“Crying Fish” by Prem Geet C 2008
Let us honor the Elusive yet Expressive vowel, the letter E, the first letter of Everything, Everyone, and Everywhere. This month we are Exploring a phenomenon called “Eco-grief” an Emerging Earth sadness carried in the soul, addressed by Eco-psychology.
As I meditate and let go of more and more layers, a real grief for the earth is arising. In our collective unconscious, we all feel the earth crying but we don’t have a common language for expressing this yet. The relatively new field of “eco-psychology” is beginning to recognizing the pervasive yet subtle “eco-grief” being felt in response to the altogether unnatural state of pollution surrounding us. The soul is responding not only to the pollution of nature’s sacred elements but also the alteration of our precious foods. Through awareness, life-affirming choices, and the meditations of Osho, human destructiveness can end when enough of us value, protect, and appreciate nature. Only then can we restore a divinely inspired bond with nature, so beautifully wrought in the words of Osho:
“Man had always lived with nature. To live with nature is to live with God in an indirect way, because nature reflects God in a thousand and one ways. The growing trees and the faraway call of the cuckoo and the winds in the pine trees and the rivers moving towards the ocean and the proud mountains standing in the sun and the starry night, and it is impossible not to be reminded of some invisible hands. It is impossible not to see that existence is not dead but alive. The ocean heaves, breathes; the whole existence is a growing phenomenon. It is not dead, it cannot be dead. Everything is growing.
You will have to bring the heart back. You will have to be aware again of nature. You will have to learn to watch roses, lotuses again. You will have to make a few contacts with the trees and the rocks and the rivers. You will have to start a dialogue with the stars again. Otherwise God cannot be brought back to humanity, and without God humanity is doomed, is lost.”
As we suffer many hot months in the USA without rain, a feeling of eco-sadness wells up in my heart. Silently, the trees are crying and the grass is screaming for water. Yesterday the newspaper featured a thirsty horse, his noble snout to the ground, grazing for grass in a pile of dust. The story described how many farmers are giving away much-loved horses because of the drought. Rescue operations have also been launched to save nearby minnows from a disappearing lake. Puppies have been trapped and pulled out of drainage pipes, in search of a cool drink of water.
Pervasive environmental suffering deeply troubles the soul. It’s a time when literally every drop of water matters. Drought must be terribly confusing to these gentle animals and plants who thirst for long periods of time. These earth changes and unusual weather patterns, according to many, are caused by long-standing pollution habits that result in global warming. We are now facing the consequences and feeling them in our spirit as Eco-grief. When the ancients performed a rain dance, they were acknowledging their relationship to the self in nature. After the Industrial Revolution, it seems that humanity completely forgot a relationship with nature. Unfortunately, we now commoditize Earth’s elements as consumable goods. Furthermore, nature is commonly viewed as being “not us,” located “out there” and far, far away.
Event pollution like big industrial mistakes creates another level of eco-grief tinged with rage, for cultures and species are literally dying from the damage while others profit from the mess. With so many oil spills ruining the ocean and the food chain, it’s amazing to watch how a spill makes headlines for a short time then fades from view with no follow up. For example, after the BP oil spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, suddenly thousands of birds died nearby, and no one reports that it may have something to do with the enormous oil spill and related methane release that was effectively PR-ed out of existence. The news forgets so we must remember.
The 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound may be old news to some, but evidence of damage is still current. For example, if you make the mistake of digging for clams on that amazing shoreline, as indigenous people there have done for thousands of years, your shovel will quickly bring up crude oil, not a good substitute for olive oil. That oil spill not only ruined the ocean and damaged the environment but also ended the fishing livelihood for numerous tribes there. What can’t be measured or addressed is the spiritual loss of one’s connection to those lovely waters and food sources, for they were a mirror to the soul and an extension of the culture. After a 21-year legal battle, Exxon paid a pittance in damages. What’s worse is that Exxon is now enlisted to help BP avoid its legal responsibility to shrimpers and fisherman, certainly demonstrating a lack of conscience, a business mistake, and a PR-flub that could have been nixed at the top by a sensitive person. Can these corporate leaders understand at some point that their decisions impact Everyone and Everything? Every human surely must feel that “It’s my ocean and my sky, too.” Again, the news forgets, the board of directors forgets, but our souls remember. Our souls remember the grandeur and beauty of nature in pristine form.
Psychologists have a hard time pin-pointing Eco-grief because like all suppressed grief, it hides well, below the radar. Eco-grief is like a dirty window in your house. You get used to the blind spots as you can still see “enough.” Sadness for the earth is rarely acknowledged or verbalized because it is so deep and because we are so interdependent with Mother Nature and her creatures and elements. Eco-grief arises when we feel powerless about environmental disasters, unable to heal the ocean, stop pollution, feed the starving, save the minnows, or bring water to the horses. The environmental problem is too large so it must go into the unconscious. The soul becomes heavy and people carry a vague depression. To be totally healthy, we need to relate with a healthy planet. In the words of the Master:
“It is said that a man is known by his company. I say to you: a man is MADE by his company. If you live surrounded by mechanical gadgets, as modern man is living, by and by you become unreal. If you live with nature — with trees and rocks and the sea and the stars and the clouds and the sun — you cannot be unreal, you cannot be phoney. You HAVE to be real because when you are encountering nature, nature creates something in you which is natural. Responding to nature continuously, you become natural.”
