What do you consider the most important actions that we as global citizens should be taking to help the planet?
As planetary citizens and children of Mother Earth, it is important that we pay attention and realize that our current course, including our little acts of environmental housekeeping such as cycling and recycling and eating vegan and vegetarian diets, are not getting the job done. Mama is sick. Mama has a fever and the fever is going up, and not down. In these circumstances, we cannot afford to be complacent, to pat ourselves on the back for the little things we do.
A radical culture shift needs to take place and we need to question every tactic and every strategy. We need to question our leaders and we need to question ourselves relentlessly, until we find a way to slow down, and eventually to reverse, global warming.
Whatever our talents, wherever we are on the planet, we need to focus on achieving the results we need. I expect that some of the solution will come from art – films, stories, music – that challenge our current sensibilities. Some will also come from scientific research and innovation, from social messaging, from demonstrating, from strikes, and from hundreds and billions of conversations.
How are you engaging with the climate crisis in your life?
I am a relentless researcher and communicator. When I find important information or empowering stories about the environment or social activism, I love to share them in my Kundalini Yoga classes, with a newsletter group I have created, and in occasional articles I might write.
The lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Saul Levinsky, and Lisa Fithian provide us with role models for taking on established authority with moral force and sheer people power. The books of Douglas Rushkoff, notably Team Human, take a good wide-angle look at how our economy powers environmental and other dysfunctions. Just about anything Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben or David Suzuki communicate about the environment is worth paying attention to, because they are holistic thinkers deeply immersed in the struggle for planetary healing.
What are the challenges that people might encounter when grappling with what needs to be done to help the planet?
Anyone trying to figure out solutions to the deep and underlying causes of our climate crisis, quickly realizes there is a huge amount of research and reporting on the subject. It can be a challenge to know where to begin. In communicating one’s findings, whether in class or through a newsletter or online post or other media, one confronts again the vast torrent of stories and information. Why would anyone listen to what you say?
How can we overcome these challenges and take action to save the planet?
When faced with any otherwise overwhelming challenge, I find that guidance always comes from steady, daily meditation. Meditation provides the intuition to guide me in my quest for what I am looking for. If that guidance is less than required, I crank up the meditation and watch what happens.
It also helps to have good, reliable information at hand. One international group based in Germany issues a regular climate change performance index, which you can link to here. The UN International Committee on Climate Change issues regular and reliable reports. 350.org is an activist organization based on good science with connections in most of the world outside of Russia and China.
In communicating, it is good to speak with your own distinctive voice, be mindful of your audience, and use the “superhuman” senses whenever possible – the sense of wonder and the sense of humor.
Do teachings or stories from Sikh Dharma inspire your commitment to serving Mother Earth?
I always tell my students that yoga, like life, encompasses all our relationships. It is an integrative system foremost.
As a yogi and GuruSikh I stand for oneness and harmonious relationships among all people and throughout our biosphere. This especially includes the most vulnerable to the climate emergency on low-lying Pacific islands and in the semi-tropics, where modern-day drought and flood threaten their livelihoods.
I also tell my students that we are not renunciates. We are not Buddhists or Jains or Christian monks. Our bodies are our first eco-systems, which we cherish and support by not cutting our hair, and by daily engaging in invigorating exercise, and meditation. In fact, we embrace life and celebrate it in all its manifestations – in the body, in the family, in society, and in the environment. We also defend it. That is our soldier side.
Sikh dharma is a reality of living in the world and taking social and political responsibility. We do not run when we are threatened. We stand and fight with courage and compassion. That is our heritage. And to the extent that we understand and live it, that is our present as well.
Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa
Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa is an insightful and inspiring teacher of Kundalini Yoga, and one of the world’s leading authorities on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. Guru Fatha has written several authoritative books and published a number of historic transcripts and recordings of these empowering teachings. In the light of the current crisis of climate change, Guru Fatha Singh has been actively engaged. His first venture was an article entitled “Eco Yoga” published in Vitality Magazine in 1993 offering simple yogic pointers for managing the first ecology, the ecology of one’s body. In September 2014, Guru Fatha took part in the historic People’s Climate March in New York City, called to convince legislators around the world to enact progressive environmental legislation. Since the fall of 2018, Guru Fatha Singh has been educating and organizing students and friends to combat global warming as the most serious of the climate crises.
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