Sister Jayanti's visit to the People's Summit was a beautifully orchestrated event with many activities. We left our house very early in the morning to visit the BK centre in Larnejerais, one of the 3 centers in Rio. Many BK's around Rio had gathered to meet Sister Jayanti and parts of the delegation. We left through congested Rio traffic to the Morning Meditation at People Summit.
A group called Religions for Rights hosted the Daily Spiritual Activity. In spite of early hour and lots of noise and heat, the gathering gradually increased to enjoying the silent vibrations of Sister Jayanti's guidance, culminating in around 75 people.
Meditation by Sister Jayanti
Harmony within me means harmony within human beings, animals and nature.
Looking at the world within I see my feelings and emotions go in one direction and my reason and my logic go in another. I want to bring both together and have harmony within me. My natural, healthy state of being is of peace. I easily direct my thoughts in this way.
As I become peaceful, it is also very easy to become loving. My heart can expand and I can fill myself from the Divine, with love for each human being. I can feel the vibrations of peace and love reaching out to my family, my neighbours... and differences dissolve. The love extends to all people in my city, in my country. I step back and see the map of the world from a distance and I realize it is one world, one family. We are all children of one Divine Parent. My heart becomes so wide that I can send pure love to all beings. The vibrations of love reach out and touch the intellect of those who lead, those with power, those with resources so that everyone's needs are met, so that there is harmony.
I feel pure and safe with my human family... there are no barriers; there is harmony between human beings and nature. I send peace, love and purity to nature, so that nature becomes clean, strong and returns to a state of harmony.
Jose Carlos from TV Cupola, People's Summits local TV filmed the mediation. TV Cupola and TV Brazil both conducted interviews with Sister Jayanti and Golo Pilz.
A panel was sponsored by the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of Brazil on the theme religions commitment to life on earth and comprised the main bishops of Brazil, and representatives from the Islamic, Judaic and Christian faiths. Muslim leader Sami Armed Isbelle stressed the need to respect all creation.
Sister Jayanti stated that all religions are looking at the same direction. Although our language, food, and beliefs may differ, the spiritual values we share as sisters and brothers are universal and our faith in the Divine unites us. Religion enables us to meet through our connection with the Origin, the Source. All religions bring the power of hope. Today's gathering gives me the hope that with unity, all problems will be solved through God's light that restores the human spirit and, through us, restores the world.
Dom Francisco de Assis da Silva: "we need an eco justice". Rabino Jeanette Erlich: "use the fire of love to illuminate creation and make it flourish." Ms Laura Texeir: "The elements of nature, have to be preserved to improve lives for everyone." Rev. Dr Walter Altmann: "The mutual understanding and close cooperation between different religions is essential if we want to achieve a just society and a sustained earth."
Side Event: Confluence of Two Living Systems – with Sister Jayanti, Golo Pilz, and Juan Milling as our youth representative. Joachim Golo Pilz began with a discussion about the power of the individual to make changes in her/his own life as well as globally, before turning to latest news about the power of the solar energy. Juan Milling from Canada shared about Eco Shanti, bringing the quality of peace and the skill of meditation into discussions about the environment.
Before a long ride to next program Sister Jayanti made a commitment to visit our BK stand at the People's Summit. We walked around half a kilometers through many gatherings of indigenous people, sales stand of indigenous handcrafts, exhibitions by hundreds of NGO's from the world over.
Parallel Events in the City
Gross National Happiness in Rio
Event organized by the Vision of the Future Institute. This Brazilian initiative was called Felicidade Interna Bruta (FIB) or Gross Internal Happiness (FIB) and took place in a theatre in Copacabana.
