I sit in the coffee shop, awaiting my fair trade decaf-soya-latte and two rather charming peeps approach me. The pair seem a lovely couple, wonderfully matched in their hippy attire and ask me a question, after a prompt “Hey”. The question was- “Are you willing to do your bit to save the planet?”.
“Which planet?” I asked rather cheekily and chuckled.
They didn’t appear amused, which was a little disappointing, but I managed to squeeze a smile out of them when I declared, “I jest! I jest!”.
They asked again, “But seriously, humans are destroying Nature, the Earth needs help, you aren’t denying that much are you?”
I didn’t know how to answer that; I find that far too often people ask me the wrong question for my particular perspective, which has developed in its way through dharma practice. I need to be careful how I answer.
Does the Earth need saving? If so, by whom?
Allow Thay to impart some critical wisdom here;
We classify other animals and living beings as nature, acting as if we ourselves are not part of it. Then we pose the question ‘How should we deal with Nature?’ We should deal with nature the way we should deal with ourselves! We should not harm ourselves; we should not harm nature…Human beings and nature are inseparable. -Thich Nhat Hanh (1988)
Should we stay on this imaginary pedestal and go around pondering whether we should save the planet or not? Or shall we see passed all that and realise that the Earth is not something we have, but more something we are. We didn’t fall from the Heavens to stamp on the Earth. We grew out of the Earth and continually do so every single day.
Human activity has created some issues when it comes to pollution and climate change but these aren’t issues that affect “nature” or “Earth” anymore than they affect you, you right now.
The Earth is a Bodhiasattva, the Mother Bodhisattva, birthing you, embracing you, and unconditionally doing so, even if we are to rip out her precious metals and choke her to death. She will Hold us, and guide us to see that we aren’t choking her, we’re choking ourselves. She will provide to us the very ground underneath us even if we are completely unaware.
So let’s do it for her, the Earth, but let’s do it for ourselves, for her. If you want to save the planet, save it first by saying Thank You, and showing ourselves compassion, because for as long we fail to do that, Earth will always suffer for us.
There is always more we can all do, but we mustn’t do it thinking we are superior to the Earth, we must do it with humility and true love if it is to make a real difference.
A lotus for you, a Buddha to be,