Here is a talk given by Cindy Aulby to the particpants in CAH's Earth Hour candlelight vigil, held at St David's Park, Hobart on 26th March 2011.
You can learn more about Cindy at her website www.journeytotheheart.com.au
Sea Shepherd’s captain Paul Watson talks about our planet like a ship – On this ship, there’s the crew and there’s the passengers. We’re the passengers. The trees and worms and bacteria are the crew. We need the planet and we need the crew to survive, but neither need us. We can’t do life without them, and yet they can do it beautifully without us.
I know you’re reading this because you’re aware that we have been unwise and ungrateful passengers. We’re like disaffected disgruntled kids on a train – graffiti-ing, tearing up the seats, breaking windows and eventually taking off the wheels and bits of the necessary workings so the train is reduced to rubble. You know we’ve taken too much with no thought to the consequences, and that the situation is looking very grim.
And the fact that you ARE reading this suggests that you will do your best to be a big part of the solution, rather than unconsciously creating more of a problem.
So I’m not about to discuss the incredibly complicated problem we have created. My hope is to plant some seeds in you and around you that will grow you, nourish you and help you to stay inspired and hopeful, whilst meeting head-on the critical work we must do.
As I thought about how I might support our motivation and inspiration, I thought about some of the extraordinary activists who have inspired me and what they seem to do that works. People like Bob Brown, Christine Milne, the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ – how do or did they keep on going? How do they stay so wise and reasonable, so effective and so healthy in themselves?
This question suggested a foundation to me that I’ll call Green Heartedness. My question then is what would it mean to be Green Hearted? What will we do differently when we’ve evolved to the point where we no longer deplete the self or the planet, and when we can effectively support health in everything we do.
We would respect and value all life equally. The planet, all of it – from her deep core, through her dense and ancient rocks, her oceans, her millions of life forms, her atmosphere, and all of her people. It includes you – the one life form that you are primarily responsible for looking after. Do you offer your Self the reverence and respect which you offer the forests, the oceans, the planet?
I think holding one’s self with this level of respect is the basis of integrity. We're mostly familiar with this term meaning that you'll do what you say you will. Integrity also means the quality or condition of being whole or undivided. Completeness. This is one of the core concepts of green-ness … that nature will find it’s own balance when allowed it’s wholeness. We trust that nature has the wisdom it needs in order to be whole and healthy, and we know that it loses it’s integrity when we mess with it. Imagine if you could trust your own nature with this integral state, knowing that you in fact lack nothing – you are complete, perfect, uninjured, hole, entire.
When I seek insight to what my activist mentors embody, what we might learn from them, this integrity stands out. These are people who trust themselves, who honour their passions and live undivided from who they are. They walk their talk. They somehow manage to apply the big principles to the details of their own lives.
I haven’t had the honour of asking these mentors, so I’m intuiting and sensing here. I look at Bob Brown, and I see his devoted love of nature. In all his political work and all the different issues he’s stood by, is the land he loves. In among it he’s taken thousands of photographs of the earth, from mountains to plants to water. He clearly gives himself the time to replenish – to be in the environments he loves and allow them to nourish him, to feed him, to inspire him. He comes always from a place of kindness, even when he's determinedly opposing someone. He's respectful, sure and strong.
When I see the Dalai Lama, I see someone who knows himself deeply. His devotion has taken him inside himself. It’s here that he’s truly understood the human struggles for power and conquest, the human conditions of loss, of anger and pain and fear. Then what he gives to the struggle is a compassion and wisdom that we cannot help but listen to and respect. When I was young and hot-headed, it seemed to me that loving the enemy was a sell-out, that it must condone their unjust behaviour. The Dalai Lama has opened another way – that compassion enables deep clarity, even in opposition (maybe especially in opposition), at the same time as strengthening rightness and truth. The Dalai Lama’s integrity shines – he maintains a deep trust in him self and what he knows to be true.
None of the inspiring activists I mentioned are acting from ego. Each appears to me to be so in their integrity that there is no need to use their position to be popular, to gain power or prestige, no need for political wheeling and dealing.
So what can we learn here? What does integrity ask of you? What would wholeness, completeness suggest?
I reckon if we all honoured our selves, we would no longer be satisfied with the bandaid solutions that consumerism offers. If we were no longer satisfied with feeding the soul on trinkets and new sparkling things, we might ask the deeper questions. What is it I really need when retail therapy calls? Listening more deeply would tell us what the soul really wants – and generally it is not a trinket, but connection, creative flow, loving, laughter.
Consumerism would fizzle out. Instead we would be singing together, growing and eating nutritious food, dancing, making love, making beautiful and creative things and giving more than we take.
If we truly honoured our selves, we might allow the truth of all the wise ones who have gone before us – that, as Victor Frankl puts it: “love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire … that the salvation of man is through love and in love.”
What this means in action is huge - big enough to take up ten magazines! But think about it … what sort of world would you live in if you were to make all of your decisions from a place of love rather than from fear.
This means love for yourself, primarily. From this flows all else.
You would listen to your beautifully accurate internal guidance system. You would learn its language and follow its wisdom. As you practice, you will develop a trust – you’ll rest when you need to, you’ll eat well. You’ll consult your deeper knowing when you need to make decisions about where you put your energy, how to be more effective. You’ll give others the same respect. You’ll give yourself time and space for nature to nourish you and to teach you.
Many active people forget to do this – it can feel like navel gazing and self indulgence to focus on yourself when the big picture needs our attention so very desperately. However, thinking about green heartedness has shown me again and again that the people who are incredibly effective in the long term, the people who command respect even in opposition, are those who manage to come from a place of wholeness. They are undivided. They come from their centre.
How we think and what we focus on has an immense impact, not only on the inside, but also to those around us. It can be heartbreaking to maintain a constant awareness of what’s wrong – like living in a dense cloud, that shows no light through it. That’s when it’s so important to stop, nourish and replenish yourself. Be in nature, let Gaia hold your hand for a while. Focus inward and listen to what your true self is telling you. And do as you’re told!
Then come back to your work. Stay centred. When you start to lose your centre, stop! It might only take a minute. Breathe. Come back to yourself. Because you are inextricably connected to this wondrous planet, and through your inner experience, you will find what you need in order to continue. You will find that you put into practice other core green principles:
~ Environmental protection: protecting the environment inside you and the one you create for those around you. When you take more from yourself than you put back in, you create burnout – giving that which is not authentically yours to give. When you give authentically, from loving self care, you will not exhaust yourself or burn out.
~ Non-violence: stop the violence you do to your self. Be attentive to the ways that you speak to yourself, the ways you care for yourself. It is a kind of violence to your self when you don’t eat properly, when you run yourself ragged and refuse to rest, when you ignore your internal guidance. Tend to your own needs.
Green heartedness means acting from this deep personal integrity, and letting our big work in the world be inspired and nourished by it.