Reflections from Inner Dimensions of Climate Change

Recently I was part of a gathering called ‘Inner Dimensions of Climate Change’ with about 55 other people, healers, climate activists, community builders, practitioners from at least 30 countries. To my mind, its difficult to put them under any label - rather an intuitive sense brought us all together. It was the culmination of almost 4 years of work of Global Peace Initiative of Women and Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association.
Here’s what struck me:
Making the spirit, conscious - For long, I have felt it and for long the spiritual has guided my being and actions - however it acted like a side eye. In the process of this gathering, I was exposed to spiritual fields of other beings and gently I sensed the spiritual to be the central core of my life. All my pursuits, I am beginning to see are to rise higher or go deeper into this spiritual journey. I am beginning to come to realise that while action of any form is very important, the spiritual / inner space from where it comes - …

Why revitalising communities is an important work of our times

The Interconnected Crisis 
The world today is at the cusp of multi-fold crisis:  Ecological Crisis where we are consuming 1.5 times the rate at which Earth can replenishSocio-Economic Crisis where 26 individuals own as much wealth as bottom 50% of humanity and inequity is only getting skewed each year (Oxfam Inequity Report) Spiritual Crisis with a remarkable self-alienation whose one of the consequences is rising number of suicides.  The crisis we believe, is civilizational. It asks of us some fundamental questions about dominant way of being, way of thinking and organising. 
The Core Problem  The crises are created by a web of factors – like mono-cultured education, globalisation, industrial modernity and so on. However, one of the most significant phenomenon that has led to these crises is dismantling of communities particularly in the last 30 years at a rate unprecedented before. Because of (a) economic mobility (including displacement due to development), (b) nuclearisation of fam…

The Interconnected Crisis as I see it

The world is at the cusp of multifold crisis: 
Ecological Crisis where we are consuming 1.5 times the rate at which Earth can replenish Socio-Economic Crisis where 26 individuals own as much wealth as bottom 50% of humanity and inequity is only getting skewed (Oxfam Inequity Report) Spiritual Crisis with a remarkable self-alienation whose one of the consequences is rising number of suicides.  The crises are created a web of factors, we wish to name the roots as we see it: 
Firstly, our monocultural factory like schooling system produce consumers and workers whose humanity is layered with fearful pursuits of material excess. And that has created a system that work for only a few humans at the cost of other human beings, other beings and the environment. The education system was developed for a particular socio-cultural context where Industrial Revolution was rising, colonialism was the order of the day and the paradigm of man’s relationship with nature was to control it. The education …

Our Predicament in Four Words

I often wonder about the dominant characteristics that define most of human behaviour at this point in history. In this exploration with other people in our team, we have come to four words that represent the ways of being for most of us on the planet.

More, Busy, There and Easy.
More More factories, more products, more impact. More has almost become synonymous with better. This is bred from a constant space of scarcity of what we have and a possibility of aspiring to have something more. Does more at any point bring fulfilment? It definitely keep the economy running. Busy Most of us are busy doing something. Experience of leisure has become rare. Busy lifestyles that are borne out of auctioning people’s time to large corporates or inter connected systems or our small smart phones. Interestingly, today's times are marked by mindless busyness. And sometimes, we are too busy to find time for things/people that matter.
There Everyone seems to be working to get somewhere ‘there’ (in…

Gramya Manthan Story #5 Natural Rhythm and the Sacred

Gramya Manthan has been happening for 8 years in the same village cluster in Kanpur Dehat and we have been sitting in the shade of this banyan tree since then. Only this year, we began calling it Dadimaa Bargat (Grandmother Banyan). Gramya Manthan invites people to reflect on one’s days - how would it be to draw from a witness of 300 years, was a sense we tried to hold. Grandmother Banyan has seen several storms, monsoons, changes in her lifetime.

One of the work that has happened to us and through us is to reclaim the sacred in nature. Looking at nature not just as a material resource but as a spirit. And not just nature outside - what would it be to not just look at our own bodies as a material resource?

Another aspect to this has been experiencing a different rhythm of life than the rhythm most urbanites are used to - clock-time, weekday-weekend etc. Experiencing seasons, experiencing daylight and nightsky, experiencing birds chirping or trees shedding leaves.

We would start the day e…

Gramya Manthan Story #4 Capacity to Suffer

A mentor of ours, Aseem described passion as capacity to suffer. One of the reasons why Gramya Manthan happens in peak summers in Uttar Pradesh is inviting people from all over the country to experience the rigour of the place that shows up in the heat. Within the team, we have discussed this several times on the need to do it in summers. It also acts as an auto self filter for non-serious candidates. Summers in rural can be hard in Northern India especially for young people from urban areas.
In the middle of the program, we have been experimenting with creating a simulated experience around Food inequity - where people get divided into different economic classes and based on that they get their food through the day. A poor will get a roti and onion for instance and a rich may get delicacies complete with desert. Its a disruptive experience even for the holders of the experiment - the cohort surprises us each time.
This time immediately after breakfast, unrest built up and the whole …

Gramya Manthan Story#3 Wilderness in the village

One of the participants, Aarti shared in one of her reflections, that it was difficult for her mother to let her go beyond 300 metres alone as a child. While as she visited a family in the village - Kaki asked a kid, Anjali from the neighbouring home to accompany her to show around the village. And Anjali walked with Arti the whole day around the village. Two things struck with her, the sense of freedom and comfort that Anjali had with the whole village and the idea of ‘home’. Kaki felt comfortable asking a neighbouring kid take a guest around and the kid accompanied her all along. ‘Home’ felt somewhat expanded to Aarti in the village.
Environmental Wilderness obviously is endangered in our world, with forests being butchered and snow caps melting. However, the wilderness of the human heart is also endangered. Kids today are growing up in enclosed rooms with enclosed minds. Sedentary lifestyle is the order of the day. Trust in human relationships is encroached upon by transactional b…