We can spend many years studying the philosophy of yoga to come to the realization that ecological problems have their roots in ignorance and negligence, or we can take a shortcut and carefully read an important article by Rhyddhi Chakraborty titled, “Hindu Solutions to Deep Ecological Problems” to help us understand in modern language what the ancient masters taught.
In a summary of the article, we shall spread the word of the solutions to the climate change that we see around us. The Indian heritage teaches us to admire nature and live in a healthy and harmonious relationship with the natural world, giving it proper respect and importance. Deep ecological concerns are expressed through the conception of an underlying unity, the Ultimate Reality, amidst the diversities of Mother Nature. Only God has absolute sovereignty over all creatures, including humans. Humans are not granted any absolute superiority over nature; rather the ancient teachings proclaim that all living beings – flora or fauna, creatures of the sky or dwellers of the seas – are equally important and possess the same right of existence. The sacredness of God’s Creation implies that no harm is to be inflicted on any living species without adequate ethical justification. Showing respect to all the elements of nature for the maintenance of a balanced ecosystem is essential.
The true practice of Yoga invites us to train our minds to realize cosmic harmony, and maintain age-old traditions by removing the prime obstacles to ecological balance which are ignorance and negligence. In India the rivers, mountains and forests are holy. In ancient times the forests were places where spiritual goals were pursued. There one hoped to find peace and maintain harmony with God and nature. Sages built their centers of meditation and education in forests and cared for the ecosystem, being aware of its significance. The Vedic scriptures offer prayers for the worship of trees as the mother of sustenance and medicinal herbs, and the symbol of patience and tolerance. Even the stones of the mountains were full of life to the ancients. There was an ecological awareness and sensitivity to conservation, and friendly relations with animals, symbolizing them as protectors and companions of humans.
The Vedas reveal an awareness of the catastrophic results of exploiting the earth. Mother Earth, personified as the Goddess, when treated kindly, supplies material wealth in abundance out of love and mercy for her children; but if mistreated, she responds with anger. The yogi declares, “The earth is my mother, and I the child of the earth”. This is not mere arousal of awareness. It suggests that this awareness is to be reflected in appropriate practice: everyone must realize the emotional bond with Mother Earth, who is to be secured from all trespasses and oppression. To the ancient people of India the earth was sacred space, filled with plentiful and diverse resources, the stage for the play of human aspirations, calling for the practice of restraint and responsibility. Implicit in the sacred scriptures is the instruction not to waste or exploit resources for selfish desire.
Through Yoga we can eradicate harmful mental habits, gain control over our senses, mind and will, and direct our desire and passions towards noble goals. Having gained control of one’s mind, one can easily remove the deep-rooted ignorance that leads to an uncaring attitude towards nature and its creatures. Yoga is mastering the mind, cultivating healthy mental habits, realizing the connection between microcosm and macrocosm, and becoming one with nature and the universe. Let us practice the philosophy of Yoga as a way of life by practicing care, love, and respect toward all people, animals, plants, and even the subtle material elements that reflect the supreme power behind Creation. Violation of cosmic rhythm and cycles through unethical living, invites disaster. An equanimity within the individual and in the whole ecosystem is required for human sustenance and ultimate realization.
Let us foresee the dire consequences of not taking care of our planet before the imbalance causes the collapse of fragile life. Let us worship nature as God, and act now, and forever more, with the wisdom to protect our precious Mother Earth for future generations.
“Hindu Solutions to Deep Ecological Problems” by Rhyddhi Chakraborty
The article has been summarized and added to by Ariadne
Hindu Peace Chant
Om Dyauh Shaantir-Antarikssam Shaantih
Prthivii Shaantir-Aapah Shaantir-Ossadhayah Shaantih
Vanaspatayah Shaantir-Vishve-Devaah Shaantir-Brahma Shaantih
Sarvam Shaantih Shaantireva Shaantih Saa Maa Shaantir-Edhi
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih
Om, May there be Peace in Heaven, May there be Peace in the Sky,
May there be Peace in the Earth, May there be Peace in the Water,
May there be Peace in the Plants, May there be Peace in the Trees,
May there be Peace in the Gods in the various Worlds,
May there be Peace in Brahman,
May there be Peace in All, May there be Peace Indeed within Peace,
Giving Me the Peace which Grows within Me,
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
Video and photo from the Interfaith Booth at the Oakland Climate Rally 2017