Man and Nature
There is an inseparable bond between man and nature. For man, there cannot be an existence removed from nature. However, because of man’s thoughtless actions, equilibrium in nature is getting disturbed and the pulse of human life is becoming erratic. Air and water are polluted. Rivers have dried up. Seasons arrive unseasonably. New diseases are spreading. If things continue in this way, the human race is in for a monumental catastrophe.
There is an underlying order to everything in nature. There is a place in creation for all creatures. The forests, rivers and mountains all have their dharma. Nature has provided sustenance for all created beings. It has its own ways of recycling and reusing natural waste, thus preserving itself. We don’t need to do anything to maintain the beauty of forests, rivers and mountains.
However, when human beings systematically plunder natural wealth for selfish reasons, the natural order gets disturbed. Nature’s face becomes disfigured. Along with other creatures, human beings, too, face the consequences. When science advances, cities and business enterprises grow in tandem. Human population in cities increases. The amount of waste also increases exponentially. Therefore, we should discover scientific means for properly handling this waste. If not, our natural environment will decay and diseases will spread. We cannot solve the problem merely by building hospitals or by discovering new medicines.
Today, everything is polluted — air, water and food. Apart from the toxins found in chemical fertilizers, the adulteration materials added for the sake of increasing profits makes the food we eat toxic and hazardous for consumption. The earth is drying up because of deforestation. Rivers are dwindling into streams. Litter, banana peels, plastic bottles and cigarette butts are marring the beauty of cities.
We should learn from these experiences. If we are not ready to change, nature will teach us. The only thing is we may not be able to bear the brunt of the teaching. Mother Nature has blessed humankind with Her bounty. But if we forget our responsibilities, if we give free rein to our desires, nature will retaliate and nature’s boons will turn into curses.
Children, remember that nature stands before us as a symbol of renunciation. Like mountains, rivers and trees, every single object in nature is teaching us lessons in renunciation. Look at a tree — it gives fruit, it gives shade and it imparts cool air. Even as it is being felled, it offers shade to the person cutting it down. Similarly, if we consider any object in nature, we will see that it practices renunciation in some way or the other.
But what are we doing for nature? It is said that whenever we cut a tree, we should plant a sapling. How many do this? Even if we did this, considering the scale of destruction carried out by human beings, how can one single sapling possibly help maintain the balance in nature? In the place of huge tree, we plant a sapling. Can a tiny sapling ever replace a fully grown tree? Can a child do the work that a mature adult does? Whereas the man might be able to carry a huge load of sand, a child might be able to carry just a spoonful. Similar is the difference between a tree and a sapling. Such is the state of today’s nature conservation efforts.
Nature is a goose that lays golden eggs. However, if we think that we can claim all the golden eggs for ourselves at one go by killing the goose, the result will be total destruction. We should stop polluting and exploiting nature. We must, for our own survival and for that of the coming generations. Nature is a kalpa-vrksha, a wish-fulfilling tree, that can bestow prosperity on us. However, our lot is like that of the fool who tries to saw off the branch on which he is seated.
We cannot delay any more. We must make the right decisions and embark on the right course of action. These must come from all levels. Individuals, governments and organizations must think about how we can mitigate the threat to nature. Both individual and collective effort is necessary. It is not enough to think in purely intellectual or logical terms; we must also consider solutions provided by spirituality. The main cause of problems today is that we have tried to put aside spiritually-inclined ways of thinking from society. In countries abroad, there is cleanliness but no values; that is the problem they are facing. It is only when we tie cleanliness to godliness that there arises a fullness, a completeness.
December 26, 2011