ANCIENT scriptures say we have five sheaths: physical environment, physical body, mind, intuitive sheath or subtle environment, and the Self.
Indian tradition believes in the sanctity of nature. Our rishis perceived the mountains, rivers, Sun, Moon and trees to be sacred. That which is sacred is honoured. Environmental consciousness has been built into our way of life, to become our second nature. But when we start moving away from our nature we begin polluting the environment. Unfortunately, we pollute our rivers and mountains in the name of sacred rituals.
We also suffer from the misconception that ecological degradation is an inevitable by-product of technology and development. But the two need not be mutually exclusive. The purpose of technology is to harness nature, to bring information and comfort to human beings. When spiritual and human values are ignored, technology brings pollution and destruction, instead of comfort. The role of spirituality is to help maintain harmony in the environment even while allowing technology and science to grow. This is the challenge of the present century.
We can take our lessons in environment preservation from nature. Nature digests waste material and produces something beautiful every time. Despite all the extreme characteristics one finds in nature, somehow, a balance is struck. It is not the science or the technology that is harmful; it is the waste material produced that is toxic. This waste needs to be minimised and recycled.
The greatest pollutant is, of course, human greed. It comes in the way of preservation of ecology, as it gives higher priority to quick profit and quick results over eco-friendly manufacturing practices. Greed pollutes the subtle environment and mind of man with negative emotions and impressions. Pollution permeates both the physical and subtle environment. An angry person exudes anger which spreads to others around him. It is a chain reaction. At the root of all wars is compounded negativity of emotions. Often we are not aware that something that is anti-environment is also anti-health.
By reviving traditional reverence for nature, we could restore a degree of purity to our surroundings. We can see God in nature-this would make us more sensitive to the way we treat nature. Then you can’t but be environmentally conscious. Both ancient and modern methods need to be adopted.
Vedic farming was done with cow urine, cow dung and neem leaves, and these have now been proved to be excellent for crop production. Recent experiments in India have shown that the yield has tripled just by natural farming done without fertilisers and pesticides. Just because something is new, it need not be good and just because something is old it need not be discarded. A good mix of the two can help us balance our lives with that of the environment and in this manner, we can prevent further degradation of Planet Earth. This can only happen when human consciousness rises above greed, selfish motives, and exploitation. We need to ask ourselves: How much do we want to exploit Earth? Or how much do we want to preserve it?
Spirituality checks greed. It raises awareness and brings a sense of caring and commitment for the whole planet. Spirituality elevates our consciousness. It opens our eyes to the beauty of nature, and encourages us to honour nature and life-and helps bring more joy and celebration into our lives. A spiritual outlook and sensitivity is essential to foster environment consciousness.