- Our bodies are breathing air, in constant communion with the trees and plants. Our souls are breathing art, in constant communion with each other and environments. Something has always been changing between inbreath and outbreath.
- Breathing, the passage of air into and out of the lungs to supply the body with oxygen. A single breath. (collinsdictionaries.com)
- Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. (Oxford Dictionary, Merriem Webster Dictionaries.)
“In recent years Thich Nhat Hanh has contributed a powerful new spiritual dimension to the climate crisis, one that has inspired UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres. “We need to change our way of thinking and seeing things,” he has said. “We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth.” The deepest root of our current crisis is, he says, “the wrong view that you and the Earth are two separate entities: you think the Earth is only the environment. You are in the centre and you want to do something for the Earth in order for you to survive.” But this, he says, “is a dualistic way of seeing things. It does not have the insight of interbeing. The Earth is so much more than simply your environment.” This insight of interbeing is a unique Buddhist contribution to the climate change crisis. Love, compassion, generosity, and the insight of our mutual interdependence are, he suggests, what is needed — both in December’s talks and long into the future. “Only when we truly love the Earth will our actions spring from reverence and the insight of our interconnectedness. That’s the kind of awareness, the kind of awakening that we need. The future of the planet depends on whether we’re able to cultivate this insight or not. It is our love for the Earth that will give us enough compassion, strength and insight to change our way of life.”
Living simply, and staying connected to ourselves, our loved ones, and the Earth is key. “Centuries of individualism and competition have brought about tremendous destruction and alienation,” he says. “Many of us are lost, isolated and lonely. We work too hard, our lives are too busy, and we are restless and distracted, losing ourselves in consumption. We buy and consume things we don’t need, putting a heavy strain on both our bodies and the planet.” Thay describes what he calls “the spiritual pollution of our human environment”: the toxic and destructive atmosphere we’re creating with our way of consuming, in the films we watch, the news or magazines we read. These, he says, all-too-often water the seeds of fear, anger, greed and hatred in our consciousness. He encourages us to consume in such a way that keeps our compassion, peace and generosity alive. “We don’t need to consume a lot to be happy; in fact we can live very simply. With mindfulness, any moment can become a happy moment. Savoring one simple breath; taking a moment to stop and contemplate the bright blue sky; or fully enjoying the presence of a loved one, can be more than enough to make us happy.”
During the height of the Vietnam War, Thay reminded us that “Man is not our enemy. The real enemy is our ignorance, discrimination, fear, and violence.” The enemy now is not our governments or corporations, but the energy of greed, mindlessness and indifference. If in the Vietnam War we needed to stop shooting each other, in our current planetary crisis we need to stop our rampant culture of consuming and exploiting. It is a challenging time because the front line is not to be found in the battlefield, but within ourselves. We must take responsibility for our part, in our way of living and in our choices in each moment. Only then can we say that we love the Earth. Only then will we have a chance.”