Are We Sustainable?

Sep 12, 2022

“When the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, the last fish been caught,
and the last child is stillborn, we will know we cannot eat money.”

– Old Proverb Paraphrased

“When we see others in us and see ourselves in others, we evolve.”

– Upanishad Paraphrased

A noble concept of sustainability, which meant leaving behind viable earth for our
great, great, grandchildren has been reduced today to the mockery of ESG codes of
corporate conduct and Trumpian disdain for the environment leading us to a
dystopian future. Do we seriously believe we are sustainable in the path we are on?
In a systemic concept of the universe, all elements of nature, including its creations,
work in unison to one another’s benefit. In the world we are in, in whichever part we
are in, we are working for our own selfish benefits, and against others, in what
eventually will be a zero-sum game that nobody wins. No one has said this better in
recent times than Otto Scharmer in his Theory U, presenting a dystopian absenting
mindset of a closed mind, closed heart and closed will. Thankfully, unlike many
naysayers, he presents the alternative, transformative, presenting mode through an
open mind, open heart and open will model. Scharmer’s U Labs have coaching
circles and coaching walks.

As coaches, we are in a spiritual profession. We serve. We serve so that others are
empowered. In order for us to be coaches, we need to be empowered to start with,
a presencing open mind, open heart and open will. When we can love
ourselves, and be confident, accepting and grateful in that love, then and only then
can we be coaches. When we can view all others around us and all others around
the client as we coach individuals and groups, we can be systemic, spiritual and

5000 years ago, or earlier, seers in ancient India said that the only sustainable part
of us is our energy. What we are as mind and body matter is destroyed and recreated.
The energy that sustains is the energy of nature. In our blind greed to sustain the
perishable mind and body matter, we are destroying nature and its energy. In that blind
greed, we leave behind a wasteland. The shadow Eliot writes about is no longer a
shadow, it’s real.

“A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is a shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

The Vedic philosophy of this ancient nation, today called India, spoke of an eternal law of
dharma, Sanatana dharma, that preserved nature and its energy. It spoke of karma,
the consequences of our actions, good and bad, which will shadow us after our
transitional death. In order that this shadow remains benign, they advised us to lead
a life of selfless service, treating others as we wish to be, knowing that what we sow
now we shall reap whether now or in later life. This is sustainability at its best.
Science confirms we do not matter, but energy. Yet, there is a limiting belief that
beyond the life we see, and would like to live forever, there is nothing. It’s akin to the
flat earth belief that there was a chasm at the ends of the world beyond which
nothing existed. There is no flat earth and there is no death without life after. We
create our future in the present. What we do in the present has consequences that
continue after our death.

When we act as if there are no consequences to what we indulge in, nature will
extract its flesh, yours and mine, in a rather painful way. It will not be the Trumpians
alone who will suffer; we all will. Let us be sustainable, in a presencing mode, in the
spirit of respect for one another, exemplifying the coaching mindset.

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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