Climate science predicts that as temperatures are on the rise, the atmospheric stability we have come to rely upon, take for granted, falters. This lesson can be applied to our politics, institutions and even our direct experience.
Buddhist author, teacher and activist, Thanissara, encourages us to go deep in order to discover the touchstone that can see us through.
The nightworld is where we are …
And in that darkness, we remember what we love the most.
That itself is the candle. (Martin Shaw)
It sounds rather cliche, but to state the obvious, the world is changing fast. Day-to-day everything we understand about ourselves and each other is being reconfigured, entrenching the feeling of groundlessness. Everything that was “out there” is now “in here” revealing that in the sphere of the mind, there are no boundaries.
While psychological boundaries are a basic mental health requirement, in reality, it seems that we are not just “selves’ but an inter-being experience through which awakening consciousness is seeing and knowing itself. A glimpse of this understanding shifts everything because eventually it inducts into the only real ground we can find, which is the heart itself with its listening, present, aware, receptive knowing.
Love is the currency of life itself. All things ultimately depend on it.
As we go through a shamanic dismemberment of the global ego-self, which has been in control over millennia, we are grappling with the loss of control as runaway climate breakdown and environmental destruction threatens our collective survival. While all this is enormously impactful, turning us through an excruciating kaleidoscope of reactions and emotions, it feels there is a deeper evolutionary impulse operating here.
What is Truth? Truth is a dynamic unfolding, not a static thing that someone has written down. While there are undying truths—“hate is never overcome by hate, only by love. This is the eternal law,” as the Buddha beautifully taught—can we also be agile and tune into the ever-new and present truth of this moment? Because so often we miss it when we filter what is before us through our preconceptions.
Where is freedom? This heart of knowing, as it taps the deeper flow of the living Dharma, the intuitive intelligence of Prajna-paramita, is quantum-like. Freed up and aligned with truth, its impulse is to dissolve the constructs the mind builds while at the same time unveiling the power of the heart’s capacity for love.
How is it to Love? The small things, a bee powdering itself in the nectar of the flower, show us something about love. That it is not a ‘me’ loving a ‘you’ so much (though that is definitely special), but more that love is the currency of life itself. All things ultimately depend on it.
It is our alignment with the deeper listening heart-spirit, with love, with a freed up view, that enables quantum shifts of understanding distilled from truths unfolding. This will guide us through and gift the courage we need to be in service of truth, of freedom, of love, as protectors of the Earth and her myriad beings.
This article was originally published on Thanissara’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.
Vesak is the most sacred day for millions of people around the world as it commemorates the birth, the attainment of full awakening and passing away of Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Since 1995, the UN has recognized Vesak with the International Day of Vesak.
As part of this year’s observance, Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi offered reflections and a call to respond based on the application of the Buddha’s diagnosis and remedy for suffering to the collective suffering that is the climate crisis. It is rather remarkable that arguably the premier translators of the Buddhadharma for the West chose to center his remarks not on the classic teachings but on this social-ecological issue as an call to apply those teachings.
The talk was given in the Hall of the General Assembly, with UN representatives of many countries present — not only the traditional Buddhist countries, but Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines, and others. There was no representative from the U.S. or from China.