By Aparna Jacob
So we all agree Mother Earth has been mistreated for far too long now. With the understanding that we are all part of her, we should be able to make up to her
I roamed the valleys of the mountains that were her breasts, heard the rumble of her rage thundering above. When the heavens opened, my face was wet with her tears. The breezes were her sighs and the heaving oceans her emotions. Under the stars that were her thousand eyes I stood awed, a little afraid of this mother, so grand, wise and patient. She gathered me to her rich bosom and I slept knowing this was where I came from and to this I shall return.
Also, while we concentrate on science, economics and technology, we have been robbed of integrity by a seldom recognized but easily curable mental health disorder known as Natural Attraction Desensitization Syndrome (NADS).
Our educational, professional and personal lives are spent indoors. This addictive, excessive separation of contemporary thinking from the integrity and wellness of natural systems within and around us underlies our greatest discontents and social or environmental disorders. Thus NADS is not just an environmental issue. Its destructive effects include greed, relationship problems, prejudice, diseases, abusiveness, violence and social injustice.
We, society and the environment hurt from our extreme loss of contact with our origins in nature. Whenever a story or relationship reminds us of this loss, we feel the hurt. This makes us fearful, defensive, and apathetic. But our society is in denial. We accept this disconnection as normal trying to compensate with misguided social and economic practices aimed at conquering nature. Hundreds of studies have vindicated Cohen`s findings by illustrating that nature-separated organisms suffer from limited sensory stimulation which de-energizes natural growth and relationship sensitivities.
To counter the ill-effects of NADS, Cohen created a Nature-reconnecting psychology called the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) born out of his 30 years of all-season travel and study in over 260 national parks, forests and subcultures. The critical contribution of NSTP is that it empowers individuals to create ‘‘moments that let Earth teach’’. NSTP teaches individuals to make conscious sensory contact with Nature`s authentic intelligence and incorporate it in their thinking. This therapeutically nurtures the 53 inherent natural senses. They energize and increasingly remain in our awareness. Everyone can use, teach and benefit from these unadulterated sensory connections to attraction energies in nature, which help restore us and regenerate integrity, spirit and the environment. These connections help people to beneficially recycle, purify and transform their destructive bonds for constructive relationships.
‘‘You must nurture your felt love for nature. Never deny it. It is your connection with the unifying essence that organizes, preserves and regenerates life relationships at every level. Its profound loss in our thinking produces our destructiveness and imbalance,’’ says Cohen. ‘‘Because we are part of nature, when we thoughtfully reconnect with nature, nature’s recycling energies begin to reverse our mental contamination, just as they do any other contamination…Hundreds of irrefutable studies document what even a short walk in the park can show you: our thinking benefits from this restorative, purifying, support. Insurmountable problems along with apathy fade as we transform our discontents into more sensible, constructive participation,’’ he asserts. Cohen’s ecopsychology is in truth a rediscovered and repackaged version of the ancient wisdom that underlines the importance of connecting to the universal source without interference from our outdated conditionings.
• Replace your lights with longer lasting compact fluorescents to save electricity and money in the long run.
• Don’t use electrical appliances for things you can manage by hand, such as opening cans, shaving, drying your hair.
• Use cold water in the washer whenever possible. Wash dishes only when the dishwasher is full. Allowing clothes to dry on a line and dishes to dry in the air will conserve energy and save you money.
• When brushing your teeth, don’t leave the water running. Flush the toilet less often.
• Dump used oil and other chemicals in approved places. Pouring them down sewers allows these pollutants to enter the water supply and pollute ground water.
• When landscaping, use plants that are native to your area to reduce your watering and fertilizing needs. If you do water your lawn, do so late in the day to avoid evaporation during the hot hours.
Or wash your car on the lawn (be sure to use a bio-friendly detergent!).
• Buy a car that gets good mileage. When possible, ride a bus, walk, carpool or bike it up. The biggest damage we can do to the environment is to fly on an airplane.
Flying uses a great amount of fuel and the average airplane sends approximately one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere on a single trip.
That’s more carbon dioxide production than a year’s worth of driving and three times more carbon dioxide than rail.
