Without balancing inner and outer ecology, embarking on a spiritual odyssey is not possible, writes Pratiksha Apurv in The Times of India and Speaking Tree. Published on July 18, 2020.
Mankind’s relationship with nature has always been interdependent, because both nurture each other. Despite our urge to dominate our environment through barbaric acts of destroying ecological balance, nature has always honoured this bond with man. Exhaling oxygen, providing food, fodder, shelter and hope to mankind, albeit in a diminished way. We have ruined the environment at a rapid pace in the past few decades. It took a pandemic and the resultant health crisis to remind us about our unpardonable acts. Many of us have for the first time started thinking about the quality of air, water, the dying rivers and ponds, vanishing coastal ecosystems, and in the process discovered new birds that apparently had disappeared long ago.
The mystery is not about these birds suddenly reappearing into our lives, but whether they had gone in hiding fearing our invasion into their territory? Is the reappearance of these species an announcement of nature reclaiming itself, when most of mankind is locked inside their homes? The answer is an absolute ‘Yes’.
We have killed nature, uprooted forests, and squeezed the animal habitat in order to grow as an advanced economy.
But at some point, during this mad rush to exploit nature, our souls also stopped growing.
Our inner being stops getting nourishment when trees in our surroundings are chopped. It happens because man and nature are deeply connected. Life is one whole, which includes people, hills, rivers, trees, birds and all animal life. Life, therefore, is not one-dimensional.
The deterioration of nature was, in fact, a reflection of our own descent into misery. All our development efforts became one-dimensional. And then, climate change started appearing on top of almost every country’s political agenda. Hardly any country reasoned that over-exploitation of natural resources, one day, could lead to not only a health crisis but a spiritual crisis for the coming generation.
Imagine an earth bereft of nature. The earth and our life will simply turn into a desert. This kind of growth would also kill the essentials that are needed for our inner journey. In ancient scriptures, trees were always considered a part of the family, but rampant ecological destruction has threatened the very fabric of our lives. Not only has it disturbed the balance of existence but ensured the extinction of many species of animals.
All of this raises serious questions of sustainability for our future generations. Every living being that grows or moves on earth, should be seen as a companion for our holistic development. This viewpoint has been prevalent for thousands of years in ancient India and mentioned in Vedic literature. In order to maintain the balance of existence, we need to preserve our ecology. Our communion with nature will ensure that the energy needed for our inner and outer growth flows unhindered, because we are interdependent.
The energy in our surroundings exists today not because of high-rise buildings but because of trees, plants and animals. It is said that when someone touches a flower or hugs a tree, suddenly there is a flow of warmth, life and energy of consciousness. This communion with nature directly communicates with the very soul. When nature is destroyed, it is bound to affect our inner ecology, and without proper balance between inner and outer ecology, our spiritual odyssey is not possible.
The return of exotic birds that we had not seen in many years is a grim reminder that our effort to conquer nature has proved to be a disaster. We are an integral part of nature, and we are part of the existing ecology. Nurturing the environment simply means nurturing our own soul.