Monday, 22 April 2013

Earth Day & Cittaviveka

As today is Earth Day I thought that this extract from the latest newsletter from Cittaviveka Buddhist Monastery near Chithurst, was appropriate.

Here at Cittaviveka we have come through a long hard winter with a very good sense of inner warmth and harmony. Outer warmth was in short supply, and for people living in the forest the weather was challenging – to put it mildly! However the three-month retreat was made convivial by people coming from USA, Canada and Australia as well as from UK, in order to support and participate in the atmosphere of this Dhamma-refuge. Together with a resident community of twenty, spread out between Rocana, Chithurst House and Hammer Wood, that made for a situation of good companionship with adequate individual space.

Hearing of people's suffering through economic and climatic causes, as well of as the loss of animal life, is a reminder of how vulnerable we all are to forces that seem beyond our control. Moreover, that Dhamma-practice is grounded on life on this planet; the only one that has ever been found that can support us. Over the last decade we all become painfully aware that human carelessness and misuse of the earth and its creatures is a prime reason for climate change; and that might make such winters the norm. This is kamma – the principle of cause and effect. When we reflect on cause and effect in our lives, we should consider that all material things really come from and belong to the earth. Humans can't create water, soil, minerals and animals. So how do we use its gifts? Do we take just what we need, share what we have and try to give something back (such as through planting trees, or through supporting charities)? Also whatever we dispose of has to go back to the earth, rivers, ocean and air sooner or later: do we just dump poisons and plastics into our own food supply? 

Can we refrain from using plastic bags and bottles for example? Can we learn to live more lightly? The monastic training of contemplating the requisites as offering enough shelter, clothing, food and medicines to protect us against the elements, seems a very relevant reflection. And that we use these so that we can practise for awakening: because it is through a lack of wise reflection, personal modesty and conscience and concern that our home planet has been put at risk. Mind is the origin of the world.

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