The Importance of Staying in Touch With Nature
Man's Heart Away From Nature Becomes Hard
‘That is why the old Indian sits upon the Earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more clearly and feel more keenly….The old Lakota knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.’---Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Indian chief
Man is Destroying His Natural Habitat
This is a time of natural catastrophe. Volcanoes spew their fury on villages, earthquakes bury people alive, floods sweep away homes and people, Earth’s forests are being cut down at an alarming rate, pushing animals like the orangutan to the brink of extinction, and strange weather patterns are emerging. Scientists have finally concluded that these disasters are being caused by man’s increasing abuse of and indifference to Nature. Says the author of ‘Spiritual Ecology’, Jim Nollman: “The violent storms and extended droughts we already notice may lead to mass starvation on continent-wide scales. Or perhaps the four-degree rise in temperature will melt the polar ice caps, causing the Netherlands and Manhattan to drown.”
Forfeit Nature, Lose the Self
And what of man’s relationship with the Self? Will he lose touch with it if as the Indian chief says, he forfeits Nature? For man must understand, and soon, that all living things are interconnected. Thank God there are some people out there who know this.
Stefan Kolm, 30, whose granite business in Bangalore takes him into the countryside regularly says: “I just love the Indian countryside. I travel widely in the south and there is this huge 10 km rock somewhere between Vellore and Trichy that just goes on and on. Sometimes I sit on the rock for an hour or more by myself. I was brought up in Austria, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and I think it is really important to get away from the city regularly. It connects you to yourself and suddenly things become absolutely clear as you sit there looking down at the lakes and trees.”
Says Digvijay Mallah, 38, Film Maker: “I go out to the countryside once a week for the open air and space and freedom from crowds. As a child I grew up on an estate and picked guavas, plums, oranges and grapes from our orchards. There were the tea gardens too. The nearest town was ten miles away. I love the sunsets on the west coast, especially in Kerala. They are a fabulous experience. I think our kids and their kids and so on have a right to these experiences. They should be able to see animals in the wild. Our forefathers saw the big cats in the wilds, but today few can say they have. Today the deer we so commonly come across – who knows if our children will be able to see them? Nature is so healing – in terms of time. You live to a slower drumbeat and slowing down is important.”
Yudhishter Gopalkrishna, 28, Programme Manager says he used to go out at least once a week before but can’t manage it any more because of work pressure. “I miss it,” he says. “Going out into the wild de-stresses me and if I were to choose between a pub and the wilds, I’d choose the latter. Being alone with nature gives you focus and you feel rejuvenated. I like nature and wildlife photography, much of which I indulged in on our farm adjoining the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Bison, sambar and bear…I’ve done my bit for conservation. I’ve been part of ‘Save the Olive Ridley’ project in Madras and in the Phillipines I was involved in the Bay Area Development Project that controls indiscriminate fishing. I’m also a member of the Nilgiri Wildlife Association. I think that people are becoming more environment-friendly these days. You have paper-free and cigarette-free offices which is a good trend.
Shashi Kumar 28, computer professional has this to say: “At least once in 15 days I drive out to the countryside to get away from pollution and job stress. Sometimes I take off on a trek with my friends deep into the forest and live a really wild life, sleeping on the earth, no tents, no sleeping bags. We fish using a big towel and cook the fish on a wood fire. We’ve been in the MM Hills where Veerappan hangs out and that was most exciting – not just the thought of coming upon wild animals, but that of coming upon the man himself. We pretend we’re a film crew looking for a place to shoot and the villagers take us to the best places. I have done lots of conservation work in college with the NSS. We planted trees in a village near Bangalore and advised the villagers about conservation.”
As for myself, watching sunsets on our farm every Sunday was like a shot in the arm and would refresh me for the rest of the week. I would go about touching all my favourite trees and plants that were not doing too well, giving them some of my reiki energy.
Today that is impossible, but I do go up on the terrace and revel in the trees in my colony and delight in the songs of the birds that have just recently made my bougainvillea hedge their home. I gaze at the moon through my bedroom window and on some moonlit nights I am woken by the brightness of the moon. I grow trees in every spot available in my little garden and the glories of a sunset help me realize the triviality of the travails of life. I stick my head out of car windows to look up at the starry skies over the countryside and many are the stars I do not see in the city.