Sat Naam and greetings from The Netherlands!
As the seasons change, to fall in the Southern Hemisphere and to spring in the North, I hope that you are staying healthy and happy.
The thoughts I want to share with you this month are about karma and the environment. The concept of karma has been a part of yogic philosophy and teachings for a very long time. The idea that our actions will have consequences as some point in the future – perhaps within our lifetime or perhaps afterwards – is a part of many Eastern philosophies.
An area of our modern world in which it seems especially easy to see the concept of karma playing out is in our human influence on the environment. Our actions and choices today will surely be influencing our children and grandchildren’s futures.
But as all environmental activists recognize, the human brain is not well suited to contemplate such slow moving challenges. Especially when faced with a choice between much more immediate perceived threats (such as to jobs or the economy) and a vaguer, possibly less certain, but much further in the future threat (like maybe the extinction of all life on earth), we know where most people will focus. This is a clear example of hyberbolic discounting.
But without a doubt, the karma of our lifestyle choices (both individual and collective) will be impacting our future generations. Will we make the difficult choices, the apparent sacrifices today, to help ensure a better tomorrow? Or will our narrow self-interest, magnified by our cognitive biases, lead to disastrous consequences?
As yogis, hopefully we can use our awareness to make wiser choices. Research has shown that meditation can reduce the effect of other cognitive biases, so I am hopeful that with a strong sadhana, we will increase our chances of acting today to have a more positive karma in the future. Of course, Kundalini Yoga and meditation is not a magic cure. I am not claiming that practicing Kundalini Yoga will automatically make you an environmental activist! But the extra awareness our practice gives will certainly help each of us leave a more positive legacy!
KRI is supporting an ongoing awareness of environmental issues by offering at least one online workshop per quarter on this topic. Our first in this series was with Snatam Kaur, and you can experience the recording of that workshop here. And keep an eye open for our 2nd environmental workshop in May, entitled “Trash & Consciousness” with Siri Prakash Kaur.
May you have a blessed month of April, and may all of your choices be guided by their impact both today and into the future,
 A. C. Hafenbrack, Z. Kinias, & S. G. Barsade (2013). Debiasing the Mind Through Meditation: Mindfulness and the Sunk-Cost Bias Psychological Science DOI: 10.1177/0956797613503853