At the same time, we also have the means to destroy every person on the planet. We speak of saving the environment and the earth’s resources, but even then, as the comedian George Carlin once pointed out, if we destroy the earth’s ability to support human life, the earth will be fine without us! So really we should be talking about survival of people and not the survival of the planet.
I love nature, don’t get me wrong, God entrusted us to cherish all living things, but if given the choice between a human life and a weed or a bug, I’d choose the person. Many people who consider themselves nature lovers are kinder to plants than they are to people. We love our dogs, but not our neighbors. We can connect to a sunset, but see everyone else as competitors and simply don’t know how to play well with others. If someone’s beliefs are different from ours, we become adversaries and whether literally or figuratively, we go to war. So much for “Namaste’.”
My teacher, Swami Satchidinanda in his typical way of turning a phrase, said, “Illness starts with “I” and wellness starts with “We”. Yes, a bit corny, but still profound. So, to heal this planet and its people, we need to switch our focus from competition to cooperation. And this starts with each of us finding that place inside ourselves that is always peaceful, always joyful so that we contribute that energy to the collective consciousness and turn this whole thing around.
We talk about that in yoga, but do we really do it? We talk a good story about connection and community, oneness and service, but the concept of that is very different than the practice. I’m not saying I’m not guilty of this myself. I can get really worked up when I hear a story about unethical behavior by a teacher and find myself getting really self righteous about it. My mind starts spinning stories about what “they’ should be doing, and how “they” should be behaving and how maybe meditation isn't all it’s cracked up to be if that teacher who dons mala beads around her wrist 24/7 is still such a hot mess! I exhaust myself! At these times, I’m especially grateful for my practice so I can re-boot and realize just how off balance I was.
So, I include myself, when I say that I think what we all need is a good buddhi call. I should mention here that I’ve been preparing a lesson plan on the Bhagavad Gita and have been travelling down the rabbit hole and questioning myself and my own understandings and behaviors so I can speak from experience instead of just parroting commentaries, although I so appreciate the wisdom and clarity they provide.
In the Gita, the main character, Arjuna is in dire need of a buddhi call. As it happens to all of us, when facing difficult decisions, conflicting values and duties, he has a paralyzing fear of paying consequences for making the wrong choice. Basically, the problem is caused by living from our heads instead of our hearts. The buddhi is the part of our consciousness that connects us to our True Self. They say when the buddhi awakens within us, we are one-pointed, focused, and we know the right thing to do at any given moment. We aren't just reacting to what’s going on externally by being dragged around from one thought to another, or caught up in the attachments to things outside ourselves. Our focus turns in and points to the Atman, or the God within which grants us access to the wisdom to choose the right action. We tap into that, and we just know, and we can actually feel it in our body as we move beyond the limitations of our minds, and even of our own experiences, to a place of truth. We get past ego and all the needs and desires of the me’s , mine’s and I’s, and we fulfill the heart’s desire to love, connect and share.
The survival of this planet and the wellness of its people have a chance if more and more of us would connect with our hearts moment by moment and collectively express our innate sense that we are one...because we actually are. We need to become more authentic and courageous. So when we find ourselves judging and grasping and comparing and competing, if we can just pause and remember to nudge the buddhi, we actually can create that heaven on earth that we all hear about. Namaste’.