While many experts point to the enormous complexity in addressing issues ranging from the destruction of ecosystems to the loss of millions of species, Thich Nhat Hanh identifies one key issue as having the potential to create a tipping point. He believes that we need to move beyond the concept of the “environment,” as it leads people to experience themselves and Earth as two separate entities and to see the planet only in terms of what it can do for them. Thich Nhat Hanh deems it vital that we recognize and respond to the stress we are putting on the Earth if civilization is to survive. He insists that mindfulness and a spiritual revolution are needed to protect nature and limit climate change.
Love Letter to the Earth is a hopeful book that gives us a path to follow by showing that change is possible only with the recognition that people and the planet are ultimately one and the same.
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Understanding our unbreakable connection to the abstraction we call ‘the environment’ really is the first step to sensible action. In that sense, this is a very practical book! —Bill McKibben, Eaarth and The End of Nature
Thich Nhat Hanh makes an eloquent, uplifting, and urgent call to recognize that our health and happiness are inextricably tied to Mother Earth and to all of our kin. We need this great wisdom if we are to move from our destructive path. —David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance
John Muir wrote that ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.’ In this clear-eyed, loving paean, Thich Nhat Hanh illuminates both our connection and our responsibility to the beautiful planet we call home. —Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, author of Coming Clean
Thich Nhat Hanh addresses the root cause of the environmental crisis and, in doing so, offers a roadmap to an entirely new dream of the Earth. —Wade Davis, Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow
Mother Earth is a Great Bodhisattva
What is a bodhisattva? A bodhisattva is a living being who has happiness, awakening, mindfulness, understanding, and love. Anyone, any living being who has awakening, peace, understanding, and love can be called a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is not necessarily a human being. In the stories of the former lives of the Buddha, The Jataka Tales, the Buddha was sometimes a deer, a monkey, a mango tree, or a rock. These can be called bodhisattvas also. Because when we look into a tree, we see that the tree is happy, is fresh, is offering its beauty to life. And it nourishes life. It is a place of refuge for so many birds. A tree can be seen as a bodhisattva. Therefore a bodhisattva doesn’t have to be a human being. A bodisattva isn’t something up in the clouds far away from us. Bodhisattvas are all around us. A young person, younger than we are, who has love, freshness, understanding, and who offers us a lot of happiness is a bodhisattva. And the pine standing out in the garden can also offer us a great amount of joy, it gives us oxygen, and it makes life more beautiful. So we can call it a bodhisattva. Therefore we say that our planet Earth is a bodhisattva. And it’s really an authentic and great bodhisattva, because the Earth has many good characteristics, like solidity, patience, and nondiscrimination. We can throw fragrant flowers on the earth or we can also throw urine or excrement on the earth, and the earth doesn’t discriminate between them. The Earth is very solid. It has a great capacity to endure, a great capacity to be patient. And it offers so much to nourish us. It gives us water; it gives us air to breathe. It’s a true bodhisattva. Therefore when we walk on the face of the Earth, we’re in touch with that great bodhisattva. And we have to be grateful. We should not say the Earth is only matter. How could mere matter do the wonderful things the Earth does?
The Earth Brings Us to Life
The Earth is a great bodhisattva who has brought to birth many bodhisattvas and buddhas. Earth is the mother of so many buddhas and bodhisattvas, like Shakyamuni Buddha, our teacher. And our own father is also a child of the Earth, our mother is a child of the Earth. And the Earth has brought us to life through our mother. When we walk on the earth we’re in touch with our Mother Earth, and this alone can bring us a lot of happiness.. That mother is very beautiful. In this galaxy, the Earth is the most beautiful planet. It is green, it has life. There are many very beautiful bodhisattvas, and the most beautiful of them all is the planet Earth. A bodhisattva can be called one who purifies and refreshes the Earth. To walk on this planet Earth is a great happiness. There are people who are very foolish, they say they are tired of the Earth, and they wish to reborn in another world, even if they don’t know whether that place is real or not. We shouldn’t be persuaded by them. We have to return to take refuge in our planet Earth. As we walk on the Earth, we can say as we step, “I take refuge in Mother Earth.” We have to love Mother Earth. “I love the Earth.” “I am in love with the Earth.” Every step like that manifests our love of the Earth. When we walk like that, happiness is possible.