Sunday, November 01, 2009

Signs and Wonders

Went to the local market, got some corn, came home, and discovered the above. In  strict Ayurvedic dietary protocol, this is not anything you would ever want to eat, and in absolute terms of Tibetan prophecy, this is a very, very bad sign. However, I notice things like this turning up more and more these days. Is it any wonder people are getting sick?

When we listened to the Dalai Lama the other day, he said that if a person becomes ill or infirm, the signs are noticeable right away. However, because the signs in the environment are rather more subtle, we do not take immediate notice, and hence, think "things aren't so bad."

The thought occurred to me, there are sights that used to be common when I was young, but they are not so common anymore. I don't really know how to put my finger on it -- these are just delicate changes in the light, or in the evidence of seasons passing -- scenes that I took for granted until they seemed to disappear.

In perfect truth, we have damaged this planet terribly. I am hopeful that even if the planet cannot be perfectly healed, then at least some of the most flagrant environmental abuses can be arrested. One of the absolute best things to come out of the Sixties was the modern environmentalism movement. Sometimes people forget, but it is only during the past thirty years or so that environmental responsibility has been taught in grade schools, and I think that has had a tremendous impact.

Buddhism and environmentalism go hand in hand.  Autumn is a time when the earth truly calls out to us, in essence saying, "See what I have done for you, see what I can do for you, now please... help me rest." As Buddhists, I believe we have a fundamental responsibility to heed that call. We already put a lot of energy into caring for wild creatures and so forth, but that care must also extend to the environment that sustains them.

As a small example: I know that numbers of us take special care with birds. We put out seed for them, and so forth, and we think generally that we are doing the right thing. However, in some respects, it could be that we are actually doing harm.

The other day, I asked a friend of mine who is an expert on such matters, "What is the best thing to do?" He replied that the very best thing to do is to identify the natural sources of nutrition for birds in your area, and then, rather than put out  large quantities of commercial bird seed, make the greater effort to plant and care for those natural seed sources.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Instead of buying bags of sunflower seeds, why not cultivate a field of sunflowers? It goes along with the policy of putting out commercial seed only as a supplement,  instead of supplanting natural seed sources, thereby curtailing the birds' natural forage and plant propagation activity.

This is in line with the National Wildlife Federation approach, as expressed in their Certified Habitat program. You may recall that we discussed that here a while back. This is not a new approach by any means. If you look at the various and sundry, nineteenth century farming manuals,  grange pamphlets and so forth, you find the same good advice. This advice comes from a time when America was still largely an agricultural society, as distinct from industrial or post-industrial.

Some of the lamas who have come to America have begun to engage in ranching, farming, land stewardship, and so forth, in an attempt to make their rural retreats self-sustaining. I think this is absolutely wonderful, and I admire them tremendously for having the vision and making the effort.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

0 reader comments: