Sailesh Rao Headshot

“Al Gore didn’t want to talk about it!” – Dr Sailesh Rao – Sentientist Conversations EP:82

Find our Sentientist Conversation on the Sentientism YouTube here or on the Sentientism podcast here.

Dr. Sailesh Rao (climatehealers.org/sailesh-rao & @saileshrao) is Founder & Exec Dir of Climate Healers, a non-profit working to heal the climate. After a glittering career in tech he switched to focus on solving our environmental crises. Dr. Rao is the author of two books, Carbon Dharma & Carbon Yoga, & is an Exec Producer of several documentaries including, The Human Experiment (2013), Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014), What The Health (2017), A Prayer for Compassion (2019) & They’re Trying to Kill Us (2021).

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” In addition to the video above, the audio is on our Podcast here on Apple and all on the other platforms too.

We discuss:
0:00 Welcome

01:14 Dr. Rao’s Intro – from India to the US, from tech to saving the world!

  • Growing up in a Hindu family in Chennai, India
  • “God is in charge & you are just an instrument” vs. the materialism of engineering training
  • Being inspired by the moon landing
  • Landing his dream job at Bell Labs
  • Starting a consulting firm creating the high-speed internet
  • “I had achieved, but I wasn’t happy”
  • Frustrations with commercialisation & cut-throat competition
  • Seeing Al Gore talk about climate change… “If half of what he’s saying is true I’m wasting my time”
  • Jumping to work on climate change “the biggest systems change around”
  • Being trained by Al Gore to take the message out
  • Asking Al Gore “If we take all the land we’re currently using for raising animals & turn it back to forest can we not reverse climate change?” but he didn’t want to talk about it
  • Starting Climate Healers

07:23 What’s Real?

  • Becoming disillusioned with religion “This is poor work if God’s in charge”
  • “We’re the only species that’s a mistake on this planet”
  • Visiting a sanctuary forest “I felt this sense of perfection”… “We did nothing… we gave it back to the animals… make sure no human being comes inside”
  • “My granddaughter was born… I felt as if I was holding humanity in my arms”… “I belong exactly as I am… you are a fool!”
  • Writing “Carbon Dharma” & “Carbon Yoga”
  • “Any 5 year old can tell you… be kind to all life”
  • Transforming from caterpillar to butterfly
  • “We are the climate regulating species”
  • Fire, weapons, partnerships with animals… then fossil fuels
  • Be a caretaker species, not a predator species
  • “If you insist on being a narcissistic predator species you’re going to die”
  • “My granddaughter brought me back to faith”
  • “We’re here to serve the animals not to eat them”
  • “The evidence… is that the Bhavadgita is actually correct”

23:40 What & Who Matters?

  • Studying the Bhavadgita again to “understand my role”
  • The Bible’s apple tree of knowledge & Hinduism’s fig tree of wishing
  • Detachment from wishing & compassion as the paths to happiness
  • Meditation: stay with the watching child & detatch from the wishing child
  • Wish for the benefit of others
  • Ahimsa: Non-violence to all beings
  • Being vegetarian. Told that dairy didn’t harm cows. A partnership!
  • Seeing the reality of dairy. Feeling shame & guilt
  • “I went vegan on the spot… I had a huge sense of guilt lift off my shoulders”
  • Opening the 7 Chakras: fear, guilt, shame, grief, lies, delusions, attachments
  • “Enlightenment is just seeing things as they are”
  • Caste/purity/sacredness vs. compassion
  • Telling Hindu/Jain audiences: “The cow has been our mother… now she’s saying ‘grow up!'”
  • “Do you think there is a valid ecosystem with just humans & cockroaches?”
  • Wild animal suffering vs. natural balance as intrinsically good
  • “Wild animals don’t kill each other for fun”
  • “This killing machine we have created”

49:57 The Future

  • A vegan world? “Now it is inevitable”
  • We’re all in one family (human & non) & we share one planet
  • “Why are people eating my family?”… a pinky promise for Sailesh’s granddaughter
  • “Everyone says I would never deliberately hurt an innocent animal uneccessarily”
  • “Money is being made from death (animals), disease (humans) & destruction (the planet)”
  • 85% of our food is already plants!
  • Western science, war & colonialisation
  • Two false axioms: supremacism (win-lose) & consumerism
  • The end goal has to be radical but the path can be gradual
  • True axioms: Inner peace & unity
  • Now all we have to fear is ourselves we can afford to create a system based on love
  • Explorers & conservatives
  • “It’s the greatest transformation in human history… Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”
  • COP26.

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.

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Thanks Graham for the post-production.

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