• Turn the stove or oven off a few minutes before you are done cooking and save gas.
• Recycle newspapers. Turn scrap paper into a handy scratch pad for making lists, scribbling notes and doodling.
• Buy tree-free paper made of fibres such as hemp, kenaf, sugar cane, coffee beans, banana leaves, blue jeans and old money, rather than timber.
Paper made from these plants is also stronger and more durable, and can be recycled more times than wood-based papers.
It is also important to continue buying recycled paper products to sustain a market for the recycling of the glut of tree paper in the market.
• Shun fast food. Especially until they learn to produce less paper waste. Fast food servings, with their polystyrene packaging, plastic flatware, and single-serving condiment wrappers and paper napkins are extremely wasteful. Aluminum is the most readily recycled of common take-out packaging. The most eco-friendly take-out container is a reusable container you bring from home to the restaurant.
• Carry around your own coffee mug and cut down on Styrofoam usage.
• Get a few nice shopping bags, wash and reuse your plastic bags, re-use brown paper bags to line your trashcan instead of plastic bags.
• Composting biodegradable waste such as yard trimmings, fruit peels and other such leftovers provides fertilizer for your yard and reduces the burden on landfills. You can also leave lawn trimmings on your lawn, it’s good fertilizer.
• You don`t really need a plastic bag when you buy a packet of bread, do you? If you must buy bottled drinking water, save empty bottles and refill them.
• Try to eat less meat: The meat industry causes especially high amounts of environmental damage. The cattle industry requires significant land not just for grazing but also to raise crops for feeding and water, and at 10 tones of manure per animal the faucal runoff can contaminate surface water.
• Computers contain many toxic materials and an old computer should not end up in a landfill. Check for upgrading your older machine with new memory, microprocessors and drives.
Consider donating the equipment to a local school or nonprofit organization. Never throw a cell phone into the trash—see that it gets reused or recycled.
Cell phones have a toxic waste stream including lead, mercury and cadmium. When discarded improperly, these toxins are released into the environment.
• Dispose of expired medicines properly. Most expired medicines from households end up in landfills or are flushed down the toilet. This can lead to water-table contamination, so proper disposal is critical.
Preserve biodiversity. Do not always buy the same, common variety of popular foods. If you usually buy white rice, white bread and Shimla apples, next time try something different (brown or wild rice and green apples).Relying too much on a few plant varieties could limit our future food choices. Conserving biodiversity means greater choices and a safer food supply.
• Avoid using petroleum derived oil-based paints. Water-based paint is less hazardous than oil-based paint, dries faster, saves time and eliminates the need for chemical solvents for clean-up.
• Use natural cleaning products. You can make your own effective cleaning solutions from basic household products.
Make your own cleaner using two teaspoons white vinegar to one quart of warm water. Apply with a natural linen towel or other soft cloth. For household disinfecting, the best alternative to bleach is borax. Borax, baking soda and lemon juice combine to form an excellent cleaner and disinfectant. For bleaching clothes, dry oxygen bleach works well, as does borax. Or try adding a cup of white vinegar to your laundry load.
• Send electronic greetings. Seven billion greeting cards are sold each year. Reduce the number of trees lost to this industry by sending electronic greeting cards for appropriate occasions. And no gift-wrapping please!
What is the solution to our energy crisis?
India has actually put together one of the world’s most ambitious renewable energy blueprints. By merging new scientific initiatives such as hydrogen energy research with traditional genius, we can cover virtually all our bases. Options, including biogas, biomass, solar energy, wind energy, small hydropower and scores of other emerging technologies would thus be open to us.
With every passing day, alternative energy projects considered too expensive are looking more attractive because the environmental and social costs are being tabulated. Investments must be weaned away from economically and ecologically failed experiments such as nuclear energy.
By exposing humanity to extra, persistent, high and low-level radiation through reactors, wastes and other toxic by-products, the proponents of nuclear power are bequeathing increased ill-health and cancer risks to generations unborn. In my opinion, the very idea of generating electricity through a process, which causes random cancer, is tantamount to murder by proxy and should be repugnant to any civilized society.
Do we need to rethink our attitude to food production?
