In this moment, what is the most important thing to do? In order to really answer this question for myself I have found that I have to know my body and mind, to know my limits and capacities. Sometimes we need to lay down and take a nap, invigorate our body with exercise, do that thing that we have been putting off too long, or be present with the person next to us. There are also many situations all around, that we need to consider in order for us to find our way and to choose in what direction to live our life. When I read about climate change and the many effects it brings, when I hear about how people are helping, supporting and trying to offer healing to our planet and many species, I can start asking the question again: what is the most important thing to do? Buddhist meditation practice has two wings: stopping and deep looking. To have time to calm, relax, rest and concentrate is necessary for us to be able to look deeply into our lives and the situation of the world, so that we can see clearly what we need to do and what we need to refrain from doing.
I heard that the CEO of Exxon Mobile shared that his philosophy is to make money. It does not surprise me, but it does offer an object for deep looking. Exxon has made more money then any other company in history and still more money is their way. When I reflect on this I recognize a couple of wrong views. Since wrong views leads to suffering, we can develop our compassion as well as our insight as we look into these views. That more money, more economical growth equals happiness and fulfillment is the first wrong view. Research show that after we have our essential needs met, more money does not contribute much to our happiness. The Buddha shared that the desiring mind is always looking outside itself and does never feel fulfilled. Not only does money not automatically lead to more happiness and contentment, but the way many multinational corporations money is being made contributes to a lot of suffering. Consider for example that the the fossil fuel industry are able to pollute our atmosphere without any compensation. I have read that if all costs including environmental impact would be considered in the price of gas to fuel our car the price would be $15. When the price goes over $4 it brings about economic crises, so our economy is clearly not grounded in reality, the real impact of a gallon of gas. This way of business is also founded in the wrong view that economic expansion can continue indefinitely on this planet with finite natural resources. I’m sure you all know all this already, but for myself it is helpful to be reminded that what we see as normal and business as usual is surely taking us down an abyss. There are layers and layers of causes and conditions bringing the current situation of climate change about including our arrogance as human beings. Many of us knowingly or unknowingly are operating under the premise that the Earth, her resources and all other beings are there for our disposal. In addition to this terribly ignorant view many of us believe that we will go to the promised land when we die and that our existence here is only temporary. We have not woken up to all beings inherent value and awakened nature, we have not woken up to the fact that we are all deeply connected and that we can never be truly happy when our good conditions are payed for by the suffering and torment of other people, animals, plants and minerals.
The Buddha taught that greed, hatred and ignorance cause much suffering and we can clearly see this. What about the way out? How can we be the change we want to see? There is a very strong collective energy of going about things as usual and our media, news and infra structure reinforce this tendency. To go against this current demands courage and that we find like minded people to live, practice and serve together with. But our inherent nature is to care, is to understand and seem harmony.
People with much insight and experience have said that:
- we need people who are actively resisting the policies that allow for the current direction,
- people who are showing the alternatives, and
- people who are offering a spiritual dimension.
This helps me in my investigation of what I feel deeply inspired and capable of contributing with. I realize for me to be really happy, I have to consider the bigger picture, the whole planet and not only the people of today, but also coming generations. I cannot just fend for myself and think I will feel content, since our nature is to care. When we are able to touch and live in the direction of reality we do not rely on future results in order for us to feel happy and free. To come in contact with our deep aspiration and to live our lives in a way that this aspiration is expressed is a great gift and I hope we can all support each other in this collective process.
In an effort to bring many practitioners together One Earth Sangha has put together a statement, addressing climate change as a Buddhist Sangha. I signed as a Dharma Teacher, join the collective energy by signing as a Sangha member, if you feel inspired: The Earth as Witness.
Our life of this planet is a miracle, let’s make sure to enjoy it, moment by moment – Bowing in Gratitude Brother Protection