Sunday, 30 April 2017

Satish Kumar: Earth Pilgrim

Satish Kumar gave a talk in Manchester in March, which I attended. I was surprised to see there were only 100 or so people in the audience.  Having read a few of his books, I was keen to see him in the flesh. Although the vast bulk of what he said did not deviate very much from the TED talk above, it lacked much of its fire and conviction, I think on account of the fact he had a cold.

Satish only spoke for an hour or so. The rest of the time was spent in rather unfulfiling workshops and undirected "focus groups" which I felt were nothing more than the opportunity to give him a breather. Much of the Q&A at the end was also a bit turgid and opportunistic. Still, I wasn't there for the fireworks, just to pay homage to a great man. It still worries me that if Satish can't pull in more than 100 people on a visit to a city the size of Manchester, what is the world coming to. I would have been more encouraged if amongst those faithful few who were present, there were activists, leaders and formidable firebrands, but I'm afraid it did not seem so. When his generation are gone, I really fear for the world.

Bio: Satish Kumar (born 9 August 1936) is an Indian activist and editor. He has been a Jainist monk, nuclear disarmament advocate, pacifist, and is the current editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine. Now living in England, Kumar is founder and Director of Programmes of the Schumacher College international centre for ecological studies, and of The Small School where children learn to bake bread right at the beginning of their education. His most notable accomplishment is a peace walk with a companion to the capitals of four of the nuclear-armed countries – Washington, London, Paris and Moscow, a trip of over 8,000 miles. This Guardian article Soul Man, is a potted history of Satish Kumar and his philosophy.

He is also author of Earth Pilgrim, which is where I originally heard of him. 

Below is the full 50 minute 2008 documentary. Earth Pilgrim- A Year On Dartmoor.

One pretty good outcome was during one of the (lengthy) breaks, I went to the bookstall to see if there was anything I hadn't read which was cheap enough to buy. I had intended to get a signed copy, but as it turned out, even the small audience crowded Satish out at the end looking for "selfies" so I didn't want to be yet another demanding face. I got a copy of Spiritual Compass which has turned out to be quite a good down- to- earth description of the Ayurvedic gunas in everyday life. That's pretty useful because as it happens I am co- writing a course on Ayurveda and its helped simplify much of its complexity. So despite the anticlimax of the evening, I suppose I got something out of it. Just not what I expected.

I'd quite like to see Satish Kumar again. This time firing on all cylinders; with a large appreciative crowd, offering incisive and stirring commentary. I hope that day comes, and comes soon. His poweful message is very much needed at the moment.

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