Finding Community Through Sharing and Living More Sustainably
I wrote my last blog (about spring) upon reflecting on my appreciation for the natural world, remembering how I had forgotten it for years, in the pursuit of loving and serving Krishna. I considered that this forgetfulness might be something that has also happened to you as well, for similar or your own unique reasons. Since last week I have been thinking of other reasons about my motivations for writing about the spiritual side of Nature, or remembering that Krishna is the source of Nature. I was trying to share my sense of wonder when I see my everyday environment here in the countryside. I think many people have at least some appreciation for going to a place set aside for experiencing a more natural, peaceful environment—say, a local park, or wilderness area. However, as a general rule, the average person in our current society is so hurried, and focused on earning a living, that they are distracted, anxious, and not very present in the moment. This was my situation for many years.
Materialist cultures are ruled by immediate, though in many ways, artificial economic necessity, that doesn’t foster thinking of all the consequences of our modern so-called conveniences and lifestyle. I have experienced and observed that modern life can create a kind of apathy from busy-ness and overstimulation, which is partially to blame for our current environmental crisis. We have observed the power of people joining together to change political structures. Imagine this united energy demanding more sustainable, energy efficient businesses, communities and government!
Devotees can also fall into this rush for immediate gain, even as they practice their spiritual life, without thinking of the long term consequences of how they live. Ideally we can create a lifestyle that makes time for reflection and introspection. We are recommended to be fully engrossed in remembrance of Krishna, yet we are also advised to not be neglectful in ordinary dealings.
Spiritual compassion to help others in their spiritual progress, should include material compassion for others physical, mental suffering. This includes an awareness of how our actions impact not only human beings, but other living beings as well. Human life is glorified in the scriptures. It affords a higher awareness meant to be used to understand our relationship to God. The higher status of human life isn’t meant as an excuse to lord it over our environment, and merely see the world and those creatures that inhabit it, as meant for our selfish purpose, and enjoyment. We are advised in all faith traditions, and common sense, to be good stewards of the planet. It would seem that to do this means going against the current of today’s materialistic culture. Blogs such as this one, aren’t meant to make people feel bad, but to inspire thought and action.
For example, even though I am more conscious of my environment and my impact to it than I have been for many years—which is why I am writing about it—my life is still built on the modern model. My dwelling is based on modern construction techniques, and isn’t fashioned from local materials, sustainably harvested, and most of my food is purchased. I am not a builder or innovator, and I looked into more green and alternative housing, but I could neither afford them, nor find a bank loan, for what modern society considers unusual building practices. Nevertheless, I am growing some of our own food, and planting fruit and nut trees, and varieties of berry bushes.
Although we can’t do everything, we can do some things if we give our attention to how we live. Additionally, we can join together with neighbors and friends and see how we can help one another live more consciously and sustainably. We can share resources, and skills. This was how communities throughout the ages have been fashioned. Capitalism, with the idea of personal independence, fosters the idea that every person needs every facility and convenience, whereas the old model was in sharing what one had with others, and cooperating together for the common good. This may be difficult, but if we don’t at least make the endeavor, there is no possibility for a better world, and a better local community—which is where the world begins.