Healing the Earth

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Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday and Sunday we are fortunate to have Ko Barrett as our facilitator. Her concern for our environment is both personal and professional: she is the Associate Director for International Affairs in the Climate Program Office or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Her notes are below:

This week we will be discussing the last two chapters in Thich Nhat Hanh’s The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology.  In these chapters, Thay draws our attention to ways we can transform our communities by a commitment to mindful action, and transform ourselves and others by looking deeply into our interconnectedness with Nature and acting from a place of ‘inter-being”.  He writes:

Every step we make has the power to heal and transform. Not only can we heal ourselves by our steps, but we can help heal the Earth and the environment.

I am struck by the simple truth of Thay’s message, and also by the challenge of taking on lasting transformation.  For me, strongly held convictions to act in ways that protect and heal the planet often give way because I cannot sustain the required changes by myself. I lose a connectedness to the Earth in the rush of daily life.  I forget that my choice to drive my car a short distance has lasting consequences for people I care about and places I love. True, lasting transformational action seems elusive.

As we come together as a Sangha on Thursday and Sunday, we’ll talk about ways we deeply connect to our world and how we can draw on these experiences to inspire us to lasting action to protect the Earth and address global climate change in our lives.  Perhaps the simple act of watering the houseplants or looking up at the sky each day provides a steady reminder of our interconnectedness with the Earth.  Maybe the thought of a child living in poverty in the developing world or in our own inner cities inspires us to make do with less. By sharing the sources of our inspiration, I hope we’ll grow our collective experience and find new and sustained strength to transform our relationship with the Earth. I look forward to the conversation.

– Ko Barrett

The best times to join our Thursday evening gatherings are just before the beginning of our 7 p.m. meditation, just before we begin walking meditation (around 7:25), and just after our walking meditation (around 7:35).

Copies of The World We Have are available for purchase Thursday nights in Silver Spring and Sunday nights in Columbia.

You are also invited to join with the Still Water community on Saturday, August 1st, at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for a morning of Lotuses, Food, and Mindful Friends. Details are on our web site.

From Chapter Ten: The Eyes of the Elephant Queen

We have destroyed our Mother Earth in the same way bacteria or a virus can destroy a human body. Mother Earth is also a body. Of course, there are bacteria that are beneficial to the human body, that protect the body and help generate enzymes that we need. Similarly, if the human species wakes up and knows how to live with responsibility, compassion, and loving kindness, the human species can be a living organism with the capacity to protect the body of Mother Earth. We have to see that we inter-are with our Mother Earth, that we live with her and die with her.

It’s wonderful to realize that we are all in a family, we are all children of the Earth. We should take care of each other and we should take care of our environment, and this is possible with the practice of being together as a large family. A positive change in individual awareness will bring about a positive change in the collective awareness. Protecting the planet must be given the first priority. I hope you will take the time to sit down with each other, have tea with your friends and your family, and discuss these things. Invite Bodhisattva Earth Holder to sit and collaborate with you. Then make your decision and act to save our beautiful planet. Changing your way of living will bring you a lot of joy right away and, with your first mindful breath, healing will begin.