Peace Within, With Each Other, and With Nature
Hanne Strong's Speech at Shumei - December 2016
Hanna Strong’s spiritual journey followed a path guided by indigenous shamans, and
masters of the Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi traditions. Early on, she co-founded the first
non-profit, private foundation for people with disabilities and dispossessed street
children. She organized and chaired two conferences in what came to be known as the
Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. And she launched the Earth Restoration Corps, a global
environmental program, established to train young adults. She also has labored
diligently for world peace as a Senior Advisor for the Millennium World Peace Summit of
Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations. For over 40 years, she has worked
with Native Americans and other indigenous peoples throughout the world to preserve
their spirituality, cultural values, and native lands. To this day she still fights to protect
the pristine mountains, wildlife habitats, and delicate eco-systems of her beloved
She was instrumental in the creation of Shumei’s Crestone Center. She and her
late husband, Maurice Strong, invited Shumei to found a spiritual center in Crestone and
offered our organization the land on which to build it.
Shumei's founder, Mokichi Okada, taught that one must serve others to find true
happiness. If that is so, Hanne Strong must be one very happy person.
In a recent New York Times article, it was said: "the Youth Population is one of the
biggest problems facing humanity.” I found that shocking. Young people are a problem?
We brought them into this world. We have lessened their chance at any future and have
positioned them to deal with the growing list of crises facing our planet. And now, we
call ‘them’ the problem, when we are the ones who have created these problems. Instead,
we must recognize young people as the ‘solution.’ And if we give them the guidance and
the proper tools that they need, they and all of us might have a chance.
These are critical times. In critical times, it is of the utmost importance to
realistically assess and address the situation in a very direct, practical way. It does not
matter what philosophy we hold or what religion we follow. We cannot avoid the reality
of our environment, our social systems, and our personal consciousness. The crisis is as
close as the earth we stand on, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the sun we live
The basis for cooperative human relations and environmental awareness is at our
moral and spiritual core. We have lost touch with this. Our root problem, from which this
crisis has arisen, is that we are living out of balance with ourselves, with each other, and
our Earth. If we do not take steps to acknowledge how the destruction of the environment
is an outward reflection of the imbalance within ourselves, then the environment will
continue to remind us in ever more dramatic ways. Our present solutions to
environmental and social problems are only Band-Aids. If we want our external world to
change, we must first create change within ourselves.
In 1984, my late husband was given the job of feeding 200 million people during
the great famine in Ethiopia. Two million people had already died. He did manage to help
keep those 200 million people alive, at one point raising five billion dollars in one week,
shipping food in from every corner of the world to help do so. During one of Maurice’s
official visits I accompanied him and requested a meeting with the Patriarch of the
Orthodox Church of Ethiopia. I asked the Patriarch at that meeting what he thought was
the cause of this great famine. He said the answer was in their ancient text, “that when
brother fights brother, the land will dry up.” In other words, he was saying that what is
inside your consciousness, your hatred, fear, jealousy, and all negative emotions reflect
on nature. He said that because of the conflict—there was a civil war taking place at the
time. Brother was fighting brother, and the land was drying up.
Making the change we want to see is no easy task. How do we change 7.5 billion
people? It is not easy. To begin this change, we need to recognize our inherent
connection to the earth. People need to connect with nature. We need to embrace the
importance of living by natural law because nature has her own laws. These laws include
the law of cause and effect and the law of interdependence. For example, if you do one
thing another is going to happen. If you frack the land for oil, you are going to get
earthquakes, if you pollute the water you are going to get sick. Each action you take has
an effect. It is a simple matter to observe the correlation between cause and effect. If we
are greedy, we do not hesitate to exploit the earth. If we are peaceful, we will not create
chaos. Our internal environment, our minds, and our external environment, the world, are
intimately interrelated. In ignoring the law of cause and effect, we fail to understand the
results of our actions. We look outside ourselves for answers, instead of living and acting
for the benefit of the whole, which is the law of interdependence.
Nature consists of four elements: water, earth, fire and air. We have totally abused
these elements. The relationship between all living beings and these vital elements
creates either balance or imbalance. Since humanity has abused the elements, they are
now out of balance, and we are witnessing widespread new diseases and mental illnesses,
wars and conflicts, greed and unprecedented natural disasters. We are discounting
fundamental natural laws, such as “Never take more than you need,” and “When you
take, always give something back.” It is very simple gifts the earth is asking for, such as
gratitude. There are so many simple little gifts, like tobacco and prayer ties, that we can
give back to nature so that the spirits of nature will participate with us. We take
excessively from the earth and return nature’s gifts with toxins and trash. That's what we
are giving the earth now—toxins and trash. And then we are fracking her. We are
blasting bombs, waging wars, polluting, and cutting down all the trees. At the moment,
this is what we are giving back to the earth, and we are giving it back on a huge scale.
