Development Cooperation Handbook/Stories/Green Hands
Project implemented and funded by Isha Foundation,
Coimbatore, India February 2011
Most economists reiterate the necessity of environmental concerns for sustained economic development. But most economic actors continue to pollute and over-exploit natural resources as much as they are permitted to because they have to survive in competitive markets where external costs are passed on to the local communities and the future generations.
Disappointed with the failure of governments in protecting the environment, more and more people are looking towards religion as the firm ground for educating people in environmental responsibility.
Project Green Hands (PGH) is a model ecological initiative started by the Isha Foundation under the guidance of Sadhguru, a Hindu religious teacher. The goal of this project is to increase the awareness of the spiritual dimension of environmental ethics. Through this project, the Isha Foundation aims at increasing the green cover in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu by 10%, especially along the sea side, so that the risk of calamities like tsunami and cyclones is reduced.
The team of Project Green Hands has conducted several rural and urban greening campaigns across Southern India. Over the past years, it has even partnered with the Government, with corporations, schools, colleges and NGOs for implementing various environmental initiatives. Over 2 million volunteers of the Isha Foundation have planted around 9 million trees in Tamil Nadu. The Indian Government awarded Project Green Hands the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar, the highest award given to organizations and individuals for their contribution towards restoring and protecting the environment.
Video clips 
On YouTube ⇒ Isha Foundation, Project Green Hands - playlist
On YouTube ⇒ Sadhguru - playlist
“The villagers have to battle for their lives but still they take out their time to plant trees and this motivates us to work more for this project. “ says a person working in the project. "My land is 13 acres. I planted 3 acres of trees. In the future I am going to plant more trees. It will reduce the global warming. If each person realizes this, automatically global warming will come down." Says a farmer from the neighbouring village. Sadhguru saw that nurturing two saplings over the next 10 years was a task that the poorest of the poor could also do. So, he encouraged everyone to get involved in planting trees and making something truly beautiful and wonderful happen, without placing any additional financial burden upon the state.
“You can live without your wife or husband or child or friend but you cannot live without a tree. Every human being is interested in human well being. Since spirituality is an inclusive process and not an exclusive one, we must do what we need to do,” says Sadhguru.
I started working in the project Green hands and planted many trees with the community. And one morning, I realised that this was the most important thing I have to do in my life, so I decided to stay. These villagers have not caused global warming but they are working for reducing it,” says a French woman working in the project.
Jaggi Vasudev (also also known as Sadhguru सदगुरु जग्गी वासुदेव - சத்குரு ஜக்கி வாசுதேவ்) is a yogi and the founder of the Isha Foundation. He was interviewed in Coimbatore in the last week of February 2011 by Fausto Aarya De Santis
Whatever you collect, whatever you accumulate it can be yours but it can never be you. If you get out of that foolishness, if you get out of that illusion, then you are spiritual. Whatever you are not conscious of does not exist for you, that is a problem with life, isn’t it?
Right now behind you a huge elephant is standing. Don’t turn back and see! Such a big animal; you are not conscious of it so it does not exist for you, isn’t it? Life is like this, only what you are aware of you for exists, what you are not aware of does not exist for you. Spiritual process means that whatever this is [the whole you] you are aware of; that you do not want to leave this piece of life unexplored, that you want to know it through and through. That is the spiritual process.
Spirituality is the ultimate sense of inclusiveness. When you are able to understand and to feel in every cell of your body that what you are and what everything else we know as life, is one and the same, that is ultimate inclusiveness. When you are able to feel that you are in the path of spirituality. And for a person wants to be in that path, it is but natural that he would want to spend maximum time with life, people, in all forms. We are always thriving for personal growth; in the sense that, how as a person I can attain to the maximum of my potential. And in that pursuit you might be doing different things, but irrespective of what you are doing, your ultimate aim is to maximize your potential and grow in that direction. Ultimately, they say, existentially how much you are involved with life is all that matters. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are or what you are doing. You may be the Prime Minister, a clerk in the government office or a farmer. Ultimately, how involved you are in life process is what is going to determine the quality of life. And your growth, in that sense, is also determined in that. So showing your involvement in whatever you do is what we call as spirituality. This in a sense also lays down the path for your development. Its not about what you do or what you don’t do but how you do is the most important thing.