I am delighted to welcome Satish Kumar back to the show.
Satish is the world-renowned peace activist, founder of Schumacher College, long-time editor of Resurgence Magazine, and former Jain Monk who has walked across the world for peace, met with world leaders and peace leaders such as Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, and the Pope.
He is a very dear friend who I wish I could see more often but we live across the oceans. In our conversation, Satish shares a message of the potency of living a life of elegant simplicity and speaking up for what matters.
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It’s my honor and delight to welcome Satish Kumar back to the Sense-making in a Changing World Show. Satish is the world renowned peace activist, founder of Schumacher college in the UK, longtime editor of Resurgence Magazine, former Jain monk who has walked across the world for peace, met with world leaders and peace leaders, such as Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, and the Pope. He is also a very dear friend who I wish I could see far more often, but we live across the oceans. Satish shares a message of the potency of living a life of elegant simplicity and speaking up for what matters. Before we begin though, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I’m speaking with you today, The Gubbi Gubbi people, and pay my respect to their elders, past, present and emerging. So just before we dive in, I just wanted to let you know that I’ll pop the links to citations books, and also a copy of the transcript in the show notes below. And also share more information about our work here at the Permaculture Education Institute, who is the host of this show, and make sure to subscribe so you get notification of these weekly podcast episodes. And it really does help if you leave us a lovely review. It helps the bots to find a little podcast. And I’d also love to encourage you to share this conversation with a friend. So without any more. Welcome to the show and thank you for being here in this beautiful conversation with my longtime friend, Satish Kumar.
Welcome to the show Satish, it’s an absolute delight to see you again and to have you here in conversation. One of the biggest questions that I wanted to ask you. I think we’ll just start with the big question is, I know that your work has always been focused on looking at creating small and slow solutions. You created Schumacher College, which is based on the small and beautiful work of Schumacher. Yet today, we have such urgent, massive problems. How can you describe a nick and explain the ways that we can continue to ground ourselves in these small and slow solutions in the face of the urgency and the global crises that we’re faced with?
Thank you, Morag, that is a very wonderful question. But please remember, that a great river is made up of hundreds, and hundreds of small tributaries. Without small tributaries, a great river cannot emerge. Even the great river itself starts somewhere in the fringe, somewhere in the hills, like a little spring, small spring, then another spring, another tributary comes and joins. Then another tributary comes and joins, another tributary, hundreds of little, little tributaries make the great river. And all those tributaries are very slow, they flow, they are small and they flow. So nature is our teacher. We have to learn from nature, and say how a great movement for transformation, a great movement for change, responds to the urgent and evade pressing questions and problems over time. The big questions will be solved by many, many, many small actions. So do not underestimate the value of work you are doing. The value of work Schumacher college is doing, the value of what Vandana Shiva is doing, the value of work first of comprise is doing. All these small, small individuals, making this great movement of transformation and change.
When you have an urgent problem, at that time, you need extra patience. In an urgent problem, urgency and patience have to paradoxically go together. Because, for example, if there’s a fire in a theater, at that time, if you stampede and try to rush out, you will have more deaths in a stampede and therefore you have to steadily slowly come out of the theater and vacate the theater. In the same way, at this moment, we have a climate change, biodiversity diminishing, our oceans are polluted, our rivers are polluted, our soil is polluted, and we have air polluted. Big, big problems and social injustice, spiritual discontentment. All these big problems can only be solved by coming home, and being resolute and resilient, and continue to do our work with faith, with commitment, with dedication, with resolve, but without giving up. But do not try to think that we have to be big ourselves. The movement is big. The global environmental movement is big, and Resurgence is one tributary, Schumacher College is one tributary, Friends of the Earth is one tributary, Permaculture movement is one tributary, the organic movement is one tributary. This is how we create a regenerative culture. So do not underestimate the value of your own work, Morag. Small and slow has great power. And do not underestimate the power of the slow and small.
Thank you, and I love the way too that you’re using nature as a teacher because exactly, that’s how nature works. And so in order to find our way forward, to listen to nature, and to work with nature. I know that you were saying about, you know, actually slowing down and being patient in this time is kind of opposite of what we think our reaction should be. And one of the things that I know that you do a lot is walking. And it’s been a really big part of your life and your story. How does walking make a difference?