Where is our gratitude and where is our respect? We receive our very existence from
Earth, yet we waste water, pollute the air, poison the soil, clear-cut the forests, and
destroy our protection from the sun.
If we are to survive, we must raise our sights toward supporting the immediate
development of the highest aspect of being human within ourselves, and help inspire
others to participate. Shumei is doing that. This is your job, to encourage others to join. It
is time to move away from materialism, greed, waste, and the over emphasis we place on
power. During these critical times, we must recognize our moral and sacred obligation to
provide the next generation with a new direction and vision.
At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, world leaders asked whether
modern society can live sustainably on the planet without fundamentally changing. The
answer is ‘no.’ The Earth Summit was represented by all the governments of the world.
So, even the governments realize we must change. (They do not want to pay for it, but
they know we have to change.) What then is the fundamental change that must take place
if the human race is to survive? What is called for is a revolution of the consciousness.
We do not have time for evolving slowly; we have to have a revolution.
What is consciousness? Consciousness is the spark, the seed; it is the soul that
originates from the great mother space from which everything arises. Consciousness is
awareness. It is an expression of space that cannot be destroyed. The human receives its
‘consciousness soul’ at the time of conception. It is the ‘seed of god’ that needs to be
nurtured to fulfill its potential. Light (Jyorei1), warm-heartedness, meditation, love,
kindness, non-duality, and beauty are what nurture the human consciousness toward
becoming a flourishing, beautiful flower. A very high Tibetan Llama once told me that
not realizing your potential is like having a billion dollar jet and driving it like an old car.
Each of us is being called upon to tap into the purity and potential of our very
own consciousness. As there is so little time available, a revolution is necessary. This is a
very different revolution from uprisings in the past. This revolution is to reclaim our
humanity—to embrace what it means to be human, and this can only be done by raising
our own consciousness. I am calling this a revolution of the consciousness. As conscious
revolutionaries, we need to focus on restoring the environment and empowering young
people and future generations. These two points are intricately linked as we can
concentrate on providing youth with the tools to restore the earth and themselves by
offering ways to explore the meaning of being a human on this planet. We can teach the
next generation that there are alternative solutions to the endless cycle of working for low
wages and spending money on useless objects that deplete our natural resources.
Many of today’s youth see the destructiveness and meaninglessness of the actions
of this and past generations. Many young people feel powerless and have no sense of
direction, and many reflect this by leading self-destructive lives. These are the vulnerable
youth that terrorist organizations are luring and recruiting. The young are especially in
great need of discovering purpose and dignity in their lives. The question is how can we
generate, support, and guide their enthusiasm and motivation before they become mired
in hopelessness? They are in need of an inspiring vision and the tools necessary to make
the changes we are so unable to make ourselves. There are many talented young leaders
in the world today that are making monumental strides in the environmental movement.
These accomplishments and initiatives need to be celebrated, sustained, honored, and
For past generations, the transition from youth to adulthood in the western world
meant getting a drivers license and credit cards and gleefully accepting that material
possessions are the number one way to happiness. We have paid a great price for this to
where we are now and the future of the planet. We must not seduce the next generation
into following our example.
Many alternatives for such a transition into adulthood are based on practices in
traditional cultures in which the elders take the young people into nature to learn the
basic tenants of earth and the cosmos. They learn what it means to become an inherently
viable participant in preserving and honoring all life. The emerging adults are asked to
seek their vision and life plan regarding their place within their society. They are given
the tools to develop a consciousness centered on a basic understanding and reverence for
the earth. Self-discovery is encouraged, and the connection to spirit and source is
practiced throughout life. The impact of spending time in nature, unprotected by modern
conveniences and therefore vulnerable to the elements, while surrounded by the
sacredness and grandness of nature, has a great influence on all human beings. Nature can
be merciless as well as nurturing, confronting as well as embracing. As Meishusama2
said, “Nature can teach us everything."
With this in mind, I propose the expansion of an Earth Restoration Corp (ERC).
This program is designed to encourage and support the transformation of individual
perceptions and values within a context of learning sustainable lifestyles in balance with
nature. The ERC participant lives in a wilderness environment and spends time alone in a
solo experience. It is out of this experience that the understanding of morality, respect,
love, and wisdom takes on a true meaning in everyday life. Each participant consciously
develops a personal value system within an environmentally sensitive context.
Participants are taught leadership skills, conflict resolution, renewable energy
technologies, and sustainable lifestyles. They are taught about land, water, forest, air, and
soil restoration, which can lead them to green livelihoods.
