Tag Archives: Planet

Deepak Chopra: Music & Art on a Path to World Peace

What role do art, music, and creativity play in creating a peaceful, sustainable globe? To consider that question, we might first examine the crucial role artists and creators have in our communities and in our own lives.

In this address to the members of the World Peace Orchestra, Deepak Chopra discusses the role of music and art on creating a path to world peace.

Are you an artist? What role do you think art plays on the path toward world peace?

For more about the World Peace Orchestra, click here.

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7 Telltale Signs You’re A Hardcore Greenie

max-R Outdoor Recycling BinGoing green is a great way to show your love for the environment and to promote a sustainable lifestyle that really helps the planet. It’s also incredibly addictive, so after the first few steps you might find yourself engaged in an increasing number of green activities. You know you’ve become a seriously hardcore greenie if…

You Look for Recycling Bins Instead of Trashcans

Recycling is one of the easiest, most essential ways to go green. It only takes a little effort, it’s great for the environment, and it’s becoming much more widely accepted. If you’re becoming a hardcore green-friendly person, you likely start looking for recycling bins before you ever look for trashcans, because you realize that practically everything is recyclable. Whether you’re out shopping or visiting a friend, you’re loathe to throw away your paper cups, soda cans, or newspapers, and secretly you feel a little appalled when you discover that there aren’t any recycling bins available.

Your Have Reusable Bags Hidden in the Car

You can’t remember the last time someone at a store asked you if you wanted paper bags or plastic ones because your reusable bags are always at hand. You’ve been known to turn around without shopping if you arrive at the store and realize you forgot your fabric bags. To avoid that in the future, you started squirreling reusable bags away in your car.

People who carpool with you (of course you carpool—it’s better for the environment) are likely to find cloth bags in the side pockets of the door, the glove compartment, the trunk, under the seats, and in the hidden cubby console between the front seats. You now use them for everything, from carrying around your gym clothes to carrying your shopping. In fact, you have enough reusable bags that sometimes you lend them to people at the grocery store who insist on using plastic bags.

You Unplug Without Thinking

Many people don’t even realize that their appliances and gadgets still suck up energy even when they’re turned off—but you do. You’ve long suspected that your electricity bills are high and your appliances are wasting energy even if they’re turned off, because they’re still plugged into the wall sockets. Now that you have proof, unplugging is second nature to you.

When you’re a serious greenie, your routine changes. Where once it was enough to simply walk through your home turning off the lights in empty rooms, now you go around unplugging those big energy vampires. You make sure to unplug your computer and all of its components because you know your favorite tech-toy is one of the biggest culprits. You gleefully unplug kitchen appliances, especially the microwave, and you always pull the plug on the TV too.

Of course, if you’re really green, you likely have smart power-strips as well, to save energy even when you’re using your favorite devices.

You Take Marathon Showers

People waste so much water every day! Long baths and showers aren’t special treats saved for stressful days, they are daily occurrences. But you know better. Not only do you turn off the faucet as you brush your teeth so you’re not needlessly wasting water, you’ve turned showering into an Olympic event.

You’ve timed exactly how long it takes you to do everything you need to do in your shower. You don’t waste one single second—or a single drop of water. In addition to installing a low-flow head for your shower and a shower timer, you’ve equipped every faucet with an aerator to conserve energy, water, and heat. You know, as you get all clean and fresh, that you’re doing your part to save water.

You Wanted Solar Energy for Your Birthday

After long dreaming of using solar energy, you finally decided that was all you wanted. You saved up, looked around for the best deals and the most quality work, and decided that solar panel energy was the best choice for you. That’s because you know how efficient solar energy really is. You understand the joy of relying on the sun to give you heat, power, and even hot water. While your panels were your biggest birthday present, you still insisted that anyone who got you a present used recyclable paper, of course.

All Your Gadgets Are Solar-Powered

It wasn’t enough to install solar power on your roof, though. You want everything powered by solar energy because, again, you realize how powerful the sun is. So your kitchen is fully outfitted in appliances powered by solar energy. The fridge uses solar power and all of your other appliances are completely energy-efficient. You’ve got a solar-powered watch and the charger you use for your phone, tablet, and other mobile gadgets is also solar-powered. All your friends are jealous of you when the power goes out because you’re still connected. How cool are you?

