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?”
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?”
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.
Thanks Graham for the post-production.