by Pooja Sahni, Jyoti Kumar
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India

Paper presented at The Science of Consciousness Conference, Tucson, 2016.

Understanding how to optimize and improve the functioning of human consciousness offers major opportunities to accelerate positive and practical responses to sustainable living.

The open-air, natural habitats and forest trees have a special fascination for the Eastern mind as symbols of spiritual freedom. The Eastern approach to nature requires that we first understand how the world of nature is viewed, which is very different than that of the predominant western religions. The Vedic vision of unity is the basis for an ecological approach in which we need not protect nature as we would an inferior creature. We honor nature as our own greater life and expression.

According to Buddhist teachings, there is a very close interdependence or inter-relationship between the environment and the inhabitants. In spite of its historic and religious importance, in the past few decades, the worth of nature and the contact with the natural world has diminished and this has caused many a problem for urbanized dwellers. Recently the significance of natural environment for holistic health – physical, mental, spiritual well-being and functioning is being scientifically studied. It is seen that interaction with the natural environment inevitably yields corresponding states of conscious experiences through positively affecting our brain/cognition.

In this study, we explore the relationship between one’s level of consciousness and intensity of pro-environmental behavior through Consciousness Quotient Inventory (CQ-i, Brazdau) and Environmental Attitudes Inventory (EAI, Milfont & Duckitt). The questionnaire was administered to 50 subjects from urban settings in and around Delhi, India with ages ranging from 18 – 70 years (M =36.9 and SD=9.02). The results demonstrated significant correlations between Consciousness Quotient and the pro-Environmental behavior (r= 0.738, p<0.01). Further analysis also deduced that pro-environment behavior among subjects correlated positively with the Spiritual CQ ( r=0.761, p<0.01) Inner Growth CQ ( r=0.736, p<0.01) and Cognitive CQ ( r=0.641, p<0.01).

This research further delves into deeper issues of what drives the human consciousness, behavior and actions vis-a-vis environment. Once this strong link is understood and established interaction with natural environments could potentially help in therapeutic and optimal cognitive functioning.