The Aral Sea in the erstwhile Soviet Union has shrunk by over 50 per cent in size in the past three decades. This is because too much water was extracted to irrigate cotton fields. Pesticide-laced dust from the dried Aral bed now blows across farms and fields and reaches as far as the Arctic circle. Intensive agriculture has resulted in Stalinization and water logging across two-thirds of Uzbekistan and Turkmen where a massive irrigation master plan involving 10 million hectares of irrigation was implemented. Every drop of water from the Amu Dar’ya and Syr Dar’ya, the largest rivers in Soviet Central Asia, was diverted for the purpose, but all that has been achieved in the long run is the creation of a vast salt-encrusted desert where nothing, not even pasture grass, now grows. In Uzbekistan now, 10 times more fertilizers must be used to get the same level of crop as farmers used to, two decades ago. In many parts of India we are being presented with similar circumstances.
Is organic farming an answer?
The Green Revolution has browned our bread-basket, Punjab and Haryana. More than 50 per cent of the flood-irrigated soils of this region are about to go out of production. Many mothers in Punjab feed newborn infants 40 times the level of DDT considered safe by the World Health Organization.
In less than three decades the wisdom of a thousand years (traditional farming), which was based on respect for soils and seeds, was overrun by agro-industry which `mined` soils through the application of mega-doses of water, fertilizers and pesticides, genetically engineered ‘super seeds’, leading to water logging, soil salinity and pesticide poisoning. Today organic farming is starting to make a comeback, but institutions like the World Bank and their co-conspirators—the large pesticide, seed and fertilizer multinationals—are fighting such trends.
Gaia, the `deep-breasted`, the primordial Greek Earth Mother, the first being to emerge from Chaos. Who was regarded as the creator of the universe, the humankind as well as all other creatures of the natural world. The entire range of living matter on Earth, from viruses to whales, from algae to oaks, plus the air, oceans, and the land surface-all appear to be part of a giant system able to regulate the temperature and composition of the whole so as to ensure the survival of life, postulates the Gaia hypothesis popularised by James Lovelock, scientist, environmentalist and author of The Ages of Gaia.
In his book The Next One Hundred Years, Shaping The Fate Of Our Living Earth, Pulitzer prize-winning author and scientist Jonathan Weiner illustrates that the human species is only one among millions of species interwoven into Gaia`s vast living system, but one given to selfish, isolated behaviour or what scientist Gregory Bateson termed as the `Skin Encapsulated Ego` syndrome. An abusive species like humanity could be destroyed by Gaia`s interconnected self-regulating forces as a last resort to save the biosphere if we don`t change our ways that threaten the existence of the whole ecosystem.
According to Dr Kailash Vajpeyi, Hindi poet and scholar, most eastern religions such as Vedic Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism include within nature not only all forms of life but also that which is inanimate and invisible. Vedic texts uphold the concept of Madhu Vidya: We are creatures of our planet and the planet is us. For the Vedic philosophers, the Earth was to be venerated and the notion of subjugating or exploiting the Earth was akin to violating your mother`s body.
Anekantavada, the Jain concept that professes multiple views of reality, pronounces that unmindful endeavors of mankind would have damning consequences. The bacterial organism as understood in modern science comprises the nigodiya life in Jainism. And ahimsa or non-violence, fundamental to Jain philosophy, teaches not harming even the most basic forms of life.
Not that religion, which itself has been reduced to more rituals and less spirituality, contributes to saving the environment. Blind following of rituals is in fact harming the ecology. In places like Varanasi, half-burnt bodies are disposed of in the river in the name of rituals. This, when the Brahma Purana forbids defecation, throwing floral offerings, swimming and performing ablutions in the Ganga, and `conserve ecology or perish` is a message of the Gita. Even the Vedas advise one to revere earth, water, air, fire and ether-the panchabhutas. These truisms now lie ignored as we walk the progressive path of forgetfulness that has left us dangerously disconnected from our planet.
The Industrial Revolution was the beginning of this amnesia. The western concept of dualism, which sets humanity apart from nature and legitimizes the exploitation of nature as humanity`s right is largely responsible. Our collective obsession with isolated evolution and comfort as the purpose of human society is again symptomatic of this disconnection from the spiritual bond we share with nature.