You’ve Got the Best Compost Pile on the Block

If you’re a hardcore environmentalist, you’ve been composting since long before it was cool. You’ve discovered a way to compost almost everything. As a result, your grass is lush and all the drought-tolerant plants in your garden thrive. You can easily sustain yourself on the food you grow and you routinely share with your neighbors because you want them to eat healthy too.

Composting is part of your routine. Almost everything that comes out of your home either gets recycled or composted. You try to reuse everything for a good purpose and it works for you. Not only do you know you’re doing your part, but you help to erase your carbon footprint every single day. You even offer to start compost heaps for the neighbors who compliment your lifestyle, your commitment, and your gorgeous greenery.

If you’re a serious greenie who takes the eco-friendly life seriously, then you are unquestionably awesome. You’re kind to the Earth, to your family, and to your neighbors because you know that what you’re doing matters.

 

Image via Flickr by max-R

3 Way To Make The World A Better Place

Wonderful TimeBy Jay Forte

At last count, there are just over 7 billion people on the planet. Even with that extreme number, no two of us are exactly alike in abilities, interests, strengths, talents or passions. Our differences are intentional – they enable each of us to invent lives that fit us – to find our own way in a world filled with people, and to bring to our world what we do best. We get to be who we are. This is at the essence of building a better world.

Though we each have this built in “great life” advantage of customizing our lives around our abilities and interests, few of the 7 billion on the planet do this. Because we were not each born with an owner’s manual that gives us some clarity about what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us, we have to show up each day to our lives to discover this. And in this life, we are met with the loud voices in our faith, history, family, schools and society that tell us who we are to be, how we are to think and what we are to do. We abdicate our power to own and direct our lives when we use others’ rules to build our lives. These lives frequently are filled with regret – wrong job, wrong marriage, wrong faith, wrong town, wrong whatever. When this happens, we show up to our lives less than we could be. We shortchange our lives; we shortchange our world.

Creating a better world starts with clarity about who we are. Here are my three ways to make the world a better place:

  1. Know yourself. It is difficult to make the world a better place if we show up to areas in our lives that do not match our best abilities. We are each born with unique talents, strengths, and passion that not only prepare us to be great at some things, but give us the interest and desire to pursue those things. To make a profound difference in our world, we will first need to know what hardwired abilities came with us. Since we never got an owner’s manual for this information, we have to instead use each day to observe and assess our reactions, responses and abilities. We gradually learn what we are great at, passionate about and what matters to us. We are then challenged to do something with this information.

  1. Be yourself. Scan your world for applications to connect the best of you with the world. This way you show up to those areas that connect with you. You have both ability and interest in these areas. If we all loved and were good at the same thing, we would be in continual competition. Instead, our uniqueness creates opportunities for each of us. We get to show up to our lives exactly as we are – we show up to our world in a more significant way; our actions are stronger, our thinking is more profound, our commitment is more intense.

  1. Allow others to be themselves. Bullying, judgment, criticism are the hallmarks of humanity. Instead of supporting others to discover and be their best selves, we use much of our time finding fault with the approaches others have in how they live their lives. We judge their looks, work, hobbies, how they spend money, what they eat, who they marry, what they believe, etc. Knowing how difficult it is to discover our own abilities and gifts – and to openly and successfully live them, why would we add any complication to the process for others? Plato is credited with the comment, “Be kind, for everyone one is fighting a hard battle.” That battle is an authentic life. How can you end the judgments and allow others to show up who they are and how they are. How can you support others in their quest to bring their best to the world, particularly if it looks different than what your best looks like?

It is human nature to judge. I actually think it is part of our core brain hard-wiring – the part that looks to keep us safe. By judging, we are constantly assessing our world for challenges or concerns; it is innate. So, as with discovering our abilities, we will also need to work at dropping our guard and allowing people who look, act, think and dream differently than we do the room to be who they are. This only challenges how we think things should be and does not encourage how they could be. We let our stories, fears, concerns and traditions inhibit all that could be.

