Questioner: I have a reasonably well-paying job. It does not help me in liberation, but it is aligned with my aspiration to become financially independent and it provides me with some free time. My question is, how to identify the right action and utilize this time correctly? Recently I started volunteering at a local community garden; I have a small space for sowing seeds and growing plants there. Is this kind of an activity correct?
Acharya Prashant: You want to do something good, right? And you want to do it in your spare hours. You have started a bit of community gardening it seems, and there you are trying to sow some seeds and get a few plants and such things, and you are asking, “What do I do?” Where is that graphic that was sent to me that showed the impact of various activities on global climate change? You all have it, right? It is there in the group as well, so those who are watching may just look at it.
So, you see, this is how we live, you know—trying to do small, small good things, so that we can conveniently escape away from the fact that there is something humongously evil that we are doing. There is a lady who has been with us previously, and she is into organic fruits now, selling this organic stuff, that organic stuff. If you go to her Facebook page or profile, you will find only two things: one, things about the organic fruits that she sells, I suppose, or distributes; and secondly, pics of her kids, and very fond descriptions of what the kids are doing and this and that. There are two or three kids I suppose, at least two are there. That’s how we live.
This graphic clearly shows the impact of various activities on climate change. What are those various activities? Going car free, activity one; two, avoiding one transatlantic flight; third, choosing green energy; fourth, switching from electric car to car free; fifth, choosing a vegan diet; then, replacing a typical car with a hybrid; then, washing clothes in cold water rather than hot water; then, recycling; then, hang dry clothes; then, upgrading to energy efficient light bulbs. And the title of the graphic is ‘Tonnes of CO2 equivalent saved per year for one person undertaking each action’ (Wynes & Nicholas, 2017; Environmental Research Letters , Volume 12, Number 7). And if I sum up the tonnes of CO2 equivalent that are saved from these ten actions, it comes up to hardly ten tonnes of CO2 equivalent even if I combine all these ten activities—it is not even ten, it is around eight.
So, combine these ten activities, and all that you save is eight tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Eight tonnes. But all these ten activities are so popular. All the do-gooders are busy doing all these ten activities, and they walk around with great missionary zeal and even greater missionary pride. “You know, we are trying for a clean world and a green world. We are the do-gooders, we are responsible citizens; we are trying to save the Earth from annihilation. We are doing all these ten things to make the Earth livable.” And how much do you save even if you do all these things? Eight tonnes of CO2.
And then there is this huge bar that corresponds to around sixty tonnes of CO2 which comes from doing a single action—which is, having one child. Having one child. We will not talk about that because this is where the ego lives, this is where the physical, bodily tendencies live. The great elephant in the room will not be talked about. We will talk about killing cockroaches in the room; we will say, “Oh, there are mosquitoes in the room. Oh, there is a lizard as well. And do you see those cockroaches hiding behind the almirah? And do I sense that the wood has termites? Let’s remove all of these; they are occupying the room.” But we do not talk about the elephant in the room.
“Let’s plant two more trees.” That’s how the do-gooders live. “Baby, now that you are pregnant, let’s go and plant one more tree. This is in the name of our would-be baby!”
We want to hide our complicity in the great crime of killing this planet by doing all those little, little good things. In fact, doing those good things is a great indicator that you are doing some great evil that you want to hide by doing some little good things. So, all the elites living in the posh colonies and having a greatly big carbon footprint would be at the forefront of a tree plantation drive. Mrs. Mittal would get down from her swanky Mercedes and plant a tree and say, “Now let’s see how climate change occurs!” After planting the sapling, she would get back into the swanky Mercedes and feel proud that she has done something for environmental conservation.