Economic, industrial and agricultural developments of the recent centuries have left the Earth reeling from deforestation, pollution, mining, ozone depletion, impact of agricultural monocultures, depletion of species and the threat of nuclear dumping.
Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary magazine, naturalist and conservationist, ominously adds to the list: ‘While ushering in `development`, scores of mines, dams, thermal plants, smelters, tourism projects and other similar destructive activities are racing closer and closer to the heart of wild India.’ Sahgal says: ‘We also have industries in downstream areas including tea, coffee and cardamom plantations that release endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as organochlorines.’ He adds: ‘Other threats include the many World Bank-sponsored state forestry projects that are currently converting natural ecosystems to commercial plantations.’ Sahgal continues: ‘Added to this crisis of habitat destruction and toxic contamination, both of which seriously affect the breeding of wild species, is the ever-present threat from poaching. There is a revolving door between the drug trade, arms trade and wildlife trade.’
Large-scale development activity in the form of dams, roads, bridges, power projects and heavy industry is underway in third world countries such as India, when the first world is already facing tremendous costs to repair the harm done. Taking a cue from this grim scenario, developing nations have to formulate ways to combine their economic development and environmental protection, not as a luxury, but as a sheer necessity for sustainable economic growth.
Raj Chengappa, executive editor of India Today and environment watcher, speaks of the deadlock between development and environment: ‘It is believed that once development or health, water and education happen, the poor won`t feel the need to harm the environment or depend on it for their livelihood.’ However, these facilities remain mired in bureaucracy and red-tape and respite for the rural section is almost entirely dependent on the forests, water and nature for their very survival.
Since the sustainability of the rural economy is immediately linked to the natural resource base, it makes much better ecological sense not to lock up your forests but use them sustainably, avers Anumita Roychoudhary of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi. This is also the sentiment echoed by the Chipko movement that began in the hills north of Uttar Pradesh and the Appiko movement in Uttara Kannada, where women hug trees and tie them rakhis to signify the bond of kinship between them and the trees, which are their means of livelihood.
Thus there can be no sustainability without equality and the first step towards this is to transfer the allocation of our limited ecological resources from the wasteful wants of society`s over-consumers to the irreducible needs of society`s marginals, as is argued by Albert Gore, former Vice President of the US in his book Earth in Balance. Continuing efforts to accelerate economic growth by expansion will only hasten the destruction of the ecological system`s regenerative capacities, on which human survival depends.
‘The top-down approach to management of resources must be changed and brought down to village and the rural community level,’ proposes Anumita. She cites the successful case of Sukhomajri, a village in Haryana. A typical Gujjar village with a single crop depending on the rainfall received, all attempts of aforestation were unsuccessful here. The forest department created check-dams or micro watersheds to provide a perennial source of water and some enlightened officials struck a bargain with the villagers allowing them to use the water provided they helped protect the forests. A village council was created where every resident of the village was a member and democratically they reached the unanimous decision of entering the forest in a disciplined manner and procuring only one headload of firewood per sickle. The villagers undertook the economic management of forest products like the bhubber grass and khair trees, the proceeds of which were used to create community assets such as schools and roads. Today the village flourishes and so do the surrounding forests.
Similarly, Anna Hazare`s remarkable environmental and social uplift programme in Maharashtra has provided effective water management to one of the most drought-stricken areas of the Deccan Plateau. His schemes and belief that `rainwater should be trapped where it falls` are in line with traditional Indian methods of raising water-table levels. Under his guidance six nalla bandhs (stream embankments) were constructed in the poor Ralegan Siddhi village. Today the groundwater level is considerably higher there and four lakh trees have been planted. The village today exports food and schools and hostels have been built.
