Vantage Point

Recently I was talking with Kay Dunbar, the founder of Ways with Words, a literary festival which takes place every year at Dartington, UK. Kay said, “In urban and industrial civilisations people are increasingly losing Eco-intelligence.” The moment I heard the word ‘Eco-intelligence’ it rang a bell. I realised that the article by Paul Stamets, ‘Mushroom Magic’, is exactly about that: mushrooms are intelligent. So are trees, rivers, oceans, animals and all the creatures of the Earth. We belong to a living Earth in an intelligent universe. Intelligence is not a human monopoly.

Years ago when I used to drive by car from Prague to our country cottage in Eastern Bohemia, the journey from the city centre to the sign that marked the city limits took about 15 minutes, after which came meadows, forests, fields and villages. These days the exact same journey takes a good 40 minutes or more, and actually, it is impossible to know whether I have left the city or not.

Big problems are consequences of small actions. Global warming and food insecurity are big problems but they are a result of the small activities we perform every day. Conversely, the big solutions are also rooted in small actions; if we shop, move, eat, drink, work and live our everyday life with disregard to the integrity of the Earth community, we are bound to destabilise the finely balanced harmony of our home planet. On the other hand, if we perform everyday actions carefully and mindfully, we contribute to the wellbeing of our entire ecosystem.

Say ‘protected areas’ and the first thing that will likely cross the minds of readers is Yellowstone, or Kruger, or Kanha, or Great Barrier Reef, or whatever other iconic government designated site you may be familiar with in your region. Chances are, you won’t think of Coron Island, or Khonoma, or Mandingalbay Yidinji. What, you might say, are these?

Samdhong Rinpoche is a wise man. He is a Tibetan Buddhist monk and was also the Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile. Thus he wonderfully integrates the spiritual with the political. Recently he was commenting on the meeting of political leaders in Bali where the problems of climate change were under discussion.

All governments gathered in Bali recognised the urgency of the problem of global warming and agreed that the protection of the biosphere is paramount. However, little agreement was reached on an effective programme of action.

Gross National Happiness measures the quality of a country in a more holistic way and believes that the beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occurs side by side to complement and reinforce each other.

It has always amazed me how our culture seems to have immense difficulty in accepting one very simple fact: that the Earth is a finite sphere which cannot suffer our depredations without limit. Or, to put it differently, that our planet simply cannot sustain our obsession with converting more and more of her ‘resources’ into accumulating legions of shiny, mostly useless, over-packaged products.

Society today is faced with a choice between two diverging paths. The path endorsed by government and industryleads towards an ever moreglobalised economy, one inwhich the distance betweenproducers and consumers will continue to grow. The other path is being built from the grassroots, and leads towards strong local economies inwhich producer-consumer links are shortened.

If the green movement wishes to be radical and effective and wants to embrace a new paradigm of the future, then our work has to be based in harmony and  holeness incorporating spiritual wellbeing, artistic imagination, social cohesion and reverence for the whole of life. Through the observation and analysis, experiment and evidence, reason and logic of our great scientists, we know the truth of harmony and the laws of Nature such as gravity, Gaia, relativity and evolution.