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Response to the GreenFriends Water Bucket Challenge
"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." - Amma
Turn of the tap while brushing your teeth
Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth

Water and the other natural resources that we consume are the wealth that needs to be left to future generations. Indeed, water sustains all life on this planet. Unfortunately, water systems all over the world are under threat due to pollution caused by human activity. Changing weather patterns have created severe drought, heatwaves and lack of rain, causing rivers to dry up drastically all over the world. The earth's natural ecosystems have suffered as well, reducing fresh water reserves. Drinking water in many areas is becoming scarce. It turns out that the way we farm, our energy choices, and many daily activities impact the world's water supply. Without a doubt, water is one of our most precious resources. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to conserve it.

In the Q4 2021 GreenFriend’s newsletter, we published the Water Bucket Challenge and asked readers for their experience or learning from taking the challenge. Charles Lucas, residing in Southern California, shared his experience with us.

"Earlier this year, I decided to take the Water Bucket Challenge, committing to it for nine full days. The tenth day being the first day of Swamiji’s retreat, was my own personal Vijayadashami*. As a sign that my efforts were timely, at the end of the retreat Amma made some remarks about the deteriorating quality of our shared water supply, saying, "One day we may be drinking water from powdered packets along with our tears".

(*Vijayadashami marks the culmination of Navaratri, the nine days of worshiping God in the form of the Divine Mother. Navaratri is a time of sadhana, of conquering our inner negativities to gain greater willpower and self-control, of awakening the right knowledge from within. Vijayadasami, 'the tenth day of victory', marks the successful completion of this occasion.)

While I feel that my efforts overall did little to earn any divine grace in this regard, as Amma says, “If we take one step toward God, God will take ten steps toward us”. With that in mind, let me share my reflections on the steps I took. In planning my personal Water Bucket Challenge, I chose to focus on three areas:

  • Mechanical interventions
  • Metabolic/consumption interventions
  • Devotional interventions

Mechanical Interventions

Mechanical interventions included using a cup to rinse after brushing my teeth instead of letting the tap run, washing my face with just one handful of water, flushing solids only, and taking "Swedish showers" (only running the water to moisten and rinse the body of soap). I also avoided all plastic bags including food sold in plastic bags, and disposable coffee cups. I consolidated laundry to one load, reused water I used for cleaning veggies and soaking beans in the garden, and filled a soaking bowl in the sink to reduce water waste through drain off.

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Metabolic/consumption Interventions

I researched multiple metabolic/consumption interventions for possible future adoption. First, I explored the benefits of eliminating tea and coffee from my diet. At a physical level, both are diuretics. By eliminating tea and coffee, one needs less water, and one uses that water more efficiently. At an ecological level, tea and coffee products are often shipped over long distances and are mostly grown using plantation-style labor and pesticides.

Devotional Interventions

From everything I’ve read and heard from Amma, our devotional interventions are essential and the most impactful. For instance, in Awaken Children! Vol. 1, Amma said we should bow down to the water with which we will take a shower. When we see the Divine in everything, our attitude changes. Recently, during bhajans, Amma mentioned that without gratitude, the corrective steps we take won’t be able to right our wrongs. To be frank, during the days of the challenge, I didn’t feel any gratitude - I mostly felt deprived and anxious. Since then, I think I’ve become more conscientious, and I think that is one way to express gratitude. I’m in Los Angeles, and with the ongoing water shortages in this area we are definitely skating on thin ice. I feel some relief and gratitude each time I consider that this “thin ice” hasn’t cracked yet.

Amma says, “Just as the filter fixed on the water tap absorbs the impurities in the water, so should we absorb the impurities in us with the filter of meditation”.

This speaks to the importance of our sadhana as a devotional intervention as well. After joining the Amma live stream meditation every morning, I say goodbye to Amma on my altar, saying, "l'll see you soon, at the beach."

I arrive shortly after sunrise. Once I’m there, I like to chat with the ocean about anything Amma mentioned after the meditation. Just seeing the ocean makes me feel happy. I know we have a fragile future here in "civilization", and while seeing and being in the ocean doesn’t make me feel any more secure about our future, I do feel that Nature is always blessing us, surrounding us with an intelligent love despite the mess we have made, which is something to be grateful for, too.

These were my activities and reflections during my nine-day Water Bucket challenge. The mechanical interventions are easy enough to keep practicing, and I’m still doing them, with a little less than absolute strictness. The metabolic interventions are in progress, and I think that diving deeper into gratitude will give me all the strength and inspiration needed to engage in selfless tapas. Even if that’s not completely true, at least I feel happy thinking that. As for the devotional interventions, as part of my practices, I would like to expand on them further. Amma tells us to enjoy the beauty of Nature with the awareness that these are all expressions of the Divine. By taking steps to conserve water and put Amma’s teachings into action, I pray that my small actions, when combined with others’ conservation efforts, have a ripple effect that creates positive change in the world’s water supply. "

Charles Lucas - Los Angeles, CA

The beach

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Read about how to make seed balls from the Q4 2022 newsletter >>

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