Ahimsa – the ultimate winner
[Speech at the Earth Summit, Rio Centro on June 12, 1992 at the Special meeting to present the Declaration of Sacred Earth Gathering.]
It was a matter of great privilege for me to have been deeply involved in the drafting of The Declaration of Sacred Earth Gathering. As Rapporteur General of the Conference I was delighted to have the opportunity of interacting with all the participants, benefiting from their valuable advice and suggestions and learning from their mature wisdom and vast treasure of spiritual knowledge. I am also grateful to the committee of five, which helped me to give the final shape to the Declaration.On behalf of you all and in my own name, I would like to express on this occasion heartfelt thanks to Hanne Strong, our friend, philosopher and guide. It was due to her dynamic, all caring and helpful lead that our conference has been so successful and we have been able to bring a spiritual message to the U. N. Earth Summit.
Drafting the declaration has been a beautiful experience for me as it has convinced me more than ever before what unites the humanity is much more than what may appear to divide it. There is so much basic spiritual commonality of principles and purposes between different religions and philosophies. The declaration has united philosophers, priests, thinkers and diplomats from diverse backgrounds, cultural heritage and historical conditioning.
The most basic thrust of the Declaration is its emphasis on Non-violence as the guide-star for fashioning inter-human, human-nature and human-other creatures relationship. It is violent thought, expression and action, which have polluted both our inner as well as outer ecology. Violence is not a matter of war and bloody conflict only. Violence in day-to-day life through hurting, killing, torturing and exploiting others has vitiated our mental, physical, social, economic, political and the entire life environment. Accepting Non-violence as the code of conduct, as the human value for human survival at the individual, social, national and international level is coming to be recognized as a pre-requisite for creating, preserving and stabilizing a peaceful world. It is no longer a mere religious theme, thesis, doctrine, slogan or article of faith; it is no longer a mere philosophy for preaching; it is now a dire need if humanity wishes to survive in peace and grow in prosperity along with its natural environment. It is the key to sustainable planetary management.
Becoming spiritual means gaining greater self-control, more exalted spirit of morality, a more inspiring motivation to serve others with love and compassion, and inculcating in self and others a culture of tolerance and harmonious give and take. Peace through non-violence will be on firmer foundation and open the way towards a global renaissance. It would promote sustainable development and safe environment.
Indeed the resources diverted from the mad arms race, stockpiling of nuclear weapons and frantic research to develop deadlier weapons could help development in a substantial manner.It has been estimated that if more than one trillion dollars, currently being spent as military expenditure, is diverted for development programs, income of 2.6 billion people in 44 poorest countries could be doubled. The fuel consumed by the Pentagon in a single year could run the entire U.S. public transit system for 22 years. The cost of two fighter aircrafts could finance installation of 3,000,000 hand pumps to gives villages safe water in developing countries. Discontinuing research on Star Wars could provide education to around 1.4 million children in developing countries. A campaign for total global eradication of small pox would be the cost of two navy frigates. One cannot achieve speedier disarmament or accelerated development through patchwork conventions and inter governmental treaties. They must be reinforced by global promotion of the culture of Non-violence. It cannot remain a temple doctrine. It must become a life style if we wish to save our civilization from decay, degeneration and destruction.
Another important point in the Declaration is the emphasis on simplicity as against greed-based consumerism and the waste it entails. In the world of plenty, it is plenty, which is polluting. In contrast, there is the world of the poor, where, poverty is polluting. The worst pollutant is when the rich become richer at the cost of the poor. It is a tragic state of affairs that at the present time, 20% of the world’s population living in highly industrialized countries consumes about 75% of the world’s resources. There is so much wasteful consumption in developed countries, when in the poorer nations there is not enough to have two square meals a day of the most simple and frugal type. Earth Saver foundation has published data, which shows that to feed the World’s current population with the American style diet would require 2½ times as much grain as the world’s farmers produce in total. Most American eats 4 to 6 times the amount of protein required for good health. This extra protein is wasted and can cause diseases. Those of us who are used to comfortable living in posh surrounding and highly developed infrastructure need to realize that about 1.3 billion lack sufficient fuel wood for cooking and heating purposes. The North at present constituting roughly one-fifth of the world’s population consumes 70% of world’s energy, 75% of its meals, 85% of its wood and 60%of its food.
The spiritual goal of simplicity and sufficiency requires that the existing distribution of global consumption and global consumption and global wealth must undergo a fundamental change. The industrialized countries and its affluent population cannot continue a wasteful life style spending 85% of the global income. Rich persons and families, wherever they may be, must begin to curtail consumption that is wasteful, unproductive and indeed unhealthy to them. A new ethics of consumption inspired by the principle of ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’ is required. It is this Ethics, which is enshrined in our Declaration and makes it significant. It is not a slogan for preaching but practicing before beginning to preach. Let the charity begin at home, first with ourselves each one of us reordering our lives increasingly in harmony with nature, in reverence for every single grain that we consume.
“Ego lives by getting and forgetting. Love lives
by giving and forgetting”.
- Sri Satya Sai Baba
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