Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Will Humans Disappear in 100 years?

For those of you who might have missed it, there was a provocative interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in the environmentalist magazine The Ecologist. He raises a lot of issues related to the state of the planet, from the importance of intentional communities to the potential value of having a vegetarian diet. Today, though, I would like to consider the following:
According to the Buddhist tradition there is no birth and no death. After extinction things will appear in other forms, so you have to breathe very deeply in order to acknowledge the fact that we humans may disappear in just 100 years on earth. You have to learn how to accept that hard fact. You should not be overwhelmed by despair. The solution is to learn how to touch eternity in the present moment. We have been talking about the environment as if it is something different from us, but we are the environment. The non-human elements are our environment, but we are the environment of non-human elements, so we are one with the environment. We are the environment. We are the earth and the earth has the capacity to restore balance and sometimes many species have to disappear for the balance restored.
You might think "That 100 years statement is just alarmism." And part of me agrees with you. And yet, the rest of me says "We're far past the time for alarms." We had a warm winter here in Minnesota. Extremely warm. And dry. It barely felt like winter. The day I was born, the temperature was -20 degrees F. This year on my birthday, it was 53 degrees F. Now, one year doesn't mean much of anything in the grand scheme. I have no idea what the whole planetary story is, nor what things will look like in 20 or 30 years - let alone 100. While Thay says that we shouldn't be overwhelmed with despair, we have to feel it. Have to let it swell up within us, and come forth from us. Again and again. Because something IS off. I deeply know that something isn't right with the world. In fact, it seems to me that only through that grief, that despair, that sense that we might all be gone someday soon - only through all of that came we come to touch the eternal Thay speaks of. Our buddhanature. That which is beyond destructive pipelines, melting ice caps, and diseased body/minds. It's not easy work. Most of us would rather suppress these thoughts, or get lost in righteous anger. But I believe the world is calling us to dive deeply now, and open ourselves widely. May more of us do so.


Was Once said...

Mother nature knows what to do, if the sun temperature rises, as it did in the maintained its temperature.
If humans are causing an in balance, mother nature will end our species. It will be plain and simple evolution.

Kōgen 光現 Dito-Keith said...

Hi Nathan,

I'm some where with Was Once, and but drawn to:

Maybe drawn is too strong a word, but I find myself wondering, "what if they're right?"

What if there is more to do than live a lifestyle, more to do than sit Zazen? More to do than go to a meeting... and what if that more to do is not without great human cost for planetary benefit (which is not apart from human benefit)?

It's not in my DNA to go to blow up a dam, but is it in my DNA to support those who want to? Is it in my DNA to bare witness to the collateral damage of such strong direct action?

Is it in my DNA to sit in this temple and say, "Yeah, I understand and support DGR in their efforts."

And does that abide with our vows?

Nathan said...

We definitely need to ask more difficult questions and face the fact that humans could be gone at some point. Maybe sooner than most of us think.