March 22, 2019 at 10:35 am #3357Acharya Kaspalita (temple host)Keymaster
The following was written as part of the Letters to the Earth project:
Dear people of Earth: human-animals
I am writing in the wake of Cyclone Idai. Just one of many recent extreme weather events driven by the climate crisis we are now facing. As the sea temperatures rise and drive more energy into tropical storms we’ll probably see more events like this.
This is a human disaster, and a disaster for non-human animals as eco-systems and habitats are disturbed and destroyed.
I’m one of the lucky ones. When it gets cold later I’ll turn on my gas powered central heating, and maybe I’ll go for a drive in my car. Last year I flew to the other side of the world.
It’s difficult to digest the hard truths of the climate crisis in a way that leads to making changes in our lives for the benefit of the whole world.
In the past year Australia and the United States have been ravaged by forest fires. The homes of humans and animals were destroyed, lives were lost and carbon that had been locked away for hundreds of years was released into the atmosphere.
How can we witness this, and still allow the wheel of greed to keep turning?
As a psychotherapist I listen to the deep fears of others. As a Buddhist practioner I have come to know my own deep fears.
Where does my own greed come from? From a fear of not having enough. When I examine this fear more deeply it exposes a woundedness that comes from loss and disconnection. The desire for stuff is trying to salve a wound but it is the wrong medicine. We need some resources to sustain us; food shelter and so on. Those things keep us alive. But what our spirits long for is connection. Our souls are fed by love.
If you look into your own hearts and investigate your own greed my hunch is that you will find the same kind of woundedness. Of course the specifics will be different, we have grown up in different families, at different times, and in different cultures, but the basic wound is the same.
When I look into my own heart and see my own greed, and my own woundedness, it softens my judgment of other people’s greed, and in that softening is the possibility of genuine connection.
If it is fear that keeps us from making changes that will heal the living world, then love and connection offer a way forward.
The more deeply I feel loved, the more connection I experience, the less fear I have and the less powerful my greed is. The more deeply I feel loved the easier the process of change becomes. I can begin to let go of using and having so much stuff.
What can support us to love and to feel loved?
Connecting to the other than human world: sitting in an outside place and noticing how it is already true that I am connected. We are all part of the same great web of life. We are all made of the same stuff.
Connecting to people with the same good intentions: for me that’s my spiritual community. You will find your own tribe, somewhere.
Setting an intention to love and to be open to love where it appears: each of us will foster connections in our own ways.
Continuing to explore the depths of my own heart: the more deeply come to know my own nature — the strange mix of compassion and greed, of caring and despair —the more space there is for love.
There is strength in anger, and for many of us anger is hard to receive and we end up more entrenched in our habits when we’re being told off, rather than freed from them. You might think that in softening the heart your energy will dissipate, but my experience is the opposite — as I come to know myself and others more deeply, to love and feel loved— a sustainable energy is released which allows me to take steps towards changing my life and communicating with clarity and compassion.
So love is the answer. That and planting more trees.
Psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher
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