my thoughts on a topic that is dear to my heart and one that is of utmost importance to each of us here on our shared home Earth.
I have recently been inspired by the work of renowned author and philosopher Charles Eisenstein and in particular his series Climate – Inside and Out. https://charleseisenstein.org/program/series/climate/
In these talks, part of Eisenstein’s view is that while we are obsessed with climate change and fixated on fossil fuels and carbon emissions, we are neglecting one of the most important factors in this narrative: that of the essentiality of preservation, regeneration and restoration of natural habitats and biodiversity. We all know the world is an incredibly intricate web of ecosystems; let us not forget that the beautiful planet we have known has existed precisely because of this complex symbiosis.
We can begin to plant trees (and we must!) and create sophisticated technologies, (and we will because we can utilize them in positive ways) – but we must also take the wider aspect into consideration: Let us suppose, scientists find out that one particular kind of tree takes more CO2out of the atmosphere, so the government or whomever organization starts to plant this single tree species by the thousands. Eventually this becomes another monoculture. In this imagined solution, we must ask ourselves: are those rows of thousands of trees of the same tree species assisting biodiversity? Is this monoculture plantation contributing to regenerate the intricate ecosystems that have been there as a basis of support to all life and functions on this planet? It is indeed all quite complex and if we are longing to help, we must consider this wider outlook and take a whole system view.
As Eisenstein and other speakers I have listened to say, perhaps new technologies will make us dependent on them for life to survive; and thus more technologies might be needed to fix the possible malfunctions of such new technologies. We are already seeing examples. I am not saying that there is no value in creating new technologies as surely they will assist us in tremendous ways, but we must not neglect the significant role that the preservation and regeneration of natural ecosystems plays. Biodiversity needs our urgent care and relying solely on technology will not do.
There is no doubt that this outlook comes hand in hand with moving beyond our interest in the material gain we can derive from the earth. Moving beyond ideas of growth solely measured in economic wealth. The conviction of seeing the earth as a commodity needs to shift. As Charles expresses it, the shift comes with the realization that we love this planet, and that we want to protect it, simply because it is beautiful. I tend to think most of us do love this planet for its sunrises and sunsets, for its trees and leaves shimmering under the sunlight and wind, for its multitude of bird songs, its flowing rivers, its colorful fish and corals and everything that humankind has admired with great awe throughout the centuries.
Charles encourages us to ask ourselves: what kind of planet do I want to live in?
In his words:‘Maybe we won’t be saved from ourselves by environmental collapse. Maybe we will continue to thrive in all measurable ways in terms of population, in terms of GDP, in terms of floor space per capita, in terms of [British Thermal Units] BTU’s expended per capita of energy, in terms of literacy…all the things that Steven Pinker uses as evidence of our of our ascent and our technological triumph…maybe these things can be continued in a world that continues to die. I call it ‘the concrete world’’.
Would we want a concrete world full of technology that keeps us alive while nature keeps dying? Or the shimmering green and blue colourful planet that has given us life? Which choice do I make?
As we listened to Charles’ talks the other day, I had tears running down my face. I looked at my husband who is also my teacher, and told him that I feel great relief that there is someone like Eisenstein who will, like he has, inspire some of us with his intelligence, wisdom and kindness as we face these environmental issues.
To those feeling a little lost, guilt-ridden and full of despair in the face of the challenges facing humanity: I encourage us to take a moment out of our busy and hectic lives to listen to someone whom I feel can give us some sound support. I urge us to stop pointing fingers at each other, and leave our guilt aside, as this guilt and anguish, in my humble opinion will not assist us to move forward. Inquiry, willpower, creativity and love will.
I was introduced to C. Eisenstein by my dear friend Daniela Wolff through his delightful book The Yoga of Eating and a few months ago, after being flight shamed, my dear friend Jim Harvey was kind enough to share some of Eisenstein’s insights with me. I would recommend you to start with his Climate Talks and if you don’t have much time please, at least listen to one of them:
If you find it resonates, please share. The more people that listen, my hope is the more it will help us think in a different way and begin to appreciate the world from a ‘holistic perspective’, in all of its beauty and in all its intricacy. The talks might not give you all the answers you seek, but they might give you a good ground to see things from a different angle and to begin to formulate your own thoughts and reasoning. This is what I like to encourage when I teach Yoga and this is my motive behind writing this article.
Another thought: As historian and philosopher Yuval Harari says, there is the objective reality and the subjective reality. The rivers, the trees, the mountains and nature all belong to the objective reality. On the other hand, the governments, banks, institutions etc. belong to the subjective reality. In this purview, I ask: if worlds can be deliberately created, in moving forward, what world do we wish to create? If stories shape our cultures and lives, then, in this moment in life, what story do we chose to tell ourselves?
Perhaps we can make the regeneration of the earth, our evolution as human beings (becoming kinder, more inclusive, more compassionate human beings) and the continuation of a pluralistic world (where the intermingling of religions, peoples, cultures and ethnicity are part of its richness) our life purpose? I know it is mine.
As Eisenstein, I too believe that a more beautiful world is possible.
I would like to express my gratitude to Charles Eisenstein for assisting us to inquire deeper into the issues we are currently facing.