Climate Dharma-Embodying Our Interconnectedness.
I have an achingly clear memory of being a child, around 7 years old, lying in bed and looking out my window. It was spring time and I became enamored of the pale green aura of our giant Maple Tree just outside my window. As I stared into the familiar branches, the realization of the seasons landed in my being. The seasons danced out before me, I could name them: winter and the bare branches framing meadows of snow, warm fires, presents and songs in the dark. The winds of March, The green shoots and exuberant birds of spring, the buzz of the crickets and shade and water in the deep green of summer and the melancholy falling of brilliant leaves, and then again the snow. A deep joy and excitement rose up in my child body as I sensed myself growing and changing within the embrace of this rhythm and return.
My relationship with nature has been this intimate ever since. I have run an organic market garden, moving with the daily call of the needs of each plant as they grew, harvested and died. I have spent hours designing landscapes full of flowers and watching as the birds and bees came to meet them. I have ridden warm ponies through the dark of the night meeting with friends around fires and sleeping on the ground under blankets. And I have lived through many winters in a yurt snuggled next to the wood stove as storms raged just outside my 2 inch thick walls.
The embrace of rhythm and return has soothed me day in and day out, until 1990 when I sensed a slight shift and heard about Global warming. The planetary climate, as all of us know is changing and changing fast. The quality of the heat of summer is far more intense, the humidity more gripping. The storms, the fires, the rains all are expressing extremes. Here in Western Massachusetts a drought has come to plague us. No snow, and little rain for almost a year now. Literally unprecedented in our climate history. I say these words knowing that anyone reading this already has their version of this knowledge in their being.
This knowledge touches a grief and a terror so deep and wide my throat chokes and my body shakes with the tidal wave of it. For me this Climate Change feels as though the mother planet is letting go of her embrace of rhythm and return and is saying I cannot hold you any longer, you must go back to the fiery elements of the stars. Perhaps you'll realize what you are doing soon enough or you will find your way back in a million years, but it is truly up to you now. She is saying: You must take all you know of me and make your own embrace, and fill it with conscious intention and love. For I have given myself unceasingly to you thus far, and you have squandered my gifts.
I believe humanities free will has never been more truly presented to us. What do we do?
I began meditating when my heart's grief became so heavy I could no longer stand. As more news came in globally about the destruction of our rain forests and the myriad creatures who live there, and our rich farm lands becoming malls and corn and soybean crops, and nuclear bombs proliferating, and the world fisheries collapsing and the oil tankers spilling into pristine waters, and the acid rains poisoning lakes and streams, a depression settled into me that stunted my will, drove me to addiction, and for a time destroyed my sense of life having meaning.
I tripped and fell to the ground, and it was grief and rage that spilled out. At the same time I began my studies in Buddhism and Body Centered Psychotherapy. With the brilliant guidance of my teachers I dropped through what we called "death layer" in order to find my life on the other side. Hours and days of grief and rage for the pains of my childhood interwoven with the agony of witnessing our world be severely abused flowed out from me. Out of this process a profound compassionate energy emerged. From stillness flowed my life. I was no longer in anguish trying to stop bad things from happening. I was instead finding a deep love for myself and all beings, and with that a guiding purpose to my life.
We humans have been striving. Striving to know everything and to own everything. We have even reached out beyond our biosphere in profoundly heroic attempts to know more about the universe. Yet what we have ultimately proven is our total vulnerability. This is the only habitable planet we know of and we are now fully responsible for its well-being. That is the truth and we cannot deny it. We have reached a moment in human history where our willful outward striving is pointing us strait towards extinction.
My journey through death layer brought me to the same conclusion. We are all deeply vulnerable and are part of a vast universe, Each one of our breaths in this lifetime meets the world with the deepest intimacy imaginable. We are inhaling the expression of all green living things, and our exhale feeds the leaves, the trunk, the root of all thriving greenery. It is only our eyes and curious minds that can sustain a relationship to the universe beyond our biosphere. We are green earthlings at the core of our being, and for us to keep breathing here on earth we MUST our last breaths will be taken in deepest if remembering and awakening to the task of living in harmony with nature