Need and greed
In agreement is Delhi-based ecologist Ashok Khosla and his NGO, Development Alternatives. He believes that the solution doesn`t lie in saying no to development projects, but in creating jobs and empowering people. Khosla`s is a three-pronged approach: to ensure financial, social and environmental sustainability. Over the years Khosla has evolved 15 such environmentally sound and commercially viable technologies such as check-dams that recharge degraded land and decentralized power units that villages could set up using agro-waste and wild weeds as gassifiers to drive the generators. These have generated more than three lakh jobs across India. His success lies in his ability to franchise technology in rural areas, by taking ecological precepts and translating them into reality at the grassroots.
Perhaps one of the major reasons behind the mindless exploitation of resources is the population bomb. Human population is increasing at a phenomenal rate and is conservatively estimated to double to 12 billion within 40 years. Man, thanks to medical science, has learned to negate the usual controls present in nature. Nature`s primary form of control, disease, no longer kills enough humans to maintain a balance. Left unchecked, we will soon run out of our finite resources, fresh water, arable land, even actual space and strip the planet of life. Perhaps it is in a bid to correct this imbalance that nature is already checking humanity`s growth with newer forms of ailments and mutating viruses such as HIV. One can`t help but wonder if diseases plaguing the modern civilization, like cardiovascular disorders, cancer, allergies, asthma, mental illness, depression, drugs and high crime rate perhaps spell some sort of natural retribution.
Our numbers are driving one species of life form to extinction every hour, a rate one thousand times the pace of nature. The current rate of tropical forest destruction will lead to its virtual elimination within 10 years, and the subsequent extinction of an estimated seven lakh species.
Bittu Sahgal observes: ‘Normally when one species vanishes, another gradually takes its place. The domino effect of mass-extinctions could affect the biological viability of the planet. Though extinction has been a part of nature`s scheme from time immemorial, man has rendered the globe`s self-defense mechanisms against extinction impotent by speeding up the process of extinction.’ In such a scenario, strict population control seems to be the only answer.
To counter the effect of this large-scale extinction, Vandana Shiva, physicist and social activist, is endeavoring to restore biodiversity by setting up seed banks for traditional seeds and spreading organic farming practices. ‘My favorite lesson in high school was a lesson about the Earth family, the democracy of all life,’ she says. ‘How the Earth family is all the little beings and the big ones with no hierarchy at all. Because you have no idea ecologically how things fit in the web of life with enough prey to feed the predators, and enough predators to keep the prey within balance.’
Wildlife filmmaker Naresh Bedi supports this: ‘Statistics show that the number of vultures, important scavengers, has gone down. When driving through Rajasthan recently, I saw a number of carcasses rotting on the road. If snakes become extinct, the rodent population will rocket.’ Bedi continues: ‘Tigers probably keep the number of spotted deer and other herbivores in check. An increase in the latter`s numbers will result in the disappearance of our grasslands. Every creature has its place in the environment, with a role to play.’
Endangered or extinct species can`t be brushed off with the `survival of the fittest` adage. ‘Extinction can affect us in a way we could never predict,’ warns Anumita. ‘When one gene becomes vulnerable to a new disease, the gene that can help might perhaps be sourced from a species that is endangered or extinct. The genetic-diversity is what will ensure our long-term survival, thus preserving our bio-diversity is crucial.’
Avers Sahgal: ‘Diversity and equilibrium, within and between species, are keys to the survival of the Earth as we know it. When diversity is eroded, their survival is at risk.’
Genuinely respecting the intrinsic rights of diverse species to exist, limits our actions, writes Shiva. There are ethical dos and don`ts. ‘Limitlessness in terms of time, which is what sustainability should be-to go on and on and on-is built upon putting limits on our actions, our exploitation, on everything that we do.’
The Good Earth
Being endowed with spirit and intelligence, man regards himself as the lord and crown of creation. While his power and influence are enormous, so are his obligations towards the vital space, his environment and biosphere, noblesse oblige.His actions are free only as long as he obeys the laws of nature to which he is subject. The Gita insists that we become responsible custodians and trustees of our planet. Ambition has led civilization to see nature as subordinate, naively forgetting that it is in her superiority that nature serves man.In the act of destroying nature, the human being forgets the true meaning of humanity. The re-structuring of the relationship of humanity with nature is at the centre of the change necessary for the continuation of life on Earth.
