Climate Change and Mindfulness in 2021
As President Biden recently inferred, climate change left unchanged and free to wreak havoc on our lives, is one of the most dangerous forces we face. As deadly as the pandemic, and over time more completely destructive of quality of life, more consuming of wealth, and used as a force of international terrorism, it portends mass ruination on a global scale. The planet heating up and the effects on the oceans, are problems we have ignored for way too long.
We are all suffering and being overwhelmed by nature’s reactions. From the melting of the Polar ice caps, some of the land sinking and the oceans rising; to the floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes that are stronger and fiercer than ever before; to the raging fires in the Western US and the gigantic bushfires in Australia, “what you sow, ye shall reap”. Our continued indulging and overuse of carbon intensive processes promises more trouble and deaths. This state of fact can be depressing but yet calls us to action.
One of the ways of understanding the Buddhist path is that it’s about deconstructing and reconstructing the self, or, more precisely, the relationship between the self and its world. And as we start to wake up and realize that we are not separate from each other, nor from this wondrous Earth, we also begin to realize that the ways we live together, and the ways we relate to mother Earth, also need to be reconstructed. That means finding ways to address the problematic economic and political structures—the institutionalized forms of greed, ill will, and delusion described by Zen teacher and author David Loy and that are deeply implicated in the eco-crisis.
This can all be corrected with truthfulness and facing the real issues: awareness of what the causes of the problems are, a commitment to turn to new sources of renewable energy that will not add to but diminish outdated and outmoded uses of energy (like oil and gas) powering our lifestyles. Another major profit of this alteration will be the enormous number of new green jobs that it will provide. Turning to wind, solar, water, and electrical power to sustain our energy needs are the right steps in the right direction that the Dalai Lama, the venerable Bhikku Bodhi, Greta Thunberg, Insight Meditation teachers like James Baraz, Jack Kornfield, and hundreds of scientists are advocating for, holding convocations and summits on how to adapt to these new realities. Actions like these, taken on a massive scale by many individuals walking in the same footsteps can lead us to the end of much of our unnecessary suffering.
April 22nd was Earth day, awakening to the meaning of this day and remembering our dependence on mother earth and all she gives, provides, and bears can help us to make wise choices in our lives for the sake of our health and all the beings that inhabit it.
“Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
— Joy Harjo, Remember
Consider making 2021 your year for embracing actions that will preserve and heal our precious earth, our home.