Today I would like to offer my gratitude to Sweden, my homeland and all the people who have made my life possible and
so precious. June 6th is our National Day and the Day of the Swedish Flag. Respecting what I have been gifted I want to continue in a beautiful way. My heart is more at peace then ever and I clearly can feel the pain of the world. The care that is born needs to find ways to express itself. This blog is one concrete way.
Thanks to many insightful and skillful friends this letter has manifested. Therefore if you feel inspired to use or pass this letter along, please do so.
Dear political leaders on all continents across the full political spectrum
Dear business leaders in all sectors of the economy,
This is a love letter from one of you: a fellow human, a child of the Earth.
We, your human family, all species and the Earth herself need your support.
My first best friend was our family dog. When I was about 2 years old he disappeared from our house. He was injured and put to sleep. I can still touch the grief of the little boy in me losing his very first best friend. But I can also touch the treasure of friendship that Balzac, our St. Bernard dog offered me for a year or so. We would play together on the lawn. I would ride on his soft and hairy back. I would drop food onto the ground for him and he would even protect me from my parents when they seemed upset or irritated. The love we experienced was one without borders or conditions. We knew how to make each other happy and comfort each other when sad. We knew that we were not separated, but depended on each other.
Growing up in Sweden in the 70’s and 80’s I was offered a model of society where the collective looked out and cared for the weak and vulnerable. There was a shared aspiration for everyone to be included in society, for everyone regardless of social standing or background to have access to health care and education. We had an aspiration not to use precious resources of water, electricity and material wastefully, and to allow everyone access to natural beauty. We had an aspiration to support countries in need and to support conflicts with peace negotiation. Sociologist have called Sweden during this time period an ideal society to grow up in. For the past 14 years I have lived away from my homeland, since I found my true calling and became a Buddhist monk. I lived 4 years in France (Plum Village) and have been living in the US for close to 10 years (Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, CA). I have traveled to many other countries and see myself as an Earthling, not just Swedish or human. In our tradition we offer days and retreats of mindfulness in a community setting in our centers and across the globe. Our practice of mindful breathing and walking help us to recognize what is going on in the present moment. When we are present we can learn how to live in a happy, peaceful and sustainable way.
The gratitude for what I am offered in this life is growing my happiness with time. This happiness leaves me feeling responsible to talk out about suffering and to offer my life to peace. I have seen that love is possible, a love that brings joy, that cares and soothes, and that sets you free. I have experienced that we can come together as a community and a nation to care for the greater good, not turning anyone away. The beauty and goodness in life can falter, when we get caught in fleeting and momentary gratification, when we cannot see that everyone is doing the best they can with their current conditions, and when we start taking advantage of our fortunate conditions rather then to use them for service to the greater good. As human beings we have an amazing capacity to cultivate the beautiful qualities in us. When we are present and care for each other, our body and mind respond positively and we can live happily.
Our civilization is founded on a base of scientific and technological ingenuity. In the past 10,000 years since the agricultural revolution and the last two hundred years since the industrial revolution, conditions of our life here on Earth have changed dramatically. We are over 7 billion people on Earth, we access treasures in the form of natural resources and goods from all over the planet and we live in a more connected and diverse society then ever before. Today scientific findings of 97% of scientists tells us that the increased levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere (currently over 400ppm) and increase in temperature is caused by our fossil fuel-based economy.
Our climate is becoming more unstable and unpredictable than it has been in the last 10,000 years, with stronger storms, longer droughts and quickly melting ice sheets and glaciers. Our current course of using fossil fuel has already set the 6th mass extinction on Earth in motion; species are disappearing from the face of the Earth every day. They are all children of a long evolution of life on Earth from which we ourselves have emerged. If we continue on our present course not much life on Earth will prevail in the next centuries, since many destructive feedback loops will be triggered. Why are we continuing, speeding up on this path of no return? There is no future for humans or a diverse range of life on this planet if we continue to burn the fossil fuels we already have accounted for in our profit prognosis. What is preventing us from waking up to what is most important in life?
We have a challenge in front and all around us of unprecedented magnitude. It is a challenge of all people. It is a situation of suffering where those who have contributed the least to the problem are the ones most vulnerable and exposed. It is a situation where those who have benefited the most from the industrial growth society and contributed the most to our current crisis have the biggest responsibility to wake up and take action.
We have the scientific means to change our direction and to mitigate the suffering and devastation, but do we have the will? Do we have the insight? Do we have the love? Can we count on you?
As a member of the human family I look to you, all political and business leaders, to wake up to our current situation. I invite you to remember and cherish all the gifts life and Earth have offered you. I invite you to step forth courageously, not bound by narrow ties of allegiance and business as usual. I invite you to make decisions and act in a way worthy of us, worthy of our ancestors and worthy of our decedents. I know this is not easy, but we rely on you. I will do my best to support you through nurturing a spiritual dimension in many peoples’ life, so that they too can live in a beautiful way worthy of respect. I will continue to support my community and our efforts to live in a happy, peaceful and sustainable way. Yes, we are in this together.
Life is too precious to exploit, people are too amazing to see as enemies and we are wise enough to wake up to love. Thank you for receiving this letter and for your kind attention.
Brother Protection (Bhikshu Chan Phap Ho, Jerker Fredriksson)
Deer Park Monastery: deerparkmonastery.org
Earth Holding Initiative: earthholdinghereandnow.org