Of earth days and earth hours…

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् । 
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ॥

īśāvāsyamidaṃ sarvaṃ yatkiñca jagatyāṃ jagat | 
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasyasviddhanam ||

Īśopaniṣad Verse 1

Whatever exists in this Universe, is pervaded by the eternal Truth of the Self. Protect your Self through detachment. Or – Do not covet, for whose is wealth?

It’s intriguing. We humans are so kind – we have allocated one full Earth day to think of the planet. Never mind that the rest 364 are spent in destroying it, systematically. We also have an Earth Hour – where we are implored to switch off the lights for one full hour, and help bring awareness to save the environment. Nice.

We are already living the consequences of such cosmetic thinking. Widespread pollution, shortage of food and water, destruction of ocean ecosystems, the list is endless.

If only we had heeded to the wisdom of our ancient scriptures, and learnt how to be a part of the earth, not attempt to rule it.

The first verse of the Īśopaniṣad is among the most profound thoughts to ever be recorded.

In just a few words, we are brought to understand that the Universe is one, we are all one – humans, animals, birds, plants, nature, the whole existence.

What we enjoy today – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat – has always existed in multiple forms, and recycled again and again. It is said that on a molecular level, we all have a bit of Shakespeare in us. And also a remnant of the Big Bang itself.

Vedic thought describes the human body as Annamayakośa – or a accumulation of food. Once we die, we go back to being part of the elements – and we are then recycled again.

With this in context, the Upaniśads make us think – what is all this wealth that we try to own? It’s just a loan from nature – we cannot carry it with us, we have to leave it back. And loan from who? All this is part of us, and we are part of the whole Universe. It’s like trying to take money out of your left pocket and put it in your right pocket, and in the process, making a mess of everything else. The invocation of the Īśopaniṣad is even more profound – a verse that is a personal favourite when it comes to meditation:

 पूर्णमदः पूर्णमादाय पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवाशिष्यते
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ।

pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamādāya pūrṇāt pūrṇamudacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāśiṣyate
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ |

That (the outer world) is Purna ( full of Divine Consciousness). This (the inner world) is also Purna (full of the Divine Consciousness). From Purna, manifests Purna. Taking Purna from Purna, Purna indeed remains (Because Divine Consciousness is Non-Dual and Infinite). Om, peace, peace, peace.

We are an indivisible part of a greater force, and so is everything else. Loving nature, loving animals, taking care of the environment – is not a mere duty – it is being involved in taking care of our own self. Enjoy nature and its blessings, but don’t exploit it. Be thankful that we have been provided such a wonderful place to live in, and respect every being, and every part of nature. When we leave, we will be back again – in one way, or the other.

We have to stop looking at the situation as we versus everything else, and genuinely feel part of the ecosystem. It’s only then that we can truly celebrate Earth Day, everyday, every moment of our lives.

For we are within the Earth, and the Earth and everything in it, is within us.