Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has been practising meditation and mindfulness for 70 years and radiates an extraordinary sense of calm and peace. This is a man who on a fundamental level walks his talk, and whom Buddhists revere as a Bodhisattva; seeking the highest level of being in order to help others.
Thay, as he is known to his many thousands of followers, sees the lack of meaning and connection in peoples’ lives as being the cause of our addiction to consumerism and that it is vital we recognise and respond to the stress we are putting on Earth if civilisation is to survive.
What Buddhism offers, he says, is the recognition that we all suffer and the way to overcome that pain is to directly confront it, rather than seeking to hide or bypass it through our obsession with shopping, entertainment, work or the beautification of our bodies. The craving for fame, wealth, power and sex serves to create only the illusion of happiness and ends up exacerbating feelings of disconnection and emptiness.
Thay sees a Gordian Knot that needs slicing through with a single strike of a sharp blade:
Move beyond concept of the “environment”
He believes we need to move beyond talking about the environment, as this leads people to experience themselves and Earth as two separate entities and to see the planet in terms only of what it can do for them.
Change is possible only if there is a recognition that people and planet are ultimately one and the same. “You carry Mother Earth within you,” says Thay. “She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment.
I would agree with Thich Nhat Hanh that picking some issues is not enough. We have to see the whole picture and the whole picture lies in the Human being and if the Human being changes everything else changes. Or as Elias says…
Your are not here IN the world.
You are here AS the world.