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'Man and Nature' Part 6
Amma's answers to questions posed to her in 1994
Amma;s beautiful smile

Question: Are human beings becoming a threat to the very existence of life on earth?

Amma: "When Nature graciously protects and serves human beings, it is, without question, their responsibility to return that protection and service to Nature. Modern science says that trees and plants can respond in an imperceptible way to the thoughts and actions of human beings. Science has discovered that plants tremble with fear when we go near them with the intention of plucking their leaves. But ages ago, the saints and sages of India, having understood this great truth, lived a life of complete harmlessness.

There is a story in the Hindu scriptures, called Sakunthalam, which demonstrates this point. Once a sage found an abandoned child in a forest. He brought the child to his hermitage and raised her there as his own. When she grew up, the sage entrusted her with the job of looking after the plants and domestic animals of the hermitage. She loved plants and animals as much as her own life. One day when the sage was away, the king who ruled that country saw this beautiful girl while riding through the forest during a hunting expedition. He fell in love with her and desired to marry her. On his return, the sage came to know about it and gladly consented to the king’s wish. After the marriage ceremony, the girl was about to leave the hermitage for the king’s palace. At that time, the jasmine plant which she had always loved and carefully tended, bent down and coiled softly around her ankles. The animals shed tears when she left. This illustrates how plants, trees and all of Nature will return our love if we really care about them."

Question: Is it necessary to give more importance to human needs than to Nature?

Amma: "Nature gives all her wealth to human beings. Just as Nature is dedicated to helping us, we too should be dedicated to helping Nature. Only then can the harmony between Nature and human beings be preserved. To pluck ten leaves, when only five leaves are sufficient, is a sin. Suppose two potatoes are enough to cook a dish. If you take a third potato, you are acting indiscriminately — you are committing an adharmic (unrighteous) act. Using Nature for our needs cannot be considered wrong. But exploitation changes the whole set of circumstances. This makes our action an unrighteous one. First of all, we are unnecessarily destroying the life of the extra plant, animal or whatever it is that we exploit. Secondly, we deny it for someone else’s use. Someone else could have used it, perhaps our neighbor who does not have anything to eat. Thus, when we exploit Nature, we are exploiting others. It is certainly a necessity to have a house to protect us from the rain and the sun. But we should not build a house in order to make a show of our wealth and luxurious lifestyle. Cutting down enough trees to build a house cannot be considered to be unrighteous. An act becomes unrighteous or sinful when we perform it indiscriminately, without any alertness. Spending lavishly without thinking of God, the Great Giver, or others who would be benefited by the extra money — that is unrighteousness."

Question: What are the steps that can be taken in society to prevent the destruction of Nature and animals?

Amma: "It is certainly high time to take stern steps to prevent mankind from destroying Nature and the resources which she kindly bestows on us as a gift or reward for the good actions we perform. The implementation of strict rules would be beneficial; but there is a need for people who are prepared to obey and execute such rules. Nowadays, those who are supposed to observe the rules are the first to break them. Societies should be formed in each and every village, in order to create an awareness of the significance of protecting and preserving Nature. Mere intellectual understanding is not enough. People should be taught to function from their hearts. The teachers and counselors of these societies should have the ability to encourage people to love Nature and feel compassion for all of Creation and its creatures. The teachers and counselors themselves should be highly competent and efficient people, who can inspire others to do whatever they are taught. Only then will there be any benefit. The support of religion and spiritual principles will greatly help to achieve this goal .

A major cause of pollution in the atmosphere is the toxic smoke which emanates from huge machines in factories and other industries. This affects the healthy growth of plants and trees. The toxins produced from such places also badly damage the health of humans. Necessary steps should be taken to protect and preserve the trees and plants, which grow in the areas surrounding the factories and other industrial sites. In fact, it is these trees and plants which, to a great extent, cleanse and purify the polluted atmosphere of such places. But for the existence of these plants, the situation would be much worse. The initiative to preserve the natural surroundings should come from the entrepreneurs and employees of such companies.

A government alone cannot do anything without the sincere and wholehearted cooperation of the people. For this to happen, it should be a government which works in accordance with the will and wishes of the people who love Nature. This again demands support from political leaders and government officials. They should not just be a group of people who are craving money and position. Their aim should be the upliftment of the country and its people. A great deal will be achieved if they are people endowed with a selfless and universal outlook in their judgment."

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