Now, walking is a kind of meditation. My mother was a great walker. And she had a nice, wonderful, small, holding. Small farm of five acres and it was situated about one and a half to two miles away from our home. So she always walked to the farm, and I walked with her. And I learned walking from my mother, and then my teacher Vinoba Bhave. He was a great walker, he created a movement for land reform, and he said that we have big, big landlords, and many many thousands of small, untouchable, backward, a poor, landless people. How do we remove this injustice, social injustice? So he went to the landlords, asking them for land, in donation in gifts, so that that land can be distributed among the poor. And he walked 100,000 miles for 10 years, day after day, week after week, from village to village, from town to town, and he collected 4 million acres of land in donations and gifts. That is the power of walking. If he had gone by car or by train or by plane, he would never get that influence.
When Mahatma Gandhi wanted to create an independent movement, he walked from his ashram to the sea, to make the salt and defy the law of the British imperial power. So all the great movements, Martin Luther King, walk to Washington to show the power of walking. And so when you walk, you’re touching the earth.Time is ticking, walking meditation. When you are touching the earth, you are feeling gratitude, you are being connected with the air, and with the forest, and with the birds, with the butterflies, with the bees, and you learn from nature. If you are not in nature, how can you learn from nature? If your nature is your teacher, you have to be at the feet of your teacher and learn from your teacher. So if nature is my teacher, I have to go in nature, learn from nature, learn in nature, learn with nature. That is why walking has a great power. I always walk every day by the sea, I walk along the coast path, I walk in the valley, and I look at the trees and I look at the flowers, I look at the magic of nature and the miracle of nature.
You cannot experience that mysterious presence of nature without walking. If you’re in a car, you are hurrying to get somewhere. But walking itself is your destination. There’s no other destination. So walking is therapeutic, it’s good for your mind. If you are angry, if you are anxious, you are feeling depressed, a mental problem, just go out in nature and walk and your anger will disappear, your anxiety will disappear. And so walking is a great spiritual practice. Walking is a great ecological practice. Walking is a way of social practice. Because when you are walking, you’re not using any energy from the hell, which is underworld energy, like petroleum, and the coal, and the gas, and when you use energy from the hell, you create hell on earth. Underworld energy, that dark energy. But when you are walking, you are taking energy from the sun, you are taking energy from the wind, taking energy from the rain, and you are enjoying the energy from heaven. And when you take energy from heaven, you create heaven on earth. So walking is a way to create heaven on earth. So I always advocate people walking every day in nature and that way, you can be healthy and happy.
Thank you, Satish. That’s an incredibly powerful description of how walking can make a difference. And you know the difference that you’ve made by walking, you’ve mentioned many other people, but your peace walk that you took across the globe. I was just reading, I’ve got your latest book here, Pilgrimage for Peace. And it’s a beautiful story, and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it. I’ll put a link in below. But, you know, you went around the world, walking to different leaders and taking them parcels of peace tea. I know, you’ve probably told this story a lot of times, but could you just briefly say it because I think there’s so much today that we can learn from how to create political and cultural change through these slow and small solutions, the giving of service and offerings to others, and going in non-violence. And I think this is one of your key messages which is peace and non violence and this pilgrimage that you took was incredibly powerful.
Thank you, that is a very good question. Because at the time when I walked from India to America, that was an 8000 mile walk, and I walked to 15 countries. At that time, it was the height of the Cold War. And as you say, my most inspiring principle for me in my whole life has been the principle of non-violence and peace. And so I said that at this time of the height of the Cold War, when America and the Soviet Union are at a loggerhead, creating more, and more, and more lethal nuclear weapons, what can we do? So I decided to walk from India, from the grave of Mahatma Gandhi, in New Delhi, to Moscow, to Paris, to London and to Washington, the four nuclear capitals of the world. And I decided, with the advice of my guru Vinoba Bhave, that I will walk without any money. Because when you are walking, without any money, you have to have trust in your heart, and trust is a source of peace.
