While visiting Brazil recently, I met an environmentalist who transformed my way of thinking about our current climate situation. Her kind, gentle voice expressed the most surprising views.
“The river isn’t polluted,” she said, “the river is pure, it is just carrying our impurities.”
This stopped me in my tracks. I think of myself as a positive person, but this redefinition was beyond my current thinking. She went on to speak of how much respect she had for the effort, time, and money human beings had invested to invent plastic, something so durable it cannot be destroyed. Again, I was surprised as our collective narrative about plastic is that it is the bad guy, filling landfills and destroying the climate.
“Instead,” she said, “we can find ways to use plastic to create things that we don’t want to be destroyed, like houses or shoes.”
Her words caused me to pause and reflect more deeply on the stories we tell ourselves, and how our narrative influences our sense of agency, hope, and shapes our ability to act.
Although the river appears polluted, when I think of it in this way, I lose a vision of its beauty. The river itself is pure and flows continuously to its destination – the sea. However, humans have thrown their debris and waste into the water that the river carries on its journey. This powerful redefinition distinguishes the river from the waste. It attributes purity, resilience, and power to the river.
This love for the river and the whole planet fuels my commitment to act in a way that is best for all. When I nurture and ignite my true love for the purity of nature, it sustains my ability to protect it. Mother Nature needs my love, not my pity, shame, or fear. When we keep alive the true love we feel for the purity of nature, it sustains our ability to clean up our act. I notice that I feel good when I recycle, reduce or re-use. I feel respect for myself for doing the right thing, even when it is inconvenient or takes me out of my way.
Like Mother Nature, the human soul flows through time like a river of spiritual energy. Just as the river is pure, I too am pure inside. Life has thrown me into experiences, obstacles, challenges, and my reactions to all of that are now stored in my subconscious, polluting my pure experience of myself. When my vision is focused on the purity in me, I move towards it, make right decisions, have right relationships, and do the right thing for nature. I am a pure soul. I have become polluted as I flowed through life, I have the power to access and restore full purity to myself. One of the beautiful aspects of meditation is that it gives me the power to cleanse and purify the stored memories and residues of experiences and return me to my original state of being.
Judy Johnson coordinates the activities of Brahma Kumaris meditation centres in Atlantic Canada.