'The original eco-catastrophe from which all others emerge, is an internal ecocatastrophe where we have lost our connection to our own source, our connection with Nature, with Natural Law, our own internal being,' says MUM’s Sustainable Living programme faculty, Lonnie Gamble.
by Global Good News staff writer
4 April 2011
As a sales executive with over 100 active accounts, Marco Sunseri saw people succeeding financially. But, he tells some friends, these people were so busy all the time that they were burned out. ‘What’s the point?’ Theresa Golden, an undergraduate in Communications and Media, interjected.
While environmental sustainability is receiving a lot of attention in today’s world, a rare consideration is ‘personal sustainability.’ Theresa highlights the need for that dimension. ‘You’re cleaning out the water and taking care of the trees. But if you don’t sustain yourself, what good is it? If we don’t really take care of ourselves and our souls, then it doesn’t matter if we have a planet to be on.’
Both Marco and Theresa are students at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) where ‘personal sustainability’ is at the core of education for everyone, whether majoring in Sustainable Living per se or any other discipline. The university’s website elucidates its broad vision explaining that ‘sustainability is about creating a thriving world in which we lead rich, productive, and fulfilling lives—without depleting the environment or ourselves.’
Outer depends upon inner
Dr David Fisher, Chairman of MUM’s Sustainable Living Department, points out that what is on the outside is based on what is inside. If the mind is incoherent, thought and action will be the same and will therefore be ineffective. ‘If you don’t change very much of what’s on the inside, not very much on the outside is going to change, regardless of how many great technologies you have…’ he says.
Dr Fisher’s words echo the sentiments of outstanding world figures. Nelson Mandela expresses that ‘You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself.’ And Albert Einstein voiced a similar caveat, ‘Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.’ To achieve real sustainability therefore demands, Dr Fisher believes, the need to raise consciousness.
Using Consciousness-Based Education as the basis for sustainability
At MUM, the system of education, Consciousness-Based Education, is designed to do just that. Dr Fred Travis, MUM professor and director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition, explains just what Consciousness-Based Education is by first referring to what most students have experienced—fact-based education.
He speaks of the standard lecture hall packed with 200-300 students for a 50-minute lecture. At the end of the class, the professor tells you to read the book, do the questions at the end of the chapter, and announces that you will have a test on the material soon. Based on that, you’ll receive a checkmark on your transcript indicating that you know that particular knowledge. ‘But,’ Dr Travis challenges, ‘do you really know the knowledge?
‘What they’re completely leaving out,’ the educator goes on, ‘is you, the student. They’re completely ignoring what is the character of your mind—how clear, how awake, how alert you are. They’re leaving out how tired you might be, how anxious, how worried, if there’s a family problem. . . .
‘And when you leave out the knower, you leave out the most important part of learning, you leave out the most important part of education. Because education isn’t for the knowledge, it’s for the student gaining the knowledge.
‘This is what distinguishes Consciousness-Based Education,’ Dr Travis explains. ‘You’re going to get the facts but Consciousness-Based Education starts with you, it starts with the student, it starts with the knower and it uses very simple, natural systems to develop the knower.’
Sharpening the mind
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Consciousness-Based Education, explains just how this system of education develops the knower. Maharishi uses an analogy of working with a knife. We may have a knife to cut vegetables into different designs. ‘But,’ he points out, ‘what about sharpening the knife? If we don’t take off time to sharpen the knife, all our knowledge to cut it in different pieces like that and like that and like that may just be a bore and a burden. If the knife doesn’t cut, then what to do? If the mind doesn’t work, then what to do?’ Maharishi queries.
He then provides the answer. ‘So with meditation,’ he says, referring to his Transcendental Meditation Technique, ‘we sharpen the mind. Sharpen the mind means expand the mind, clear [the] mind. With clear mind, we study as much as is possible. All the branches of learning in the relative field are highly essential but the container of knowledge should also be enlarged. The mind should also be sharpened, the mind should also be developed and the man should not remain using only a small portion of the mind, no.
‘This is something which has been missing and it is now open to all the fields of education—to incorporate this Transcendental Meditation in their daily routine.’
True sustainability—spontaneously living in tune with Nature
Dr Lonnie Gamble, on the faculty of MUM’s Sustainable Living programme, provides an environmental angle in talking about Consciousness-Based Education. ‘The original eco-catastrophe from which all others emerge,’ he says, ‘is an internal ecocatastrophe where we have lost our connection to our own source, our connection with Nature, with Natural Law, our own internal being.
‘That’s really what this university [MUM] is about—the reconnection with Being [the inner Self of everyone, which is experienced in Transcendental Meditation] to correct that original internal catastrophe of disconnection with Being and then get us spontaneously back in tune with the path of Natural Law,’ Dr Gamble continues.
This alignment with Natural Law produces a very desirable side effect—law-abiding behaviour. As the mind expands during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation Technique, comprehension becomes broader and one’s perspective naturally becomes global.
The importance of this direct experience of Transcendental Consciousness is extremely significant for creating a sustainable world because, Dr Gamble explains, ‘If you have not just an intellectual idea but [the] actual experience that there is no difference really on an essential level between your source and the source of the rest of creation—that you are so intimate that the rest of creation is actually part of you—then you’re not going to harm or damage that.’
This global citizenship and spontaneous right action resulting from the experience of Transcendental Consciousness brings fulfilment to the words of Mandela and Einstein as well as those of Wangari Maathai who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. She said:
'We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind. To do so effectively, the world needs a global ethic with values which give meaning to life experiences and, more than religious institutions and dogmas, sustain the non-material dimension of humanity. Mankind’s universal values of love, compassion, solidarity, caring, and tolerance should form the basis for this global ethic which should permeate culture, politics, trade, religion and philosophy.'
Through Consciousness-Based Education, with the Transcendental Meditation Technique at its core, a practical formula for this better world, and even for a problem-free society, exists and promises a world enjoying environmental and personal sustainability.
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