April the 22nd is celebrated as Earth Day worldwide. Among human beings it appears necessary to single out certain days in order to focus attention on the importance of that day, and what it symbolizes. It is appropriate to single out a day and call it Earth Day, because this is the only Earth we have, and we need to protect it in order to ensure our own survival. But in order for Earth Day to have a real impact on our lives, we must have deep and abiding respect and reverence for Earth. That is why, in many cultures, Earth is regarded as Mother. At a global conference on survival of the planet held in England, the Dalai Lama stated that we must recognize the Earth as a Mother. In India, the earth is spoken of as “Dharti Mata” or Mother Earth. Among the Greeks, Gaea was held to be the Mother Earth. When Moses went to receive the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, God told him that this is ” Holy Ground.” Many places in the world are accepted as places of pilgrimage or temples, and the homes of many people are considered to be “holy ground.” This is one reason why you cannot wear shoes in their homes. Whenever the Pope visits a country, he kisses the ground because the ground is “holy” and is the source and sustenance of life. All living beings, including humans, derive life and sustenance from the earth. It is thus necessary to recognize the unique and irreplaceable function the earth has for all of us.
The earth must be thought of as a living organism in which every being of every description forms a part or organ of the living Earth. It is similar to the hair or nails, or the blood cells, or the various organs of the body. All are part of one living body. Just so human beings, animals, trees, water, mountains etc., all form one living being called the Earth. This is formulated as the Gaea Theory. In nature all things must live in harmony and balance just as every part of the human body maintains a harmony and a balance for the survival of the being. All life is contained on the earth in a zone called the biosphere. This extends below the earth up to where living organisms can survive, and also into the atmosphere as far as living things can survive. Thus all living things on earth are contained in the biosphere or the “sphere of life.”
Let us extend our vision from Earth day to other days as all take place on Mother Earth. People celebrate mother’s day and father’s day. They celebrate secretary’s day and holi-day. They celebrate birthday and put up with income tax day. As people need to specify days in order to focus attention on the importance of those days, there should similarly be “Grand Parent’s Day” and “Brother’s Day”; “Sister’s Day” and “Cousin’s Day.” In terms of nature there should be “Water Day”, “Air Day”, “Fire Day”, and “Food Day”. In terms of maintaining health there should be “Smoke Free Day” and “Liquor Free Day” and “Glutton Free Day.” And just as we give importance to “Birthday”, we should recognize “Death Day” which none of us can escape. In order to maintain mental health we should recognize “Anger Free Day”, “Hate Free Day”, “Worry Free Day”, “Anxiety Free Day” and “Relaxation Day”. If we name a day to recognize the necessity of all the facets of our existence, then every day of the year will likely become a day to observe the importance of various things in our life. In other words, we need to live in such a way that we recognize the value of everything in nature, from the sunshine to the rain fall, and the lightning; from the mountains to the trees and the dirty marshes; from the bacteria to the animals and humans; from family relationships to social, cultural and spiritual relationships. Ideally, in spiritual life, we must be cognizant of the importance of all these days, in each and every day. That is the only way in which we can say that we are living in harmony with our own selves, and with all of nature. God will not have it any other way. If we think we can live and do as we please, and get away with it, then we are deluding ourselves. If we do not live in harmony with every aspect of nature, and with each other, as is taught by spiritual teachers of all religions, then we are surely headed for the celebration of “Doomsday.” As Guru Kabir said: “Oh man! Wake up! It is already morning. Why do you continue to sleep in the sleep of ignorance.” Let us realize that God is the Reality present everywhere in the universe, including the Earth, and all of us. Let us truly have respect and reverence for Mother Earth.
Dr. Jagessar Das