Should We Be Planting Trees?

Should We Be Planting Trees?

By Eric Baret

Q: Shouldn't we focus more on the defense of the environment? Shouldn't we be planting trees?

A: Some people plant trees but they still eat meat, and eating meat causes deforestation. Some people plant a tree and they still use a car, and cause pollution. Some people plant a tree then they get on a plane. Some people who plant a tree read books, and books are made from trees, etc. In the end you have to do what you feel. Don't pretend that what you do is important or right because that's a fantasy. Like here in Europe they want to switch to electric cars, but they will soon realize that those pollute even more than gasoline-powered cars.

Some people don't want to smoke cigarettes, they smoke this silly gadget and then they realize that gives them even more concerns. They don't drink coke because of sugar, so they’ll have diet coke, and then they realize how bad artificial sweeteners really are. So often what may seem better from a naive point of view may in fact be worse. At some point, I no longer have time. I'm not a scientist. I don't know what is right or wrong, so I do what I feel. Some people have an inner vision, a divine vision of what is right—I assume that’s what it is for them. I don’t have any. I do what comes naturally, without thinking if it is right or wrong, just because I cannot help it. In your house, is it good to clean the house? I don't know. Sometimes you cannot take the mess anymore and you clean the house, but that doesn't make it good or bad.

Plant trees if you find it beautiful to plant trees. But then you will realize that in your own life there are many things that you do that pollute too. There's breathing. Do you think you should stop breathing? Because when you breathe, you pollute the climate. So it is a complex situation. At some point you must accept to live your life. You kill many small creatures when you walk down the street. Small animals are worthwhile too, not just whales. Will you stop walking? Again, do what you feel, but without ideology. Should people plant trees? If it comes from the heart it is perfect, but as such, I have no opinion.

You may do what you really feel. Many things can be done, and they should be done from the heart. I totally understand people who don't eat meat because the products used to feed animals are causing a dramatic situation in many parts of the South American continent. Yes to not participating in this pollution, but again, one should not be obsessed, because we are all going to die; that makes life easy. We don’t have long to live, we must focus on what is important. What is important is to stop having pain; what is important is to stop feeling fear; what is important is to stop complaining; what is important is to stop demanding anything from your environment. Because all this creates hell on earth. All this creates tension, creates war.

It all starts with our little inner wars. When you are upset, when you are jealous, when you are depressed, when you want something else than what happens, you create war within yourself. It is much more important to see that, and to challenge it, than to plant many trees.  It is much better to burn the forest and free yourself from the hatred, judgment and comments on life than to plant trees and then, when something happens that you don't like, feel agitation, resentment and hatred. First, begin with yourself.

I must see what is important. What is important is to see our functioning on the affective level, on the intellectual level. And if this seeing makes your life more intelligent, and you walk more and drive less, and you plant a tree, that's fantastic. The woods are happy because of you, and you'll be in better health, and perhaps you use less electricity and computers. We can stop polluting the planet, there are many things we can do and that's very nice. But for me all that is secondary. The main thing is to see the world that we constantly create outside of ourselves through our thinking.

The first war is to be had with oneself. To stop complaining, to stop hoping, to stop judging, to stop knowing. If we stop this war, then it is beautiful to plant trees. But very often people who want to stop the war are at war with themselves. That's why they want to take power, that’s why they turn into dictators eventually, because they cannot help it. They have the best intentions, but the ego needs to dominate, it needs to erase that which is not like itself, that which is different, that which is challenging in some way.

From an ecological standpoint, planting trees is a beautiful expression of clarity, but it should not replace clarity itself. Clarity is what is important, which is to see our functioning. And then it can unravel in all walks of life, of which ecology is one, a beautiful one. But first, before we die, we should see what is important. Why am I still commenting? Why do I still have judgments, comments and hatred sometimes? Why am I still constantly thinking? Why am I still constantly demanding? For me, this is the jihad, the real fight.

And it is not a fight. This beautiful word, jihad, is actually love, the love of oneself. The more you love the pettiness in yourself, the more you will become clear. At some point many of these elements will disappear and then you'll have plenty of time to plant trees. So, ecology can be an extension of clarity, but for me only a secondary extension. First priority is to stop being at war with yourself.