CHIEF SEATTLE’S LETTER

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According to the ancient yogic texts the earth is our mother. From the material elements our body is made and these material elements are provided by mother earth. At this time of the year when we honour our mothers lets also spare a thought of appreciation for our mother the earth. And nowhere is that appreciation better expressed than in the following letter said to have been written by an American Indian chief in the 1800’s to the then president of the United States.

The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.

As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.

One thing we know – there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all.”

It’s sad to see how much we have destroyed Chief Seattle’s care for the earth. Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda clearly explains the reason for this. Read on to see why this has happened and how to solve it…

The Solution to Global Economic & Environmental Problems

Question: It seems like every day there is another national or world crisis in the news. Is there a solution to the global economic and environmental problems facing us today?

Jagad Guru: The real question is, “When is enough enough?”

In some parts of the world, people are dying from severe undernourishment, while in other parts of the world people are dying from obesity.

There is more than enough food, water, and fuel to satisfy the needs of everyone on the planet, but not enough to satisfy everyone’s greed.

Or, as the late British economist E.F. Schumacher puts it: “There are poor societies which have too little, but where is the rich society that says ‘Halt, we have enough?’ There is none.”

The developed countries of the world, especially the United States, disproportionately consume far more of the earth’s resources than other, more populous, but poorer countries.

From the yoga perspective, while economic development is an absolute necessity, to seek economic development simply for the sake of endlessly increasing sensual pleasure is foolish.

No amount of sensual pleasure will ever really satisfy a person, so no amount of economic development will ever be considered ‘enough.’ No matter how much people have, no matter how much they consume, they always want more.

This endless personal craving manifests as ever-increasing material consumption, which causes poverty and destroys the environment. Even if it were physically possible for one to consume all the food, water, and fuel in the world, he still would not be satisfied. Material food cannot satisfy one’s inner spiritual craving. Due to the desire for sense pleasure, people try to conquer nature but end up destroying the world.

The science of yoga acknowledges the fact that material wealth makes for more sense enjoyment and sense enjoyment brings a certain degree of happiness to a person. But the belief that if a person has an endless amount of sense gratification he will then have a correspondingly endless amount of happiness and satisfaction is without any actual foundation. People in first-world countries tend to have greater material wealth and they use that wealth to satisfy their senses to the fullest. Yet it is an indisputable fact that they are not satisfied or happy. They are miserable.

Question: So what is the solution?

Jagad Guru: The science of yoga doesn’t advocate unhappiness as the solution to the environmental problem. The solution is actual happiness, actual enjoyment and actual satisfaction. If you have actual satisfaction, the side effect will be that your body will be in better health and the planet earth will be in better health. The environment will be in better condition because you will be satisfied within yourself and will not be incessantly searching for satisfaction in endless consumption.

The desire to be happy and satisfied is natural. If you don’t have this spiritual source of satisfaction within yourself, you will be trying to find satisfaction through sensual pleasures and endless consumption.

Question: So how do we become satisfied?

Jagad Guru: According to the yoga teachings, our nature is to love, and we are spiritual in essence. As such, we cannot be happy simply living for ourselves and trying to achieve happiness through endless consumption. By understanding that we are spiritual with a loving nature, we can simultaneously understand that we cannot ever achieve real happiness just by living for ourselves. We must awaken our spiritual love for the Supreme; and motivated by that love, work for the welfare of others and the planet. Such an attitude of selfless service brings satisfaction, actual happiness, and good to the world and ourselves.