The war is created by fear. When we fear other people, then we create animosity. Fear is the cause of war, and so trust is the antidote of fear. So I worked without any money for two and a half years, I did not touch any money. And I lived on the hospitality and generosity of strangers. I walked through Muslim countries, Christian countries, communist countries, capitalist countries, rich countries, poor countries, and everywhere, I received welcome. Humanity is everywhere, the same. Before I’m an Indian, I’m a human being. My country is cosmos. My home is planet Earth. My religion is love. My nationality is nature. If you have that open heart, and you walk in the world, then there are no problems. And the practical difficulties I faced, like walking up to 12,000 feet high mountains in Afghanistan, and the deserts in Iran, and the snow covered villages of Siberia and the Soviet Union, all those physical difficulties became a source of strength. And so as you asked me about the tea, I was walking and distributing leaflets about my walk. And I gave this leaflet to two women in Georgia, near the Black Sea, south of Russia, and these two women were standing in front of a tea factory in the sun, it was at lunchtime, when I gave the leaflet, they read and then asked me the question: Have you really walked from India all the way to the Black Sea and without any money? I said yes, I have. They say, if you have no money, how do you eat? They could not imagine that you can eat without having money. So I said, people offer us food. And they thought for a minute and said, Oh, are you hungry? This is lunchtime. We have a very nice canteen in our tea factory. We work in this tea factory, would you like some lunch and some tea in our tea factory? I said any time is tea time. We will love to come. So we went in. And as we were having tea with them, one of the women had a brainwave, she went out of the room, and came back with four packets of tea. And she said these packets I want to give you, but they are not for you. I was a bit puzzled. I don’t know what she was talking about. I said, from whom are they if you are giving me these packets of peace tea? She said this is actually peace tea. I want you to be my messenger and give one packet to other premier in the Kremlin in Moscow, second packet to the President in Paris, third packet to the Prime Minister of England in London, and the fourth packet in the White House in Washington DC, and please give them a message from me. I was so amazed. I said, “what is your message?” She said, “My message to them is that if you ever get a mad thought of pressing the nuclear button, please stop for a moment and have a fresh cup of tea, and that will give you a moment to think.
Morag Gamble: 16:54
(Satish and I lost connection at this point. And so we miss a little bit of the story, however we pick up here after he’d met Martin Luther King. )
So you’re telling you just you just met Martin Luther King, and he said something to you that really was profound.
Satish Kumar: 17:15
He said to me that the end of racism is as good for the white as it is good for the black people. And so, the end of the racism movement is not against the white. It’s for the white, for the liberation of their prejudices, as much as for the black people and their liberation. So he was an embodiment of love, and compassion. And, although he was very radical, he said justice delayed is justice denied. I want justice today, now. But this justice is equally good. For the black, it is good for the white, as good for the white is good for the black. So the whole of humanity needs justice. So that kind of love and non violence is a great example for all of us, who are engaged in the ecology movement, regenerative culture movement, and environmental movement, because we need to act out of love. So my walk from India to America was an act of love. And Martin Luther King was a great example and inspiration for me to meet him. That was the kind of great privilege of my life, it was a kind of highlight of my whole walk. After the walk, meeting Martin Luther King was a great joy and great privilege.
Morag Gamble: 18:41
So the message that he held back then seems to hold so much validity and, and presence right now. With all of the people that you speak to all of the time and all of your reflections on this, what do you feel is that key message today that we need to be speaking up about, sharing, talking together about, walking, and thinking about. What is that core message?
The two core messages: Number one, which is my book, you can also put a link, called Elegant Simplicity. We have to live a beautiful, but simple life. At the moment our lifestyle is so wasteful, so much based on consumerism, that we never know the end of our consumerism and the consumption and production and economic growth had become the end goal of life, and everything else had become the means, the nature had become a means to an end of economic growth. Nature is seen as a resource for the economy. So that has to change, we have to say nature is not just a resource for the economy. Nature is a source of life itself. And production, consumption, and economic growth, and all money, all debt should be the means to an end. And the end goal is the integrity of our planet Earth, integrity of nature, the integrity of the ecosystem. That has to change to elegant simplicity, because if we just are wedded to consumption, production, and economic growth, even humans have become an instrument of economic growth. Humans have become a resource for money and the economy.
