Mindful Attention May Save Us From Environmental Disasters!
want to share with you that I am very hopeful. Hopeful for the future of our planet and our lives, even though there’s so much destruction and pollution going on in this world. Hopeful because we have Right Action at our side.
You might think that as a Mindfulness practitioner and teacher, my life is quiet conscious. Yes, and yet there’s so much more to learn and to develop. My practice has been a constant investigation about my impact on other beings and now more than ever, on the environment and the planet.
So many great ideas and Mindfulness practices have organically emerged through the Beyond Mindfulness course I’ve been teaching from the Buddha Nature, Human Nature book by Ajahn Sucitto. Ajahn Sucitto, generously, offers a plethora of advice, data and knowledge about where and how this whole system that we live by began, how it has evolved into careless attention and how careful / Mindful attention can change things for us. As a result we’ve dived in more deeply, looking at the direction we, humans, have taken in the past century and the steps that lead into the future. We’ve come to see the results of our collective actions and they are dismal.
It Won’t Leave My Mind
There are thousands of facts, but one of the realities, we read about that just won’t leave my mind, is that by the year 2050, only thirty years from now, not in three hundred years but in 30 years, there will be more plastic in the oceans than there will be fish.
Imagining such desolate landscape terrifies me. I think about my four years old niece and two months old baby nephew. How incredibly hard, ugly, unhealthy and dark life will be for them. Do they deserve this? Who’s fault is it? Ours and our forefathers.
Careless Attention Vs Careful Attention
As Ajahn Sucitto points out, our continued careless attention will have grave consequences for our children and their babies. Concepts like “future generations” may not provoke intimacy and a subjective bias. So imagine your own little baby or grand-baby having no clean water, not enough trees and greenery, not enough oxygen, exposed to poisons. Examine the trajectory of cancer rates gone from 1 in 33 in the 70s to 1 in 3 today, regardless of medical advancements. What will it be in 30 years? Every human getting cancer? Conditions left behind, complements of us!
It is truly unfortunate and unfair.
Education and Knowledge are Very Important, but
Education and knowledge are very important. Waking up to the suffering we cause, feeling compassion and moved to end such a suffering are more effective. Maybe then our babies and the babies of all other creatures that share this planet with us will have a chance. Throughout this Beyond Mindfulness course, we’ve made many wonderful changes in our lives, some small and some significant.
Often, people think, “What can I do about all the plastic in the oceans or in the land-fields or about global warming, nothing,” and just get on with life and business as usual. Create more pollution, more junk and more poison. We think, disasters are really far away, it won’t hit us. But actually, an enormous amount of data and statistics with real cases reveal otherwise.
I am still hopeful because we have our actions on our side. We can still make a difference.
By changing our attention from carelessness to carefulness we will be able to save ourselves and our kids from fatal destinations. Letting our actions emerge from the heart of kindness. The heart that is not so lost in the “me and mine,” of life. The heart that is rational and compassionate. Shift in understanding, however small, can lead to shift in action and significant results can emerge. Doing one small thing differently can produce incredible ripple effects beyond measure.
Assuming It Won’t Work, Won’t Change Anything.
One day I noticed, the enormous amount of plastic that is sent to me via shipping packages. My previously deluded mind would completely ignore and feel the least responsible for them. Just toss them, however I could best figure it out, recycle or trash. One of those times, after having read so much about the harm caused by the ways we live and by my actions, when I completed an order on Amazon, I noticed the link for feedback. So, I clicked and wrote a little kind and concerned note to Amazon, basically pleading to do something about the packaging, to work with their vendors as well. That I, as a customer, was imposed upon to receive more and more plastic and pollute the environment. I sent it and gave it a very small percentage that anything would change. A week later, the product I had purchased, a heavy outdoor plastic extension cord, arrived in an all-recyclable paper envelop. I was shocked! It totally made my day. I thought it may be a coincident, but no, my next purchase and the next came in recyclable paper envelops as well. I was overjoyed each time. Indeed, I recognized once again how wholesome actions lead to happy mind states.
Inspiring hope and Right Action
I spread the word for people to write and request a reduction in plastic products, packaging and shipping. I know that there already are great amounts of consciousness in the universe. There’s a large number of people and grass root organizations who are acting and working with careful attention. You maybe one of them. Good for you. We don’t have to be a grass root to make a substantial difference, Ajahn Sucitto advises. We can be one of those living in the margins, share our ideas with one another, which will decrease the number of those living in the center with careless attention. As a result enlarging the margins along with inspiring hope and Right Action.
Please do share your strategies for a “zero waste” living with each other. Be sure that when you do, it’s not judgmental, rather educational. It’s not an imposition, rather inviting and encouraging. Pleading to the heart of compassion rather than sufficing to not relateable figures and rationals. Of course, for the rational and analytical minds numbers and statistics may just be enough.
Teaching this course has awakened a new determination in me. I witness this expanded awareness and goodwill within my students as well. An expanded consideration for our environment, for other creatures and the planet we all share.
How to Relieve Yourself From Aversion, Fear and Anxiety Towards other Creatures:
Each student was to pick a creature that they despise or fear or have aversion towards. I.e roaches, rodents, spiders, snakes, skunks, etc. Three questions were to be answered:
1. What is that creature’s role, and benefit for the echo system.
2. What consequences could it have for the planet, if they were to all be extinct?
3. What consequence would it have either directly or indirectly for us humans if they were to be extinct?
My intention was to reduce aversion and stress, increase connectedness, reduce the notion of “us and them,” increase appreciation for other creatures’ place on this planet and expanding the heart of compassion for not harming them. This fresh understanding could help reduce fear, anxiety and mental states that cause unhappiness. The next step was to see how one may repel the creature by natural means rather than by hating and killing them. The results have been informative, heart-warming and inspiring. We will be accumulating our findings in a document with more teachings on how to relieve ourselves from aversion, fear and anxiety over creatures we hate. So stay tuned. We will be sharing this document with all of you soon.
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