Environment Day : Bring Back Reverence For Nature And Switch To Greener Celebrations
Environment Day: Bring Back Reverence For Nature And Switch To Greener Celebrations
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Care for the environment ( Environment day ) can only be brought in to people’s minds through education. And this education must also provide a larger vision of life and re-inculcate reverence for nature. Ancient spiritual wisdom considers our connection with the environment as the first level of human experience. When our environment is clean and positive, it will have a positive impact on all the other layers of our existence. Historically, an intimate relationship with the environment was built into the human psyche. It’s only when we start moving away from our connection to nature and ourselves that we begin polluting and destroying the environment.
Traditionally, in India, nature has been adored; mountains, rivers, trees, the sun, the moon and the five elements have all been worshipped. In fact, ancient cultures all over the world have exhibited similar deep respect for Nature. Today it has become necessary to free the human mind from stress and greed and bring back that reverence. In fact, a study done at our research centre has found there is a correlation between meditative practices and improving the ‘collective effect’ in environmental action. ‘Collective Effect’ is the participation of the community and change in their behaviour towards the environment.
The UN theme for this year’s Environment Day is air pollution but really all the five elements are linked very closely to each other. Pollution in any one of them will impact the other four also. We cannot isolate the pollution in the five elements. If you burn a piece of plastic, it not only pollutes the earth, it pollutes the air also. And if you throw it in the water, it will pollute the water just as much. When it rains, with these dioxins present, the water will get polluted too.
Making Greener Choices on Environment Day
But specifically talking about air pollution, a big problem is pollution from stubble burning, every year during autumn or just before spring when the crops are harvested. In the tropical regions, the fields are burnt, which needs to stop. the field. In The Art of Living, we recommend farmers to use the stubble for mulching instead; that way one can recycle the waste from the farms.
We must make greener choices as far as possible. For example, while buying cars, go for greener cars that have minimum carbon emissions. Second is the issue of firecrackers. Our sense of celebration is associated with bursting firecrackers to celebrate Diwali or New Year, throughout the globe from Europe to Australia to Japan to South America. In India, every year there are so much toxins generated in the air in Delhi, Mumbai, and metropolitan cities that people are unable to breathe. Many even have to be hospitalized. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court has to step in and tell everyone to not burst firecrackers beyond a certain time to check noise and air pollution. Here we should explore if we can do all these fireworks electronically or with the help of a laser. When our stoves are made up of electrical energy, solar energy, can we not think of light works in some other mode which does not create smoke? All that you want is to celebrate and you can celebrate without polluting the environment. We also need to stop bursting crackers on birthdays and weddings as well. All the young, environmentally conscious youth should stand up and say, ‘I don’t want firecrackers on my wedding or on my birthday.’
Stringent laws should be made to curb industrial pollution. Industries should be heavily fined rather they should be shut down if they cause large-scale pollution to the environment.
Not all smoke is bad
But you must know that not all smoke is bad. From ancient times, Ayurveda has said that there are certain types of smoke released from burning very specific type of herbs that are good, which cleanses the atmosphere of harmful bacteria, which can nurture the environment and nurture your body. This kind of smoke works more like an antibacterial spray. Like, smoke from burning neem leaves has a lot of antibacterial and anti-viral properties, and that smoke is actually beneficial for life and health.
Sensitivity towards the environment comes naturally when we realise how intricately our lives are interwoven with it. A difference of a few degrees in the temperature can cause a great deal of discomfort in people. Similarly, a shift in the rainfall pattern by a few weeks or months can play havoc with the crops. Environmental sensitivity requires us to be aware of our larger existence and this awareness can only come through spirituality.