When you have business, every industry, every corporation, they have something called HR (human resources), this is a dreadful word. Humans are not a resource for running the business, humans are not a resource for making profit or running an organization, the dignity of human life has to be restored. So nature has become a resource for the economy, humans have become a resource for the economy. This has been the catastrophic change in our consciousness, and in our thinking, and in our philosophy, and our paradigm. So this paradigm has to shift. So that’s one change I want. I want people to live elegant, simple, good, and beautiful. But a life which is more secular, more cyclical, no waste, no pollution, everything that we take from nature, go back to nature, that kind of Elegant Simplicity is my book. That’s the one solution.
The second solution is that we all need to go back and touch the Earth. Everybody who eats must participate in growing food, a small garden, even if you’re not working every day in the garden, a few hours every day, or even one or two days a week. But being in touch with the soil, if you eat, you have no right to eat, unless you grow some food. Why would somebody else grow our food, and we just eat and we pay them peanuts. Cheap labor, we always say we have cheap food and mass produced food to some big farmers. I would say farms should be small and that everybody, every house, should be equipped with a garden. No house, if you have no kitchen in the house, is not a proper house, there is no bedroom in the house, it’s not a proper house. In the same way with no garden in the house, it’s not a proper house. Every house must have a garden. Even in big cities, like Sydney, or Melbourne, or New York, or London, or Paris, or Beijing, or Mumbai. Wherever you are, even in big cities, you should have a garden on your roof, or garden on your balcony. Everybody must participate in the little bit of growing food. Even if you are a prime minister, even if you are a President, even if you are a CEO of a corporation, even if you are a great professor, even if you are a queen or a king, and actually I’m very delighted to say that Prince Charles gardens, he lives on a farm. That is a good example. So prime ministers, presidents, CEOs, everybody, whoever you are, must touch the earth. If you have time to eat, you must have time to garden.
So these are the two solutions I proposed: Live simply, elegantly, happily, joyfully, and use your time not only to earn the money, but use your time for family, for friends, for poetry, for music, for walking, for gardening, for artistic pursuit, as well as earning money. And in that way we can have an elegant, beautiful, happy, joyful, and comfortable life for everyone. But this huge accumulation of wealth, and a kind of consumerism, materialism, and more production, more consumption, this has to end if we want to save our planet for the future generations. And so elegant simplicity and then work on the land. Even if you’re in a city, even if you’re working in the office, work on the land, land is a source of life. Without land you will not be happy, you will not be healthy. So for good health, happiness, good life, sustainability, and regenerating culture, we need all to work on the land. These are the two messages, key messages, I would like to give
Morag Gamble: 24:48
Thank you Satish and that just fits so beautifully with the kind of concepts that we share, you know, through our work with Permaculture. I was inspired to take up this work with Permaculture because of coming to learn with you 30 years ago, that whole essence of simple living, being connected to the food system and that drew me to this work with Permaculture and to share it. Now I was listening to your recording the other day where you spoke in front of the Pope. Now Satish, you find yourself in the most extraordinary situations, and you were talking to the Pope about that you would like to see that everyone in the world takes the Hippocratic Oath. Could you say a little bit more about that? Because I think that is just such a beautiful idea. That is simple, but genius.
Satish Kumar: 25:46
Yes, thank you. But it was my great privilege to meet Pope Francis. He’s a wonderful man. I would not have been that interested to meet any other Pope, because they are just kind of officials. But this whole process, he is genuinely interested. When I met him, he said to me, that we all have to rise above our narrow national interest, narrow religious dogmatism, and we all have to work together to protect our common home, the planet Earth. And that was a great message. He doesn’t live in the Vatican official residence, he lives in very simple accommodation, although our meeting was in his official residence, because that is where the conference took place. And so I was invited to speak in the presence of Pope Francis, and I made one point, in my talk, I said that when doctors leave university, and before they begin their medical practice, they take a Hippocratic oath, and that oath is first do no harm. I think that oath should not be limited only to doctors, that oath should be common to everyone. If you are an economist, if you are a politician, or business leader, you are a scientist, whoever you are a farmer, whoever you are, we must all take this oath of non violence, the oath which is the Hippocratic oath, and the oath is first do no harm. I said in the Vatican, that this one principle gives you freedom, freedom to do anything you like, there is no restriction as long as it is not doing harm to yourself, doing no harm to other people, and doing no harm to nature. Doing no harm is the only thing we have restrictions on. Otherwise, we are free to think, to write, to speak, to live, to walk, to do whatever you want.
