Founder and President, Divine Shakti Foundation, USA
It is wonderful to be here and to be part of a session that is so important. We are talking about what different religions say about climate change and on stage we have representatives of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and many other faiths.
But I want to say to the audience that even if you do not subscribe to Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, do not think this is irrelevant to you. Even if you consider yourself to be an agnostic, secularist, or atheist, you are constituted of a spirit and there is something other than the beating muscle of your heart that keeps you alive. There is something other than the organic constituents of your brain that keeps you moving through this world. As long as there is a spirit in you, this session is important for you.
In the Hindu tradition, we are taught that we are not only created by the creator but we are created in the image of the creator. So the entire creation in itself is divine. Our prayers and mantras refer to natural elements like the atmosphere, the mountains, the water and the trees. The Upanishads tell us, “Everything in the Universe is pervaded by the divine.” There is nothing nowhere and no one that is not pervaded by the divine and that includes the trees that we are cutting down to build shopping malls, that includes the rivers that are now polluted and contaminated with industrial waste that is generated so as to produce things that our minds have convinced us to need.
Ye mind mange more (the mind wants more) - But where is the more coming from? That more is being produced in factories that are spewing wastes into the air, water and soil. In our world, climate is not related to outer space. It is impacted by our choices and our decisions. Our scriptures tell us, “Mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha mokshayoho,” which when translated means mind is the key that leads us either to bondage that can be community bondage or global bondage or to freedom and freedom doesn’t just mean spiritual freedom. Our mind is the one that tells us, “Oh I had such a bad day. Shall I need shopping therapy?” And forget from where these things are produced. Or the mind tells us, “Let me go out and have a couple of hamburgers to make myself feel better.” What we eat, what we buy, how we live has a direct impact on our environment.
A lot of people I know wish that climate change wasn’t there but think they are powerless. Everybody will raise their hands to curb climate change. Who doesn’t want the world to be a healthier place? But the question is not that. The question is what you are prepared to do in order to actually make that happen. The United Nations released a report called, “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” Raising animals for food also contributes to global warming. Every time we eat, we have the ability to make a change. Amazon rainforest absorbs about 20% of the carbon dioxide on earth. It produces 20% of the world’s oxygen and gives 20% of the world’s water. And it is cut down for such industry. Every one of us has to make a difference. Whether you are a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jew, agnostic, or atheist, if there is spiritualism in you, you can make the right choices for our planet.