A family visited a beautiful tropical island on holiday. There were forests there, and signs warning them not to enter. A boy asked his father, “Why can’t we go in there?”. His father replied, “It’s too dangerous son. There are wild animals, and it’s dark. We’d be afraid”.
Later, as the family walked by a beach, the father was distracted and strayed onto an overgrown path. When he looked up, the trees were looming. He was alarmed, and looked around. He realised he was lost, and his alarm turned to fear.
The man froze completely as a bear strode up to him. The bear was joined by a wolf and a boar. More and more animals came until he was entirely surrounded by every animal under the sun.
A lion stepped forward and asked, “What are you afraid of?”.
The man replied, “I am afraid of the forest. I am afraid of you, the animals.”
The lion spoke again. “We are each the last of our kinds. You are standing beside the last forest. The sun is too hot, the air is disappearing and there is plastic in the water. Your kind have done this. Yet you are afraid of us?”
The lion went on: “Aren’t you deluded? The people of the world are either starving or over eating. You made weapons to magnify your power to kill a thousand times. Your nations are either at war, or unhappy because their lives are peaceful but uninteresting. Tell us, Man, how did you come to this?”
The man was taken aback. He took a deep breath and said, “I’ll tell you our story, although it might break my heart to do so.
Long ago, when we first awoke, we lived in the trees eating leaves and berries. We understood the forest, and our place in it. It was a hard life, but it was hard for all. Every creature had their share, and we could see that.
We learned to kill other animals. We knew that this was not our place, but we assumed that a Ruler of All must have changed the rules for us, to give us a better place.
There was more food then, and we grew. But soon, there were too many of us. We came down, to find new trees.
It was more dangerous on the ground, but we found new ways to kill the other animals. We had the power of the lion to kill. We had the power of the owl to watch. And we gained many other powers reflected from the other creatures. Clearly, The Ruler of All wanted us to flourish over others.
And then there was more food than we could ever have imagined. There was no need to go back into the trees. It was better on the ground. We grew again, and again there were soon too many of us.
So, we left for new land, where there was no one to compete with us. If the Ruler of All had given us this land, surely all the land was for us?
It was colder there, but the animals had thicker fur. We realised that we could wear their skin, as well as eating their meat. We felt that the Ruler had given us the land and its animals for ourselves.
Our skin forgot the sun, and we couldn’t go back.
We came to colder, wetter forests with new and ferocious animals. We had forgotten how to live in the trees, and so life was very dangerous. But more of us came, so we lived as best we could. We began to run out of food. When would the Ruler step in and give us what we need?
We ate the forest vegetables and fruits, as well as the meat we could catch. We learned to cultivate the plant life. It was easier, and safer. We realised that the forest was in the way: if the trees were not there, then the dangerous animals would retreat. We could even trap and imprison some of the less dangerous ones, to eat at our leisure. And, we could cultivate abundant vegetables on the clear ground. The Ruler still favoured us, because only we could change the world like this.
And then, we had so much food that there would be no limit to our number ever again. As we grew, some among us were clearly strongest. If the Ruler had given us power above animals, then surely the strongest of us ruled among us? These Rulers-In-Us would use us the way we used the animals. For them, we built cities. We forgot how to live in the trees, and some of us forgot how to live on the land.
The Rulers-In-Us wanted each other’s wealth, and we made their wars for them. The land was ravaged. There was no food, and we no longer knew how to live naturally. Again, we looked to the Ruler of All to save us.
But we realised that we had brought this trouble on ourselves. We needn’t kill each other until only one remains to Rule-In-Us. If we simply work our cities and farms, the market will give us peace and prosperity. And we would do this for ourselves: we concluded that there never had been a Ruler of All. We had achieved everything through a mixture of chance and rational development.
The cities became larger, darker and dirtier, so we found a new beauty in the world outside. We studied and catalogued it. We dissected it and experimented with it. Nothing escaped our attention – the most distant objects, the smallest particles, burning, deadly energies that we couldn’t even see or hear. We unravelled the twisting signature of life, and began to change all creatures: even ourselves.
But the markets damaged the forests, the sea, the land and the air. Some of us noticed the natural world disappearing from the smoke in the air and the toxins in the water. It’s getting hotter. If only there was a Ruler of All to save us now…surely it’s not up to People to fix this?”
The man was in tears by now. The animals left, because they were unable to help.
As Yogis, we work towards finding a peace inside through dedicated Yoga, Hot Yoga and meditation practice. It can seem like a firm goal to achieve such peace. It’s worth reflecting, though, that this peace can only be appreciated because we are here in a busy and sometimes messy world. It’s the world and our place in it that gives rise to all our confusions and angst – that’s true. But it would also give rise to that peace and tranquillity, should we ever find it inside. The magnitude of the task we face un-doing damage to nature will be the enabler for us to succeed.
Yogafurie is committed to help, as much as we can and whenever we can. We planted 52 trees in local mixed woodland last year, with the help of our partners the Forest of Avon Trust. We aim to double that this year, and to double again from there. As our network of franchised Hot Yoga studios grows, each will be working with local reforestation charities to do what can be done in their area. Our ‘why’ is reforestation.
I’d like to leave you with a final thought. We have a large company that look after the electricity supply. Likewise, a huge organisation caring for our gas supply, water, and fuel. But when it comes to the air supply, all we have are a few charities. That’s not to downplay the significance of what they do – just to highlight that we’re not yet really taking green issues seriously yet.