This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Maui Vision Magazine.
The world is not a problem to be solved, it’s a living being to be related to, and it is calling to us. It needs our attention, not just of our minds, but also of our hearts. It is our own awakened consciousness that can heal the earth. – Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Forty years ago, Oscar Ichazo, founder of the Arica School and contributor to theories on the enneagram, warned about climate change and the cascading impacts of ecological overshoot: overpopulation, pollution and misuse of the earth’s dwindling resources. Oscar developed a system of enlightenment to help people overcome ego patterns that keep humanity trapped in self-delusion, perpetuating scarcity in a world of abundance. While the enneagram information has changed psychology and the Arica trainings have transformed thousands of lives, the world’s problems have only gotten worse over the decades.
If we have lost our sense of the sacred and our connection to the earth, as so many sages claim, then how can we restore the balance? How do we go from plundering a resource to reclaiming the land and restoring harmony between man and nature? How do we stop the insane raping of the natural world, and learn to live in the world rather than off of it?
Fresh insight into our collective predicament was offered at the Wailea ‘Youthing’ seminar in early May when Sri Prem Baba, a humanitarian leader and enlightened master from Brazil, paid a special visit to Maui. He came to bless two initiatives: the report on climate change that was just released by the United Nations, and the SHAKA Movement ballot initiative.
To change our approach to nature, he explained, we must change our selves because what we are doing to the earth is a reflection of our inner state. Prem Baba’s master told him that to understand a society, you need only to observe how it relates to the mother – to the feminine. The true feminine is accepting, but the distortion of this principle is ‘neediness’ – a need of the ego for constant attention.
Prem Baba claims the root of ‘human dis-ease’ is a compulsive need to receive exclusive love at all times. This egoic need also distorts the masculine element – the power of action and realization. These crippling needs prevent realization of the self, which will help us wake up. “It’s like sadomasochism,” he said. “Whether you are the controlled one craving respect or the dominator demanding it, both are crippled by a desperate need for attention.” This bad dream, he is certain, is a spell of the mind that causes us to forget our true nature, and prevents us from seeing reality objectively.
To understand your own illusions, he recommends you look at your experience – your shocks of abandonment, rejection and humiliation. To avoid feeling such pain, we turn to sex, money and power – instruments that could work to release us, but which we instead use to keep ourselves enslaved in a fear-based dream.
So many of our emotions get hampered when we are stuck in a story from the past, often leaving us unable to love. When we are unable to love, we play the victim and we blame others. “Then, of course,” he said, “jealousy and envy have a party in your head; lust, attachment, ownership – all these do whatever they want with you.” These ego states lead us to dominate, control and exploit nature; we believe that it will always be there to serve us.
Prem Baba believes that rescuing human spirituality is key to the salvation of humanity. His hope is that we are being drawn to such a love for the earth, nature and all its creatures. He summed up our challenge: in order to love, you need to forgive; to forgive, you must understand; to understand, you must see yourself. This requires self-knowledge. “You will only benefit from the grace of freedom,” he said, “when you are truly able to love earth and all its sons and daughters, including the animals and nature itself.”
For further wisdom from this master, visit PremBaba.org or read his book, From Suffering to Joy: The Path of the Heart.
A seasoned green realtor, Mark Sheehan manages an organic farm. He is also a board member of Maui Tomorrow and one of the citizens initiating the SHAKA Movement.