What's a Good Life

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All around us, the notion of a ‘good life’ includes exotic foods, big vehicles, lots of travelling, big buildings, designer homes, and factories to produce an uncountable variety of things, and electricity, coal and gas to make all this possible - all to keep pace with our faster lifestyles. Individually, we may ‘seek happiness’ in a range of directions, but collectively most of the developed / developing world looks for a host of material comforts to lead a good life. Even world leaders when they meet, like our Prime Minister and President Obama, seem to have time only for business as usual. Often, we may be unaware of the connection between the good life we aspire for, and the ecological repercussions of our choices – climate change, peak oil, increasing pollution levels, food packed with unnatural chemicals, etc.

Even those of us who understand these connections find it difficult to give up the good life goodies to which we are accustomed. Why? Where is this quest for a good life leading us? A story narrated by Satish Kumar in Resurgence Magazine comes to mind. His mother told him this story of a man who was chased by a violent elephant. The man ran for his life, and finally climbed a tree, hoping the elephant could not reach him there. However, the single-minded animal began to shake the tree with his trunk. While the man held on for dear life, he was surprised by the honey that dripped on his face from a broken bee hive above him. He licked the honey, which seemed delicious, but along with it, he was stung on all sides by the disturbed bees. Soon, a flying chariot with angels came by and stopped near him. Seeing his predicament, they offered to rescue him. ‘Just a minute’ said he, let me drink a bit more of this wonderful honey.’ The angels prompted him again and yet again, and finally gave him an ultimatum. The man was still pleading to have just a little bit more of the divine honey, even as he was stung all over and likely to be destroyed by the elephant ultimately. The angels finally left, leaving the man to his fate.

Would the man in the story have jumped onto the chariot if he was offered another kind of honey which was equally or more heavenly? Perhaps the only way we can let go of our addictions to a high carbon lifestyle is to find an even better life to enjoy and value. In this issue, we focus on several writers who explore a deeper freedom, a greater fulfillment and a life of personal balance, closely entwined with ecological balance. They write of slowing down to savour life, about the simple pleasures of craft and art, of a deeper engagement with music that unfolds

deeper truths. And sharing – which is essential if we are to actively seek the good life. This year of Eternal Bhoomi would have not been possible if it were not for the generosity with ‘gifts’ in the form of articles, illustrations, innumerable photographs, designs and ideas from readers and well-wishers. We hope that you will continue sending us your good wishes, and enjoy reading our 5th issue!