Julia, Luciana and Tamasin were invited to attend this showcase of the Happiness and Wellbeing initiative in Brazil with representatives of the Bhutanese Government present. Julia and Tamasin had already attended the High Level Meeting on the same topic convened by the Prime Minister of Bhutan in New York earlier this year. Tamasin met a Bhutanese monk who had left the east for the first time in his life. His name was Teelay and they had a lovely funny exchange about happiness. After discussing the benefits of meditation in bringing happiness to the heart and mind, Tamasin asked if he meditated every day. He looked at Tam shyly and said "no not really!". They both laughed and explained the other ways that we find happiness... through connection with the environment, real contact and communication with nature, giving to others, social relationships and taking time to do something creative, and - of course - the invaluable addition of prayer, contemplation and meditation.
Their little conversation was then reflected in the presentations. Happiness is a measure, a value, a tool and a skill. It can be taught and transmitted.
SIDE EVENT: Earth Charter
Ken O'Donnell participated in a side event about "Collaboration and Dialogue on Ethics, Sustainability and the Earth Charter" organised by Earth Charter International which was held in the theatre of the Brazilian Government Bank.
Panel 1: The relevance of the Earth Charter for Rio+20 and Sustainability. Severn Suzuki: We are a human family with a common destiny. The Earth Charter has never been more relevant as it is the bridge between ideology and policy. We have to connect with a higher purpose through thinking about future generations. If governments don't provide the leadership we need they are irrelevant.
Paulo Roberto dos Santos (Vice President Caixa Economica): The Earth Charter is a very powerful pedagogical instrument related to the values and principles we need for a sustainable society. We have made all our 90,000 employees aware of it so that they can become agents of social transformation.
Panel 2: A new business model through the Earth Charter Lenses. Marina Silva (Brazilian senator):
We are living through an unprecedented crisis at political, social, environmental and economic levels. The Earth Charter is an idea whose time has come. Our discourse shouldn't be pessimistic but persistent. We shouldn't be sequestered by inertia.
Rodrigo Costa da Rocha Loures (President, Nutrimental and member of the Brazilian Council for Socio-Economic Development): We have talked a lot about human rights. Now we have to talk about human responsibilities to innovate and promote the use of natural resources in a sustainable way.
Ricardo Young (Businessman and Council member of Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade):
The Earth Charter brings us a new ethical repertoire. The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, in spite of its importance is anthropocentric. The Earth charter takes it a step further as it is bio-centric. Companies should adopt the Earth Charter as their ethical reference in strategic planning.
Britaldo Soares (President AES Brasil):
We have discovered in our company that many of the moves towards sustainability can be quite simple. We need to educate our corporations in such a way that economic considerations don't outweigh ethical ones so that we can navigate sustainable development through so much complexity.
Carla Pires (ETH Bioenergia): Carla spoke about a program called Social Energy, based on all the pillars of the Earth Charter that they have implemented in Bioenergia factories.
Piero Musini from Italy participated in a SD learning course in Organic Agriculture: Locally Driven Solutions to Global Priorities . Organized by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Keynote Speaker: Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchoen Jigmi Yoezer Thinley
The Prime Minister of Bhutan today spoke out in strong support of local organic agriculture. Jigme Y. Thinley is well known now for advocating an economy based on happiness as a measure, indicator, skill and aim. PM Thinley stated that Bhutan is the first nation in the world to have 100% organic food production. Further, Bhutan has not joined the World Trade Orgagnisation (WTO). He explained that without organic agriculture that supports the harmonic relationship between the human being and the natural world, there is no food security. Conversely, with organic agriculture, human kind and nature have the ability to feed anyone in the world.
We must dispel a simplistic notion of organic agriculture. Multidimensional value of Organic Farming have multiple and complex benefits including healthy soils, the protection of ground water, empowers farmers by reducing their dependence on chemical companies, greater income, reduction of poverty, increased happiness and wellbeing, improved social, environmental and economic resilience.
Scientists have identified a range of organic pesticides in Bhutan. Farmers within the Brahma Kumaris in India who have been applying the methods of Sustainable Yogic Agriculture have experienced the above benefits but discovering natural and organic pesticides and fertilisers with the resulting benefits. PM Thinley clearly called for all governments to first remove fossil fuels and chemicals, to support short scale local organic food production, and cross-farmer education.
