I have often wondered at what we call sustainable development. It is difficult enough to think about all of this injustice, inequality, and suffering in the world, let alone work to solve these problems in a ‘sustainable’ way. I have now come to see though that any kind of development work can, and only is, sustainable if it first begins with our own inner work. Otherwise it is like giving a cancer patient a band aid. When greed, hatred, delusion and all those negative habits that cause our society’s problems are rooted in our minds, how can we in any way do sustainable development? How can we truly work to alleviate the world from discrimination, slavery, exploitation, or violence when we find them within ourselves? We say we want a more loving, a more forgiving, a more compassionate world, but how often do we ourselves actually experience those things? To do any kind of development or humanitarian work in a sustainable way is hopeless if we let ourselves be consumed by the very same ignorance that perpetuates the suffering we are outwardly working to change. Sustainable development must begin with a turn inwards, and that turn I believe must be towards mindfulness.
Watch your breath. All things operate on the same pattern as the breath. When we begin to be aware of our breath, we begin to see thoughts, feelings, and other sensations arise; in doing so, those very same thoughts slow down, we are better able to recognize when negativity arises, and more capable at transforming ourselves in a positive light.
“Knowledge is what which liberates,” is the philosophy here at APV. What kind of knowledge is liberating, what are we seeking? It is the knowing of each and every successive sensation or phenomena experienced by each of the senses, in every moment successively. Being aware, here and now. Only that kind of knowledge will give us the ability to see our bodies and minds as they are, to build non-attachment, and to begin liberating ourselves from the negativity that enslaves and holds us back. Take a few moments and observe your breath again. Its rhythm is not song-like; it will not entrance you by any means. But it is tranquil, and yet our minds will wander, and desire something more entertaining
. We often speak of developing a peaceful, sustainable world, but in our experience, at least in mine, our minds seem to be conditioned in a way as to not like peace. Peace and sustainability in our work can only come when we have peace in our minds and hearts, and such being can only be developed through meditation.