Journey to a More Sustainable Inner and Outer World
Sasha Frate: You’ve done significant work for the “outer world” of humanity with your sustainability efforts for the planet, and green building and living. In your latest book The Godfather of Green: An Eco- Spiritual Memoir, you delve deep into the “inner world”. Why did you decide to go “there” next?
Jerry Yudelson: The inner world is always part of us. Nothing happens without us first thinking about it. And for many, as it was for me, it’s our thinking patterns and habits that keep us stuck. What happened for me is that when I turned thirty, I was blessed to encounter a spiritual master and find a path that I have followed ever since. In the book, I describe how I struggled for a decade to reconcile these two seemingly different worlds, until discovering from within the ways in which I could integrate my personal mission of protecting the earth with my desire for inner realizations and put them into service for each other.
Sasha: In the beginning of your memoir you point out that, “Children intuitively know and love the earth. From the time their mother puts them on the ground to crawl, the earth is a constant companion.” What have you identified as the biggest contributors to our separation from this childhood intuitive connection when we enter adulthood?
Jerry: For many of us, it’s when we as teenagers begin to focus more on academic studies and respond to peer group pressure that we start to lose our intuitive guidance and begin to let the “culture” lead us. We start living in our heads, looking only to satisfy the senses, and in doing so, forsake our sense of wonder. Today, social media, Instagram influencers, and incessant screen time amplify this effect.
As a younger teen, I used to spend many evenings stargazing, but I gave up that passion in high school for sports, studies, and social life. Like most people, it took a big challenge— an abrupt change in circumstances— to force me to reconsider my life’s direction. For me, the catalyst was dropping out of a high-level PhD program and going to live by myself in the woods of Northern California in a Thoreau-like experience of poverty-of-means while opening myself to the riches of the imagination and a growing knowledge of the workings and wonders of the natural world.