It is about undergoing a conversion of heart, so our whole life is seen from the perspective of mountains, rivers, and the great wide earth
The fourth point is important. “Change the way you consume”. Look at our lives from day to day. What are we eating, drinking? Where does that come from and how does that affect the circle of life? What are we buying, how are we spending our time, how are we using our resources? Just one example– look at the water situation – there is drought in certain areas, like California these days. Not only there, but the levels of drinkable water in the world are decreasing. You might ask here, what are you saying? How about this all this flooding here in Texas lately?
Let’s not get confused by immediate happenings and miss the big picture. Based on certain trends that scientists have mapped out, Texas, too, will be have its share of drought, and will be facing a water crisis in the coming years. That is precisely part of the global climate change that is affecting us. Keep looking at the big picture to see what we are consuming, and change our ways, so we may be on side of alleviating instead of part of the problem.
Take the consumption of meat for example. Meat products make up big part of the consumption habits of people especially in industrialized countries, and this is a major factor in the depletion of our resources. I will not go into any further detail here, click here for additional readings if you wish.
I am not telling you to be a strict vegetarian from here on. You may of course consider that, but maybe, just maybe, you could cut down on eating meat, from four or five times a week, to a little less. And so on. Okay, I will not continue moralizing here and offer an invitation, for us to incorporate this as an important aspect of our Zen practice: let us watch what we consume, and seek how we may do less harm in our habits.
The fifth point is related to the fourth, involving concrete choices in our way of life. This is something I also need to keep reminding myself: “simplify your life”. I will not go into further detail, and keep this as an ongoing challenge, for myself, for each one of us.
The sixth point I would like to add to the five above is this: let us keep our eye on the big picture, the global scenario, while we stay connected to the immediate scene before us. This includes learning more about how our individual lives are intimately connected with a huge systemic framework that involves economic, political, social, and so many other dimensions. My day to day life is the immediate picture, but the big picture is the whole wide earth, crying out in pain. What is this puny little thing seen in the light of the big picture? How can having this big picture on my horizon shed light on the way I live my own individual life, to help me see more clearly the directions I need to take? The first five points above can serve as initial steps in this regard.
Finally the seventh point — without saying we should all be proselytizers or missionaries, somehow it seems to me, more and more strongly, that we are called to spread the word. If we feel something deeply enough we are moved to let others know.
Without being too preachy there are ways to spread the word so others may see the point, or get a new angle of seeing the world. For example, if you see a link on the internet that calls your attention to something, or inspires you, or challenges you, send that link to others. Send or speak of things that may help others awaken. Discern for yourself how you can spread the word in a way that comes out of the way you live your life. This also involves joining our efforts with others who are already walking toward the same directions. Seek allies, and join groups and movements that are already out there seeking global change through local action. One group I can suggest would be the Network of Spiritual Progressives, an interfaith alliance of those seeking to “repair the world” (tikkun olam in the Jewish tradition). But there are so many others, local, regional, national, and global, and these you will easily find if you look around you. See which of these you may link with, and multiply the power of the change happening in your own life.
But what is this “word” about, really, that we are called to spread? This question brings us back to number one.
It is about undergoing a conversion of heart, so our whole life is seen from the perspective of mountains, rivers, and the great wide earth. It is in this conversion of heart that can happens in each of us, where lies the key to transforming the way we live together on this global family.
No global transformation without inner transformation. Conversely, inner transformation leads to global transformation. The intimate connection between these two is what we are now called to activate more than ever. For this, David Loy’s recently published book, A New Buddhist Path (Wisdom, 2015), and his earlier one, The Great Transformation: A Buddhist Social Theory (Wisdom 2003), may offer us some helpful insights and guidelines.
Let us continue our practice of sitting in silence so the cries of the Earth can be heard, and inspire us to live with an awakened heart, and then empower us to move from our cushions, into the arena of the world, so we may offer ourselves wholeheartedly, toward healing its wounds.
By Ruben L.F. Habito, originally delivered at Maria Kannon Zen Center, Dallas, Texas, June 20, 2015