From this training, participants are encouraged to assume the leadership necessary
for remedial action on behalf of the earth. It instills ethical and spiritual integrity and
forms a basis for cooperative human relations and environmentally responsible living.
After completing the training, participants from around the world return to their
communities with the skills necessary to initiate grass-roots projects, to seek and create
employment in sustainable development fields, and to live in an environmentally
We have trained quite a few young people in Crestone, including the son of the
foreign minister of Bhutan. He was trained in the Crestone ERC program, and he returned
to Bhutan and headed up all of the youth programs in the country. We also have a school
of the forest in Amazonia where the Indians are teaching restoration to all the tribes of
Amazonia. Of course, we went to the governments and large corporations like Shell Oil
to lobby them for support, but I think they do not want to see young people change their
consciousness because if they do they are not going to be consumers. They are not going
to buy big cars. They are not going to build the big mansions. Instead, they are going to
live a simple, spiritual lifestyle. They would not continue to be huge consumers, and the
corporations want everything to stay the way it is—consume, consume, consume, and
waste. If that continues, we will not have a future.
Global employment statistics project that in the next few years, one billion youth,
especially from developing countries, will enter the worlds’ job market. In some
countries, the job market for youth is almost non-existent. If you look at global
unemployment, in places like the Philippines it is at 44%. If you go from country to
country, there are very few directions for young people to go—which is scary. To provide
meaningful jobs for our youth, massive training programs like the ERC are needed
worldwide. With training in green livelihoods, any young person can create their own
business. Some examples are Natural Agriculture,3 marketing Natural Agriculture’s
products, and natural house building. There are so many careers young people could start
their own company around. The Manitou Institute4 has all of this material and curriculum
including how to start and access micro-credit programs. Self-employment, green
employment, and restoring the planet are all things that we must do.
Empowering and training youth is the beginning of the conscious revolution of
consciousness. As youth are trained in programs like the ERC, the global community will
begin to feel the impacts and shifts. The seeds of this knowledge have the potential to be
integrated into national service systems that sprout into meaningful jobs and prison
reform programs. The armed services of each country can be used to provide alternative
service for young adults who wish to defend the earth as well as their country through
peaceful and economically viable restoration. The money used to train soldiers could be
redirected to train in the skills necessary to secure a healthy and peaceful planet for all of
us. We will not require armies of soldiers but battalions of conscious young people who
are committed to transforming the world.
Imagine if every country had a two-year national service program in which youth
develop a deep connection with nature and learn how to restore the earth. Just visualize
governments redirecting the trillions spent on wars, drug rehabilitation, and incarcerating
young adults and redirecting these funds to training in earth restoration, which leads to
green livelihoods. The stakes have never been higher, nor have the choices we now make
been more urgent. Overwhelming evidence indicates that humanity’s present direction is
leading to our own demise. We are dancing on the deck of the Titanic.
The pressures on the planet are growing at an accelerating rate. The latest UN
figures on the global refugee and migrant crisis caused by climate change, conflict,
environmental degradation, lack of employment, and other elements are much larger than
originally thought. It is now estimated, that up to 700 million people will be forced to
migrate as refugees from their countries by 2050. This is not only catastrophic for the
refugees and migrants but also for the countries receiving them. A long-term
humanitarian solution that integrates social, economic, and environmental sustainability
requires the creation of a global super fund like that of the Marshall Plan at the end of
World War II, which rebuilt Europe. We must have a superfund and corporations,
governments, and everybody else has to contribute to it. We cannot afford to spend
trillions of dollars on wars, while we are killing each other and our planet.
The money is there, after the Panama banking scandal a lot of investigative
reporting revealed that there are approximately 70 trillion dollars stashed away in
dormant bank accounts around the world. With that 70 trillion dollars, we could restore
all of humanity. Money is energy, and energy has to flow. Why is this money just sitting
there? People make the mistake of thinking that money equals security, but we know that
the only security is a healthy planet. This earth catastrophe could be prevented. For
example, it is programs and projects like Shumei’s program in Zambia5 that can avert the
looming crisis. Right now there are 23 million people in South Africa that will have to
leave their homes because there is no water and no food. Where are they going to go?
Other African countries are suffering too.
If some of the funds laying dormant in bank accounts throughout the world could
be used to support programs such as Shumei’s Zambia Project. This program is such a
good example of what could be done with individual communities in Africa that could
prevent these migrations.
As natural law guides, it is essential that we become conscious of our
responsibility to the planet, each other and to the next seven generations. We have a lot of
work to do to turn around our present path to destruction to one of restoration. We cannot
keep addressing the symptoms. We have to go to the root of the problem, which is the
state of the human spirit and consciousness. Unless that changes, nothing else will. Only
when we experience the interconnectedness of all life can we begin to change human
consciousness and provide our youth with the correct tools and guidance they will need to
pull off this monumental task. This task requires the creation of a new civilization of
people with a much higher level of consciousness, people who are connected to the
source and constantly work at bringing forth the highest aspects of being human. With
this heightened level of consciousness, people will be able to live in balance with each
other and with nature and come to the realization that we are one with everything in
existence. We are all one.
