The World We Have

These days, I’m keeping my purchases to a minimum for two reasons.

  • First, mindless consumption is destroying our planet.
  • Secondly, for the sake of greater simplicity in my own life.

While I’m not a full-out minimalist, I tend in that direction.

Nevertheless, I recently bought a Kindle to skirt around the musty, moldy smell and chemical off-gassing from books.  Yes, the paper in books can contain chlorine or formaldehyde. The printer’s ink often contains other nasty chemicals.  Unhealthful chemicals pervade almost all our clothes and material objects.  It’s just a fact of 21st century life.  A fact I hope will change soon so we have a healthy environment for our children.

The first book I download is The World We Have, A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Weisman.

This is a powerful treatise, cutting right to the chase yet also so beautifully written.  Despite the truthful, dark scenarios, I couldn’t help but feel a bubbling joy reading this book.  An infusion of joy, peace, and hope seemed to be transmitted from the very heart of these words.

Thich Nhat Hanh tells us precisely what we need to do to overcome the environmental crisis.  That in itself is enough to spark joy.  We don’t need to be confused or discouraged.  We can just start following the principles outlined in this book – including 60 ways to start living more green.

He has coined the term “mindful consumption” but this book goes far beyond being an informed shopper.  It covers all the universal principles of reality like impermanence and interdependence.  In so doing, Thich Nhat Hanh shows how we got into this mess in the first place – by ignoring our interdependence with not just other humans, but plants, animals, rocks, and all phenomena.  The book offers an array of tools for practicing mindfulness both on and off the cushion and recognizing and respecting our interrelatedness.

I recommend this book as a must read for anyone who cares about peace and ecology.  The principles are universal and apply to everyone.  Here are some of the early quotations, inviting us to wake up:

“The bells of mindfulness are calling out to us, trying to wake up up, reminding us to look deeply at our impact on the planet.”

“The bells of mindfulness are sounding. All over the Earth, we are experiencing floods, droughts, and massive wildfires. Sea ice is melting in the Arctic and hurricanes and heat waves are killing thousands. The forests are fast disappearing, the deserts are growing, species are becoming extinct every day, and yet we continue to consume, ignoring the ringing bells.”

“All of us know that our beautiful green planet is in danger. Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren.”

Just a few random thoughts from Sandra Pawula about the world.

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