In a paper entitled Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future, CJA Bradshaw and his co-writers observed that there was a general consensus on what needs to be done to prevent a 6th extinction but no consensus on how to do it.
Bradshaw points out that many ambitious targets have been set over the decades but few have been achieved due to the:
- Vested interests of global corporations
- Timidity of governments afraid of losing power
- Reluctance of more affluent populations to change, or reduce, their consumption habits.
He acknowledges that the only way out of the current ineffectual situation is to win ‘the hearts and minds’ of people and create an irresistible force for change. How can this be achieved?
At the moment, many governments and other stake-holders are pinning their hopes on technical solutions to all our environmental challenges. Alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar power, the production of electric cars and heat pumps are seen as the way forward. There is little talk of reducing consumption patterns, or changing lifestyles, or any serious effort to engage with and educate the public on a mass scale.
There needs to be a fundamental rethink on the way we live and how we relate to each other and the world. We need to go deeper and see things from a different perspective. This where spirituality has an important part to play.
Spirituality is based on the understanding that each human being is more than a body. We consist of both a body and a soul. The soul operates through the body and is a form of conscious energy, the source of our intelligence, our will power and our values. When we remember who we really are, we see things from a different, clearer perspective. We feel happier, more calm and peaceful and we want to be good and do good. Life is more about we and less about me.
Seeing life through the filter of spirituality, it becomes obvious that the current state of the world is due to a deep spiritual malaise resulting from an over-emphasis on the pursuit of wealth and mass consumerism as the ultimate goals of life. Feeling valued as part of a community and working together for the greater good of society has been pushed aside in favour of a model which values individualism, global competition and the pursuit of profit, regardless of the consequences for humanity and Nature.
The result has been a fragmentation in the human psyche and in the web of values and relationships, which have bound the human race together. Instead of feelings of belonging, community and unity, many people now live in a state of alienation, fear and confusion.
In this state of trauma, self-survival becomes the order of the day, rather than considering the needs of others and the state of the world.
By taking time to reflect on where we are going and what life is really all about, we will realize, at a deep level, how much we have been missing; that there are better, more humane ways of living and being, based on giving rather than taking, loving rather than fearing, and peace rather than conflict and war.
In other words, we will recognise the need for a radical shift in the consciousness and culture that currently dominates the world.
Only when this happens, will we be able to significantly reduce carbon emissions and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Only when this happens, will we willingly change our current patterns of consumption, allow a major redistribution of resources from richer to poorer people and put an end to corruption and the current ‘winner takes all’ approach to economic activity.
If we are to have any chance of achieving this change in consciousness and culture, leaders in particular and people in general, need to return to the core spiritual values, such as peace, compassion and self responsibility, that lie at the heart of the world’s great religions and philosophies.
When we understand that every human being is primarily a soul inhabiting a body and we align our thoughts, words and actions with this higher state of ‘soul consciousness’, we become more aware, powerful and effective.
Through such practices as meditation, visualisation and mindfulness, we are able to:
- Step back and see the bigger picture of life on this planet
- Take responsibility for our part in the climate crisis
- Be more loving and open to new possibilities
- See others as part of our global family
- Live a happier and more contented life
- Be non-violent in all our relationships
- Develop greater respect for all forms of life
- Live a simpler life and make less demands on the environment
- Create a sense of community and belonging based on cooperation rather than competition
- See ourselves as trustees of the Earth, which needs to be cared for, rather than exploited and abused
- Focus on love-based solutions rather than fear-based problems
- Develop the inner strength, courage, determination and resilience to persevere and succeed.
When people, at all levels of society, change in these ways, the ripple effect of their example will have a significant impact on the whole world.
Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
The tide is rapidly changing and Nature is forcing us to wake up. The time has come for all human beings to realise the truth of their own being; reflect more deeply on the meaning and purpose of life on this Earth and in doing so, lovingly re-connect with Nature and the world.
With united hearts and minds, we can achieve whatever we want.
Stress management trainer, meditation teacher and author of Breaking Through The Darkness- how to defeat depression, anxiety and stress