There was an article in Huffington Post this week written by Radhanath Swami relating spiritual awareness to ecology called “The Bhakti Way of Investing in the Ecology of the Heart”.
The Swami had been approached in a New Delhi airport by the Union Minister for Environment and Forests of India. She asked him what spiritual leaders like himself were doing about the ecology. “Every second the air is being saturated with cancerous smog,” she said. “Tons of raw sewage and toxic waste are dumped hourly into rivers where millions of people bathe and drink. The earth is being stripped of its forest and has become a dumping ground for deadly waste. The world is on the brink of ecological disaster while all of you spiritualists are praying, meditating or chanting. What is all your devotion doing to save the ecology?”
Radhanath answered “most people are not bad spirited, but due to a lack of awareness they may be destroying the environment, not understanding that what may seem convenient, like dumping industrial waste into a river, is actually killing fish, animals and people.” And he added that not just the lack of awareness but greed plays a big hand in the problem.
A crippled economy and a polluted environment… largely stem from the same core disease…
He continued with: “a crippled economy and a polluted environment… largely stem from the same core disease — pollution of hearts. Blinded by distractions one can forget how to invest in… a meaningful, fulfilling life.” His point was that spiritual leaders are getting people to become more aware, more conscious, more conscientious…and in the end less greedy.
With this story, I reminded myself of something someone once said to us about personal growth retreats. He concerned himself that attending a retreat was somewhat self-indulgent and narcissistic. He wondered how did this effect the greater good? And, to be more specific, we might ask, how might personal growth help the environment?
As Swami Radhanath shared: “reducing carbon emissions is important, but it is shortsighted if not coupled with reducing the toxic emissions from our heart; and that is something spiritual leaders are supposed to teach and something all thinking people, regardless of their beliefs, should practice “ Again, a reminder that:”The root cause of pollution in the world is pollution of the heart.”
We pollute our relationships with toxic bickering and compassionless judgment of each other. We react bitterly to our perceptions of being judged by others. We rob our relationships with our compulsive busy-ness, or withdraw and close ourselves off to those we love, often oblivious to the damage we are doing. Often times creating cancerous smog in our relating.
Learn about ecology of the heart…
In a Reology Retreat, we learn to tend to the ecology of the heart. We learn how to speak without blame, to listen without feeling blamed. We learn how to leave clean emotional footprints in our wake, how to speak to our lovers, partners, friends, even our x partners, without being hurtful. We learn how to take responsibility for the world we are creating through our perceptions, how to grow up and become more responsible so we can feel better about ourselves. In other words, we learn how to become less narcissistic and understand that the change we want to see in the world needs to begin with ourselves.
And so, at the end of a Reology Retreat, each person leaves with a fresh perspective, new tools for relating with others and a renewed consciousness of what is meaningful and fulfilling to them. They also leave with a heightened awareness of how to take better care of themselves and take more responsibility for the impact they have on the world. The environment will, in turn, benefit from this. After taking a Reology leap in personal growth they awaken to a new ecology of the heart.