Thich Nhat Hanh offers a dramatic vision of the future of our planet and links his contemplation of environmental destruction to the Buddhist teachings of interconnectedness and the impermanence of all things. Rather than seeing impermanence as an excuse for disengaging from the world, he argues passionately that engaging with the world is the key to our individual and collective survival. Mixing inspiring insights with practical strategies, Hanh cites projects his own monastic community has undertaken that can serve as models for any community. Above all, he shows how acceptance of problems is that first critical step toward a deeper understanding of the best way to care for our Earth.
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Thich Nhat Hanh eloquently reminds us that to be alive is both a blessing and an honor to uphold.
—Alan Weisman, author, The World Without Us
Our planet Earth has a variety of life, and each species depends on all the other species in order to be able to manifest and continue. We’re not only outside of each other but we’re also inside each other. It is very important to hold the Earth in our arms and in our heart, to preserve the beautiful planet and to protect all species. The Lotus Sutra mentions the name of a special bodhisattva—Dharanimdhara, or Earth Holder—as someone who preserves and protects the Earth.
Earth Holder is the energy that is holding us together as an organism. She is a kind of engineer or architect whose task is to create space for us to live in, to build bridges for us to cross from one side to the other, to construct roads so that we can go to the people we love. Her task is to further communication between human beings and the other species and to protect the environment. It is said that when the Buddha tried to visit his mother, Mahamaya, who had passed away, it was Dharanimdhara who built the road on which the Buddha traveled. Although Earth Holder Bodhisattva is mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, she doesn’t have a chapter of her own. We should recognize this bodhisattva in order to collaborate with her. We should all help to create a new chapter for her, because Earth Holder is so desperately needed in this era of globalization.
When you contemplate an orange, you see that everything in the orange participates in making up the orange. Not only the sections of the orange belong to the orange; the skin and the seeds are also parts of the orange. This is what we call the universal aspect of the orange. Everything in the orange is the orange, but the skin remains the skin, the seed remains the seed, the section of the orange remains the section of the orange. The same is true with our globe. Although we’ve become a world community, the French continue to be French, the Japanese remain Japanese, the Buddhists remain Buddhists, and the Christians remain Christians. The skin of the orange continues to be the skin, and the sections of the orange continue to be the sections; the sections don’t have to be transformed into the skin in order for there to be harmony.
Harmony, however, is impossible if we don’t have a global ethic, and the global ethic that the Buddha devised is the Five Mindfulness Trainings