An Earth Day Perspective from Kripalu's CEO

“Indigenous people from every corner of the globe recognize that other species are part of nature and as human beings, we are also part of nature.”—Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

I have always had a deep sense of connection with nature. Growing up by the Irish sea and the foothills of the Wicklow mountains, I had an abundance of access to the beauty, adventure, and magic of the land. I spent most of my time outdoors watching and tracking animals, even at one stage believing there was a puma in the area (not yet knowing that pumas are not in Ireland). These early years in nature gave me a deep sense of safety in the wild, and a deep sense of reverence for its wisdom and its presence. I am grateful that this reverence has continued through my years—I still feel the presence of puma, no matter which land I am on.

Our ancestors related to the Earth differently than many of us do today. They knew two things. One, that the Earth is a living being, just like you and I. Two, that they were not separate from the Earth. We have covered this wisdom with a different story, one that is very recent, a story that the Earth is ours to conquer, to extract from, to control, to rule over, to divide, and to own. What is happening as a result of this other story is that our Earth is being damaged very severely, and potentially to a point where life for humans will no longer be sustainable. We often think that we need to save the Earth. I am of the mindset that we need to care for her, we need to be in communion with her, we need to relate to her as our relation, as an expression of ourselves. She doesn’t need to be saved by us, she is more powerful than we will ever be.

If we slow down and listen closely, we will hear the heartbeat of the soil, the song of the waters, the whisper of the winds, the gentle council of the trees. They are all saying the same thing, “I am you, you are me”. As Chief Seattle said, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

The Earth is asking for us to slow down, to change how we are in relationship with her, to come back to remembering that she is a living being and that she is not separate from our being.

It is time, time to transform, to go back to the land and listen, to ask her what she needs from us, to honor what we hear, and to act in ways that honor the Earth, and our union with her.

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Robert Mulhall is the CEO of Kripalu. He is passionate about service and deeply curious about how people can facilitate sustainable transformation to enable more peace, justice, and freedom in our world.

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