The world is built by those who are right here, right now. If those who are here are more concerned with telling others how they should live, instead of living fully themselves and allowing others to live fully, then we limit our lives and our world. We let our personal histories and belief systems interfere with who others are and how they should live. We spend our time trying to correct or judge others, instead of amplifying our personal impact in our greatest ability areas.

So, imagine the world we would create if we spent more time developing our gifts, and more time encouraging others to discover and live theirs. It starts with each of us. Today, it could be you and me. I’m in. How about you?

Know yourself. Be yourself. Allow others to be themselves. It isn’t complicated. It just challenges what we know. But a view of a better bolder life and world makes it completely worth the effort.

Photo credit: Robert Bejil

10 Moving Photos of the Black Rhino, Now Extinct in Western Africa

Credit: NagWolf

Rhinos are some of the most strange and beautiful creatures to inhabit this planet of ours. With its sturdy, two-humped body, a head like a hippo, and horns that conjure tales of unicorns, the rhinoceros is an animal who should inspire awe and respect. Why, then, does it consistently make the “critically endangered” list on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species?

The answer: Poaching. These majestic creatures have been mercilessly pursued by poachers for their precious horns, used both in traditional Chinese medicine as well as for personal adornment in various parts of the world. The population of Black Rhinos, in particular, declined over 97% between 1960 and 1995, and they have been listed as critically endangered since 1996. They are now believed to be entirely extinct in western Africa, with three remaining subspecies tenuously populating eastern and southern parts of the continent.

The natural life expectancy for the Black Rhino ranges from 35 to 50 years, which is fairly long considering their immense size (2,000-3,000 lbs at full maturity.) Despite the intimidating horns, Black Rhinos are herbivores and use their strength primarily in fighting one another. Intra-species violence aside, they have no natural predators and have been pushed to the extinction and near-extinction by human practices, alone.

Here are 10 awe-inspiring photos of the powerful Black Rhino, whose compromised existence is no one’s fault by our own:

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Photo credits: NagWolf, Joachim S. Müller, Vincent Catt

Tornadoes, Bombings, and Kidnappings – How Tragedies Activate Our Higher Selves (Part 2)

PrayClick here for part 1.

Author Seth Godin shares that, in today’s world, big change doesn’t happen top-down – by governments or companies deciding what to do. Big or epic change happens from the ground up. It happens as thousands of people decide how they want something to be and then go do it. We can influence this string of tragedies between people by a creating a groundswell of respect and appreciation by people who recommit to seeing the good in others, valuing others and using their unique abilities to see and solve today’s challenges.

Tragedies get our attention. Tragedies interrupt our daily flow – they demand us to step into larger and more responsible roles. When life is fine – we are less intentional in our approach – almost going through life in autopilot. In these moments, we are less focused on how we can connect with each other more significantly or find ways to live more safely on the planet. But when something unusual – painful and tragic – happens, we dig deeper, find resources within ourselves and work more significantly with others to give, improve, support, and care. We are more responsive and more compassionate.

Eckhart Tolle shares in his book A New Earth, “As unhappiness increases, it also causes an increasing disruption in your life.” And when the pain is great, we change. When tragedies strike, we are shaken out of our normal, self-centered worlds and have a glimpse of our greater humanity, greater suffering, and greater need. In this moment, we connect to what is best in us and we solve, invent, work together, and let petty differences disappear. Remember the unity we felt after the Boston Marathon bombings, 911, the Oklahoma tornadoes and hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

The planet and people are the greatest sources of our tragedies. We can’t do much about the planet other than to understand it and use our collective genius to work together to learn how to live safely on it. We can however, learn to be more focused on each other’s greatness as the way to discuss our differences instead of attack, to work through problems instead of shooting or bombing, and to consider that every life is as valuable and important as every other life, regardless of faith, career, social status, or ethnicity. We are each born awesome; when we each are able to know ourselves and know our world, we can then unite to connect the best of ourselves to address today’s needs, challenges, and opportunities. Our problems and our solutions are in our humanity.

