The Fifth #ClimateJustice #MindfulnessTraining: Preserving the Whole

Dominica, West Indies
Dominica, West Indies

Here is the last of five Climate Justice Mindfulness Trainings that I began posting on August 26th.

Preserving the Whole
Aware of pain caused by individual and societal fear, greed, anger, and delusion, I will cultivate a peaceful mind of inter-being in myself and others. I will nourish myself and others as equal members of the world community. I will ask for help when I need it. Knowing an extractive and destructive global economy gives rise to increasing temperatures, species extinction, food and water shortages, poverty, and physical and mental disease, I will look deeply into the roots and results of my consumption, moderate what I consume to avoid harm, and promote nonviolent action for myself and my community to protect the welfare of all beings. I will aspire to give as much nourishment and loving kindness to Mother Earth as I receive.

Life is hard; suffering is certain. But, our suffering has cause: our own fear, greed, anger, and delusion. If we aspire to protect the planet as home to an incalculable number of life forms, we must stop feeding the suffering in ourselves and cool the energy of personal fear, greed, anger, and delusion. Only then will we have enough peace to help others end their suffering. Yes, I am saying the way to turn the tide on climate change is to calm down, slow down, look deeply into the nature of delusion, and take care of runaway emotions. This spiritual practice is vital to the continuation of life on earth.

Because there is no separation between our bodies, actions, and the environment, it is not difficult to see individual pain feeds societal pain which in turn feeds planetary suffering. Nothing comes from nothing; everything is a continuation. The only way to break the cycle of suffering is to transform our own pain. If we want to heal the global environment, we must first heal the environment of our heart and mind.

Einstein spoke of the “optical illusion of separateness.” Using science to look deeply into reality, he discovered that there is no boundary between mass and energy. The universe flows, shares, gives, and takes with supreme equanimity, generosity. This is the truth of existence. This is the spiritual teaching of inter-being. As Insight Environmentalists who aspire to think and act as ecosystems, this is a model for living.

Contrary to societal norms, it is good to ask for help. None of us act in isolation and communities (or ecosystems) are the unit of sustained action and skillful adaptation to changing conditions. If we aim to preserve life on earth then we must join with others, ask for help when we need it, and give freely of ourselves as we are able. The skill of asking for help accelerates the transformation of suffering and awakens us to the primacy of our relationships where we live, work, and play.

Mindful of the truth of inter-being, we will naturally–in self-defense–be careful about what we consume. Mindless consumption devours our tomorrow. Mind-full consumption honors ancestors and safeguards the welfare of our children. It is possible for us to realize immortality when we consume only what we need, leave the rest for others. Moderation is a gift to cherish.

We may aspire to give as much nourishment and loving kindness to Mother Earth as we receive, but we will never realize this goal. Earth is responsible for our existence and continuation; we owe her our debt. The delicate balance of light and shadow, oxygen and carbon dioxide, land and water, food and waste makes and sustains everything. But the aspiration to give and take in equal measure creates a bite-sized relationship with the planet that has meaning in day-to-day decision-making. For example, if we drive a car, then we can at other times make a point to walk or ride a bike. If we eat a steak, then we can also buy organic vegetables, compost food waste. If we clear brush, then we can also plant trees. These actions make real our personal responsibility to care for an ailing loved one: Mother Earth.

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