So non-violence is the door to freedom, Hippocratic oath is the door to freedom. Freedom from this anxiety, freedom from this kind of belief, freedom from doing harm to other people, and controlling other people, and rule over other people, and control nature and be superior. This kind of desire to do harm to other people has to come to an end. So that was my simple message at the Vatican, and it was a very good conference. There were nearly 100 people in the conference, and they were a mixture of scientists and religious leaders. And in the conversation, I said to the religious and scientists people together, that we need to bring science and spirituality together. At the moment, scientists think that religion, spirituality, and ethical values are just mumbo jumbo, vegetation is a mumbo jumbo. And the religious people think the scientists are materialists and they have no faith, and therefore they ignore them. I think science without spirituality can be dangerous, because science can produce nuclear weapons. Science can produce genetic engineering, science can do lots of harm without ethical spiritual values. So I said in the Vatican this thing as well, I said that science needs ethical values without ethics but our spirituality, science can be dangerous. In the same way, I also said that religion needs science, without science, without an open mind, without inquiring mind, and without a searching mind, you can be dogmatic. You can be kind of fixed in your dogma and therefore if you want to be generous, and you want to be searching for truth, then you would need to be scientific minded. So science and spirituality must come together. That was my message at the Vatican.
Morag Gamble: 30:00
Yeah, and I wanted to ask you to because this message is so powerful and so potent and yet it’s accessible to anybody at any level to be able to do this. But what I’m thinking of, you know, we’ve just come out of COP26 and there’s world leaders who are not really kind of stepping up to the mic. I’m thinking particularly of our Australian media, what is a message that we can speak up clearly to the politicians and the so-called leaders of our world to help to create the shift and change money? What are the big ideas that we can do from our small actions?
Satish Kumar: 30:43
Yes, I’m sorry to say that the COP26 was a bit of a cop out. Because they said that we will have a net zero carbon by 2050, 2060, 2070, by then Modi will be dead, Biden will be dead, Boris Johnson will be dead, I will be dead, putting this in the long grass of 2050, 2060, 2070 and until that, we will continue to use coal, and will continue to use petroleum, which as I said, it’s a dark energy from the hell. So I think they have to stop, not 2050, 2060, 2070, but now. This is why I think COP26 was a bit of a disappointment. However, it did give some new awareness and create a lot of media coverage and lots of business leaders were there, and they all now think that we have to live in harmony with nature. We cannot go on exploiting and destroying biodiversity, and polluting our oceans and polluting our soil, and polluting our water. So that kind of awareness was a good thing. And also nearly 10,000 young people from around the world, from Africa, from Asia, from Europe, from America, gathered there together to raise their voice, Greta Thunberg, and many, many other young people like her were there and that was a good thing. And also, there was a big demonstration of other people, nearly 100,000 people who also marched there to make their protest. So I think those were the good things from the people’s side, but the government leaders, and the business leaders are a little bit of a disappointment, to say the least.
So what can we do, we have to build the grassroots movement, when the big grassroots movement will bring pressure on the governments and on the business, they will change. So we need to do three things: Number one, protest. Like the young people marching on Fridays, Fridays for the future, like extinction rebellion, many, many movements like that, this is a very important part of the new grassroots movement. We need to protest against what is wrong, how we are destroying our planet Earth. We have to raise our voice to speak truth to power, that is important, we should not be fearful, we should put our lives on line and say we cannot accept this kind of destruction of our natural world. We cannot accept this destruction of our forests, our environment, and our ecosystem. But that is not enough, protesting is too negative if you stick only with protest. Protest should be complemented with protecting, there are many, many good things in our society, the indigenous wisdom, culture, the arts, the crafts, the music, the community, small farms, small business. So all these small things, which are beautiful things we have learned from our ancestors for hundreds of years, and that tradition must be protected.
