Isn’t this a time for people who intuitively experience our spiritual common essence and nature to become politically engaged?
We live in an age of mental malaise; the Hindus call it Kaliyuga. Our precious planet is polluted by human ignorance and greed. “The more that money rules the World, the more that money ruins the World.”
We have degenerated into an insane society, unconsciously committing mass suicide by ecocide.
Unrestrained corporate capitalism coercively and insidiously exploits vulnerable people and myopically plunders, depletes and corrupts finite planetary resources which sustain life. Billions of people suffer needless poverty, starvation and avoidable disease, while obscenely privileged corporate, political and religious plutocrats greedily acquire power and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs.
Life as we know it is threatened by environmental catastrophe or nuclear annihilation, possibly precipitated by corrupt world “leaders”. People are so crazy that they are myopically scuttling Spaceship Earth; destroying the life support systems which sustain us.
Even in “advanced” countries, it is virtually impossible now to breath air or drink water which is not in some way polluted by our species. Agricultural soils have been depleted and corrupted. Global weather patterns and hydrologic systems have been materially disrupted by human activities; protective atmospheric ozone is being depleted. Glaciers are melting; long frozen Arctic tundra is thawing. Though non-polluting alternative technologies are available and feasible they are considered “economically” impractical.
No one is protected. By “bio-engineering” living organisms we are even tampering and blindly experimenting with our genetic origins. From birth (and even prenatally) every person’s body/mind is polluted by numerous and ubiquitous manmade chemical and radioactive materials, many of which are carcinogenic.
Many species are rapidly becoming extinct. Around the world, thousands of birds are suddenly falling dead out of the sky, and countless dead fish are appearing on shores of rivers, lakes and oceans. The oceans are polluted with our detritus, and much marine life is threatened. Even remote Arctic polar bears are becoming hermaphroditic because of phthalates and other chemicals dispersed by humankind, and they are threatened with destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for survival.
So, how should ‘spiritually’ conscious people live and be in this crazy World, in which spiritual values seem forgotten? Do we not see omens, portents or signs of impending catastrophe?
As we widen our circle of compassion to embrace the whole of Nature and all living creatures, does it become our moral responsibility to help solve imminent ecological crises? If so, how?
Should we “become actively engaged” as the Dalai Lama suggests? If so, how?
Can we, with heartfelt common intention and spiritual vision, co-create salutary solutions to the immense challenges facing us? If so, how?
Here are observations by the Dalai Lama from which we may draw inspiration and motivation, counseling that we must act to solve ecological crises and restore peace “before it is too late”:
“Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth’s living things.
This lack of respect extends even to the earth’s human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality, and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate.
Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it.
It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information; it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.
Many of the earth’s habitats, animals, plants, insects and even micro-organisms that we know to be rare may not be known at all by future generations. We have the capability and the responsibility to act; we must do so before it is too late.
Just as we should cultivate gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.
This, however, is not just a question of morality or ethics, but a question of our own survival. For this generation and for future generations, the environment is very important. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, we will suffer, as will our future generations. When the environment changes, the climatic condition also changes. When the climate changes dramatically, the economy and many other things change. Our physical health will be greatly affected. Again, conservation is not merely a question of morality, but a question of our own survival.
Therefore, in order to achieve more effective environmental protection and conservation, internal balance within the human being himself or herself is essential. The negligence of the environment, which has resulted in great harm to the human community, resulted from our ignorance of the very special importance of the environment. We must now help people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people that conservation directly aids our survival.
If you must be selfish, then be wise and not narrow-minded in your selfishness. The key point lies in the sense of universal responsibility. That is the real source of strength, the real source of happiness. If we exploit everything available, such as trees, water and minerals, and if we don’t plan for our next generation, for the future, then we’re at fault, aren’t we? However, if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as our central motivation, then our relations with the environment, and with all our neighbours, will be well balanced.
Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”
(From “Humanity and Ecology”, © 1988, The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
This was copied from Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner, who offers brilliant commentary for these interesting times.