These are interesting times. It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that we live on a finite planet, yet continue to promote a consumerist, throw away society that generates money for the few while decimating the planet.
These were my thoughts as I sat outside this morning on my deck, eating porridge, watching the sunrise, and enjoying the presence of a handful of sparrows attracted by the stale bread we’d thrown on the lawn.
They pecked and chirped, hopped and nibbled.
When startled, they’d retreat to a near-by weeping cherry blossom tree we planted a few months ago, bouncing up and down on it’s slender limbs. As soon as they gauged they were safe, they’d fly back down to the bread and peck away again.
I can still hear them now, from inside my office, chirping away. The sound delights me. It makes me feel alive. Connected. Present.
The green movement is picking up pace. That is, the consumer green movement, where something’s green status is why you should buy it. Try this new eco-widget, save the planet.
Problem is, an eco-widget is still a widget and like most of the stuff we buy… something like 99% of stuff in America within six months… it will end up in the trash.
Garbage. Rubbish. Whatever your lingo. Discarded. Burnt. Buried.
But people don’t care. Politicians don’t care. Most businesses don’t care – they just want to be seen to care. And most people don’t care, like you and me.
The problem is too over-whelming. Too big. Too much.
And besides, we want the latest winter boot, big screen TV, digital camera, cheap jewellery, mobile phone… and we want it for the best deal, never mind what that deal really costs.
It makes me sick.
The Warehouse makes me sick. Wal-Mart makes me sick. Raping the earth for resources and pumping the atmosphere full of pollutions to make stuff that we’ll only throw out makes me sick.
So I buy second hand 90% of the time. Everything. Clothes, jewellery, furniture, linen, kitchenware, bags…
I walk into a new store with all the shiny stuff and yeah it looks nice and I’ll walk around… but I struggle to buy stuff. Made in China. Pisses me off.
Businesses that do what they do in the name of profit. In the name of making money. How on earth can people own and run stores like The Warehouse without being aware they’re hastening the end of life as we now it on Earth?
So stupid! What the hell can you do with money? Buy more stuff?
Why don’t those businessmen and women think outside of the box and create a business because they want to create a certain kind of world – a world where manufacturers and producers take full responsibility for the entire life cycle of everything they make. Where businesses care about the people who work for them and the kind of life they lead and how they contribute to their life through the way they’re paid and treated.
I dream of a world of craftmanship. Where a pair of new boots is made by hand and to order and is guaranteed and will last ten years and may cost $1000 but you don’t care because you’ll know they’ll last and they’re made with love and care and they feel awesome. Where you buy from the person who makes them and there is a genuine relationship between you the buyer and them the seller and you both enrich each others’ lives. Them because they get to do something they love and earn a living, and you because you get this kick-arse boot which will last a decade.
Oh right – fashion. Fashion which dictates what was cool last year is not this year so everyone has to go and buy the new cool otherwise they’ll get laughed at in the old cool.
I don’t give a shit. Fashion-smashion. Lots of fun for those involved, which is great. Lots of creativity too, also great. But inherently unsustainable until some forward thinking designer figures out a way to stop people from shuttling through massive amounts of clothing season after season.
I yearn for a simpler time. One that likely didn’t exist, but I can still yearn.
A time when people had reverence for life – all life. This means you wouldn’t rip the guts out of a mountain to mine minerals because it would feel like raping Mother Earth.
A time when people didn’t value accumulation of stuff, but accumulation of relationships. Of family and friends. This would mean if you had two shirts to you name and your neighbour had none, you’d give him one. (Anyone need a book? I’ve got a few to give away.)
Living in such a way is the path of yoga, as laid out in Patanjali’s eight limbs. One of those limbs is the yamas (ethical tenets of yoga practice), which include ahimsa, often translated as non-violence but which can be translated as reverence for life.
I love this.
It’s what I feel when I recycle our bread on the lawn and watch the sparrows dip and dive. In that moment, feeling my breath and watching those sparrows flit about like the thoughts in my head, life is a marvelous thing.
The other four yamas are relevant too:
- Satya, or truth. As yogis, we tell the truth. Always.
- Asteya, or non-stealing. Best thought of as never taking what is not freely offered. Ever.
- Aparigraha, or non-accumulation, non-greed. This means you don’t buy the latest model widget because you just have to have it, you recognise that your old widget is serving you very well, and you use it until it dies, or no longer serves your needs. (But I want it… I want it… shut up, that’s your ego talking. Get over it and move on. Wants lead to suffering, don’t you get it yet?)
- Brahmacharya, which literally means ‘to walk with God’. I like that. A yogi walks with God. And don’t get hung-up on that G-word. Put in whichever word works for you – Divine Consciousness, Universe, Allah… whatever… All that Is. My take on it? It means being in harmony with life. A yogi walks in harmony with life – with the oceans, the forest, the birds, the animals, the stars and the moon. Not dominating. Not controlling. Not exploiting. Being in Harmony.
If everyone lived by these very simple practices, consumer society which implode.
And on days when I feel over-whelmed with the way the world is (part of the world, not all of the world, part), I sit on my deck and observe Life being Life and remind myself that simply by observing the yamas and walking the path of a yogi, I am contributing to a different way of being.
I am finding a new way to be prosperous. A way which includes reverence for life, being honest, not taking what isn’t offered, non-greed, non-acculmulation and being in harmony with Life.
Every day, as I complete my sadhana of Infinite Energy and Prosperity, I am reminded of what prosperity truly is. I’m up to eight minutes a day, and holding my arms in position takes commitment, it takes will-power, and it takes determination. But as I silently do my mantra of Har, and pump my stomach, I can feel all sorts of sensations in the body. Rising energy, releasing energy, heating energy, and expanding energy.
Afterward, as I breath, the entire back of my chest and heart has opened up into this huge spacious cavern of openness. I feel light, and joyful, and prosperous.
Yes, I feel prosperous. I see how prosperity is gratitude for my internal strength and resources. It’s gratitude for my ability to do what needs doing to get something done. It’s the way I feel connected to the flow of life, and able to both open myself to receive and also see where I can best give.
This is true prosperity. Not making money off the backs of other people. Not making money off exploiting the planet. Not buying more and having more and getting more.
But having enough within yourself to be able to connect to those around you.
Being sensitive to other people’s needs, caring and loving and giving.
And like the angel that dropped by today and left me two yoga books just because I thought I might enjoy them… being open to creating flow wherever you can.
So open up and give of your vision, and in doing so, know that you are prosperous, right here, right now.
And if you do care about the world and the way we’re living on it, check out the Story of Stuff, an amazing online movie.
Just 20 minutes.
Spread the word.
And then take some action.