Looking out at the ecological crisis we humans have created, the analogy of mass murder or collective suicide could be applied. For centuries we’ve been steadily and methodically killing off other life forms in the natural world. Now our greed and selfishness seems to be destroying us as well. Is there a way out?
Hopefully, yes, but it will require more creativity, collaboration, love, and wisdom then modern “technologically advanced” humans have exhibited (as a whole) in a very long time. It requires large numbers of us “waking up” and caring deeply, becoming less “techno-logical” and much more “eco-logical” in our behavior and thinking.
Do most people realize what we’ve been doing and the “inevitable” outcome of our actions if we do not change? I think large numbers of us do, though its like someone struggling with a drinking problem, sugar craving, drug or food addiction.
You may realize that what you crave is hurting others (and slowly killing you) but you cannot stop. As the Buddha pointed out, “craving” is at the “root” of most of our problems. Craving paired with dualistic thinking, the idea that each of us exists somehow separate from other people and the rest of the universe.
Buddha was wise to illuminate the dangers of egocentric thinking and how it leads to desires for sense pleasure, as well as fearful thoughts, anger and hatred. He taught how dualistic thinking and craving is what creates all the suffering in our lives, spins the wheel of samsara.
As humans have grown more powerful technologically, the levels of destructiveness and suffering have been magnified. Forests all over the earth have been destroyed, “precious” metals and other resources are being dug up, polluting water supplies. Radioactivity is leaking into the air and oceans, crime and violence are overcoming the ghettos and slums and spilling out into larger populations.
We’ve reached a point of crisis, where a greater collective awakening is required. We’ve been like a cancer that’s grown out of control, or a virus that spreads without consideration for its host. There really is no other choice, either a majority of us wake up and change, soon – or the Web of Life implodes upon itself and we all go the way of the dinosaurs…
What’s needed right now isn’t a blissful “rapture” type of awakening, where we all fly off into the heavens. Neither is it about running off into the mountains to meditate and do yoga all day. We need spiritual paths to help us stay optimistic, mindful and compassionate, but our destination is not somewhere far off in the distance.
We need to wake up here, on this planet, right where we are. To wake up in our apartments and cities, wake up on our farms, in our schools, governments and work places.
Wake up to the beauty and miracle of this universe we live in, wake up to the value and sacredness of all life. Change our priorities, live more mindfully, with greater wisdom and love.
We have to think of people and other living beings as being sacred and “precious” – rather than valuing only money, possessions and certain metals. We have to care about the forests, oceans and animals. Care about our bodies, our families, neighbors, children and ourselves.
We need to become wiser when we try to fix things that don’t work in our world. Take the time to patiently investigate relationships and interconnections when difficulties arise, to gain a deeper understanding of the causes of problems. We have to think less mechanistically and more ecologically.
We need to open our hearts, and seek guidance there. Recognize love, joy, compassion and gratitude as natural sources of wisdom. Let go of this idea that “knowing” is something that happens only in our heads.
Realize also – as Buddha, Jesus and others have taught, happiness is not something we need to continuously “pursue” – it arises naturally when we truly love and support one another.
Our Planet is a Garden of Life, a Global Eden that can be saved and restored to a state of balance. But time is running out.
For decades now we’ve been at a turning point, a fork in the road. The problems we see in the world around us exist because we’re still moving in the wrong direction, we haven’t changed course.
The decisions we make over the next decade will decide how life unfolds on this planet for hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of years into the future.
How shall we be remembered by our children’s children – as People of the Great Change, or the Great Catastrophe?
There’s still time to turn around but our window of opportunity is narrowing. And what happens next is up to ALL of us.
Christopher Chase is the Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages “Tao & Zen” “Art of Learning” & “Creative Systems Thinking.” Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University’s School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.