Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.
So often we heard, “We reap what we sow.” What we experience in return is what we contributed. The phenomenal world follows this natural rhythm of cause and effect.
Today, we witness global warming, epidemic, drought, flood and heat waves.
Today, we feel empty and lost in the hectic pursuits of material comfort, draining our most valuable inner resources
Today, as we witness what’s happening on earth and in the mindset of mankind, do we want to continue, or take a step to change its course?
Today, we hear the words of Dr. Lai, “As we work hand in hand together, all is not too late, because miracles do happen!”
It was 9.30 in the morning in Malaysia, and 6.30 in the evening across the oceans at Santa Barbara, United States. Worrying that Skype communication may fail us, I attempted to reach Dr. Lai for the overseas interview originally scheduled at 10am.
The line connected, and we heard a crisp and full of vitality “Hello!” on the other end. It was Dr. Lai. My first response was, “Dr. Lai, when will you visit Malaysia again? We miss you.” Dr. Lai, laughing, replied, “I just returned from Asia, spending the whole month giving talks in China and Taiwan.”
Advocating for pro-environmental awareness and reclaiming the joy of life have been the work of Dr. Lai. For all these years, she has been incessantly on the move to spread these messages so that more people would wake up to the cause, congregating more efforts towards positive change on Earth.
December 1 – 8 , Dr. Lai facilitated a programme in Austin, Texas that demonstrated how a green enterprise can combine the use of solar energy and eco-biosystem to increase the energy field of houses and reduce negative energy in oneself.
Meat Consumption: Global Warming and Fatal Implications
“The root of all diseases lies in the act of killing” – this is an enlightening statement. The greatest challenge for mankind in this century is the endless onslaught of diseases. While we are concerned about catastrophic hits on Earth, or maybe this never crosses some of our minds, all these are a result of killing..
Perhaps you would say, “Killing? Not me!” In actuality, meat consumption is an act of killing. When you indulge in the single one hamburger in a busy shopping mall, our earth has to sacrifice — deforestation of 55 square foot of rainforest. In America, 90% of grains are cultivated to feed animal livestock. The irony is, in third world countries, 40 thousand children die of hunger each day.
Dr. Lai emphasized in full earnest, “It takes each person, one small act to begin the reverse course of global warming, and that is ‘a vegetarian diet’.”
According to a study in the States, Dr. Lai informed, meat consumption is one main cause of global warming. For a person who regularly eats meat or fish, the amount of gases he/she contributes to global warming is 2 tonnes per year. A vegetarian contributes nil. Hence, in learning to adjust to vegetarian diet, one is caring for the earth. “Eating less meat means feeding the people, who are dying from hunger each day in the third world.”
For us to eat 1 pound of beef, we exhaust 12 pounds of corn. But we do not eat them directly, we use them to feed livestock, and in planting the crops, we deforest. This in turn causes water and soil erosion, and extinction of many species, and implicating other problems. To produce 1 pound of potatoes, we need 24 gallons of water; to produce 1 pound of apples, we need 49 gallons; but to produce 1 pound of beef, we need 5000 gallons! When we happily decide to eat the plate of steak or hamburger, we are unconsciously deciding the fate of our earth.
Animal livestock that are raised to feed the demands of humans cause serious environmental pollution by the sheer amount of excrement and waste.
Today, we are consuming our earth. We are exhausting the precious natural resources that are meant for our future generations. Today, what will you decide to eat? &
Reviving the Environmental Movement, You can be Hybric !
With a time lapse of 15 hours, the interview was carried out in the morning of Malaysia and the evening of the States. I held on to my laptop, even in the heat of weather, only the fan was switched on. I understand that the effort of an individual is limited. Mentioning environmentalism, way back more than 10 years ago, Dr. Lai has been tirelessly promoting individual recycling efforts in saving the earth.
“If everyone begins pro-environmental efforts now, miracle can still happen, we can save the earth.” Today we experience global warming, which is a post result of 50 years of exhaust emission and carbon dioxide. Even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide from this moment onwards, effects of global warming will persist for 100 years because of the accumulation up till now. This is a cycle of cause and effect, Dr. Lai said.
“But we are not even reducing emission; on contrary, we are increasing.” This is a helpless exclamation of one environmental activist. Many people think that one person less in environmental efforts will not pose much threat. Yet uniting everyone’s participation is the hope of reviving the environmental movement.
Global warming causes temperature to rise, and we blast the air-conditioning in response, resulting in an endless vicious cycle. Dr. Lai offered a suggestion: when the weather gets too hot, we can try immersing our feet in cold waters. This will readily bring a cooling effect. I laughed; this is a good idea for a hot Malaysia.
Start with saving electricity – you can play a part in saving the earth. Dr. Lai remarked, “Now I am speaking with you, the whole house is unlit except for a light bulb for reading. Little actions like this go a long way in affecting the earth.”
For example, cultivate the habit of sleeping and waking early. Sleep when the night arrives; this is a natural cycle. We can save on resources by not turning on the lights at night, and we wake early to start our day. “Another example, I will plan my route in advance when running the errands so that I do not drive more trips than necessary. This helps to save on fuel.”
Research and writing are Dr. Lai’s main work but she seldom uses the computer, hence reducing contact with electrical appliances. In line with recycling principle, she usually re-uses waste papers. “There are scientific papers sent from overseas, when we flip over, they can be used for writing. I have not bought new papers for years.” When others are throwing away, Dr. Lai is recycling the waste. “Our household does not have the habit of throwing rubbish, even if we need to, we consider carefully before we throw.”