So the protest movement should also be a protection movement, conserve and protect what is already good. At the moment, the human footprint is so large, we are the Anthropocene. If you put all the human numbers of 8 billion people on this planet earth, and all our cities, and roads and airports, and the seaports, and the kind of motorways, and the railways, infrastructure is so big, and then add to that all the animals which humans use dogs, cats, horses, pigs, chickens, cows, all those 70 to 80% of our planet is occupied by just human species and their animals and only 50 to 20% of the land is left wild. And that is the reason that we are facing a pandemic. This COVID crisis is the result of our encroachment and impingement of the wildlife and we are destroying the wild. So we have to leave a lot of wild in decked so that wildlife does not get into the food chain. So that is a protection; protecting is a very important part of our movement. But that is also not enough. The third aspect is to build and create alternatives. Like we have created Schumacher college, like Vandana Shiva has created Bija Vidyapeeth the Earth University, like you are creating this Permaculture Institute to teach permaculture. We have to create new ways of living, alternative ways of living, which are sustainable, which are regenerated, which are imaginative, which are creative, which are fulfilling, which are rewarding, which are joyful.
So we have to protest, protect, and build. These are the three things as a movement we should do. And we should do it all with love, without anger, without fear, without anxiety, do it out of love. We do it because we love earth. We love nature. We love people, we love our future generations. We love beauty, we love all these good qualities of life. So our actions should be inspired and driven by love and not by anger, not by fear, not by anxiety, we should do it with joy, working for the environmental movement, and ecology, movement, and sustainability movement and pop culture, permaculture movement should be a source of joy, and a pleasure and not anxiety. So all these things should be done with love. So these are the three things we should do: protest, protect, and build, and do it with love.
Morag Gamble: 37:10
Wonderful. That leads directly into the question that I wanted to ask you next because it is so much about the young people and with the protests there and it’s been intensely inspiring for someone my age as well to be looking back to my youth as a protester. And over the years, I’ve moved from being a protester, to someone who was standing to do the protection and the building. I think the multiple generations together can hold these many dimensions. I’ve been talking a lot to Fritjof Capra lately, and we’ve been running a group of young people through his online course every time he runs it, and he comes in and he mentors. So teenagers connecting with Fritjof, and other elders, to underpin their activism and their thinking with this deep knowledge, they’re the kind of knowledge that you’ve brought together at Schumacher College. I wonder how we can amplify this support for this massive youth movement to connect in with this way of this ecological paradigm to provide, the educational opportunities because at the moment, they don’t get it at universities, they’re not getting it at schools, it’s really only at places like Schumacher College, where this can be accessed. So how could we share this out more widely? I’m trying to do a little bit by little bit, but do you have any suggestions about this education for future generations for the teenagers who are leading this movement now?
Satish Kumar: 38:47
Yes. Education we have today, but designed in the 19th and 20th century. That was the age when we thought that nature and humans are separate, and we can just use nature for economic growth. So this separation of nature and humans was the main agenda, and then we thought that since we are separate from nature, we are also superior to nature. So we are above nature, and all the nature there is for our use, and that was education. Francis Bacon said go out and conquer nature, go out to steal the secrets of nature. So there’s separation from nature and humans and conquering nature, and humans feeling superior to nature had to come to an end and see why we need new education, where humans and nature are one.
We are as much nature as trees, mountains, forests, animals, and birds. Humans have come from nature, nature is our ancestor, animals are our ancestor. We are all born from the Big Bang, that is the single source of life. And all after the Big Bang, there was a gas, the water, the vegetation came, the insects came, the animals came, the humans came. So they are all our ancestors, how can we say we are separate from nature, we are nature. And so the moment we realized that new education, because we had been treating this educational system of the 19th and 20th century, the earth as a bedrock, and we are on this bedrock. Human life is the only life. The new education had to include Gaia, which says that earth is a living organism, earth is intelligent, earth is consciousness, earth is living, and we are part of that living system, that education has to come. And when we say that nature and humans are not separate, and nature has intrinsic value, then comes deep ecology. So, James Lovelock’s Gaia and Anamnesis, deep ecology, if you bring those two together as a part of your curriculum, and part of your syllabus, in any university, then I think we can create a new educational system which is fit for the 21st century, because the education system we have today is out of date. Education system we have today is a part of the problem. We want education, which is a part of the solution, such as education at Schumacher College, and your Permaculture Institute, and Art University in India, and Fritjof Capra’s courses, they are the new educational system which is right for our time. So this is what I feel, but we cannot create big universities. We are small, small universities, many, many small colleges. And every school should be associated with a garden. As in a school, you have the playing fields, you have swimming pools, you have science labs, but you have no garden. So no school should be without the garden. In the same way the schools and universities should also be associated with the farm. And when it is harvest time, they should be on holiday. And children should go and help to make hay to harvest apples, to harvest strawberries, to harvest wheat, to harvest barley, to harvest rice, whatever you are growing in your country, have young people coming to help the farmers to harvest. That is training, that is education. Education, not just reading books and surfing on your computer screen, education needs to do something with your hands. So education of head, education of heart, education of hands, this is the model of Schumacher College. So head, heart, and hands make the education holistic.