As my mother used to say to my five siblings and me when we complained about some physical attribute we inherited from our family that we didn’t like (long arms, unruly hair, Italian nose), “Look deeper. You have enough of the right stuff to make a profound difference in this world. You have what others need in the way of ideas, intellect, compassion and awareness to invent what needs to be invented and to learn to see the divine abilities in every other person.”

What if each of us learned to respond in “tragedy-mode” even when there were no tragedies? What if we cared more for others to help them reach their potential and soar in life instead of taking them down? What if we used our amazing intellectual abilities and wisdom to develop ways to keep people around the planet safe, regardless of what the planet was doing in its life cycle, then hurry to respond if something larger than our solutions happens?

Tragedies have the ability to help us discover and live what is best in us. The better question is why must we wait for a tragedy to access our more expansive, wise, and compassionate selves? If they are present in tragedy, then they are also present in happier and less dangerous times. All we need to do is to call on them.

So, maybe tragedies occur to remind us that we have greater power and influence over the outcomes of things than we think. That perhaps tragedies exist to show us that we have what we need to proactively stop future tragedies from happening. It is our choice to show up each day respecting and caring about others, and understanding our world to know how to live in it safely and wisely. And when the unavoidable humanity and planet collisions occur, that we quickly, wisely and compassionately respond.

Tornadoes, Bombings, and Kidnappings – Making Sense Out of Tragedies (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 3.58.18 PMIn what seems to be a period of an unprecedented amount of tragedies, we ask what is happening with our planet and with the people in our world? Tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and super storms; bombings, kidnapping, civil wars, battles over land and beliefs, and centuries’ old sectarian violence is all we hear about. Today’s news seems to report crisis after catastrophe after calamity. Why do these tragedies happen and what sense can we make out of them?

What if tragedies were the interruption in our lives to get us out of our mindless approach to our days – to be “shocked” into being greater, more compassionate, more creative, and wiser? What if the reason for tragedies were to force us to learn to reconnect with others as each important and valuable, and to use our collective genius to learn how to live better and more safely on our changing planet?

In a closer review, it seems this string of tragedies is centered on two areas – our planet and our humanity. Perhaps by looking at each, we can start to make sense of why these events happen and determine if there is anything we can do about them. Let’s start with a look at the planet.

Our planet is alive. It is constantly shifting, growing, and regenerating. Earthquakes are the natural process of the collision of shifting tectonic plates and the bringing up of new materials from deep in the earth to feed the surface. Hurricanes are the natural reaction of changes in our atmosphere whose winds clean and reconfigure the face of the land. Their rains replenish all life forms throughout all ecological systems. Violent tornadoes are the intersection of cold and warm fronts, influenced by topography and geography.

My personal perspective is there is no intentionality or malice in these events; these are not curses or punishments. They, instead, are the natural cycle of life of our living and changing planet. These events have existed on our planet long before mankind inhabited this blue and green ball. As we live along fault lines, in areas lower than sea level, along riverbanks, on flat windy plains, and along the coasts, we put ourselves in nature’s way. Nature does what it does to sustain itself, regardless of where we live, shop, attend school, or work. Though beautiful, nature can also be violent. Tragedies happen when these planet life-events collide with where humans live and work. But the solution to living in a vibrant and thriving planet is directly connected to the second focus in this discussion of tragedy – people.

In addition to our collision with our planet, we are also in collision with people. Wars, conflicts, bombings, genocide, kidnapping, assaults, and rapes happen because we are colliding with cultures, values, beliefs, and traditions. In these collisions, we have forgotten that each of us is intrinsically great, special, unique, and divinely created. In conflict, we do not consider others as equally important, valuable, or as great as ourselves. We lose the understanding that we are a collection of people – all uniquely gifted and capable of not only solving the issues we have with each other to eliminate personal tragedies, but by using our intellect and gifts to discover how to live on our evolving planet.