‘As one who is constantly battling to defend nature from the human race, the one quality that I find most lacking in homo sapiens is humility,’ laments Sahgal.Sahgal continues: ‘Look around you. Everything fits. The sea controls climate, the rains provide sustenance to the land and the land returns nutrients to the sea in an ever-lasting cycle of energy and life that is so magical, so complicated as to be out of reach of human imagination.’He continues: ‘Yet, filled with flawed wisdom and drunk with imagined power we set about our daily existences making holes in Earth`s protective ozone umbrella, poisoning the very water our children drink and ruining the soils that feed us.’
In his book The Forest and the Sea, Marston Bates observes: ‘Sustainable growth and economic development seem impossible, unless we control our limitless needs and greed and make judicious use of life support systems and biotic resources. Man cannot progress at the cost of hurting and destroying nature.
‘What is needed is wisdom as well as knowledge-the wisdom to see that humankind is a part of nature, not its master.Bates has put it well: ‘In defying nature, in destroying nature, in building an arrogantly selfish, man-centred, artificial world, I do not see how man can gain peace or freedom or joy. I have faith in man`s future, faith in the possibilities latent in the human experiment, but it is faith in man as a part of nature, working with the forces that govern the forests and seas; faith in man sharing life, not destroying it.’
The oldest `healers` in the world knew no other way to heal than to work in the context of the environment.Gaia, a dramatic example of ecological interdependence, reveals how the deepest self is a part of the deeper ecology. The ancient writings spoke from this perspective, that in seeking to heal the soul you must heal the Earth of which the soul is an integral part.By ignoring this connection, the Earth and the human species could be careening to a crisis. The Hopi, for instance, prophecy ultimate destruction if humans fail to affirm the importance of the lost vital connection.Only in his ignorance is man destroying the environment, which he would himself inherit by rebirth. With a belief in only one life on Earth, each man is inclined to think lightly of the injury he was doing himself by his abuse of nature.
Perhaps a new understanding of the ancients can lead to an awareness of an eco-spirituality where each level of being is linked to another with woods and stone teaching what one can never learn from any master. Then the violent changes in nature could be seen against a larger context, an over-arching cycle of cycles. Nature seems to experience periodic incarnation, death and resurrection, mirroring the rise and fall of human civilizations
So if humanity now destroys its wonderful heritage of the natural world, it would be nothing new for the Earth. But man is the first purposeful creature on this planet aware of the lessons in history as well as intelligence and foresight. We had among us thinkers like Mahatma Gandhi who saw clearly that man must tread lightly on the Earth. We may then stop artifacts from overwhelming our existence and learn to establish more equitable relationships among ourselves, so that some parts of the world are not forced to deteriorate to nurture others.Or as Swami Vivekananda urged, strive for the `solidarity of the whole universe`.
Working out concrete solutions is important. ‘We can`t combat deforestation with ineffectual monoculture plantations like eucalyptus. The wood is useless, the trees do not support any undergrowth, are unfit for animal inhabitation and they consume ground water. They are ineffective as well as expensive,’ points out Bedi.
Chengappa emphasizes the need for stringent law enforcement: ‘Any sort of legislation is always a deterrent. But the disconnection between the policy and its implementation should be mended.’ Chengappa continues: ‘Costs too can be a deterrent. Our resources are precious and people should be asked to pay for what they use. Since we get power and water cheap, we don`t value or think of conserving these.’
As for respecting other life forms: ‘When it`s a toss-up between man and environment, the decisions weigh heavily in favour of man. Everyone has rights, the birds and the trees. But man, by
Life Positive follows a stringent review publishing mechanism. Every review received undergoes -
Only after we're satisfied about the authenticity of a review is it allowed to go live on our website
Our award winning customer care team is available from 9 a.m to 9 p.m everyday
All our healers and therapists undergo training and/or certification from authorized bodies before becoming professionals. They have a minimum professional experience of one year
All our healers and therapists are genuinely passionate about doing service. They do their very best to help seekers (patients) live better lives.
All payments made to our healers are secure up to the point wherein if any session is paid for, it will be honoured dutifully and delivered promptly
Every seekers (patients) details will always remain 100% confidential and will never be disclosed