I rarely recommend films, but we saw a new one last week that is not only engrossing, but important to the future of humanity. It is called A Life on Our Planet, by David Attenborough, and is available on Netflix. He was born in 1926, less than two weeks before Swami Kriyananda, making him 93 years old. In the film, Attenborough talks about the earth-changes he has seen during his single lifetime. He is a lifelong explorer, naturalist, and filmmaker for the BBC. Some of his award-winning works include Planet Earth, The Blue Planet, and other series that open up to his viewers the wonders of nature. The photography of his films is magnificent, and toward the end of each episode he offers us a gentle reminder that mankind is harming the planet’s ecosystems.

In A Life on Our Planet, his reminders are no longer understated, but urgent. He tracks three factors that have worsened during his life: population, atmospheric carbon, and the percentage of land that is still wild. Devi and I came away both moved and shaken, having seen one of the most powerful wake-up calls we’ve ever experienced. Attenborough makes it quite clear that if we don’t make some drastic changes in the way we treat this planet, we will make it uninhabitable.

These issues are not just environmental. The way we treat the natural world shows deep-seated attitudes, which are expressed also in how we relate to life in general. It is reflected in whether we include or ignore the welfare of others, especially the vulnerable and marginalized, in our decisions. These attitudes underlie many of the political and social problems we are currently facing.

This is a deeply spiritual issue. Feeling our connection with animals and nature deepens our connection to God, who has become all things. We must remember that everyone and everything—even a rock—is conscious, and a unique part of the Divine. If we hold ourselves apart or, even worse, exploit the planet, we separate ourselves from God and get further enmeshed in delusion.

Swami Kriyananda was highly sensitive to these issues. At one point he suggested that we each choose a particular aspect of nature and connect more deeply with it. For some it might be birds, for others rivers, or mountains, or trees. He even wrote a wonderful song in six-part harmony called “Channels,” which is a delight to sing in a group setting.

Paramhansa Yogananda, too, wrote and spoke extensively about the need to feel our unity with nature, and urged us to see God hiding behind its many forms. The inspiring chant “O God Beautiful” (which he chanted for nearly two hours with a crowd of thousands at Carnegie Hall) is a lovely example: “O God Beautiful: In the forest Thou art green; in the mountain Thou art high; in the river Thou art restless; in the ocean Thou art grave. To the serviceful Thou art service; to the lover Thou art love; to the sorrowful Thou art sympathy; to the yogi Thou art bliss.”

In closing, I urge you to watch this vital film, and to do your part in making needed changes. The lives of eagles and elephants, of water bugs and whales, of roses and redwoods all depend for their perpetuation on the love of mankind. Perhaps nearer to us is that our children and grandchildren will flourish or perish depending on whether or not each of us does our part.

In God’s light,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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  1. Beautifully explained dear Jyotishji. This touched me. I like to be around nature,so I have grown my small garden in our balcony, and love to spend my time there.

    Thank you for explaining beautifully!

    Many bows for so many interesting blogs on different subjects.I always read it and love it.

    With loving bow,


  2. Such a great message for us all at these times!
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and love.

  3. Dear Jyotish
    Thanks so much for the recommendation , beautiful explain and so much need to contribute. I will do my part ! Thanks
    Always good to read you !

  4. Thankyou Jyothishji for sharing this. I am deeply touched . I will do my part in this divine creation.

  5. Thank you for writing this, much needed message. Humans have to boldly accept their role as stewards of Nature. We in the Ananda family are also blessed to have such Nature awareness educator as Joseph Cornell. Hope he will be able to come back to Europe soon. Love and peace!

  6. The timing of your articles always coincides perfectly with my life. But this was taken too far to the specifics! :) :) I and my brother had watched it just last week, and it certainly was beautiful but also disturbing. But our Gurus have promised a much brighter future after an immediate dim one, so thats great. I can also imagine Attenborough reincarnating during that time, to relieve some of his pain from this life! Thank you so much.

  7. mm

    Thank you for this inspiring message. Vishnu and I saw this documentary as well. We were profoundly moved by how Attenborough makes clear the urgency of these issues. Thank you for bringing this so beautifully into Master’s and Swamiji’s teachings.

  8. Thank you dear N. Jyotish, for this message, now more urgent than ever! And for saying, to “watch this vital film, and to do your part in making needed changes. The lives of eagles and elephants, of water bugs and whales, of roses and redwoods all depend for their perpetuation on the love of mankind. Perhaps nearer to us is that our children and grandchildren will flourish or perish depending on whether or not each of us does our part.”

    Blessings and gratitude,


  9. I have always loved films with David Attenborough. He has such a close connection with nature and he explains things so clearly. I will definitely watch this movie.
    I recently saw another documentary on Netflix called “The Octopus, my Teacher”. The diver shows such respect for the animals in the sea, especially an octopus, with which he forms a kind of friendship. The octopus shows him how to live more peacefully, information which he then shares with his once distant son.

  10. This film was so spectacular, bringing so many feelings: joy, amazement, wonder, worry, sadness, and hope. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

    Blessings and gratitude,

  11. Thank you for sharing those Amazing insights! Absolutely essential that we act now. Another film available on Netflix
    that is a living example of what you describe is “Octopus Teacher”. A very unique perspective reveals how truly interconnected we are with nature and how it is essential that we fully understand this if we are to survive and thrive on this amazing planet.

    Blessings and Gratitude,


  12. Thank you for this share. There are so many different ways that God and Master relate to me, communicate with me, and help me. Nature is such a powerful tool to connect with the divine. It teaches me different lessons than other people do.
    Aum Guru.

  13. Mahalo! I’ll watch, but already know population growth, dirty water, air and hunger will cause more and more Chaos throughout this century that is underway now. Small self-sustaining spiritual communities have the best chance of surviving. Self-sufficiency – self-sustaining. Suggest Ananda clear out forests for fire protection and food crops. Underground cool food storage facilities are a must.

  14. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for the blog and the recommendation. Will watch it soon.
    This is one of the most pressing issues. Thank you for calling it out in your blog
    I enjoyed reading these lines in particular – “Feeling our connection with animals and nature deepens our connection to God, who has become all things.”


  15. Loved the part where you explained that of each of us should take one part of nature and deeply connect! I love nature’s every aspect and both, my husband and I adore nature! He connects more with birds and plants…… but this was a great article! Will watch the movie!!

  16. Thank you for film recommendation..perhaps it would also be a great idea to have a,Mother Earth Prayer Week,where all
    members of Ananda communities worldwide and all others that are able and willing to do so,dedicate time every day and evening or night for the entire week to say deep prayers for our polluted,plundered and hurting planet..the need is very great at this critical time and the more people who aware of this issue and who will deeply pray for positive change and for more protection of Mother Earth,the eco-systems and all the life being supported and now in danger,will be a force that can help greatly….thanks again..greg

  17. Dear Devi!
    I did read your article. I do agree with you. It is us who humans use the Mother Earth more than any other living being. I will do my best to love and nurture our Planet Earth.
    Also I like to take this opportunity to ask a you a question. Today during my meditation I felt like very much I am a rock. And my sister feels same every time she meditates.
    May I ask your thoughts about this occurring. Is it unhealthy?
    Only if you are happy to give me an answer.
    Thank you

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. This is actually quite healthy and indicates that the life-force has been withdrawn from the body. Others can experience this withdrawal by feeling a great lightness, almost as if they are ready to levitate. In either case, it is a good sign of deepening meditations.

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