We live in times where for people living in industrialised countries more or less everything is available in abundance. We can eat as much as we like, we even flush our toilettes with drinking water, we fly to a city far away just to do some shopping, we wear expensive clothes fabricated by highly renowned brands, live in larger and larger houses or flats, etc.
Far away, in a different world, there are other people who are less wealthy. Every now and then we donate some money for the general wellbeing, to calm our conscience. And of course we are very irritated by the poverty in the "other world".
Calls to cut down the personal needs usually remain without effects:
- Why should I reduce my personal water requirements? If I reduce my personal water consumption in applying special economizing nozzles for the shower, does this do any good for Africans suffering from drought? Or does it help them when I stop the flushing of the toilette earlier?
- Why should I save energy? Why exactly me? The energy is here, if it is not me who uses it, maybe someone else might use it for an even more senseless purpose. I'd rather waste the energy myself, for example to drive a heavy SUV, enjoy the respective prestige and have fun.
- Does it reduce starvation anywhere in the world if I eat less? The goods would be rotten for a long time before they arrived in a poor country.
Without doubt, we have to admit that the above examples sound somehow logical: It would not help those who obviously suffer even if I gave up on something. This raises the question: Why then should I give up on something? Why not carry on as usual? Well, this question seems eligible, however this sight of view completely fades out that
- there are other beings on earth besides human beings.
- many resources on earth are limited and not renewable.
- everything on earth is interconnected with everything. Human beings are just a small part of the creation.
An universal cosmic law states that "all beings on our planet have the equal right to live here, to develop here and to carry out their tasks here". In the book "ABC of awareness" this cosmic law is discussed in more detail, see e.g. here .
The term "being" has to be understood in a very broad way, it includes every person, every animal, every plant, every stone, every little pile of earth. In short: everything we normally call part of nature. There are no individual people, plants or things which may not be here. There are no individual beings which are more important than the others – all are exactly as important as one another.
The interrelations in nature are very complex, as you are probably aware of. We are meanwhile able to retrace some courses of events but we are still far away from a true understanding of the bigger interrelations: We are sometimes able to forecast the weather for two to three days. But what is the use of that? Shouldn't it be possible to forecast the weather for months in advance if you really understand the influences and interrelations?
But let's come back to our original topic: What's the purpose of modesty? Who will benefit from our own modesty?
Who will benefit from my modesty?
Typically, we only imagine direct consequences on other human beings and not on nature as a whole. However, human beings are only a small part of nature – we are getting remembered about the correct relations at the latest when natural disasters happen.
When I personally reduce my consumption of water, energy or food, this will definitely have consequences for the nature. We don't have to understand for now the exact consequences. However it is extremely important to recognise that our modesty, our self-consciousness indeed does have after-effects. Not directly on other people who are suffering but on nature as a whole: Other beings can use whatever we don't take, don't use, don't spoil or don't destroy.
If according to the above mentioned cosmic law all beings have the equal right to live on the earth, then no one has the right to take more than he or she needs. Otherwise this would hinder or even prevent the living of other beings on earth. We would interfere with sequences and a system we don't really understand (see the example above about the weather forecast).
We long for harmony but contemn our partner
It is the most important goal of all human beings to be able to live in perpetual joy and harmony with oneself and with the neighbourhood, i.e. with plants, animals, the air, water, the earth, other people, etc. (see also here ) But how should it be possible to live in harmony with my neighbourhood when I steal from them? Or do you love those fellowmen most who are inconsiderate, uncaring, thoughtless and who selfishly only care for their own advantages?
As soon as we start to use more resources than are effectively needed to fulfill our tasks on earth, those resources will be missing in our environment. In other words: If we take more than really needed, e.g. if we waste water, food, oil or gas, we harm our neighbourhood. In most cases we do not directly harm other people but the nature as a whole. However since the highest goal of human beings is to get in harmony with nature, we prevent ourselves from coming this goal any closer. Through this behaviour, we hinder our own personal development. How shall it be possible to get into a harmonic partnership with nature, if we do not accept all beings of nature as equal partners? If we treat other beings of nature as inferior creatures or even as goods? It is not possible to live in harmony with someone you treat with contempt.
Knowing the above, isn't it absurd to drive with a motorboat pointless around a lake, to live in a large villa because of the prestige, to waste water out of simple convenience, to agonize and fatten animals just to produce as much cheap meat as possible? We should not be surprised when such excesses do make us unhappy. That we get into a negative spiral where we try to compensate "too much" with "even more" instead of stopping and reflecting about our behaviour. If two weekends with shopping by plane didn't make us happy, we will try next year with three or four such weekends…
Moderation initiates opportunities
As a big contrast to excesses, moderation and humility to the wonder of nature are virtues which enable and accelerate our personal development. We show respect to our environment, to all other beings and therefore to nature as a whole. This is the only way we can get in harmony with ourselves and nature.
From this perspective, living in moderation does not seem to be full of deprivations and limitations but on the contrary rather full of opportunities for the personal development. It is an indispensable precondition to get in perpetual harmony, joy and (self-)confidence.
Imagine nature with all its creatures as your true partners and friends. This way, it should be easy to succeed in treating them with respect. But don't be surprised if this idea becomes more and more reality over time!