I am reminded of the message in the Hindu greeting Namaste – “may the divine in me acknowledge the divine in you.” Science, religion, and philosophy rarely agree. But they do agree on this one thing – there is an element of greatness or divinity in each of us, evidenced by the uniqueness of our talents, strengths and passions. Reconsidering this inherent value in everyone and living with the respect and appreciation for the true greatness in others, not only can reduce the collision of people, but can be used to resolve the collisions of people with the planet.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Why World Peace Is Not Possible and That’s Okay

PRAYERBy Vanessa Gobes

I love writing about my spiritual awakening. And I love reading about other people’s spiritual awakenings. What tickles me most about it all, is how we all seem to feel as if we’ve just discovered uncharted insight or invented a revolutionary technique that can help not only us, but anyone who is willing to try to think like us or act like us or serve the world like us.

We’re Utopians in that respect – so sure that if the pained people of the world could just drop their weapons, feel gratitude for their challenges, treat others with kindness, be mindful of the environment and eat healthier food, that a giant wave of tenderness would wash over the planet and soothe humanity’s woes.

I’ve had a revelation or two of my own following a particularly meditative and pensive week. I’ve realized that, while world peace is the goal, it is simply impossible. Earth is designed to be a place of learning. And without suffering, there’s little opportunity to understand the incredible depth of love.

Though this tiny shift has been simmering quietly in my being for quite some time, I’ve been unable to accept it. Unable to accept that man is robbing the earth of her heartbeat; unable to accept that our children are being taught to value competition over collaboration; unable to accept that national leaders are so angry and disturbed that they truly believe nuclear attacks will heal their pain; unable to accept that children are abused and people are starving and corporate greed rules the world and there’s very little a peace-yearning person like me, like you, can do about it.

I cannot change the world. I can only change myself and, as Gandhi said, “be the change [I] wish to see in the world.”

This whole planet spins for us. So we can learn. The Universe lives only in our own hearts, and there we can find peace. This tormented planet serves our human existence so we can learn and elevate and evolve. It’s all so clear to me today. I get it.

Heal thyself.

The Universe in Krishna’s mouth.

Work hard to gain your own salvation.

Instead of wishing that the world were different, I’m replacing that wish with a feeling with gratitude. I’m thankful for the existence of this place of learning, grateful for the opportunity to serve my soul as a human experiment, joyed with moments – the highs and the lows – knowing that each experience is a valuable addition to my soul’s journey. I see that the best thing I can do to create peace in my heart is to love unconditionally and serve others as much as I can. I don’t have to fix the world, in fact I can’t. I just have to fix myself.

Honestly, I’m a bit weepy typing out these thoughts. I feel like I’m mourning a lifetime of misdirected thoughts, but I’m also relieved to come to grips with what I believe is truth, even though it’s a hard pill to swallow.

 

Photo credit: Flickr

* * *

vanessaheadshot-3Vanessa Gobes is a full time house frau and jane of all trades. She’s currently blogging her way to awakening through a steady diet of kindness, compassion and mindfulness – considering herself not quite Buddhist, but Bu-curious. Her current intent is to work on infusing a daily morning meditation routine into each public school in her town. Vanessa is a community activista, philanthropista and newspaper columnista in Winchester, Massachusetts. Read her stories on her blog Bringing Up Buddhas.

Deepak Chopra: Is God a Mathematician?

In an ongoing series of philosophical, scientific discussions, Deepak Chopra sits down with Menas Kafatos, a physicist and Chapman University professor, to discuss the fine tuning of the universe. With such precision and organized chaos, it would seem any creator would have had an aptitude for math.

Constants in science, such as the speed of light, guide the laws of the physical universe. But the mystery, as Menas says, is why these constants exist as such. The organizing power of the universe very likely derives from these constants, and may be based on pure chance. But Menas and Deepak suggest another possibility, which is that these constants are in fact perfectly organized by a self-aware universe, continually bearing itself into existence.

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Vast

♫Tonight, Not Again...♫Mission: Breakthrough.

The intriguing name of the six week yoga challenge at the studio I teach at In Fort Worth, Texas. Each week being a different spiritual theme, this upcoming week is a focus on life itself. Broad? Yes. Scary? Possibly. Freeing? Most definitely. As I think about what message I want to spread to my students this week on the gorgeous topic of life, I can’t shake the feeling I have had for weeks now about the sheer vastness of it all. Life, that is.

