Rumi, the Sufi poet and saint is believed to have said that when you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. Satish Kumar's book 'You Are Therefore I Am' is truly a joy and leaves the reader feeling nourished and inspired by its soulfulness and simplicity. The book traces the spiritual journey of Satish Kumar – child monk, peace pilgrim, ecological activist and educator. Satishji traces the sources of inspiration which formed his understanding of the world as a network of multiple and diverse relationships and gets the readers in touch with the essence of the deep ecology movement.
The book is in four parts. The first describes his memories of conversations with his mother, his teacher and his Guru, all of whom were deeply religious. The second part recounts his discussions with the Indian Sage Vinoba Bhave, J. Krishnamurti, Bertrand Russell, Martin Luther King, Jr. and E.F. Schumacher. These five great thinkers and activists inspired him to engage with social, ecological and political issues. In the third part Satishji narrates his travels in India, which have continued to nourish his mind and reconnect him with his roots. The fourth part brings together his world – view, which is based on relationships and connections between all things, rather than the philosophy of dualism, division and separation.
As you read the book, you are drawn into an intimate conversation with Satishji. He shares his perspectives, insights and the essential truths as he has experienced them. He has been called the ‘sage of the deep ecology movement’ and yet his offerings are made with a lightness of touch, without it ever becoming preachy or prescriptive. The book therefore can cut across age barriers and appeal to everyone.
It is said that the shortest distance between truth and man is a story. The author uses this technique brilliantly. He weaves in innumerable stories from varied sources to illustrate a point, establish a connection or join missing dots.
In the deeply divided world that we live in today, where individualism and success of a kind are celebrated, where ‘you versus me’ is the deeply embedded mental model that we seem to be operating from, this book is a celebration of connections – visible and invisible. “Our existence, our very being is embedded in the relationship between everything that lives and moves on earth”.
The author raises pertinent questions and urges readers to examine how the philosophy of dualism has led us far away from our innate wisdom and common sense. “Modern civilisation loves to complicate things. It seeks what is scarce and ignores what is abundant. Harvesting the sunlight and rainwater makes common sense. But common sense is no longer common.”
The book leaves you with no room for passive apathy. It urges you, inspires you, moves you to commit to the path of values, ethics and aesthetics, the path of love and reverence for nature.
It ends with a powerful, stirring Declaration of Dependence. “For survival and for the good life, we need humility. We come from the soil and will return to the soil. We are part of nature, neither above it nor separate from it... Embracing vulnerability and humility, let us declare our utter dependence on the Earth and on each other: You are, therefore I am.”