Earlier in March, GPIW held a gathering in Varanasi as part of the
Inner Dimensions of Climate Change
series with a country focus on India. GPIW reached out to friends and networks to identify young ecologists from different parts of the Indian continent. We invited Earth activists, regenerative farmers, educators, marine biologists, writers and filmmakers, policy experts and systems thinkers to look at the deeper causes of the ecological crisis and the spiritual impact of what the human community has inflicted upon the Earth.
A session was devoted to addressing what it means to decolonize the mind; exploring how we have been conditioned these many past centuries, how we have been programed to forget that Earth is sacred and to believe that our goal is to consume and acquire more and more. How do we de-condition our thinking? How has our education system separated us from a way of living respectfully with nature? We heard from a young Tibetan climate leader that it was unthinkable in Tibet to mine gems and minerals from the sacred mountains; one must even ask permission of the Earth before building a house. With colonization came a change in how we regard sacred sites. We become afraid to say, ‘there is a spirit in the mountain’. A part of us closed down – the part that knows intuitively rather than rationally. How are we being conditioned now by media and the current world story of economic progress? What is success? What is progress? We need to question more deeply says,
, who shared that his grandmother was instrumental in his ‘un-learning journey’ as she was one of the wisest, most creative and compassionate human beings he ever met, yet she was ‘uneducated’.
The 3 day gathering included a mix of small group discussions and large group sharing. We spent a day at a beautiful monastery, the
Sarnath International Nyingma Institute
, and invited monks who are studying ecology to join our discussion.
led us through an introduction to systems thinking and how it is used in addressing the underlying causes of a problem we are seeking to resolve. It was very beneficial to have the monks join us as they brought to our discussion their deep spiritual practice and their study of environmental issues.
Gratitude to all our participants and supporting organizations, including ITRI-USA, Jñana-Pravaha and Sarnath International Nyingma Institute and photo credits to Parvati Markus.