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From Wandering Jain Monk to Global Peace Pilgrim: Satish Kumar's Inspiring Journey
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
Montreal, QC
Wednesday, October 25, 2023

From Wandering Jain Monk to Global Peace Pilgrim: Satish Kumar's Inspiring Journey

Bookpleasures.com has the honor to welcome a true visionary, a dedicated peace-pilgrim, and a relentless advocate for positive global change, Satish Kumar, author of Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves.

With a remarkable life journey spanning over five decades, Satish's story is one of unwavering commitment to peace, sustainability, and spiritual fulfillment.

His extraordinary path began at nine when he renounced the material world to embark on a life as a wandering Jain monk.

In his early twenties, he took on an audacious pilgrimage for peace, a two-year odyssey, traveling from India to America without a single penny to his name, all in the name of nuclear disarmament.

Today, in his eighties, Satish continues to channel his boundless energy and wisdom towards the causes he holds dear. He has dedicated his life to campaigning for ecological regeneration, social justice, and spiritual enlightenment.

His relentless efforts culminated in 2022, when he received the prestigious Goi Peace Award, a testament to his enduring impact on the world.

Satish is a living legend, world-renowned author, and international speaker. His commitment to creating a just and sustainable future led him to establish The Resurgence Trust, an educational charity focused on inspiring and informing positive change.

As if that weren't impressive enough, Satish served as the Editor of the trust's change-making magazine, "Resurgence & Ecologist," for more than four decades, earning him the distinction of being the UK's longest-serving editor of the same magazine.

Even in his retirement, Satish remains deeply committed to Resurgence & Ecologist as Editor Emeritus and a prolific contributor to each trailblazing issue. In this interview, we will delve into the extraordinary life, philosophy, and vision of a man who has inspired countless individuals worldwide and continues to be a beacon of hope for a better, more harmonious planet.

Norm: Welcome Satish to bookpleasures.com, and thanks for participating in our interview. What inspired you to write "Radical Love," and why is it essential to practice love to see peace in our lifetimes?

Satish: I was inspired to write this book because I wanted to communicate with people about the transformative power of love. There are many radical activists who protest against ecological destruction, social and environmental injustice. But they act out of anger, anxiety and fear. My book urges such activists to act out of love. Acting for a better world order should be a pleasure. I wanted to see happy activists rather than miserable activists! Love is the source of happiness.

Then there are loving, kind and happy people but they are very passive and self-absorbed. My book urges them to become engaged and become radical activists! Martin Luther King was a great example of radical love. He was an embodiment of loving activism and joyful radicalism. I had the honour of meeting him and witnessing him as a happy activist.

I was also inspired to write this book because many people have very narrow understanding of love. I wanted to communicate the broader and comprehensive meaning of love. I need to start loving myself and you need to start loving yourself. If you don't love yourself, how are you going to love others?

Then of course we need to love all the people unconditionally. Whatever their religion, nationality and political views may be, whether we like them or agree with them is beside the point. It is easy to love someone who is good and you like. That is moderate love. Radical love goes beyond moderate love. Radical love is to love everyone without exception and without expectation, without judgement and without discrimination. Only by loving everyone we can bring peace to the world.

Then we need to love Nature. We need to love animals, forests and rivers. We don't destroy what we love. We protect and care for what we love. At present many people think that Nature is just a means to an end, the end of economic growth. We need to go beyond that. Nature is life itself. Nature is sacred. Our ecological problems such as climate degradation and global warming will be solved when we love Nature and take care of her. Nature is not separate from us. We are Nature too. So, loving Nature is to love ourselves.

Sorry! This is a long answer!

Norm: In your book, you discuss your journey from India to the nuclear capitals of Moscow, Paris, London, and Washington, DC, to pursue world peace. How did this experience shape your perspective on love and unity, and what lessons can readers draw from it?

Satish: Yes, with a friend I walked from New Delhi, from the grave of Mahatma Gandhi, whose activism was also founded in radical love. I walked 8,000 miles, through 15 countries. It took me two and half years to do this walk. And I did it all without any money! I did it with love and trust in my heart. And because of love and trust I was looked after by complete strangers in every country.

I went through Muslim countries, Christian countries, communist countries, capitalist countries, rich countries, poor countries and everywhere I was received with love.

If I had gone as an Indian I would have met a Pakistani, a Russian or an American; if I had gone as a Hindu I would have met a Christian, a Muslim or Jew, but I went as a human being and I met only human beings everywhere.

I went to Moscow, Paris, London and Washington DC protesting against the nuclear bombs. I ended my journey at the grave of John F. Kennedy. From grave to grave to make the point that a gun kills not only a criminal but also a gun kills a Gandhi or a Kennedy. So let us shift our focus from guns and hatred to love and trust.

My journey was a journey of love, a pilgrimage for peace. The lesson I learnt was that we are one humanity. The whole cosmos is our country, the whole planet Earth is our home. Nature is our nationality and love is our religion. I learnt that we need to celebrate and love our diversity and not turn it into divisions and conflicts. Love is the source of unity. Diversity and unity dance together.

Norm: Your book discusses the concept of "Deep Ecology." Can you explain how this approach differs from "Shallow Ecology" and why it's essential for our relationship with the natural world?

