You are here

Inner Climate and the Quest for Environmental Sustainability Conference

Inner Climate and the Quest for Environmental Sustainability –
A cooperative framework bridging ancient inner and modern sciences

A Tarab Ling Institute and Doon University Collaboration

 

Date: 24. - 26. March 2017
Place: Tarab Ling, Maldevta Road, Dehradun 248001

 

Tarab Ling Institute, an institute for ancient Eastern Inner-science was successfully inaugurated on November 28th, 2014 in Dehradun, India. The first conference held at our premises was on ‘Interrelated Nature of Existence’, Pratityasamutpada. Encouraged by the success of this conference we wish to take this theme forward into an area, which will impact the survival of mankind on this planet. It is with this in mind we are happy to announce a two-day workshop on:

“Inner Climate and the Quest for Environmental Sustainability —
A cooperative framework bridging ancient inner and modern sciences”

A better understanding of the interrelated nature of our inner and outer condition can be the source for answers that will help us understand and resolve environmental issues in a more holistic way. Any solutions that take into consideration only external factors cannot be complete, giving a full and permanent result. We are of that opinion that it is only when we, apart from understanding the interrelated nature of the environment, also understand the nature of ourselves and the interrelated nature between ourselves and the environment, and use this insight to arrive at solutions, can they be long lasting.

 *

We invite you to come and participate in this Conference
In which we will try to identify and understand why humans resist
To make full use of the vast knowledge-base available to us
For seeking sustainable solutions to environmental issues; and
How we can arrive at increasingly more holistic solutions to the problems of environmental degradation

*

Background Vision and Hypothesis

 The organizers of this workshop are mostly connected with a ‘Paris Inner Climate’ project group consisting of scientists, experts in the environmental field and Eastern Inner-science (Unity in Duality - UD) scholars. Below you can read our group[1] vision, which kindly was written together by Professor Michel Bitbol, M.D. &Ph.D. Philosophy & Physics, Directeur de Rechercheat CNRS, Paris; whereas the presenters will be mainly Scholars and field workers based in India.
The list of speakers will soon be displayed on the website: www.tarab-institute.org/tarabling/conference/2016 

Inner climate and the quest for environmental sustainability –
A cooperative framework bridging ancient inner and modern sciences

Most approaches to the environment adopt a purely objective and detached standpoint. According to them, the relation between the human species and the environment is an object of study, or an object of technological manipulation for the sake of sustainability. They can either consider that it is the responsibility of humanity to keep the balance of nature or, conversely, claim that the human kind is the main threat, which represents a sort of pest. But all of them share the same prejudice by keeping experience at a distance, i.e. by adopting a third person perspective, as in science. All of them underrate the fact that the relation between human persons and their environment is lived in the first person, and subjectively evaluated. Such gap in understanding is partially filled by a synthetic discipline called “Integral Ecology” that pays attention to the plurality of cultural frameworks that pre-determine our perception of nature. Depending on the cultural framework, one may consider nature as a gift to be honoured, or a set of exploitable material resources, or a vast society of sentient interiorities. And, depending on the associated values, one’s action in nature can dramatically vary, from protection to destruction. In particular, certain cultural attitudes may prevent human beings from supporting and implementing the objective knowledge, which is already available about the environment. But this first-personal insight of Integral Ecology still remains collective and abstract. Our inability to address the issue of environmental sustainability in full agreement with scientific knowledge is likely to have much deeper existential roots. To quote the title of a recent book by the French economist Daniel Cohen: The world is finite, but desire is infinite.

So, our questions are the following: can we identify the existential roots of our resistance to act for the protection of our environment; can we tame the unbounded desire which threatens the world; can we implement key remedies and means to change these unfavourable inner conditions? Or, in fewer words: can we improve our inner climate for the sake of protecting the outer climate?
We consider that this work on our existential and cultural attitudes is indeed possible, by mobilizing the inner knowledge of the East and West. Our basic assumption is that “If we realized how interrelated we are, we would take great care of the others and everything else – realizing that others and everything existing is part of myself”[2]. But how can we reach such realization of interrelatedness, beyond the mere intellectual understanding of it?