Topics for the week could include anything from unwell inner dialog, to self-limiting beliefs we use to excuse why we aren’t living up to our full potential. As I examine my own self-doubts, it has been comforting to me lately to wholeheartedly know that all of us are under the vast umbrella of the universe. Although the doubts we hold need to be examined for origin, I am slowly starting to see the crack in the façade. These doubts and limits we put on ourselves aren’t real. We think they’re real as we put real energy around them, and even start to build our entire life around them. We end up manifesting them into our reality by obsessing, over-thinking, demanding and worrying about what-if’s and coulda shoulda wouldas. But they’re an illusion. Like trying to squeeze a cloud, or catch the finest sand in your fingers…decent intention but fruitless effort which gets us absolutely nowhere.

What spurred this feeling of spaciousness within me was something I used to do all the time but had somehow forgotten about.

I looked up to the night sky.

Where I grew up in the desert of Arizona, most nights you could see every single star in the sky.  When we moved to Texas a few years ago, I looked up one night and the view seemed different. I couldn’t see the stars, for one. So I stopped looking up. The night a few weeks ago that I chose to look up I saw every single star in the sky.

I know better than to think life here is different than life anywhere, because it isn’t.

Life is where I am, wherever that happens to be.

I know better than to think the sky here or in Arizona isn’t the same sky we all share.

I know that no matter who you are, you’re in it, under it, around it… you are it.

I spent a lot of time in Sedona as a kid and young adult, and I used to have this feeling standing at the edge of the red mountains that I could do anything in the world. The universe was mine but didn’t belong to me, and there was no limit to any of it. Vast. I lost that somewhere along the way. This elusive feeling, which can only be physically described as space in my lower abdomen, is starting to come back. I am lit up, and it feels amazing.

I was driving home from dinner with my son on this Easter evening, just he and I. We enjoyed a fancy dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, his favorite place to dine. We saw easily 25 families celebrating the day and the gorgeous weather at the various parks we passed on the way home. It energized me, and I said to my son that we should do that next year. We should go to the park with our family and friends and dine and hunt eggs and just be together. He said “Mom, why wait a whole year? Let’s do it tomorrow night. No need to wait for the good stuff, Mom. Let’s just do it while we can. Because we can!” Yes.

Once the kids were in bed, my husband and I looked outside our bedroom door to the evening falling outside. All at once we saw the first bat, heard the first hoot of an owl and saw the first star appear in the sky welcoming the night…once again reminding us that the universe is in perfect order and harmonious balance if we choose to see it that way and allow ourselves to be a part of the magic.

Why wait? Let’s get to the good stuff now, while we can and because we can. Life is so vast, and such a gift. We ourselves are also so incredibly vast and have so many gifts yet to be revealed.

Are we alone in the Universe?

In today’s episode of The Rabbit Hole, a new mind-expanding series on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses this question and leaves us with some interesting food for thought. The potential for other lives forms outside planet Earth has captivated people for centuries. What’s really out there? Aliens? Parallel universes? Nothing at all?

With billions of stars and galaxies and trillions of planets out in ‘space’, Deepak notes it would be remarkable if there weren’t other life forms outside of Earth. Then again, given the singularity of this planet compared with what we know of the others in our solar system, it would be incredible to discover life, as we know it, elsewhere.

Right now, galaxies billions of light years away are colliding, moving, and tumbling into dark matter. New stars are born; old stars die; and given the size of the universe and the limited speed of light, we likely won’t even know about an event until many years after the fact. So even if, say, there were a parallel universe with human-like creatures walking around, shopping in supermarkets, and chatting about the latest political debates, we might never discover it. (If it’s out there, let’s hope they’ve built a much more sustainable and peace world than we have!)

Consider this… Are you comfortable with uncertainty? Might contemplation and discussion on the question be enough? Deepak offers an alternative way of approaching the matter – one that might surprise you. More compelling than the question of life on other planets, he says, is the consciousness that allows us to even ponder such mysteries. Human awareness is, itself, a miracle and a world unto itself. This is the real mystery of the Universe.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more thought-provoking episodes of The Rabbit Hole, every Thursday!

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