In the present many of us are preparing for the Holiday Season. How are we doing? Are we putting undue pressure on ourselves, being too ambitions in what to eat and what to offer for gifts? Or are we finding a middle way of preparing with care and ease, supporting conditions for a happy and peaceful holiday? We always have an opportunity to come back and check to see if we need to adjust our course. Maybe we’ll find that we already feel happy and comfortable in the direction we are heading, what a gift.
I have been walking in the rolling hills and valleys around Plum Village, France this last month, seeing the brown/golden leaves of the oaks floating in the wind and the bright setting sun. I have also been walking the streets of Paris during the weekend leading up to COP 21.
We spent a couple of hours on Place de la Republic in the morning of Sunday, November 29. All the shoes that had been brought symbolizing all the people who wanted to walk out of love and care. Everyone wanting to walk to support those already suffering due to a human caused changing climate. I wanted to put my shoes in there, but had only brought one pair of shoes to Paris, and my toes were already cold. As we walked around the plaza we encountered many wonderful people from around the world, people like us wanting to show our global leaders (political and business) that we care and we support them to act out of love and care for all beings on the planet. Our monastic delegation from Plum Village and Maison de l’Inspire offered several interviews and made many new friends that morning. When our heart is open and we come together caring for the greater good: wonderful things can happen. Somehow it was okay that the march was not allowed, and we did not worry about the following negotiations. We also offered some fun and beauty to the plaza together with some new found friends.
As a humanity we are learning to transform. We are learning to live in a way that our actions in the present and future will bring respect and gratitude to the hearts and minds of our children. We have to learn to walk in their shoes, not being too afraid to learn about the changes that are coming and the changes that will take place if we collectively do not faze out fossil fuels, very soon. We also need to walk in the experience of those who do not have shoes or even sandals, where rising sea levels, droughts and storms are currently raging havoc to their lives. We are in the process of learning to recognize our short comings and ignorance of the past. Habits can be dropped immediately when we are ready. When enough of us gets into this flow, humanity can shift swiftly. We know that the outcome of the COP21 negotiations were not great, but something important happened. Bill McKibben of 350.org said: “This didn’t save the planet but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.“
For this Holiday and the Coming New Year, we can make an aspiration, including the Earth and all her children. A couple of points which we can reflect on and include are:
- Divest from fossil fuel:
- This can include: drive less-bike more; trade vehicle to an fuel efficient or electric car; support local food production and craft; reflect on where, how and why you travel.
- You can also encourage any organization or company, that you are part of or support not to invest in the fossil fuel industry.
- Plant based diet:
- Producing meat and dairy products use much grain, fuel, transportation and cause immense suffering. Eating lower on the food chain is also reported to be healthier for us. Take your time and make the steps you are ready for. But for some of us a big leap is easier.
- Consume less:
- Read Brother Phap Dung’s letter: Greet Santa and a Hug of Love.
- Find creative ways of using your skills and what you already have to generate your gifts, if you really want to offer some.
- Use your hard earned money on things and in places where it’s value will be of good use and make less harm.
- Come together:
- Celebrate the wonders of life with your family and friends.
- Act together with others to influence political and business decisions in your city, your region and your country.
- Spend time together outside in the loving embrace of the Earth. She still loves us! Let us love her back and spend time with her.
After our group of monastics returned from 4 days in Paris and came back to Plum Village we offered a presentation about our experience in Paris, the activity of the Earth Holding Sangha and the initiatives of Plum Village in cultivating love and understanding. Thanks to much love and care of one of our brothers you can now see this presentation on the Plum Village online monastery site:
May we continue to touch and cultivate our love and skillful actions each day – Peaceful Holiday Greetings Brother Phap Ho (Br Protection: the tall monk with glasses in the back) – currently participating in the winter retreat in Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, will return to Deer Park in spring