According to Western phenomenology, this may occur after the suspension of implicit or explicit judgments about what appears (in Greek the “epochè”). Indeed, as soon as this new attitude of suspension has been adopted, attention is no longer selective and directional; it no longer strives towards desirable and usable objects. Attention rather unfolds to encompass different levels of lived experience, and especially the sense of embodiment. Now, this renewed contact with our own body allows us to feel in contact with the broader body of the world in view of their manifest continuity and homogeneity[3].

An even more refined and detailed way to work on our existential attitude has been offered by the Eastern inner-science associated with the experiential disciplines of yoga and meditation. The epistemological outcome of these disciplines was stated by Dignaga and Dharmakirti (Nalanda University, India, 5th-6th century). According to them, perception is preconditioned by language, which means that our ordinary perception is always relying on abstraction and the ability to screen out that which we don’t name, giving us a specific individual, social and cultural perspective on our world. Unfortunately, since we are not aware of what we screen out, we cannot take it into consideration in our investigations and building of knowledge. To overcome this defect of our knowledge, one needs to use an adequate balance between: (i) refined inner perceptual non-language tools and (ii) language cognition. Only this way can one contact the whole complexity of our situation in the world before the screening and prejudice brought by the intellect has taken place. Only this way, also, can one reach the deepest level of one’s own creativity to confront the difficult condition of imbalance that characterizes our present relation with nature.

Another crucial aspect of the complexity of our situation in the world, which should be addressed, is the self-reference condition of having an individual existence. This naturally develops as an existential system of attraction/rejection in humans with many levels of self-identities, where fear is present and focuses mostly on self-protection against destructive forces for the survival of that with which the individual identifies: often superficially egocentric levels. But there is an ancient eastern understanding of the role of the self-reference/self-identity, which could explain why, in modern cultures, many have unquenchable desires for goods. From the latter standpoint, one establishes a contrast between: (i) a neurotic, demanding and unquenchable mode of being conditioned by a narrow attraction/rejection defence system, and (ii) an open-minded, flexible and compassionate mode of being, naturally incorporating larger fields of others and nature into one’s system of evaluation. The latter is connected with the heightening of our “inner ethics”. We have to admit that in the future the Earth cannot meet the growing needs of an increasing amount of people if they have not adapted their mode of being accordingly. To quote Mahatma Gandhi: “Mother earth is perfectly capable of providing for all her children, but she is not capable of providing for single man's greed”. But the same approach can also help us finding means for applying our environmentally gained knowledge by enlarging our individual systems of defence to incorporate others and nature.

 


[1]The members of our present group are: Professor Michel Bitbol, M.D. & Ph.D. Philosophy & Physics, is Directeur de Recherche at the CNRS, Paris, Dr. Tarik Chekchak, Master in Marine Biology Directeur Sciences & Environnement Equipe Cousteau; Daniel Rodary PhD in Marine Biology; Professor Juergen Knop, M.D. Ph.D., retired Director of the Department of Dermatology, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz; Dr. Sylvie Guillerme PhD GEODE-CNRS, University of Toulouse II (Jean-Jaurès); Genevieve Hamelet, Semrig Thablam Mawa degree (S.T.M.) in UD. Certified in MBSR. President of the ADM (Association for the Development of Mindfulness), Carin Muhr, M.D.,Ph.D. Associate Professor of clinical Neurology, Uppsala University Sweden & Honorary Professorat Universidad San Martin de Porres, Lima, Peru; and undersigned Lene Handberg, Semrig Thablam Rabjam, Accomplishment in Eastern Inner-science and Application, Educational Director Tarab Institute International and President Tarab Ling Study and Reseach Institute Dehradun India.

[2]Quotation from Tarab Rinpoche

[3] See e.g. M. Merleau-Ponty, Le visible et l’invisible; D. Abram, The spell of the sensuous; A. Weber, The biology of wonder.