During this last spell of unusually hot weather has been the first time people have expressed to me their personal fears of global warming. In my forty years as a Buddhist I had been involved in many political or ideological discussions before with the strong connections between Buddhism and green politics in the Western world but I have never seen such simple, raw fear. I can hope that this is a sign that people are beginning to wake up and that there may be a renewed vigour in the green movement, personal and political. As a Buddhist I find new resolve to set a good example in terms of frugal living and clear lobbying, to do my best and then have to accept whatever happens, happens.
Also I can hope to be able to offer some guidance to others on how to work with the mind through this crisis.
As in all other areas of life we are making our own personal karma one way or the other through our own behaviour. Thus if we can remain present and centred then this will be the main source of karmic results within the mind. If we behave well we can live with a clear conscience. Physically, however, we may still have to bear with the crisis, with the collective karma of mankind. We will need to work with ourselves in order to accept this. We will need to continue to see ourselves as part of the mankind that has caused the crisis and not separate ourselves from it.
The ideal in terms of our relationship to the world as I see it is to find the compassion not to withdraw, to keep a humble, frugal voice alive in the world, and to have the wisdom not to attach to the world. With wisdom we can understand that we can survive when the truth that is the real essence of our minds can survive. This can be our Refuge in Dhamma. With wisdom we can then reflect that the survival of the group, the culture, is more important than that of the individual, this is the first letting go. This is our Refuge in Sangha. To let go of attachment to the body we can ultimately also discover a higher happiness and freedom than any worldly happiness. This can be our Refuge in the Buddha. As a monk these Refuges are what I am striving for, within the world and beyond it, for myself and for others.
More articles on this theme will follow. In the meantime let’s pray for rain.