At the moment, I’ll catch it very limited to our brain. When our students go to universities, lecturers and teachers look at the student and they think that the student has no body, no heart, no hands, no legs, nothing. Just a brain, only the brain, they educate only the brain, and even not a whole brain or half brain. Because we have two brains, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere of the brain of reason, science,mathematics, organization, practicality, and pragmatism. But the right hemisphere of the brain is intuitive, imaginative, spiritual, and more cultural. And so our universities only educate half the brain. So we have no body and have only half a brain. And we spent billions, and billions, and billions of dollars and pounds and euros and yens, on this educating half brain. No wonder that we have problems in the world today, and so education has to be totally transformed. And this is why Schumacher College is a small contribution or a small example to lead us in that direction of holistic education: Education of head, education of heart, and education of hands. That is a model for the future.
Morag Gamble: 44:18
And then from there to myceliate these ideas into all different places that we can possibly do. And one of the places where this is landing at the moment, and part of the work that I do is to work with refugees in East Africa and also with communities in indigenous communities of Australia. So I wonder if, I know we’re almost out of time, but I wonder whether we could talk a little bit first before we close up about how we can make sure that this kind of education system and this kind of approach is also shared with the global south and that we are shifting our way of being here in order to, to make sure that global south, you know, the social justice and the ecological justice is extended to all of humanity, not just to the wealthy?
Satish Kumar: 45:14
Yes, absolutely, that is a very important question. Because we have to realize that we are all refugees. We are all born in Africa, originally, the humanity, and we have spread around the world. So we are all refugees and we were looked after, and welcomed by nature, wherever we went. And therefore, we should not put down anyone as refugees. We are all refugees. Secondly, we have to think that refugees have not become refugees of their own will, they have been turned into refugees by the wealthy, and the powerful, and the strong. If you go to war, then you will create refugees. So at the moment we get in Europe, refugees from Syria, from Afghanistan, from Iraq, from Libya, because we have been fighting wars there, when you have wars, you will have refugees. So if you don’t want refugees, don’t go to war. But people are very ready to go to war, they spend billions, and billions, and billions on military and armaments and preparation for weapons. If you don’t want refugees, don’t go to war. Secondly, refugees are created because of economic stress and poverty. So if you don’t want refugees, create social justice. So those are fundamental issues, because the only reason we have to think is what is the cause of a problem. Always find the causes of the problem and find a solution to the causes. So the war is the cause of refugees, poverty, social injustice, and economic depression is the cause of refugees. Therefore, if we can just find the cause, there’ll be less refugees and that we have to welcome anybody who wants to come as a human being, the earth is our home, and any human being and any other species are at home. Wherever they are, this is their home. Australia, that doesn’t belong just to you. You, all the white people in Australia were refugees one day, 100, 200, or 300 years ago. Many of you went from Europe as refugees, the Aboriginal people, if they said “No, you can’t come” What will happen to you? So we have to learn from our Aboriginal people. The indigenous cultures are great cultures of wisdom, and generosity, and welcoming openness. So as we have been welcomed by Aboriginal people, we should welcome any refugees coming to our land now, and learn from the indigenous wisdom. They have been living on this planet for millions of years in harmony, without destroying, without polluting, and without wasting. But we, the industrial culture, the industrial civilization, the modern civilization had been here only for three or 400 years. And in this three or 400 years, we have created havoc. And so we have to learn the wisdom of indigenous people, Aboriginal people in Australia, the indigenous people in North America, South America, indigenous people in India, everywhere that are indigenous cultures, and we have to honor them, we have to respect them, we have to be humbled to them, and we have to learn from them. And that way, we can have a continuity of culture. And with respect to them, we build new alternatives, which will be in harmony with the natural world.
Morag Gamble: 48:50
Thank you. I wonder whether we could just close with a riff? I wonder what you’re working on right now, Satish, because you seem to be continuously writing books, you seem to be speaking around the world. What are you working on right now?
