Mother Earth Is Sacred
Posted on May 25, 2017 | Our Religion is Love
Generally when people think of the earth, particularly in relation with the western materialistic view of life, they think about the resources that the earth provides as being there for us to exploit, to make money from, to mine, to cut down, etc. But many transcendentalists from all cultures and traditions have a different view.
In the Vedic tradition they refer to the earth as Mother Earth and see that there is a relationship between ourselves and Earth. They don't just see Earth as being an inanimate chunk of dirt. They see that Mother Earth is actually living and that we are all sons and daughters of Mother Earth so therefore we have a relationship of respect, a relationship of care and actually an attitude of appreciation and love.
The indigenous people of the North American continent shared a similar understanding encapsulated in a moving piece of work that is commonly known as Chief Seattle's letter. It was written in about 1854 at a time when the Europeans were becoming more and more dominant in what is now known as the United States of America. The native people's land was being usurped and the indigenous people were being put into reservations. Treaties were being written and apparently the President of the United States wanted to buy the land that Chief Seattle's people were living on.
This is purportedly the letter that Chief Seattle wrote to the President that shows a very deep respect for the real nature of Mother Earth and it is in complete harmony with the understanding that the sacred yoga texts also have of Mother Earth.
Chief Seattle's Letter
"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of the earth is sacred. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.
If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.
This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.
Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.
We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.
As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.
One thing we know - there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all."
This is the view of a sage. Chief Seattle, whoever he may be is actually a sage and we can also become sagely if we become a little bit sensitive in how we live our life and how our actions impact on the lives of those around us.
In the yogic tradition and teaching it is described that we should lead a simple life satisfied with the necessities of life without over-endeavouring for those things which are very difficult to attain. By living such a simple life - it doesn't mean we all have to live in a cave or in some wooden hut in the forest - but in our own way we can live in harmony with this reality. It requires a little sensitivity and our going a little deeper in our perception of life, of the land, of others.
It's also described in the Holy Bible that we are actually caretakers we are not the owners of anything or anyone and, in fact, in the Sri Isopanishad which is a great vedic text it's described how everything animate, in other words, everything living, and everything inanimate, all energy, actually belongs to the Supreme and we should only use that which is set aside as our quota and leave aside the rest for others. In this way we are not exploitative, we are actually caretakers. If you look at the word "care" it means to tend, to protect, to feel concern for. And where does care come from? It comes from love and appreciation. So these are the qualities that the yogi, the aspiring transcendentalist cultivates in their spiritual practice.
There is so much concern about the pollution in the ocean, in the air, in the waters and obviously we must strive to clean up the environment. But even if you clean up all of the oceans, clean up all of the sky, purify all the waterways, and clean up every inch of land, unless we actually clean up the pollution which is within the heart of man, everything will come back again.
So it's not enough to recycle, although of course we must, and we should be aware of polluting the air and the waters. But yoga also cuts to the root of the problem and that is pollution within the heart: an emptiness, a greed is actually the word used. So when that greed or lust or emptiness in the heart becomes satisfied through spiritual love then we are less likely to exploit the world and others.
So kirtan actually is contributing in a very real way to helping clean up the environment because kirtan is food for the soul. It nourishes us at the deepest level, filling the emptiness within and replacing it with spiritual love and wisdom. As we become more satisfied, our hearts become more pure and we also become more sensitive towards others and less exploitative. So let's get everybody chanting kirtan and this will be a big contribution to caring for the environment and Mother Earth.