Cancer Cells Grew Double Under Electrical Light
Research studies showed that humans are facing 1-2 million times more electromagnetic waves than the past. Chatting with the cell phone for long period of time is equivalent to chatting with one’s head placed inside a microwave oven. Someone even predicts that brain tumor is the epidemic disease in future.
Modern lives revolve around computers, as if life cannot be complete without computer and internet. Dr. Lai expressed that computer and wireless internet are resources-draining tools. “Nowadays, people make use of internet to fulfill one’s desires, like chatting, listening to music, watching movies. This is wasting. Not only does it harm the environment, it also harms our health.”
More than 20 years ago, a medical research reported that growth of cancer cells increased twice- fold when placed under electrical light for 12 hours. This means that if we allow our bodies to be exposed to electromagnetic radiation for long periods without restraint, we are like moths heading for the flames.
Meditation: Nourishes the Spirit, Fulfills Life Purpose
A habit of squandering and wasting material resources comes from an empty heart. An unfulfilled, empty heart propels us to seek more and more from the outside.
Our life is characterized by impermanence, and every minute of it is filled with change and possibilities. When we embrace life with gratitude and earnestness in fulfilling our mind-spirit, life will not be an empty shell.
“When we reach the destination of our life, our last day, no one will lament how much work is left undone, how much money have not been earned. No one will think about these. Instead, people regret about not spending enough time on relationships, not spending more time with loved ones.” This is the observation made by professionals who spent years working with dying patients.
Truly, towards the last stretch of our lives, we cannot bring any material possessions with us. We come empty-handed, and we depart empty-handed. “Many have walked towards the end before realizing that they have placed their life focus on the wrong target. One day, when you turn back, when there is no more time ahead of you, you realize that all the material pursuits you fervently absorbed in are no longer important. What’s important is whether you have loved, shared your love, and whether you have contributed something positive to the world, or have left behind only pollution and impurities.”
Dr. Lai encouraged self-reflection and inner dialogue. Though humans have abundant material life, we have lost the direction of our heart. Emptiness, anxiety, depression – these seem to be the buzzwords of modern living. She introduced the book “Drip Meditation” by Dr. Mitchell May. In it, he describes a meditative practice that is suitable for spiritual nourishment for busy modern people.
I mused over the purport of Drip Meditation, which lies in the meditative composure between drips. It is crucial to step over and beyond words to enter the realm of calming stability. Dr. Lai explained that ‘Drip Meditation’ is a way to listen inwardly, and in the inner silence, uncover the nature of our true selves. “We see the Big ‘I’, our original Higher Self in the quietness of our being. Big ‘I’ encompasses and embraces everything. Small ‘I’ has only fears.”
Only small ‘I’ is absorbed in endless frantic pursuit of material comfort, but the real Big ‘I’ is selfless and all-embracing. “Whether it is for 1 or 2 seconds of silence, allow ‘Drip Meditation’ to become a habit. Quiet down to face what’s going on inside us, and to cleanse the hindrances and impurities. Before each action, learn to come into the present moment for 1 second. You will discover that 1 second of meditative calmness helps to develop mental clarity and sensitivity. And it creates the space for inspiration.”
The universe always functions to support the best benefits of mankind. If we are willing and accepting, it will always help us. Meditation allows us to appreciate and learn ways of contributing to the Universe.
Life Returning to the Source of Nature
Coming into contact with Dr. Lai makes one want to hold her hands. Listening to her talks motivates one to be willing to make changes. The presence of Dr. Lai radiates an energy that exemplifies life returning to its most natural source.
Value environmental-friendliness in lifestyle. Value health in one’s diet. These naturally bring joy and nourishment to our mind and spirit.
Dr. Lai proposed local and seasonal food sources for diet, and the best is uncontaminated crops. Ideally, there should be a variety of unpolished rice, whole wheat, job’s tears and others, complemented with flowers, fruits, roots, stems, leaves and others that make up a holistic range because these ingredients are rich with all types of nutrients.
“In preparing my meals, I consider nutritional balance and simplicity. I usually boil or steam.” For raw diet, Dr. Lai prefers fruits and vegetables as main ingredients for salads, or to juice them, maximizing the amount of enzymes and vitamins. She eats simply and nutritionally, does not like shopping, except to go fresh markets.
Born with an over-sensitive constitution, 19-year-old Dr. Lai chanced upon a book in the States on health and fresh vegetables and fruits written by medical professionals. She tried natural cooking and this changed her health ever since.
To her, adopting a vegetarian diet is a gesture of friendship and love towards oneself and the environment. “This is something that everyone can achieve immediately. To solve the problems that the earth is facing now is complicated, but at personal level, we can start by changing our diet.”
Treat the world with love, and the world will love you back umpteen times more. This is a joyous cycle, and a law of nature. Hence, to have a healthy body-mind, refrain from harming lives, protect natural resources on earth!
Like what Dr. Lai envisions, “Start now, everything is not too late!”
The interview lasted an hour and a half. From a deep place long forgotten, something stirred and moved me. My mind whirled, resonating with the messages from the interview. I allow myself to calm down for 1 second, learning to look inwards. Writing this article has taken the longest time in purview of my journalist career, as I worried that I did not convey the gist of the interview. But this article is written with the deepest wish that it would awaken everyone to contemplate and participate in pro-environmental efforts. With unity, it is all not too late! For more [Chinese] articles relating to Dr. Lai’s cause, please visit http: //www.lapislazuli.org .
Original article published in Lohas magazine《乐活志》, 2007 December issue.
Translated by Lapis Lazuli Light (Singapore)