Our SRSG Ashram was recently blessed with the presence of Dr. Satish Kumar. He is a renowned educator, writer, thinker, scholar, ecological and peace activist, and above all a wanderer. One message he left us with is it is too late to be a pessimist about the environment. We must remain optimistic and do whatever we can as individuals; change will begin with each of us.
Photos and more below...
When he was 19, Satish Kumar and a friend of his heard that 90-year-old English philosopher Bertrand Russell was going to prison as a protest against the spread of nuclear weapons. The two companions were so impressed by Russell's commitment to non-violence and civil disobedience, and so appalled at the potential destructive power of the weapons, that they themselves wanted to do something about it.
The two vowed to set off on a peace walk to the four corners of the nuclear world - Washington, London, Paris and Moscow - as an act of protest and non-violence, and decided to carry no money on their trip. They called it a 'Pilgrimage for peace'.
The journey is chronicled in Satish's book, "No Destination"
He was deeply moved by Gandhiji's idea of integrating individual spirituality with social spirituality.
He settled in England in 1973 and lives in Hartland, Devon.
He founded the Small School in Hartland, a pioneering secondary school (aged 11-16), which brings into its curriculum ecological and spiritual values.
In 1991, Schumacher College, a residential international center for the study of ecological and spiritual values, was founded, of which he is the Director.
Satish Kumar has spent much of his life walking the Earth to spiritually connect with nature
He has now spent decades in Devon teaching many of the world's leading thinkers about the necessity for ecological and spiritual values, as well as editing the magazine Resurgence.
He insists that reverence for nature needs to be at the heart of the world's political and social debate.
He does not agree with the concept of economic "realism" advocated and practised by governments, environment groups and authorities.
In his opinion, "the realists have led us to war and climate change, poverty on an unimaginable scale, and wholesale ecological destruction. Half of humanity goes to bed hungry because of all the realistic leaders in the world. Realism is an outdated, overplayed and wholly exaggerated concept."
Instead, he seeks to learn from nature. Kumar argues that the spiritual aspect of the environment is what has been lost in the great debate about the way we live and work. "Todays' environment movements are logical and analytical. But they are driven by doom, gloom and disaster."
People look at nature from a very utilitarian point of view and see what is good for them only, he says, and seek to manage it rather than protect it.
He wants to move people to a more experiential philosophy of the natural world. He sees no reason why governments and authorities should not be driven by philosophies of reverence to nature rather than violence to it.
Kumar has never given up his wanderings. In 1986, he walked 2,000 miles around Britain; in 1997, he walked to the sacred mount Kailash in Tibet. Kumar says: "When you walk, you are in touch with the earth, with nature, the wasps, the insects, everything. In a car or a train or a plane, you are disconnected. You walk to connect yourself."
He says and I quote, "We are looking for what I would call a new trinity, a "soil, soul, society" philosophy - soil for the environment, soul for the spiritual dimension, and society for the social justice that is essential."
In July 2000, Satish Kumar was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Education from the University of Plymouth.
In July 2001, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from the University of Lancaster.
In November 2001, Satish Kumar was presented with the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Abroad.
Satish Kumar was one of the contributors for writing the book, We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, released in October 2009.
In 2008, Satish Kumar presented a 50-minute documentary on the BBC as part of the Natural World series.Satish teaches, lectures and runs workshops internationally on reverential ecology, holistic education and voluntary simplicity.
Books by Satish Kumar
- The Buddha and the Terrorist: The Story of Angulimala
- Images of Earth & Spirit A Resurgence Art Anthology (editor)
- You Are Therefore I Am - A Declaration of Dependence
- Only Connect: Soil, Soul, Society
- No Destination: an autobiography
- Spiritual Compass: The Three Qualities of Life
Dr. Vandana Shiva, a scientist, scholar, an environmental activist, and a close friend of Dr. Satish Kumar has very aptly said of his life:
Satish Kumar's life can be described as having no destination because he has never settled for limited destinations. There are no full stops in his life, only commas, hyphens and semi-colons.
More information can be found at their website www.resurgence.org