BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — Indian mystic leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, known worldwide simply as Sadhguru, connects people with nature, demonstrating how harmonious alignment with the environment leads to beneficial spiritual balance and wellbeing.
His efforts have led to big results.
Through the non-profit Isha Foundation he started 30 years ago, Sadhguru has developed far-reaching yoga, education, health and environmental outreach movements. The Rally for Rivers, Project GreenHands and Action for Rural Rejuvenation programs, supported by more than 9 million volunteers working in more than 250 centers around the world, all aim to put people to work to help restore the landscape.
“It is time we realize that the preservation and nurturing of this planet is not different from aspiring for a good life for ourselves,” said Sadhguru, who will join Erik Solheim, head of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), in conversation at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany on Dec. 19.
“The very body that we carry is just an outcrop of this planet, so there is no good life without a good planet,” Sadhguru said. “This awareness and maturity needs to arise in the people, business, industry, government and whoever else is involved in managing or destroying the planet.”
Rally for Rivers, Sadhguru’s most recent initiative, has already attracted 160 million followers. The campaign was launched in September to address erratic river flow in India caused by climate change. Hashtagged #RallyforRivers on social media, it encourages India’s government to implement policies to stabilize rivers, which often flood in monsoon season and dry out after the rains stop.
“The recommended solution for river revitalization is tree plantation along riversides – through afforestation of government lands and agroforestry in farmlands,” Sadhguru said. “This is an economic plan with a significant ecological consequence.”
Reforestation of river banks will decrease flooding, soil erosion, help reverse drought conditions and ultimately lead to improved livelihoods.
Project GreenHands, an ongoing campaign started in 2004 in India’s southern Tamil Nadu province, is a community tree planting initiative also aimed at reversing desertification, restoring ecological biodiversity and reducing soil erosion. Since it began, more than 2 million people in South India have planted more than 32 million trees, Sadhguru said.
Green Schools were also started through the project to generate environmental awareness in young people. The project was awarded the “Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar,” India’s top environmental award, in 2010.
Earlier this year, Sadhguru received the prestigious 2017 Padma Vibhushan Award from the Indian government for his efforts.
Sadhguru shared his views with Landscapes News ahead of the GLF in the following interview:
Q: What do you expect to achieve at the Global Landscapes Forum?
A: It is our fundamental responsibility that we at least leave the land, water and other resources of our planet for our children as they were given to us. At least at that same level, if not better, but we as a generation of people have taken the largest bite off this planet in the history of humanity. It is such a big bite that the next generation will have nothing to bite upon, if we do not act now. Forums like GLF are very important in taking that action and bringing about that change.
Q: What will you speak about?
A: The theme of the talk is Rally for Rivers – A Global Movement. Over a three-month period this year, in an unprecedented nation-wide movement, over 160 million people in India pledged their support to save India’s rivers through the Rally for Rivers campaign. All sections of society came together for the cause – farmers, scientists, school children, celebrities, political leaders, corporates and the media. The purpose of the rally was to first raise awareness about the serious depletion of the nation’s rivers and urge people to show their support for positive long-term river policy by the government.
Q: What is your area of immediate concern?
A: Essentially, my interest is not ecology, my interest is life because environment and us are not different from each other we are involved. Spirituality essentially means an all-inclusive experience. When there is an all-inclusive experience, being concerned and caring about all life around you is very natural because anyone who looks into themselves, anyone who turns inward, naturally realizes that one’s existence and the outside existence are not different.
Q: How could a landscape approach help transform the world?
A: To put it very simply, as you breathe, what you exhale, the trees are inhaling. What the trees exhale, you are inhaling. Only one-half of the respiratory equipment is in your chest. Another half is hanging up there on the tree. If you do not take up the other half, this half will not exist by itself. We talk about sustainable living. That will be possible only when we stop compartmentalizing life.
Q: What are our biggest challenges as a global community?
A: Today, we have the necessary technology, resource and capability to address every fundamental issue on the planet. Never before in the history of humanity has this been possible. The only thing missing is inclusive consciousness. In our lives, if we do not do what we cannot do, there is no problem, but if we do not do what we can do, we are a disaster. It is my wish that we as a generation do not become a disaster.