Are We in Love with Mother Earth?Calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh

Are We in Love with Mother Earth?

Discussion date: Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday evening, after our sitting meditation, We will bring together the ideas and energies of Thich Nhat Hanh and Al Gore, each of whom encourages us to protect our fragile planet.

In 2013 Thich Nhat Hanh published an impassioned plea for ecological awareness, his Love Letter to the Earth. I have summarized the book message in four points:

The earth is alive:

“At this very moment, the Earth is above you, below you, all around you, and even inside you. The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. We often forget that the planet we are living on has given us all the elements that make up our bodies. The water in our flesh, our bones, and all the microscopic cells inside our bodies all come from the Earth and are part of the Earth. The Earth is not just the environment we live in. We are the Earth and we are always carrying her within us.

“Realizing this, we can see that the Earth is truly alive.”

The earth is in danger, and we are in danger:

“We can’t wait any longer to restore our relationship with the Earth because right now the Earth and everyone on Earth is in real danger. When a society is overcome by greed and pride, there is violence and unnecessary devastation. When we perpetrate violence toward our own and other species, we’re being violent toward ourselves at the same time. When we know how to protect all beings, we will be protecting ourselves.  …

“Many of us are lost. We work too hard, our lives are too busy; we lose ourselves in consumption and distraction of all kinds and have become increasingly lost, lonely, or sick. Many of us live very isolated lives. We’re no longer in touch with ourselves, our family, our ancestors, the Earth, or the wonders of life around us. We have become alienated and feel lonely. This alienation is a kind of illness that has become an epidemic. So many of us feel empty inside and are searching for something to fill the vacuum. We try to fill the void by taking pills or intoxicants or by consuming things. Yet our addiction to consumerism, to buying and consuming things we don’t need, is causing so much stress, so much suffering, both to ourselves and to the Earth. Our craving for fame, wealth, and power is insatiable, and this puts a heavy strain on our own bodies and on the planet. We don’t realize that it’s not fame, wealth, or power that will make us happy, but our level of mindful awareness.”

The best way to protect the Earth and ourselves is with understanding and love:

“Real change will happen only when we fall in love with our planet. Only love can show us how to live in harmony with nature and with each other and save us from the devastating effects of environmental destruction and climate change. When we recognize the virtues and talents of the Earth, we feel connected to her and love is born in our hearts. We want to be connected. That is the meaning of love: to be at one. When you love someone, you want to take care of that person as you would take care of yourself. When we love like this, it’s reciprocal. We will do anything for the benefit of the Earth and we can trust that she, in turn, will do everything in her power for our well-being.

“Every morning when I wake up and get dressed, I leave my hut and take a walk. Usually the sky is still dark and I walk gently, aware of nature all around me and the fading stars. One time, after walking, I came back to my hut and wrote this sentence: “I am in love with Mother Earth.” I was as excited as a young man who has fallen in love. My heart was beating with excitement.”

Our shared love for the earth can energize and unite the world community

“We can build a deep spiritual practice based not on dogmas or beliefs in things we can’t verify, but entirely on evidence. … When we say the Earth has created life, we know it’s only possible because she contains within herself the whole cosmos. Just as the Earth is not only the Earth, so too are we not only humans. We have the Earth and the whole cosmos within us. We are made of the sun. We are made of stars. Touching the true nature of reality, we can transcend the dualistic view that the cosmos is something greater than ourselves or different from ourselves. …

“Every advance in our understanding of ourselves, our nature and our place in the cosmos deepens our reverence and love. … This is the most basic kind of religious feeling: it is based on evidence and our own experience. Humanity needs a kind of spirituality that we can all practice together. Dogmatism and fanaticism have been the cause of great separation and war. Misunderstanding and irreverence have been the cause of enormous injustice and destruction. In the twenty-first century it should be possible for us to come together and offer ourselves the kind of religion that can help unite all peoples and all nations, and remove all separation and discrimination. If existing religions and philosophies, as well as science, can make an effort to go in this direction, it will be possible to establish a cosmic religion based not on myth, belief or dogma, but on evidence and the insights of interbeing. And that would be a giant leap for humankind.”

We will bring Al Gore into our gathering by watching his February, 2016, TED Talk, “The Case For Optimism On Climate Change.” In some ways it is an updating of how environmental issues have evolved since his 2006 movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Gore structures his talk around three questions:

“Do we really have to change?”

His answer: “Yes, we have to change.”

“Can we change?”

His answer: “Yes, And it’s an ever-firmer ‘yes.'”

 “Will we change?

His answer: “We are going to win this: … When any great moral challenge is ultimately resolved into a binary choice between what is right and what is wrong, the outcome is fore-ordained because of who we are as human beings. Ninety-nine percent of us, that is where we are now and it is why we’re going to win this. We have everything we need.” 

After watching Al Gore’s Ted Talk, we will begin our Dharma Sharing with the questions: Are you in love with Mother Earth? How are you expressing your love? Do you have confidence that the world will come together to protect our environment?

You are invited to be with us.

Warm wishes.

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner


in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Mar 17, 2016