‘How we work with ourselves is how the shift will come about.’ Pema Chodron
What is the dash for gas, superficially? It appears to me to be a desperate quest for short term gain at the expense of our long term wellbeing and in particular the health of our life support system – this planet.
There’s an interesting parallel that can appear in our personal lives. I notice that when I’m starting to feel tired and that feeling is an ‘inconvenient truth’ for me, I’ll reach for some high energy food, for example chocolate, in order to ‘keep going’ at the same pace.
With the benefit of hindsight, I realise that it would be more supportive to my longer term health if I were to:
a) be present to the dip in my personal energy supply and
b) reduce my energy consumption for a while in order to redress the balance – i.e. to take a rest.
In order to find a more sustainable solution to our collective energy dilemma, I believe we need to look more deeply than the superficial urges to just ‘keep going at the same pace whatever the cost.’ What is the deeper truth beneath the temptation to indulge in a dash for gas? What are the signals from our collective physical form and our planetary life support system that inform us as to what’s really going on?
We might notice first of all that we are experiencing a dip in energy supply in relation to demand. Then, that our life support system is feeling tired and needs time and attention paid to recuperation.
What are our needs? I would suggest some might be:
• To restore energetic balance
• To gain a better understanding of how we’re using and sourcing our energy
• To create intent to find a way through this situation that meets the needs of individuals, humanity as a whole and the rest of life on earth.
One of my favourite stories about Gandhi concerns a child who loved to eat sweets. The child’s mother was worried that the child’s sweet-eating habit would be detrimental to his dental health. Unfortunately, she had been unable to persuade him to stop eating sweets and, in her desperation took him to see Gandhi in the hope that the child would listen to a master. The mother approached Gandhi and said: ‘Please would you convince my child to stop eating sweets.’ And to her surprise and frustration, Gandhi replied: ‘Ah! – bring him back in 2 weeks and ask me again.’
Despite the inconvenience, the mother and her child did indeed return 2 weeks later. Again she asked Gandhi: ‘Please would you tell my child to stop eating sweets.’ Gandhi addressed the child this time and said emphatically: ‘Listen to your mother. Stop eating sweets!’ The mother was astounded. ‘Why didn’t you say that 2 weeks ago?’ she asked Gandhi. ‘Because 2 weeks ago, I was still eating sweets!,’ he replied.
In the same spirit, if I do not want our government to support extreme energy, then I need to radically reduce my personal gas and coal consumption, otherwise I’m aware that I’m becoming hypocritical about the issue. I’m guessing that it would’ve been a lot easier for Gandhi to just speak with the child on his first visit, but instead he chose to address the issue in himself first.
Why was that important? Making intent to behave with that degree of integrity requires us to reflect much more deeply on our motives and our values – what really matters to us and what drives us. This goes beyond money, beyond keeping up appearances, winning the approval of others, saving face or any other superficial driver of behaviour.
I believe he had a deep, experiencial understanding that happiness can never be achieved through depending on what’s external to us. It only happens from within and by choosing to act in alignment with our core values, what’s deeply true for us, rather than in response to outer manipulation.
What happens in life, what we create, achieve, the problems we solve, the relationships we cultivate, begin in our hearts and minds with insights, intentions, beliefs and thoughts. Karmic seeds in Buddhist philosophy terms – the seeds we sow now in our hearts and minds and through our actions – will see fruit in 700 years time according to the Dalai Lama ( and in 7 generations’ time, according to Native American philosophy).This can seem like an intolerably long-term view and challenging to bear in mind in the heat of the moment. It can be easier to motivate ourselves to change our lifestyle if we relate it to our more immediate family – what will become of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.
A truth about the dash for gas, in my view, is that our desperation around energy supply is the collective result of our individual approaches to energy management. It originates in our individual minds and hearts and so it’s there that we will find the insight and motivation to prevent the damage: to take a different, more sustainable path…if we so choose.