*apologies to Hafiz.
I’ve been thinking on love and the role it plays here in my heart, our home, amidst my family, and also that large world surrounding us, the communities and ecologies, the whole web of life that is so sticky and torn.
It seems to me that love has to be at the root of how we live, guiding the choices of what we buy, what we eat, what we throw away. When we were in the midst of our plastic fast, I’d often wonder at the Why of it. Obviously it was a symbolic act. Folks were quick to remind me that the ecological benefits of a glass bottle over a plastic one were debatable. We had no illusions of the profound impact our experiment had on anything but our own inner lives, our sense of Right Living and balance. In the end, we were transformed by the simple act of discipline and conscientiousness that were part of it.
What I came to consider the real heart, the true purpose of our fast, and yes, even our lives, was the work of the Ecosattva. In Buddhism, one who takes the vows of a Boddhisattva agrees to attain enlightenment only after all other beings have done so. It is, in essence, an impossible task, and one of supreme compassion. It is a heart opening path in which love for others takes precedence of love for one’s self.
For the Ecosattva, too, compassion is the source of a life dedicated to ending suffering of the planet and all her children. We “know” it is an impossible task, that our small acts are, as society loves to remind us, irrelevant. And yet we feel in our hearts a deep calling to do this work–call it simple living, environmental activism, deprivation, whatever. And then we do it. Imperfectly, perhaps. With limited means, often, and sometimes a dollop of doubt. But so long as our hearts are engaged, so long as love is the reason, rather than fear or guilt, then we are on the path.
What more can we do but walk it?
Hey, it’s New Years!
I don’t know of any vows for Ecosattvas, but if you were to make them in your house, what would they be? Be as grandiose (I vow to liberate the planet from capitalism) or as practical (I vow to always use a handkerchief) as you like.
For more thoughts on Buddhism and environmentalism, I recommend this article.