A Natural Balance
“If we do not know how to respect the Mother Earth, we do not know how to respect ourselves.”
Shri Mataji's vision of nature was of a Mother Earth that provides and sustains life, a living entity to be respected, even venerated. She once explained how she and her brothers and sisters were taught as all Indian children were, to ask forgiveness from the Mother Earth in the morning, “Because we were touching her with our feet.”
Shri Mataji travelled the world for nearly 40 years awakening the inner human potential for realizing a more peaceful and less egocentric state of mind. People who came to her conferences and meditation sessions were seekers of spirituality, and she made it clear to them that spirituality could not flourish without a full realization of one’s reciprocal relationship with nature.
Four decades ago, Shri Mataji started tackling issues that have since become critical – the overproduction of plastics, the dangers of nuclear power, agricultural over-exploitation, vehicle pollution, and the contamination of our seas, lakes and rivers.
Without denying their usefulness under certain circumstances, she criticized the excessive use of plastics and their disastrous penetration of nature. “Those who are busy with the creation and manufacture of plastics are nicely developing and building up their financial image as multimillionaires," she explained. "Meanwhile, mindless consumerism is creating mountains and mountains of plastic, so that one does not know how they are going to solve the problem of destroying these man-made mountains which are not only unsightly, but which might even be spoiling the atmosphere by their very existence. The overproduction of plastics and artificial fibers is, of course, a serious by-product of compulsive consumerism which is fueled by the notion of fashion.”
Shri Mataji also appealed for vigilance in the field of nuclear energy long before the tragedies of Chernobyl and Fukushima. “Now, Chernobyl has been a great, great problem... and it was a lesson to us that we should not indulge too much with atomic energy.” According to her, nuclear fission is an aggression on the natural wholeness of a nucleus, which explains on a subtle level the destructive by-products of the resulting energy.
She warned against the modern wasteful attitude towards energy consumption, and encouraged an economical approach in day-to-day life. Everyone “should be conscious about how much energy he is using of electricity, of telephones, or of water or of anything," she said. "We have to be frugal about it… You have to take it up in your everyday life as a part and parcel of your life that you try to save the energy of this Mother Earth. It is very important.”
On several occasions, Shri Mataji pointed out the number of single passenger cars on the road, all going in the same direction. She suggested carpooling to reduce unnecessary pollution and to create a more collective attitude towards environmental responsibility. She often recommended walking as another way of discovering the subtleties of nature in an overly hurried world.
|We have to change the balance between machine-made and man-made things and take more to natural things.|
|talk on 'the International Situation', September 1989|
Above and beyond her words, Shri Mataji’s personal example has been perhaps the strongest influence in her teaching. In every place she visited, she met local artisans and supported them by buying their handicrafts. She took interest in all the minute details of the craftsmen’s work - the materials used, their origin, the working conditions and the standard of life of the artisans' families.
She often pointed out the ecological and economical value of these handmade goods. Through their purchase, consumers break the chains of enslavement to big industrial lobbies, fashions and the throw-away culture. They also reduce excessive consumption and create jobs. Because of the labour and time invested, handmade items tend to cost more than those made en masse by machines. However, this means consumers will value them rather than summarily discarding them.
At the same time, she recognized the usefulness of industrial production and machines but insisted on the need of striking a balance between the handmade and the machine-made. “Machines should be used for anything that is a public work," she suggested. "Like for your motor cars, for your trains, trams, all public work which is outside. For houses at the most you can use machines. But, for personal things, you must use handmade things, handmade things. For spiritual people, you like to wear something that is handmade or real.”
Shri Mataji's vision of a world in balance begins with people who are in balance within themselves. Only when this inner balance is established can human beings achieve a harmonious and respectful relationship with the environment and the Mother Earth, which sustains us all.
|Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.|