Satish: Shallow ecology is to see humans and Nature separate and we conserve Nature for the benefit of humankind. The value of Nature is measured in terms of her usefulness to humans. Nature is seen like a machine. Deep ecology is to see humans and Nature as one. We are all Nature. From the deep ecology perspective humans are as much Nature as animals, forests and mountains. Nature has intrinsic value. Nature is sacred. Nature is not merely a resource for the economy. Nature is life itself. We need to revere nature. Deep ecology is also spiritual ecology and reverential ecology.

Norm: How do you believe the principle of "aparigraha" (simplicity and non-attachment) is relevant to practicing radical love and transforming our world?

Satish: The principle of "aparigraha" is to shift our minds from Greed to Need! There is enough in the world for everyone's needs but not enough for anyone's greed. Aparigraha is an ancient Hindu philosophy of elegant simplicity. We should all live simply so that others may simply live. Aparigraha reduces social inequality and injustice. In place of attachment to material wealth and possessions we need to cultivate a culture of contentment and sufficiency. Aparigraha encourages people to learn to know when enough is enough. There is more to life than working hard to accumulate more and more material possessions. That is "Aparigraha."

Norm: The book touches on your personal relationships, including your love for your wife and the guidance you received from your mother. How have these personal relationships influenced your philosophy of radical love?

Satish: I was fortunate to have a mother who was a gardener. And even more fortunate to have a wife who is also a gardener! I learned from them a profound love of Nature. I have learned that Nature is not simply a means to an end, the end of economic growth. Maintaining the integrity of Nature is our prime responsibility.

Moreover, I learned from them to respect and appreciate the feminine principles such as deep listening, receptivity and celebration. Listening is a feminine principle and speaking is masculine. We have two ears and one mouth. So we need to listen twice. F2M: two parts feminine and one part masculine! I am deeply grateful to these two wise women in my life.

Norm: Your book touches on the relationship between spirituality and practical action. Please guide readers on how to translate their spiritual ideals into practical actions that promote love and unity.

Satish: If we engage in any practical action for our personal gain, for personal name, fame, power, prestige, profit or ego then that action lacks spirituality. When we act out of a sense of service, for the well-being of ourselves and everyone else, then that is a spiritual action. Every activity, be it business, politics, farming, arts, or anything else, if it is performed in the interest of greater good, the good of humanity and the good of our precious planet Earth then that is a spiritual activity.

If an activity is performed for selfish reasons which damages or harms humans or Nature then that activity is not spiritual. Spirituality is to shift from ego to eco: from separation to connection! It is as simple as that. Spirituality is nothing to do with any dogma, or any particular religious belief system. Spirituality is all about relationships and connections. Through spirituality and love we transform ordinary into extraordinary. Spirituality is not in the holy books, or in the temples, churches or mosques. Spirituality is in our hearts, in our intentions and in our motivations.

Norm: You mention "fast-slow food" and the issue of food waste. How can individuals and societies work towards loving everyone and everything unconditionally while addressing issues like food waste and hunger?

Satish: Food is more than the fuel for the body. I love food. Food is sacred for me. I receive food with deep gratitude to the soil, to the sun and the rain, deep gratitude to the farmers and gardeners.

Waste of food is sin against Nature. 30-40% of food is wasted in the world while large numbers of people are starving and going to bed without food.

Food being used for biofuels or to feed animals is also contrary to the ideal of sacred food. Animals need to be grass fed and free range. Fuel should come from wind, water and sun. Food should be kept to feed people. No humans need to be hungry.

Most of us need to be gardeners. There should be no home without a garden! Every school should have a garden so that from a very early age the young people learn to grow and respect food. Every college and university should have gardens. Growing, cooking and eating is a continuum. If we love something then we respect it, care for it and value it. Food is a gift from the land. We need to learn to love food and celebrate food. Food needs to be wholesome and healthy, fresh, delicious, nutritious and local. Junk food is not food!

Norm: Where can our readers learn more about you and "Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves?"

Satish: I am connected with Schumacher College in the UK. All our courses are related to love. So the readers might like to visit the Schumacher College website. I am going to teach a weekend course on Radical Love from February 9 to 11, 2024. So the readers might like to come and spend a weekend with me. Then I write an article in every issue of "Resurgence & Ecologist" magazine. The readers might like to visit the Resurgence website https://www.resurgence.org) and subscribe to it. Then they will get a fresh article by me every two months. In this magazine they will find other articles equally relevant, interesting and good.

Norm: As we conclude our interview, can you share some spiritual clues and techniques in your book that readers can use to make profound, lasting changes in their ideals and actions, promoting radical love?

Satish: Please start your day with a short meditation. Meditation is the medicine for the soul. Meditation is the way to heal our wounded hearts. Then every day please read poetry. Poetry is mostly about love. Read Rumi, William Blake or Tagore. Read Shakespeare's love sonnets. There are hundreds of great poets in every language. Choose your favourite poets and spend some time every day reading them. Sing, dance, walk, cook and garden. Only speak sweet words. These are simple spiritual activities. Friendship is the best way to love. Love is not simply an idea. Love needs to be practiced every day. We can learn to love by practicing it, focusing on it and being mindful of it. Love is the answer to all your questions!

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 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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