Satish Kumar: 49:06
I’m working on two books, one is already published, and one is about to be published. Two books on editing. The one book which is already published is called Transformative Learning. 30 years of experience and reflections of Schumacher College and our education of head, heart, and hands. So reflective learning is that transformative learning. So the title of that book is Transformative Learning, it is reflective of my 30 years, but the title is Transformative Learning, that’s one book. The second book that is about to be published next year is called Regenerative Learning. So we talked about all these ideas of new education. So what is that new education? We are putting together a manifesto, and that is called Regenerative Learning. It will be published next year. Apart from those two books, which are editing, it’s an anthology of essays, including essays by Vandana Shiva, Fritjof Capra, and people like David Ord, Charles Eisenstein, people like that.
Then I’m also writing my own book called Radical Love, and that book will be coming out next year as well. So I’m working on that book at the moment. And so and then I’m continuing to teach, and write, and be active, i’m 85 now. But I want to remain active until the last breath of my life. There is no way to retire from life. I want to remain active and serve the planet and serve humanity and enjoy life and be happy. Old age is as good as any other age. When I was young, I enjoyed being young and when I’m old, I enjoyed being old. There is nothing wrong with being old. So I’m very happy and I’m very joyful. And it is my great honor and pleasure to be working with Schumacher College, and with Resurgence Magazine, and with people like yourself, and with Vandana Shiva and Fritjof Capra, and many, many other wonderful people. So it has been a great joy and a privilege of my life to work with such a wonderful community of people around the world.
Morag Gamble: 51:31
Thank you so much for your time today, Satish, It’s been an absolute joy speaking with you. I always feel my cup is flowing over after I speak with you and it’s always too far between drinks. So I absolutely have loved having this chance to talk with you again. Thank you so much.
Satish Kumar: 51:49
My pleasure. It has been a great pleasure to speak with you and I am a great admirer of your work.
Morag Gamble: 51:56
Thank you, Satish. I do want to ask you, though, personally. What is your writing process? Because I feel like I have 10 books that I want to write, but I just am not getting started and I would love to dedicate my next year to also start to write.
Satish Kumar: 52:18
If you want to write, but at one moment, you can write only one book, don’t focus on 10 books just focus on one book. I have written 10 books, but at any one time, I focus only on one book, that’s number one. Number two, I allow certain hours in a day, mostly in the morning, but certain hours in the day, when I say I will not look at the emails, I will not have any meeting, I will not have any zoom, I will not have anything. That’s my time, like meditation, like lunch, like sleeping, that’s my time to write. So allow yourself some time, which is reserved for writing, creative writing, your own writing, and focus on only one book at a time and do every day, even if you’re doing four or five pages, or even if you’re writing just 1,000 words, that’s enough. 1000 words a day, within a month will be 30,000 words. And so within two months, you have 60,000 words. And then within a year your book is ready. So write 1000 words a day and allow a couple of hours, two to three hours a day, every day, to write something and that way you can get the book. And don’t look at the end result. Writing a book is a process. Don’t think about finishing the book, just say every page you’re writing has to be beautiful. Every sentence you write has to be beautiful and properly done. So work, focus on the process, and not on the end result. The book is not a product, it is a process. It’s a process of writing. And then once you’ve written, then forget it for other people to enjoy it. You have forgotten it. So I forget it once I write it. So that is the way to do it.
Morag Gamble: 54:09
Thank you, that’s an absolute way to bring it down into an elegant, simple way to take it forward. So I will attempt to do that.
Satish Kumar: 54:20
So you send me a photo with all these signs, the background, and yourself and a little writer about your institute and we’ll put that on our Schumacher College website.
Morag Gamble: 54:32
Fantastic! And I look forward to hopefully being able to come for a reunion. That would be amazing
Satish Kumar: 54:40
Lots and lots of love to you and congratulations for all the things you have achieved!
Morag Gamble: 54:50
Thank you so much and thank you for everything that you continue to do and continue to inspire everyone. I’m deeply grateful for the time I had with Schumacher that set me off on this path and I feel like I’m paying it forward now in service of others and in supporting other youth. So, thank you.
Satish Kumar: 55:12
Continue to stay on track. You are doing wonderful work.