Sustainability and Awareness

Sister Jayanti was the head of Brahma Kumaris’ delegation and speaker at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2009 (Copenhagen, Denmark), 2010 (Cancun, Mexico), 2011 (Durban, South Africa), 2012 (Doha, Qatar), 2013 (Warsaw, Poland), 2015 (Paris, France) and 2016 (Marrakech, Morocco).

During my visits to cities around the world, what strikes me the most is the inequality. Inequity is rapidly on the rise and showing no signs of decreasing. I believe that government plans will not change inequality. Only a shift in human awareness, human consciousness, can do that. We need to change the mindset of hot heads and cold hearts. Instead, warm hearts and cool heads can make a huge positive difference.

The root cause of inequality today is materialism. Desire for objects is rampant and exists not only within the rich elite; materialism also exists within the poor. I have seen shanty towns with colour televisions, which was something I had not expected at all. Materialism also touches upon the subjects of consumerism, climate change and the depletion of resources. Materialism is deeply connected to matter. Instead of understanding that life is about co-operation and living together, human beings’ desire for the conquest of external matter has led to a dependent and sad state of affairs.

We have become slaves to matter, and I am thinking particularly about the matter that makes up this physical body of mine. From the moment that I try to possess matter, I become a slave to my own physical senses and my desire to gratify my senses. So, materialism and a conquest of matter have actually led to forgetting the inner being and allowing this matter to dominate my consciousness and my mind.

The solution to materialism is the awakening of the human heart, the awakening of human consciousness, so that I can understand that any happiness I seek is not to be found by having a bigger house, a bigger car or a larger television set. True joy is actually found by going within. I am not talking about something which is abstract, where I sit in a corner and I meditate alone, but rather about something that is practical and necessary for today’s world: simplicity. The ability to reduce our personal needs so that we are able to reduce our carbon footprint, so that we can find the happiness that we need within ourselves and not think that happiness involves things ‘outside’.

The moment we discover that real treasures lie within, we will have an open heart, a generous heart, and a heart that is able to share. We will then know that things really do not belong to us. We are here at this moment and we can care for things, but also they exist to be shared with all others around us. I believe that this is the change that that can bring about a transformation within society. It is a change that has to happen within ourselves, but as it happens within us, it can also be shared with the world.

The 2000 UN Millennium Peace Summit in New York was the first time that spiritual religious leaders were called to United Nations. When everyone came together they spoke about one thing; they all had the same story; every single one of them: that we have more resources, more technology, more information, more money, etc., yet the problems of the world keep multiplying in each one of these areas. At the Summit we came to the realization that it is only when human consciousness changes that these problems will improve. For me, that was a very powerful defining moment, when a political body reached the awareness that there was a need for a change in consciousness. But naturally, consciousness cannot change through any blanket edict. It can begin to change when I reach that awareness myself.