Visualize a beautiful earth, untouched by human greed. Imagine crystal clear skies everywhere, wild waters pure enough to drink, and vast, clean, undisturbed wild forests, deserts and seacoasts. It’s almost impossible for us to imagine, even those of us fortunate enough to live in fairly intact, semi-wild areas. In other, less fortunate places—in the cities, in the fossil fuel extraction zones, and the industrial agriculture zones—clean air, land and waters have been not only unattainable but almost unimaginable for generations. And humanity is in a constant state of deep grief because of this, whether we know it consciously or not.
Human greed tries to assuage something entirely different from genuine human needs. Greed does not lead us to more of what we truly need. It actually takes us away from what we need, it gives us less of what we need. Its futile purpose is to soothe an ache in us that it can never truly soothe. Greed and consumerism supposedly lead to a state of abundance, but it’s not real abundance. It’s ultimately cheap and tawdry, it has no substance: it just reflects a restless desperation to fill an enormous hole of grief and alienation. In truth, this hole, this void, can only be filled by a deep, lasting connection to Gaia—which we already have deep within us!
Within the true abundance of Gaia, every being, every species, the air, the waters, everything, all share in abundance together. Of course this doesn’t mean that no being suffers or dies—that carnivores don’t catch and eat other animals, or that browsing deer don’t bite tree seedlings down to the ground. The world of Gaia is juicy and vital, not airy and sentimental. Gaia’s generative Green World depends on Her natural, often messy cycles of birth, growth, maturation, decline, death and rebirth. But when Gaia’s systems and cycles are in equilibrium, every plant and animal has its place, and every watershed and estuary exists in a state of balance and reciprocity—even while all beings and natural places are also changing and adapting. It is only in the presently dominant, human-created world that humans reflexively aspire to get everything they want and more, while all other species and ecosystems are deemed unimportant and undeserving.
How can we turn human greed back into human need? How can we, within ourselves and in our human communities, return to seeking and celebrating true abundance? All of us are heirs to thousands of generations of ancestral wisdom, both practical and spiritual, in which living in balance on Gaia is the deepest, indeed, the only, reality. How can we spiral back around into this, and set it as a trajectory for the future?
The fundamental action we can all take is to become ever more seated in our true, authentic, Gaia-connected self. We can affirmatively choose to live an Earth-centered life, not a human-centered one. Beginning steps might be to learn where the cardinal directions are around our home, and acknowledge them every day; to find the closest place where waters flow—even if it’s a concrete-lined ditch—and make prayers and simple offerings there; to learn what wild animals and birds live around us—even in the cities there are plenty—and become more attentive to the signs of their passage; to nurture plants, in our garden or in pots, and tune into their tiny expressions of Gaia’s green force. Beneath all this, we can learn that we are not alone, that we are connected with all life.
When we stand in our true selves, we stand in our true needs. When we stand, within ourselves and with one another, as children of Gaia, we know we have a place here just as all life does. When we stand in our connection to Gaia, we want only what is enough, not more than our share. And we want different things—not “stuff,” but authentic satisfaction, connection and fulfillment. Then we can leave behind the false, insecure needs that are inevitably part the human-created, consumption-driven world.
Resisting the human-created world is no small task. Its ingrained greed and the associated damage it causes extend everywhere, on the land, in the waters, into the skies, and far into the hearts and minds of humanity. When we affirm ourselves as Gaia-connected beings, we can intuit, more and more, how to resist this and go for true life and true abundance. This is where we start. This is where we begin to plant good seeds.