In 1991 Kaishusama6 gave an address to Shumei’s Youth Members. She began
with a quote from Meishusama:
The ultimate purpose of both God and man is to create an ideal world, heaven on
earth, the world of true civilization.
Meishusama also described it as a “world of beauty.” He wrote:
If I were to express as simply as possible what is meant by the words ‘heaven on
earth,’ I would say it is a world of beauty. That is to say, people have beauty in
their hearts, a beauty of the spirit. Words and deeds should embody this beauty.
This is beauty at the individual level. And when individual beauty spreads,
social beauty comes into being.
Essentially, that is the job of every Shumei member, to spread beauty, to spread light.
Each one of us can contribute to a new civilization by staying connected to the
pure source and diligently developing our own awareness. It is every individual’s
responsibility to develop the highest level of pure awareness, pure minds, and pure hearts.
We can illuminate all our own negative patterns and purify ourselves, mentally,
emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Jyorei is a beautiful and powerful way to do this.
Shumei is already helping to create a new civilization with all its activities. It is
doing so through its Natural Agriculture programs in Madagascar, Nepal, The
Philippines, the Zambia, and other places. Shumei is doing this with its commitment to
bringing beauty to the foreground as a way of uplifting humanity. And there is the
compassionate act of sharing Jyorei to help us purify ourselves. Shumei is already
working with great partners like Navdanya, the Millennium Institute, the Soil
Association, and of course the United Nations. All are important organizations from
around the world. Shumei is on the world map and has become an important
Expanding what Shumei already does and reaching more young people around the
globe will have an even greater impact. Offering online courses may be a way to reach
I have such great faith in Shumei, especially because its wonderful leader,
Kaicho-Sensei Hiroko Koyama, guides it. And I applaud Shumei’s Senseis that stand by
her side to help manifest Shumei’s great vision. Thank you for all the meaningful work
you do to benefit the world.
Let us together join the revolution and create a new civilization that manifests
‘Peace within, Peace with each other, Peace with nature.’
1. Jyorei is the spiritual practice of sharing divine light that was created by Shumei’s
founder, Mokichi Okada, and is administered to people by Shumei members. Those who
share Jyorei, either as givers or receivers, often feel relief from afflictions, and a sense of
contentment. Repeated sessions of Jyorei might bring improvement in physical and
emotional health, and foster spiritual refinement and growth. In Japanese, Jyorei means
‘Purification of the Soul.’
2. ‘Meishusama’ is an honorific often used by Shumei members when referring to
Mokichi Okada, Shumei’s founder. Meishusama means ‘Master of Light.’
3. Meishusama developed Natural Agriculture in the late 1930s to help farmers who at
that time were experiencing hardship and poverty because of poor harvests. Natural
Agriculture is a spiritual practice as well as a practical means of food production that
does not use chemicals, fertilizers, or manure, and pays particular attention to the farmer's
spiritual relationship to the environment. The attitude of the farmer plays an essential role
in the quality of his or her crops. Particularly important is the emphasis on love, respect
for nature, and gratitude.
Meishusama maintained a firm belief in the power of nature. A proper relationship
between the growers and nature was essential for cultivating healthy food. This
relationship is based on the three principles of love, gratitude, and respect for nature.
4. The Manitou Institute was founded by Hanne and Maurice Strong in 1994 to preserve
wildlife and the natural environment of the Baca Grande in Colorado, the area in which
Crestone is located. The Institute's mission is to develop and support programs that
promote environmental awareness and earth stewardship. The organization also supports
the preservation of the teaching and practice of the world's wisdom traditions, sacred arts,
and ancient healing and medicinal sciences. Two of its most important enterprises are the
Manitou Habitat Conservation Program and the Earth Origins Seed Project.
5. Please see Barbara Hachipuka’s article on page (page number to come)
6. ‘Kaishusama’ is an honorific name used when referring to Mrs. Mihoko Koyama,
Shumei’s much revered and loved first president and spiritual leader. Kaishusama passed
away in November of 2003.
7. ‘Kaicho-Sensei' is an honorific title used when referring to Ms. Hiroko Koyama, the
current president of Shumei. The word ‘Kaicho' means ‘president.' The word ‘Sensei'
means ‘master,' in the sense of being a teacher. Ms. Koyama is the daughter of Shumei's
first president and spiritual leader, Mrs. Mihoko Koyama, who is known to Shumei
members as ‘Kaishusama.'