Earth Day is coming! How drastically the world is able to change! It truly is an exciting time. This year is the 51st Earth Day observance. Do you remember where you were last year? Probably at home watching amazing things happening on television. Were you as excited as I when we saw all different types of animals walking the streets around the world? It caused me to really think about the impact that we as human beings have on this world, we all call our home.
It is important for all of us to take these moments to reflect on the value of all life on this planet. We all have vital roles to play.
He who for the sake of happiness hurts others who also want happiness,Dhammapada, 131
shall not hereafter find happiness.
The physical effect we have on our surroundings and ultimately the planet is easy for us to adjust. But just like Buddhism itself is hard to implement and maintain. Let’s go a little deeper within to work on making a shift in our thinking. Recently, I saw that there are four dams on a California river being demolished not because they are old or damaged, but because they are causing damage to the environment and the life and future survival of the salmon that swim in its waters. Of course, it does not make the people who live along these waters happy at all. Their riverfront property will be changed and some may say with the shifting of the river waters their home/property was reduced to secluded areas of dirt. If we were the home owner this is a terrible situation. To work and have invested so much to lose land value and have great change in the scenery around your home. There is a difference between moving or changing on your own versus something happening out of our control. We all can look at situations like these are out of our control and just change our state of mind.
When these things happen, please ask yourself. “Is what I do for the benefit of me alone? How does it impact others and the world around me?”
He who lives only for pleasures, and whose soul is not in harmony, who considers not the food he eats, is idle, and has not the power of virtue — such a man is moved by MARA, is moved by selfish temptations, even as a weak tree is shaken by the wind.Dhammapada, 7
Our path leads us to realize the truth about this world we exist in and not just about our perceptions on life. We can show appreciation for this life that in many degrees we take for granted. Share this wisdom with others. In the case of the river and those that live on it, I feel like we can all give our thanks to them for their material sacrifice and change in their lives so more salmon may survive. We may also eat some too and we can give our thanks for the lives affected for us to survive.
We are a part of the eco system of this planet. Please keep thinking about the photos above and think about the impact we have on the lives that share this planet with us.
Namo Amida Butsu,
Rev. Kory Quon
Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple