Among the many calls for action during COP26, perhaps one of the most persuasive and urgent has been for a transformation in the way we think, which would – in turn – change how we behave towards the planet.
Finding alternative ways of thinking, acting and being, featured in two events this week organized by the Brahma Kumaris. Speakers gave deep insight into perspectives that draw on feminine wisdom, and on indigenous traditions and practices. Audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
Tread lightly on the earth
In “Healthy Minds, Healthy Planet”, organized by Inner Space, Glasgow in the city’s Trades Hall, Sister Jayanti said that we are comfortable when we connect with our original qualities of peace, love and joy. By contrast, we know that negative feelings and states of mind disturb us.
Following the principle: “When I change, the world changes”, we can decide to reconnect with the positive qualities, and transform our relationships with ourselves, with others and with the planet. Anger dissipates and we feel gratitude for what we have.
“Tread lightly on the earth. Don’t walk with heaviness – feel light and easy,” she said.
Physician, writer and speaker Dr. David Hamilton said bringing a habit of kindness into our lives could be transformative.
He advocated practicing “kindfulness rather than mindfulness”. This brings physiological benefits by enhancing the neuroplasticity of the brain, and heart and cardiovascular health. And it leads to a happier life, in which moments of joy become part of our daily experience, and our relationships benefit.
The capacity of the mind to “create a new reality” featured in Golo Pilz’s speech, as he described how working on renewable energy projects at BK headquarters in Rajasthan, India, led him to approach obstacles afresh.
The Energy Advisor to the Brahma Kumaris said whenever a challenge arose, the senior spiritual leaders, or “wise elders”, advised him to eschew worry, and visualize the solution. It clearly demonstrated – in practice – the power of positive thinking, and this applies across the board, including in climate action.
Speaking up: the feminine and indigenous view
Re-discovering our connectivity with the whole system of the natural world, and with each other, was a central theme of an inspiring discussion hosted by Brahma Kumaris in the Blue Zone.
Facilitated by Carolin Fraude, IASS researcher, it brought scholarly, spiritual and personal perspectives to a discussion on feminine and indigenous ways of leadership.
In traditional (indigenous) cultures, connectivity encompasses land, natural resources, and social and economic structures. Speakers outlined balanced and mutually sustaining relationships between humans and the natural world, with examples from India, Papua New Guinea and Sudan.
Far from being a commodity, land is viewed in the spirit of custodianship, and there is a long ancestral connection to it, noted Azza Dirar, University of East Anglia.
Sister Jayanti added that a sense of “belonging” may rest on a spiritual foundation. Travelling extensively, she finds stability in the consciousness of being part of the whole human family. On this we build a sense of love and respect for others.
Turning to leadership qualities, Sister Jayanti identified humility and a collaborative approach as key characteristics. While not exclusive to women, they are qualities she has seen in practice among the BKs’ leaders: Highly unusually in the context of the Sub-continent,the movement’s leadership is all female.
The position of indigenous Indian women was taken up by youth activist, Archana Soreng from Orissa, who called for them to have safe, enabling spaces in which to take full part in the discourse and in action:
“Make us leaders of climate action, not victims of climate policy,” she urged.
The discussion touched the hearts of speakers and audience. Clearly moved, panelist Lisa Plattner said young people (in the west) are “over-schooled.” The emphasis on developing head rather than heart leads also to thinking in silos, when what is needed is system-change to solve the climate crisis:
“I see a clear path now for us across the globe, in respecting all living individuals on the planet. We know how to do it.”
Summarizing, Carolin Fraude highlighted rediscovering our inner voice and place in harmony with the rhythm of life, anchored in a sense of spiritual connection.
Audience reaction was notably positive – a few comments:
“This is what we seek – an inclusive world”….. “The authenticity and integrity of the conversation” …… “The idea of belonging, with different layers and dimensions”….. “We don’t have to know the solutions, but have a feminine approach of connection and collaboration” …… “On a spiritual level, I felt very encouraged.”