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Sustaining the earth, sustaining ourselves

January 23, 2008 by Lightwaves

Sustainability is a deep subject here at the ashram. Not only do we want to minimize our waste, water, energy consumption, and air emissions, we’ve broaden the scope of being sustainable to include ourselves and the teachings.

We are currently in the process of developing a multi level sustainability plan incorporating all of us and the natural environment through Swami Radha’s teachings.

Within this each resident is being encouraged to develop their own plan to sustain their health and well-being, understanding of the teachings, and relationships to others. We encourage each other and everybody that comes here to use the environmental situation as a reflection. It’s natural to become emotional when we consider these issues, but we focus on bringing it closer to home by relating it to what needs to be sustained within ourselves?

The teachings naturally encourage “self-overcoming” in the form of selfless service, focusing on the transformation of the way we live. These two ideals are considered essential to the success of becoming truly sustainable; otherwise the focus of work is to make money to consume products to maintain a concept of security.

Indeed sustaining ourselves and the teachings provide the foundation for living a sustainable life, and the manifestation of this is our focus on environmental sustainability. At the core of this is reducing our ecological footprint and becoming carbon neutral within the next 5 years.

How does this relate to on the ground action? Our major projects thus far include refitting buildings to become more energy efficient, increasing the food we eat locally, and reducing the number of trips to town we take.

The plan will include everything from putting a brick in the toilet for water conservation through to developing a paperless office (which for the current Yoga Development Course means writing summaries and emailing them to us) to the more ambitious objectives of carbon neutrality and reducing our ecological footprint.

At the core of any attempt to change our behavior in regards to the environment is transforming the way we live. This is why the teachings and the sustaining power of the Light as our goal is so essential. Finding our security in the Light moves us away from conscious and unconscious efforts to find satisfaction through a consumptive lifestyle and towards the one thing that sustains us all – the Light!

Trenches dug in 2005 for the geothermal heating system at the Barn, the ashram’s most recently built dormitory.

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