Happiness means that one no longer has to think of attaining things. —Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Currently, due to unprecedented production and consumption, we humans are using more natural resources than the earth can replenish and are creating more waste than the earth can consume. And throughout the world we’re increasingly depressed and over-stressed. This year the World Health Organization declared, “Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.” And the American Institute of Stress reported, “Time magazine’s June 6, 1983 cover story called stress ‘The Epidemic of the Eighties’ and referred to it as our leading health problem; there can be little doubt that the situation has progressively worsened since then. Numerous surveys confirm that adult Americans perceive they are under much more stress than a decade or two ago.”
While we destroy our planet we’re finding ourselves more and more unhappy.
So it’s become ecologically and psychologically imperative that we make and consume less, that we simplify our desires, but as long as our hearts churn with dissatisfaction we won’t: our desires will force us to continue ripping resources from earth to create products that we often don’t really need and can’t afford to buy.
In our tiny Sharanagati community we’re trying to live more lightly. We use cars and computers, but our electricity comes primarily from the solar panels we’ve installed on our homes, our water is gravity-fed from pipes that tap nearby mountain streams, and our heat comes from wood from the forests around us. We eat vegetables and fruits from our home gardens and we compost, burn or recycle most of our waste. The Bhagavad-gita tells us we have an intimate relationship with the earth, the creatures and things of the earth and God. In participating in the cycle of sowing, watering, mulching, weeding and harvesting, we feel our dependence on the necessities no one on this planet can create or replace: wood, water, seeds, sunshine and soil.
Sharanagati’s ample space and open air form a backdrop where our hearts can be calmed and where the Bhagavad-gita’s message can instill us with a spirit of service to the earth, her creatures and God. Answering that call to service brings us health and something sublime—a feeling of thankfulness for all we’ve been given.
Today dark clouds rumbled overhead and sent hail bouncing off our porch until it finally turned into a steady, straight rain. Now the air is buoyant and the land spongy. For a few fleeting months our woodstove lies empty and cold, but our hearts fill with wonder and appreciation for the designer of this complete and completely beautiful arrangement called Mother Nature.