All the liberal girls of Delhi University and JNU would say, “You know, let’s not use crackers, let’s not use polythene; let’s recycle, let’s bicycle.” But ask them, are you prepared to go childless? “No, no, no, no, no! If that means sixty tonnes of CO2 per year, so be it. I am not going to fight against my hormones, my uterus, and my body. That is something I am not going to do. But otherwise I must be seen as very, very progressive and liberal and Earth-loving and green. I must be seen as quite green, but the one thing that is needed, really needed, that I will not commit myself to. The elephant in the room will not be addressed. About everything else I will be very liberal, very progressive. I will say, let’s do carpooling. Even when I am going to the maternity ward, I will use the pooled car! But going to the maternity ward is something that I would not compromise on. At best I will use an electric car to go to the hospital. See how green I am!”
That’s how we live. Working in a firm that is denuding the Earth, we work for ten hours a day in a firm that is directly or indirectly denuding the Earth, cutting down forests—and I assure you, there is hardly any firm, any company that is not complicit in global warming; there is hardly any aspect of human business, international markets, production, distribution, logistics, shipping, marketing, that does not contribute to climate change. So, you work in those firms throughout the day, and then you come back and devote two hours a week to running a community garden—and then you want to absolve yourself of the guilt, you want to give yourself a green chit? Ha!
This goes out to all the do-gooders who think that by donating two hours of their week to some green NGO they will be able to wash the blood off their hands. You will not be able to wash the blood off your hands. You are killers. You are criminals. And on top of that, you pretend to be lovers of the planet; you pretend to be pro-life, progressive and liberal. You are not.
You must be wondering why I am speaking about this thing regarding procreation, regarding having kids. It’s because this is the single most important issue facing you and me and the planet and the millions of species today. This is the one thing that man immediately, today, this moment, this second needs to address. There is no greater challenge in front of mankind—not the Third World War, not nuclear proliferation, nothing at all. This is the biggest challenge. Can you please either stop or limit having babies? This is the one challenge that nobody wants to talk about. If you can address this, then everything would be addressed.
And this cannot be addressed merely by way of litigation. You require a spiritual movement; you require a deeply spiritual consciousness to understand what I am saying and act on what I am pointing to. Babies don’t just fall from the skies; they come from a deep body-identification, and that deep body-identification is the curse of this planet. Spiritual problems are not merely spiritual; they are biological, ecological, financial, international, everything. Every problem of the world is arising from man’s body-identification, and the direct fruit of that body-identification is the production of kids. You cannot limit the number of kids without firstly putting an end to this body-identification. And if you don’t bring an end to this body-identification, even if you limit the number of kids, man will keep killing and being violent in other ways.
So, you have to address the root, and you cannot address the root by devoting two hours of your spare time and planting saplings; that can at best give you some kind of inner satisfaction that you are doing something, that you are not entirely on the side of the marauders. Do the real thing. If you have been with this course since a while now, please do the real thing. Help bring about a spiritual revolution. Only that can save you, me, everybody, this planet, man’s consciousness. Without that, planting two seeds and two flowers will not help.
When the global temperatures rise by three degrees, four degrees, all these little baby flowers will wilt. Anyway not too many species of flowers are going to remain to be planted. Do you know how many species we are losing everyday? We are losing two hundred species of living beings every day. Even as I responded to you, we probably lost thirty of them—thirty of them irretrievably, never to come back; gone forever. So, do take pics of the little saplings for posterity’s sake, you know, if there is going to be any posterity at all.
We do not see the linkage between body-identification, consumption, procreation and devastation; we look at them as different things. This urge for development—what do you think, it has nothing to do with the devastation of this planet? What is exactly the definition of development? That which brings pleasure to you; that which brings comfort and convenience to you, right? That’s how you define development. You want to fly rather than use railways; you want to use a car rather than walk; and most importantly, you want to have a full nest, you want to be husband, wife, and Munnu-Munni. And if Munnu-Munni feel a bit lonely, then Tunnu as well!
Don’t you see how all these things are related? Don’t you see how an absence of a spiritual consciousness is at the root of all problems, even though the problems appear diverse and unrelated to each other? They have one common root. In the history of mankind, the time has come when without addressing that root problem, you cannot address any of the problems. And if you do not address the root problem now, there is going to be no tomorrow.
Do you want to keep busy planting two saplings two hours a week, or do you want to get into something real? Find out.