Thank you Bhutan, for promoting a practical blueprint for global and national policies that other governments may follow. And for integrating values in the foundation of national policies.
Major Group Briefing (NGOs)
Today Tamasin Ramsay attended the briefing for NGOs that was chaired by Jeff Huffines of Civicus
I noticed that early this morning on the official Rio+20 website (www.uncsd2012.org) was written the "The Rio negotiations have come to a successful conclusion." Two hours later in the NGO briefing Jeff moderated discussions around the unanimous lack of acceptance of the text from those who were present, with specific concerns about the missed opportunity to start new global treaties, the removal of women's right to reproductive health, and the human right to fresh water. Other concern was the lack of discussion on nuclear energy or fossil fuels, which cost the world billions of dollars annually. "We must create new political will," said Jeff. I asked myself the questions... what kind of attitude and values form the foundation of good governance and political will?
High-Level Side Event: Resilient Cities: Fostering Local Action for Sustainable Development
This morning in Rio Centro, Tamasin Ramsay attended the high level side event regarding disaster risk reduction, called Resilient Cities - Fostering Local Action for Sustainable Development. The panel was moderated by Ms. Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary and Panelists were: Governor Joey Salceda, Governor Albay Province, Philippines; Mayor Graciela Fernanda Ortuzar Novoa, Mayor Lampa Municipality, Chile; Honourable Saber H. Chowdhury, Member of Parliament, Bangladesh; Mr. Guiteau Jean-Pierre, Director General of the Haitian; Red Cross, Haiti; Mr. Peter Gruetter, Director and Distinguished Fellow, CISCO; Internet Business Solutions Group; Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientists to UK Government.
This high level panel collectively put forward the important role of cities and local governments, in managing the population growth of cities in the most sustainable way. The power of social network and their growing importance was highlighted, as was the increasing importance of architecture to manage growing populations and the way in which communities are critical to building resilience. However, it stopped there. After the presentations, I asked the question, "Through the work of Bhutan, we now understand that happiness can be taught. With that in mind do you think resilience can be taught? If so, are cities and local governments ready to partner with those who are experts in developing inner resilience within their communities - the faith-based organisations?" While the question was received with murmurs and nods from the audience, it remained unaddressed by the panel. However, research repeatedly indicates that communities with strong social networks and a spiritual identity and framework are more resilient in the face of disaster.
Theresa and Tamasin attended the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Land and Sea Management Side Event hosted by the Australian Government and convened by the The Hon Julia Guillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia and The Hon Tony Burke MP, Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Ms Guillard first conducted a welcome to country, which is now traditional Australian practice where, before speaking, one recognises the indigenous people of a place. The Guaranee people of Brazil were honoured in her welcome. Ms Guillard then acknowledged the great debt we collectively owe to all indigenous peoples for their custodianship of the earth, and acknowledged the vital role that indigenous culture and understanding plays in restoring the harmony between the earth and all its living creatures, including the human inhabitants. The indigenous peoples of Brazil, Australia and New Zealand were also represented. A quote from the indigenous representatives "We walk towards the future on the pathways of our predecessors because they have the truth, they know what green economy really is because they've stepping on the ground and breathed the air. Now these theories are made, but not lived.
UN Radio Interview
As Theresa and I (Tamasin) were on the way to find a bus home, a reported from UN Radio approached us and asked if he could interview us on the Brahma Kumaris' spiritual perspective of Sustainable Development. It was more like a vibrant conversation between friends. We offered the idea that any pillars require a good foundation to remain strong. While we believe the components of Sustainable Development are far more deeply interrelated than social economic and environmental 'pillars', the foundation of these three is spiritual. Instead of trying to cut the branches of the current economy, human inequity, environmental demise etc, we need to plant a new tree, founded on a new awareness of deep respect, restraint and reverence, and an understanding of the inextricable relationship between the human spirit, all living beings and the natural world.