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Designs for LIFE is a magazine themed on healthy and creative lifestyles, with the focus on wellbeing for mind, body and spirit. This quarterly publication is based in The Chilterns and distributed in the surrounding counties.

This magazine represents the small, alternative living communities where we are hearing a cry for a return to basic human values that are not based upon greed. A call to act with care for the environment and for each other, to create with positive intent, to live healthily, mindfully and with common sense, avoiding the monster of materialism that consumes so much of our energy and is surely unsustainable.

I like our guest writer Satish Kumar’s message that more people are moving from ego-centrism to eco-centrism (where ‘ego’ means the self and ‘eco’ means our shared home) with the knowledge that everything is interconnected. I believe that the current rise in human consciousness will be the answer to our ecological crisis. No one person stands alone as an individual – our words, thoughts and actions always have universal consequences, they ripple outwards and, in due time, return to us.

If we perceive the world as a place where everything and everyone can be manipulated and exploited for personal gain, we will inevitably crush the spirit of things, and of people, while trying to control them. I think this is why there is something awesome about nature when it fights back, and about people when they rise up against their oppressors.

How can we learn to listen to our intuition, so that we act in harmony with the true forces that govern the design of life? Simple acts of loving kindness are where the healing of ourselves and the planet may be born.

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Peter Hawkes

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Discovering heaven here on Earth

Guest Writer: Satish Kumar

People tend to go into the natural environment for a kind of holiday, for entertainment or to look at nature as an object. An 'Earth pilgrim' is someone who goes into nature with a reverential mindset and for a sense of connectedness.

Many people think nature exists purely to be exploited by humans, but an Earth pilgrim has an attitude of ecological humility. As Hindu pilgrims go to the Ganges in India, we can go into nature with respect. And we receive so much in return: clean water, oxygen from the trees, food from the soil. So we need to show gratitude rather than thinking it is our right to take everything. If we can change our way of looking at nature, then environmental problems such as global warming will disappear.

Standing StonesThe more I go walking in the countryside, especially in wild areas such as Dartmoor, the more I can appreciate the profound beauty, generosity and economy of nature. The system is so beautifully designed, I become a student of nature; it's a different kind of Bible, of Koran, of Shakespeare. The intricacy, the balance and the organisation are so wonderful. It's almost a mystical experience.

If only humans were better able to mimic nature. Half of humanity goes to bed without food and we think we are advanced. But we have so much to learn about economic, political and social design.

The main advice I give is to go out and experience nature at least one or two days a week. Don't read newspapers or watch TV indoors but, whatever the weather, go out walking. You will have a transformative experience. Every school should make it obligatory that, for one day a week, nature is the classroom. Not sitting in front of computers but sitting under a tree without cameras or notebooks, just observing. Then I think we'd have more Newtons and more Buddhas.

Scientists always saw the Earth as a kind of machine, like a clock. But it doesn't work like a clock, it works like a living system, a selforganising, self-connecting system. That is the old spiritual, mystical view – and it is now a scientific view, according to Gaia theory. Ecology and economy go hand in hand. Those two words come from the same Greek root 'oikos', which means home.

Ecology comes from 'logos', meaning 'knowledge of home'. Economy means 'management of home'. How can you manage a home without knowing it? Everyone talks about 'economy, economy, economy' – but economy cannot be without ecology.

Our education system is many years behind. It is still teaching young people that fossil fuelbased mass production and economic growth without concern for ecology is the paradigm. But the industrial system of production and distribution is what's causing global warming. So, education needs to change to embrace ecology.

As an Indian Jain monk, I always had a reverential view of nature. But coming to the West, I learnt more about Western philosophy and science, and tried to see a balance between the two. There is a value in an analytical, scientific, evidence-based understanding but there is also a value in human intuition and human spirit. If you can put spirituality and science together, then the meaning and the matter become one.

In the peace pilgrimage that I made at age 18, I walked 8,000 miles. And what I learnt is how the Earth and humans are one. I learnt ecology by walking on the Earth. It's not academic knowledge, it's experiential. My walking for peace was a kind of activism. No one can live entirely ecologically or non-violently, but as far as possible I am mindful that I need to be the change I want to see in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi said. That's activism – being aware and putting your ideas into practice.

Satish Kumar is an internationally renowned speaker on ecological and spiritual issues.

Satish KumarHe has been a pilgrim since the age of eight when he joined the wandering Jain monks in his native India.

In the 1960s he made a pilgrimage for peace, which included walking from India over the Himalayas to Paris. Since 1973 he has been editor of the ecological magazine Resurgence, which publishes articles that are on the cutting edge of current thinking – promoting creativity, ecology, spirituality and frugality.


Designs for LIFE is an independent group providing a beacon of positivity by connecting heart-centred people through words and images.

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