I remember the first time I became aware of Eco-sadness. I was approaching a beautiful Hawaiian surf, glorious to my eyes, thrilling to my soul, yet, at a non-verbal body-level, I felt distrust for the water quality. Later, it made me sad to realize that Someone had gotten between me and my instantaneous joy for nature. Someone had tainted my experience of nature with pollution and horror stories of pollution. And loving the waters of Hawaii as I do, I was shocked to discover that these pristine waters of sheer poetry, magic, and sensuality, often register high levels of pollution from China’s industry about once a year in the winter, just when the humpback whales are migrating there and the dolphin pods are in full joy, not to mention snorkeling humans who feel they are swimming with god in that heavenly abode. In these amazing natural places, it is easier to understand how nature and our consciousness play together:
“The moment you are in samadhi, you will see trees are also in samadhi. The mountains are in samadhi. The stars are in samadhi. The whole existence is in samadhi. Only you had gone astray…You will be surprised: the pagans are far closer to existence than anybody else. The pagans are the people who worship nature, trees, mountains, oceans, rivers, stars. The pagans are those who accept this whole that surrounds you as divine. They are far closer to me than these so-called religious people.”
Another disturbing layer of eco-sadness is a looming distrust of food. Now, all of a sudden we are seated at the dinner table, looking at a beautiful meal prepared with love. But suddenly the fearful mind takes over. What a travesty that our natural food joy is now met with reserve and a neurotic river of questions not easily answered: Is it organic? Is it really non-GMO? Was it exposed to radiation? Who inspected it? Were they good inspectors? Did my veggies come from patented seeds? Were they Monsanto seeds? Literally, the industrial mistakes have made it to our dinner table, and into our soul and psyche. It’s time to restore a sacred understanding that nature is an extension of self, and self is an extension of nature.
I absolutely feel and know that food joy and nature joy are our inalienable rights as human beings. Regarding the rights of Alaska tribes after the Exxon VALDEZ Oil Spill, the World Court in Prague announced that indigenous cultures have a “right to enjoy their own food.” Humanity is also an indigenous tribe; we are indigenous to Earth. We have a right to enjoy unpolluted earth, water, space…we have a right to swim freely in clean waters; we have a right to eat without suspicion!
This is more old news but did you know that thousands of Mother Nature’s food seeds are now “intellectual property” and have already been patented by giant seed companies? The most important story on earth, our food supply, doesn’t make the headlines either! If you want to learn more about the future of food, Google “terminator seed.” No wonder Mother Nature is sad! Patent holder of numerous “proprietary seeds” Monsanto is the world's largest seed company, and accounts for possibly one-quarter or more of the commercial seed market. Control is the name of this game. Experimenting on under-developed countries is the method.
But despite the secret food wars, experimental seed demons, oil spills, and greenhouse gases, I cook with beauty and eat with beauty. I set a colorful table and imagine each thing growing in its natural habitat, under the glorious sun, nourished by Mother Earth, tended by kind human hands. It’s always amazing to remember that each thing grows from a seed, literally out of Nothing! All of Life is a miracle. I take solace in imagining conscious people tending the food and pray for the happiness of all beings. Consciousness can prevail. In the words of Osho:
“People who work with nature — farmers, gardeners, woodcutters, carpenters, painters — they are far more alert than the people that function in the universities as deans and vice-chancellors and chancellors. Because when you work with nature, nature is alert, trees are alert; their form of alertness is certainly different, but they are very alert.”
In a mad world subject to pollution, industrial spills, seed greed, and more, various forms of eco-sadness are arising. An individual response, alertness, and voice must be applied.
Perhaps it’s time to explore our real, essential, and primordial bond with nature, taking time to feel related as a member of the cosmos, as Osho described:
“Primitive man was very sensitive because he lived with trees, he lived with animals, he lived with rivers, he lived with oceans, he lived with mountains. He was part of nature. The primitive man had no religion, no organized church, no priesthood. Obviously, the primitive man was aware of a surging life all around. He lived amidst an ocean of life. And obviously, his love for trees, his love for rivers, his love for the ocean, his love for the high mountains, the stars, the sun and moon, was immense. He lived in a totally different world — very related. He was one of the members of the cosmos, just as every living thing is.”
Ma Prem Geet is passionate about the healing power of Osho’s Mystic Rose Therapy in addressing suppressed grief. Please join her on Facebook: