Full disclosure --
I spent a portion of my life on the Gulf. We used to go camping at a place called Longboat Key, which in those days, circa 1964, was completely unspoiled. The pines came all the way down to the white beach. You could camp anywhere, at the edge of the pines, and hear the wind sighing all night long. This was Longchenpa's "edges of the wildwood of inner calm, together with the cool moonlight of compassion."
We had an exchange student with us, a young man from Thailand named Tharanong Buatong, who we just called "Do." He had already been a monk for two years -- I think at Wat Plai Doi, I am not sure -- which was more or less compulsory for young people in those days. Do had a natural, effortless, reverence for life that expressed itself many ways.
"Bua Tong" is a Thai sunflower.
The fishermen at Longboat Key used to plant their reels in the sand, and leave their lines cast out into the surf. The waterbirds would come skimming across the water at dusk, and get entangled in the lines. Do and me used to sneak along the beach and cut the lines, so the fish would not be tempted, and the birds would not drown.
Now, quite naturally, everything has changed. Longboat Key is one big real estate development. If there are any pine trees left, I'll wager they were trucked in from elsewhere. The young Thai monk and the widow's crazy son are gone. I heard that Do became a general, and I of course became a deliberate failure. Nevertheless, it would be fair to say that Do and me have probably always carried a little bit of the Gulf along with us, like grains of sand in the bottom of a pocket.
How sad my old friend must feel, when he hears what we have done to the Gulf.
Because we have divided all that we seem to experienceinto polar opposites founded on mistaken notions of "them" and "us"We trade ever-present satisfactionFor temporary dreamsbelieving in the illusion of happiness and gain.
When, from the lust for independencein this world of interdependence,we selfishly cut open the earth's veinsI pray we remember the planet's wounded watersand how, from ignorance, we injured all beings in and around them
The shores that map our aspiration for water and earthdo not delimit primordial perfectionwhich is spacious and profound:by resting in one placeradiant blessings reach beyond the idea of boundaries
It is not for the inhabited waters alone we praybut for the wild places we do not always remember to seethis great ocean of misery that seems to come and gowhen we close our eyes, when we open our eyesInstantly evaporated when we open our hearts
May mistaken notions be tamed,May always possible perfection be realizedMay peace born within us heal the damage we have doneMay life be comfortably sustained for all sentient beings who sufferBy the merit of our clear awakeningBy the power of truth,
May there spontaneously come an end to the disharmony of the elements
in the Gulf of Mexico.