I am so excited and honored to be sharing this episode with you today with Mahita Goris. I met Mahita last December in 2017 when I was at Amma’s ashram in India ~ one of the places I write about in my book Just Be.
Seven years had passed since my first visit at Amma’s ashram and I was so excited to go back to one of my favorite spots - the meditation beach.
This was a beautiful stretch of beach front on the Arabian Sea where I used to cherish the sunrises and sunsets practicing yoga, writing in my journal and drinking chai.
I imagined what it would be like to arrive again at this very spot. I was hoping for union. Merging. Expansion. Love.
But at first all I saw was a recycling center erected in the very place I used to sit. Trash was everywhere. Mountains of it, waiting to be sorted. My first reaction was that I was pissed. My ego was on fire.
How could they do this? To this sacred spot? Where I remembered my heart?
Trash, just trash. Everywhere.
And then, of course, I was assigned seva (selfless service) at this very recycling center. And I met the woman Mahita who was one of the few pioneering waste management in India. And as I showed up ready to work with the trash, she showed me what 3 months of soft plastic waste looked like at the ashram. (Not including water bottles, which are a hard plastic)
It was enormous. It was a mountain. And there was no where to put it.
Every few months, there was a small chance a truck would come to pick it up to sell it. But otherwise it would go back into the earth...Taking thousands of years to degrade.
Then I really felt my heart. And I saw how I was contributing to it all. How we all are. And how in the West we often just don't see it. We know it's happening, but it's not staring us in the face, the way it was staring at me here.
Then she told me of how every moment she is sorting trash, she thinks of how the breeze caresses her skin. And how the sight of the ocean reminds her of her sacred work for Mother Earth. How sorting trash is her worship to this mother. Even though she was knee deep in garbage, she knew it was all worth it. For her mother. For our beautiful planet.
After I had my first seva experience here, I sat next to the ocean, and I watched the sunset, amidst the trash, and I really let myself feel my heart. Feel the pain. I cried. I knew what it was to feel truly humble. And helpless. And to not know. And underneath all of that, I understood what it was to feel true devotion. For this mother. For this planet. For the awakening of our souls. And this, was true union. Merging. Love. Just what I was longing for….
I was lucky to sit down and talk with Mahita about her experience with creating the recycling center at Amma’s, the current state of the world when it comes to waste management, and what we can actually do to make a difference.
We recorded this interview over Skype while Mahita was at the ashram and I was back in the states - so you may hear the sound of rickshaws and other sounds of India in the background.
This conversation touched me deeply and is a topic I believe we should all be aware of….
In this episode we discussed:
- How Mahita met Amma & began the path of Sanatana Dharma
- How she started the recycling center at the ashram
- The difference between seva and karma yoga
- What is soft plastic and how did it originate?
- Where plastic goes & the current problems we are facing in India and the world
- The health concerns of using plastic
- What we can actually do to make a difference
"For Westerners, the most effective way to serve the waste (issue) is to stop generating it. Devote yourself as much a possible to bulk reuse items and be a part of this new revolution of consumers responsibly refusing pathetic packaging."
Mahita's tips on what we can do to actually make a difference:
- Meditate every day on what is essential for life
- Relate to the source of our resources (paper is from a tree, plastic is from oil, metal is from the rocks of a mountain or inside the Earth)
- Meditate before you go shopping
- Devote yourself to bulk foods and limit use of packaging
- Work together collectively - group service makes a huge impact
- Have compassion for the next generation
- Don't be hateful for those who don’t catch on, instead speak truthfully with intelligence and show up