Yoga Prescription for What Ails the Earth

Photo by Joshua Berman
Yoga in Belize (Photo Joshua Berman)

Many from the world of science struggle with the technological challenges of halting the ongoing degradation of the environment. Those in the realms of government and public policy seek to find the political will to clean and protect natural resources and curb emissions that threaten the global climate. From religious leaders come the concepts of ethical stewardship of the Earth and loving our neighbors by protecting their (and our) environment. Could there be an approach which, while acknowledging the benefits of each of these approaches, transcends and trumps them all?

In Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self-Realization and Planetary Transformation, David Frawley suggests that the disjointed efforts of these various elements of society are much like the blind boys and the elephant. While each may have a valid piece of the puzzle, none grasps and addresses the whole — the essential energetic and cosmological relationship between humanity and its home. Simply put, says Frawley, “We are the planet. We are composed of its elements and are the product of its development on all levels.”

Based on his experience as an Ayurvedic doctor, Frawley concludes that Earth is indeed in dire straits. He contends that the environmental crisis is in fact “a crisis of consciousness,” a delusional failure to recognize the multitudinous signs of serious, systemic disease in the planet that is as potentially fatal to us as such a disease would be in our individual bodies.

All of creation, Frawley explains, from minerals to plants to animals to man, is united by a cosmic “fire” that seeks to evolve and know itself. For him, this “unitary essence” is not a wishful theory or naïve belief, “but the very ground of existence.” In contrast to the slow, methodical march of modern science toward understanding creation’s underpinnings, yoga quiets the bodily senses and the mind, allowing release of the egoic idea of oneself and direct experience of the unbounded Being from which all individuated physical and mental entities spring. Both approaches have as the object of their search our connection with universal structure, only the methodologies differ.

This yoga world view dictates that any effective approach to healing the planet must begin with a fundamental recognition that human existence is intimately intertwined with the whole of creation. A society that holds up personal gain as the ultimate goal of life ultimately sacrifices the very fabric that supports and sustains our lives.

Frawley advocates a revolutionary change in the root thought that motivates the human community. He holds out “experiential spiritual traditions like Yoga, Buddhism, and Taoism” and faith-based meditative practices as examples of how such change can be brought about. And he points to indigenous cultures and natural healing traditions as examples of how such a change can manifest in a gentle, reverent relationship with the home that is an integral part of our higher Self. Concludes Frawley,

“We must take these transformative movements from the periphery to the center of our culture for the decisive change to occur.”

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Copyright: byheaven / 123RF Stock Photo

About the Author

I have a BA in Psychology from Wellesley College and have been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda for over 25 years, including 15 years of teaching Sunday School children the fundamentals of yoga meditation. I'm also a deeply committed student of Catholicism especially interested in the basic harmony between eastern and western spiritual principles, practices and experience. I live with my husband in rural Northern Arizona. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and