Dear Friends on the Path of Dharma
If we look deeply around us, we will find ourselves to be living parts of a cresting wave of an ocean of life-unfolding, a world awakening, a mystery embodying. We have been blessed with friendships, and myriad opportunities to cultivate skills in compassion, attentiveness and deepening understanding. We have been empowered with glimpses of an innate deep yearning to live well, to love well, to understand more broadly and profoundly. We have been graced with the capacity to empathize and care. We have been enriched and supported in meeting like-minds on the path of life, and by having the opportunity to share with others. From time to time we have been touched by vision and moments of grace, feeling our kinship with everything and everyone.
Counting my blessings and reading the daily news, I sometimes feel I’ve developed a kind of bi-polar condition that oscillates between breath stopping wonderment and sinking despair. So much potential and at the same time, so many tragic disasters. Climate change driven weather events (Vanuatu is one of the latest), ecological degradation and social disintegration, war and statelessness, and epidemics of fear, clanishness, sectarian blindness and growing apartheid mentalities. The list of suffering is too long.
Most of my life, I have tried to support health and well-being through teaching, writing, exploring, learning and inspiring others to contemplatively question and care. I have often spoken about how what we are, in other words the sum of activity, (atoms, molecules, cells, organs, society, ecosystems in action – the process of life unfolding) is what we offer. What more can I give than my entire being? And yet when news of more war, injustice, blatant dishonesty, rampant selfishness and ecological destruction arrives on my threshold I find myself looking for something more that I can do.
Of course, there are unending petitions, marches and gatherings to stop this and to preserve that. Like the dutch boy and the dyke, it seems as if we were all living at the bottom of an endlessly vast dyke that is quivering and groaning on the edge of breaking. Leaks keep spouting all over and we run from here to there trying to plug up the holes with our fingers and toes, desperately hoping the whole edifice won’t break and crash down. It doesn’t feel right to me to just hunker down in an act of spiritual stoicism, enjoying the last reverberations of my blessed life while the rising cries of grief and loss crescend into a force 5 monster cyclone of unimaginable suffering for billions of humans and the uncountable numbers of other creatures we live together with in this world. Our buddhadharma, our spiritual lives, must be engaged.
I continue to post what I hope will be uplifting articles on GreenDharmaTreasury.org. Daily I cultivate patience and kindness and wonderment and presence and I wait in this maelstrom of crazyness for glimpses of opportunity to join with others in taking steps that might truly nourish the good. In Europe during the 2nd World War there were many resistance movements. Perhaps we are part of one that is invisibly organising. A bodhisattva resistance. Resisting insanity and consumption driven heartless living. The last time I heard the Dalai Lama speak in Auckland, NZ, he finished his talk with a heart felt plea that if we didn’t know how to help each other, then at least try to not harm each other! His voice quivered with emotion as he said this.
Identifying and explaining the problems in this world inevitably involves a process of over simplification. A Buddhist understanding that suffering stems from ignorance is undoubtably true but this is a truth that is so vast in its implications that rolling it out to 7 billion humans in the time frame of decades that we have, before life unfolding in the form of climate change and social upheaval clobbers the world as we know it, is frankly unlikely.
The other day, I felt heartened to see The Guardian newspaper’s decision to place climate change and its repercussions at the forefront of their editorial policy. It is wonderful to see such a highly visible and influential news source publicly deciding to be pro-active in facilitating a focussing of energy on this immense driver of of today’s experience. I urge you all to have a look at their thoughtful campaign, “Keep it in the Ground” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2015/mar/16/keep-it-in-the-ground-guardian-climate-change-campaign
Please consider joining me and others in signing their petition urging the Bill and Melinda Gates Trust and the Welcome Trust, two of the biggest philanthropic organizations on the planet to divest their investments in fossil fuels. Fossil fuel driven climate change is leading to more and more social, environmental and epidemiological chaos. Divestment would be an inspiring and very public demonstration of integrity on the part of organizations dedicated to helping others through science and healthcare initiatives. Such action, if taken by these well known members of the financial elite, would inspire and challenge many more people who move in the circles of business management and finance.
By the power of wholesome activities
May our lives be rich with awakening.
Living thus, may we help all beings
realise health, happiness and a way of meaningful living.
with love and good wishes in dharma